Dean Del Mastro: MPs to vote on suspension on Wednesday
Tories expected to support NDP motion to suspend without pay, Liberals want Peterborough MP expelled
Embattled former Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro is about to lose the right to take his seat in the House of Commons for the foreseeable future.
On Wednesday afternoon, Del Mastro's soon-to-be-former House colleagues are expected to vote in favour of a New Democrat proposal to suspend Del Mastro without pay, effective immediately.
Last week, Del Mastro was found guilty on three counts of violating Canada's election spending limits.
Both the Conservative and New Democrats are expected to vote in favour of the suspension motion, which will also send the matter to the procedure and House affairs committee for further study.
The committee could recommend that the House declare Del Mastro's seat vacant, triggering a byelection.
It is also expected to consider other logistical issues that could arise from his continued suspension, including his office budget, travel benefits and staff.
The Liberals, meanwhile, don't think the motion goes far enough.
Over the course of a three-hour debate that carried on until the House adjourned for the night, several Liberal MPs recommended that Del Mastro be expelled, not simply suspended, as they believe the law makes it clear that anyone convicted of an illegal practice under the Election Act is no longer eligible to sit in the House.
Although Del Mastro has been found guilty, he isn't convicted until the judgment is officially entered into the record at sentencing, which is scheduled to take place later this month.
At that point, Del Mastro will not only be rendered ineligible to sit in the House of Commons, but would also be barred from running for a federal seat for five years.
Although he wasn't present in the House for Tuesday's debate, Del Mastro will likely be invited to address the committee in his own defence, at which point he could attempt to persuade his former colleagues to reverse the suspension, which could be done through a second vote of the House.
Del Mastro could also lobby for reinstatement following a successful appeal. Earlier this week, he announced that his lawyers have filed a motion to reopen the case based on new evidence.
Government initially wanted committee to review case before taking action
In a brief ruling delivered just after question period had wrapped up, House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer advised MPs that it was up to the House to decide how to proceed after last week's verdict.
He then invited New Democrat House leader Peter Julian, who was the first to rise on a question of privilege related to the case, to make the case for his motion to suspend Del Mastro from the chamber without pay immediately, and send the matter to the procedure and House affairs committee for further study.
Julian's proposal went a step further than the proposal initially put forward by government House leader Peter Van Loan, who had initially argued that the question should be referred to committee before taking any direct action against Del Mastro.
Even before the ruling came down, however, Van Loan had made it clear that the government would almost certainly support a motion to suspend Del Mastro if that's what the committee recommended.
In a surprise move, he responded to the NDP motion by announcing that the government would vote in favour of their proposal, rather than wait for the opportunity to put forward his own proposal.
Late Tuesday, Van Loan served notice that he intends to move closure on the debate, which means the vote will likely be held late Wednesday afternoon.