Get ready to put in some parliamentary overtime, MPs: the House of Commons workday is about to get a lot longer.
Starting tomorrow, the chamber will stay open from 7 p.m. until midnight, every night but Friday, until it shuts down for the summer recess in June.
The move will give the government up to five more hours a day to spend on legislative initiatives that they'd like to get through the House before the summer recess, including the spring omnibus budget bill, proposed changes to online surveillance laws and the rules governing Canadian citizenship.
That works out to 20 hours a week — the equivalent of two and a half sitting days.
The motion put forward by Government House Leader Peter Van Loan on Monday would also prevent opposition parties from disrupting the House agenda by automatically deferring all votes until just after question period.
From the government's perspective, the provision is necessary to ensure regular Hill business won't be interrupted by the sudden sound of division bells summoning MPs to the Chamber.
'Laziest motion ever put forward'
New Democrat House Leader Peter Julian accused the Conservatives of simply wanting to avoid evening votes.
"Not only do they not show up to speak, they do not even want to show up to vote," he pointed out in his response to Van Loan's pitch.
"This is ... perhaps the laziest motion ever put forward in the House of Commons by the government."
In response, Conservative MP Jim Hillyer pointed out Julian had just spent twenty minutes "talking about all the work the NDP does through talking," as he put it.
"My constituents never ask me, 'How much talking have I done? How many times have I repeated myself in the same hour to convince the unconvinced?'"
Julian shot back by noting that he's been invited to Hillyer's riding of Lethbridge.
"I think most of the member's constituents are wondering where he is because they cannot seem to find him in the riding."
Liberals side with Tories
Meanwhile, Liberal MP John McCallum, who served notice that his party would support the motion, took Hillyer's side.
"Over the course of this long discourse, I was not able to discern whether the NDP is voting for or against the government motion," he said.
"Are New Democrats voting for this motion, or are they voting against this motion?"
Julian, however, continued to play coy on his party's intentions.
"Do we agree with evening work? Absolutely," he assured his House colleagues.
"Do we agree with the government's process of saying 'No' to evening votes, 'No' to showing up, and handcuffing the opposition as far as the House rules are concerned?" That, he said, "is another story."
Without all-party cooperation, the vote on the motion will likely be put off until Tuesday, which is the earliest that Van Loan would be able to invoke closure to put an end to further debate.
The full text of the motion, which was added to the Notice Paper during last week's constituency break:
No. 10 — May 22, 2014 — The Leader of the Government in the House of Commons — That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, commencing upon the adoption of this Order and concluding on Friday, June 20, 2014:
(a) on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, the ordinary hour of daily adjournment shall be 12 midnight, except that it shall be 10 p.m. on a day when a debate, pursuant to Standing Order 52 or 53.1, is to take place;
(b) subject to paragraph (d), when a recorded division is demanded in respect of a debatable motion, including any division arising as a consequence of the application of Standing Order 61(2), but not including any division in relation to the Business of Supply or arising as a consequence of an order made pursuant to Standing Order 57, (i) before 2 p.m. on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, it shall stand deferred until the conclusion of oral questions at that day’s sitting, or (ii) after 2 p.m. on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, or at any time on a Friday, it shall stand deferred until the conclusion of oral questions at the next sitting day that is not a Friday;
(c) the time provided for Government Orders shall not be extended pursuant to Standing Order 45(7.1);
(d) when a recorded division, which would have ordinarily been deemed deferred to immediately before the time provided for Private Members’ Business on a Wednesday governed by this Order, is demanded, the said division is deemed to have been deferred until the conclusion of oral questions on the same Wednesday;
(e) any recorded division which, at the time of the adoption of this Order, stands deferred to immediately before the time provided for Private Members’ Business on the Wednesday immediately following the adoption of this Order shall be deemed to stand deferred to the conclusion of oral questions on the same Wednesday;
(f) a recorded division demanded in respect of a motion to concur in a government bill at the report stage pursuant to Standing Order 76.1(9), where the bill has neither been amended nor debated at the report stage, shall be deferred in the manner prescribed by paragraph (b);
(g) for greater certainty, this Order shall not limit the application of Standing Order 45(7);
(h) no dilatory motion may be proposed, except by a Minister of the Crown, after 6:30 p.m.; and
(i) when debate on a motion for the concurrence in a report from a standing, standing joint or special committee is adjourned or interrupted, the debate shall again be considered on a day designated by the government, after consultation with the House Leaders of the other parties, but in any case not later than the twentieth sitting day after the interruption.