Senators have agreed to pass the federal budget bill without amendments, ending the possibility of a standoff between Canada’s two chambers of Parliament and paving the way for the politicians’ summer break.
Despite strong objections from some Liberal and Independent senators Wednesday, the budget bill was accepted along partisan lines Thursday.
The bill was held up Wednesday over an amendment that would have removed a provision to tie annual increases in the alcohol excise duty to inflation. The senators wanted the amendment in order to retain their right to review tax increases. MPs unanimously rejected the Senate changes, punting the bill back to the Red Chamber.
On Thursday, 50 Independents and Liberals voted to pass the budget bill without the amendment, while all 33 Conservatives present in the chamber rejected it.
“It’s unfortunate that the Independent Liberal senators, who clearly were insulted by the behaviour of the government [in the House], unanimously caved today,” Conservative Senator Leo Housakos said after the vote.
Peter Harder, the government’s representative in the Senate, bristled at the suggestion Independent senators “rolled over” or simply acquiesced to the will of the Liberal government.
“We haven’t insisted on our amendments because that would be a challenge to the political accountability of the House of Commons,” the Ontario Independent said in an interview with CBC’s Power & Politics. “I think it’s being respectful of our appropriate and different but complimentary roles in Parliament.”
‘They didn’t stand up for taxpayers’
Senators had accepted the government’s proposal for a two per cent increase to the alcohol excise duty applied to the cost of wine, beer and spirits, but rejected…