The Conservatives are threatening a fall election after opposition senators stripped contentious provisions from the Harper government's massive budget implementation bill.


Conservative campaign manager Doug Finley, second from left, is seen in this 2008 file photo on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. ((Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press))

Senator Doug Finley, the Tory campaign director, said a fall election is a distinct possibility if senators refuse to pass the bill as is.

"Absolutely," Finley said in an interview moments after opposition members on the Senate finance committee voted to erase four controversial measures from the budget bill.

"I can't think of anything more important than what's in that budget bill."

The full Senate could vote to overturn the changes made by the finance committee but it's not certain if the Conservatives have the numbers to do that.


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While the Tories now dominate the upper chamber, they do not have an absolute majority.

Should the Senate uphold the committee changes, Finley said the amended bill would have to go back to the House of Commons, which would likely return the bill in its original form to the Senate.

Tories 'ready to rock and roll': Finley

Finley said he's hopeful senators will eventually bow to the will of the elected Commons, which has already approved the bill. But if they don't, he said: "Let's dance."

"We're ready to go to an election if we have to. The buses, the planes, the trains, the money, the boardroom — everything's ready to rock and roll," said Finley.

"We're in good shape for an election."

During clause-by-clause examination of the 900-plus-page budget bill, five Liberal senators were joined by Progressive Conservative Senator Lowell Murray to pull four measures.

They include provisions to allow for the potential privatization of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (AECL) and to end Canada Post's monopoly on international mail.

Opposition senators also rejected measures that would diminish the scope of federal environmental assessments and would allow retroactive changes to some excise taxes.

All four measures were defeated on tie votes of 6-6.

Murray and Liberal senators have strenuously objected that the massive omnibus bill is larded with all sorts of non-budgetary items that should have been presented as stand-alone legislation.

Murray told the committee he doesn't share Liberal concerns about the impact of the bill on Canada Post. But he voted with Liberals to remove the provision because "it doesn't belong in a budget bill."

He also tried to amend the provision regarding AECL, requiring that the government seek parliamentary approval before proceeding with any plan to sell off all or part of the Crown corporation.

When his amendment was rejected, he joined the Liberals in voting to pull the AECL provisions from the bill altogether.