The Conservatives are firing back at allegations they’re holding up legislation by accusing the Liberals of using their own tactics to engineer an election this spring.
“Canadians don’t want a risky pandemic election, but with every filibuster, delay in producing House-ordered documents, and the poorly organized legislative calendar, it’s becoming more and more clear that the Liberals are trying to engineer one,” says a statement from Conservative House Leader Gérard Deltell released Monday morning.
The war of words comes after Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez gave an interview last week that many Conservatives viewed as a veiled election threat.
“They’re playing politics all the time in the House,” Rodriguez told the Canadian Press, speaking about the Conservatives. “It’s delay, delay, delay — and eventually that delay becomes obstruction.”
The Liberals have been particularly incensed at the Conservatives over the assisted dying legislation, Bill C-7. On his Twitter account, Rodriguez has repeatedly accused the Conservatives of blocking debate on the bill by declining to hold evening sittings on it.
These mistakes could have been avoided…
Rodriguez said the Conservatives are also using procedural delaying tactics to hold up Bill C-19, which makes changes to allow for a safer election during a pandemic, such as more mail-in balloting. Earlier in February, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland wrote a letter to the Tories accusing them of delaying Bill C-14, which contains further pandemic aid measures.
But Deltell said the Liberals “are doing more to hold up their own legislative agenda than any opposition party ever could.”
“They failed to manage the legislative agenda, call bills in no logical order, schedule insufficient time for debate on their legislation, and then make public statements accusing Conservatives of playing games,” Deltell said.
He also said the Liberals have already made mistakes by rushing bills through the House.
“They created a loophole for vacationers to receive $1,000 and left thousands of new small businesses without emergency supports,” Deltell said. “These mistakes could have been avoided if bills were subjected to proper parliamentary review. We will do our job on behalf of Canadians to make sure mistakes like these don’t happen again.”
The dispute comes as the pace of vaccinations in Canada is set to scale up dramatically, with 8 million doses now scheduled to be delivered by the end of March. The delays in Canada’s vaccine supplies in February had put a damper on election speculation, but now the election rumour mill has started to churn again.
The minority parliament situation means an election would be triggered if the opposition parties unite to defeat the Liberals on a key vote. However, the Liberals can also chose to unilaterally call an election themselves.
Deltell said the Conservatives “want this minority Parliament to work so Canadians aren’t forced to the polls during a pandemic…We call on the Liberal government to put aside their political games so we can focus on helping Canadians.”