Inside Politics

Speaker sides with Tories in battle over budget amendments

Well, that was fast: just moments ago, House Speaker Andrew Scheer handed down his preliminary ruling on the right of independent members like Green Party Elizabeth May to propose budget bill amendments at report stage, which he had previously strongly reaffirmed in a landmark ruling last December.

Short version: This time around, he's siding with the government, which, mindful of his previous position on the subject, had the chair of the finance committee invite May and her fellow independent MPs to submit any proposed changes directly to the finance committee, although when it came time to put those motions to a vote, they were not permitted to take part in the debate beyond a brief explanation of the rationale for their amendments.

After delivering his verdict, Scheer proceeded to toss out every one of the 13 amendments that May had  added to the notice paper in anticipation of today's debate, on the grounds that they either either were, or could have been moved at committee, and grouped the 60-odd remaining -- which, depending on how many votes will ultimately be required, could effectively scuttle the prospect of another end-of-sitting marathon House vote.

As he has promised a more detailed explanation of his decision at a later date, I'll hold off on further analysis of the ruling until we hear more from Scheer on why he chose not to heed the words of those same independent members whose rights he had so vigorously defended last winter.

In any case, it's hard not to see this as a serious blow to the power of those half-dozen non-aligned MPs to make their voice heard from the far corner of the Commons, at least as far as offering suggestions on major legislative initiatives like the budget bill. 

Read the speaker's initial ruling here:

House Speaker Andrew Scheer's initial ruling on budget bill debate by CBCPolitics

Tags: andrew scheer, blackberry jungle, elizabeth may, house of commons, independents' rights

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