Liberals withdraw controversial motion to limit Commons debate

Government House Leader Dominic LeBlanc announced Thursday that the Liberals will withdraw a controversial motion to limit debate in the House of Commons.

Attempt to speed passage of priority bills had angered opposition

Liberal House Leader Dominic LeBlanc tells the House of Commons that he has had the controversial motion withdrawn from the Order Paper. 2:26

Government House Leader Dominic LeBlanc has announced the Liberals will withdraw a controversial motion to limit debate in the House of Commons.

Late Tuesday, LeBlanc filed notice of a motion that, if adopted, would let Trudeau's cabinet extend sitting hours in the House until a minister or parliamentary secretary decides to adjourn proceedings, something that would be "deemed adopted without debate or amendment."

In effect, this move, referred to as motion six, would allow Liberals to control Commons debate. The tactic followed days of acrimony as Trudeau's government struggled to advance priority legislation.

Its medically-assisted dying and the RCMP union bills are both staring down court-imposed deadlines.

Opposition Leader Rona Ambrose led off Thursday's question period by saying that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's temper got the better of him on Wednesday night and said it was an extension of the way he's treating the House.

LeBlanc replied that the government had withdrawn motion six. But the government is still committed to getting C-14 — the assisted dying bill — through Parliament before the June 6 deadline.

The House leader said that the Commons would have extended hours and let all MPs speak on the issue.

Key opposition demand 

MPs were debating a matter of privilege Thursday in the aftermath of an incident late Wednesday, which saw Trudeau become frustrated about what he perceived to be attempts to delay a vote on time allocation for the assisted-dying bill.

The prime minister crossed the floor, grabbed Conservative Whip Gord Brown and moved him through a small group of NDP MPs who appeared to be blocking his path.

In the process, Trudeau elbowed New Democrat Ruth-Ellen Brosseau and then got into a shouting match with NDP Leader Tom Mulcair who was standing nearby.

Trudeau apologized both Wednesday evening and Thursday morning in the House. But a motion of privilege brought by the Conservatives about the incident postponed all other Commons business as MPs debated what should be done as a result of the incident.

NDP House Leader Peter Julian denied to reporters that there was an organized effort to delay Wednesday's vote. But motion six was "fundamentally anti-democratic," he said, a sign of the "greater disrespect that we've seen developing now for the last few weeks."

"What unites us all is that this is no way for a government to proceed in the House of Commons," Opposition House Leader Andrew Scheer. "This is a completely undemocratic move to take away the tools we have to express our differences."

After question period, debate collapsed and the Commons referred the matter of privilege to the Commons procedure and House affairs committee for further study and recommendations.

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