Liberals get unanimous consent to pass COVID-19 legislation

The Liberal government won unanimous consent to pass emergency legislation to free up $82 billion to help Canadians get through the COVID-19 pandemic.

MPs debated the bill through the night and came out with a vote planned within a couple of hours.

Conservative MP for Sherwood Park – Fort Saskatchewan said the government power grabs were taken out of the legislation.

“The government power grabs were stripped out of the COVID-19 response bill, Parliament reconvened at 3:15 a.m., and we passed the bill at about 5:45 a.m. Financial relief is on the way (pending Senate approval), and we preserved and strengthened accountability mechanisms to ensure that Parliament will be fully engaged in the response to COVID-19.”

Starting the week of March 30, the federal finance minister will give a biweekly report on all government actions taken during the pandemic, and they will be discussed on April 20.

The Standing Committee on Finance will review the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act within six months of the day that it gets royal assent and will report its findings to the House no later than March 31, 2021.

“The work that has been done over the last 24 hours shows precisely how important and how effective Parliament can be during a time of crisis,” Genuis added on his Facebook statement. “The government planned to put forward a deeply flawed bill. Conservatives used the tools at our disposal to force intense negotiations, which ultimately led to the passage of a much better bill. The government tried to abuse their power, but we stopped them in their tracks.

“Going forward, Parliament must continue to be effectively engaged in the response to COVID-19 and the related economic challenges. We do not defend Parliament simply out of an attachment to its practices and traditions – but out of the firm conviction that democratic deliberation through Parliament leads to better decision making and better outcomes for everyday Canadians. Parliament doesn’t just matter for us, it matters for you. It matters because leaders need to work together, sharpen each other, and hold each other accountable, especially during times of crisis, so that we make the best possible decisions.”

On Tuesday,  Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston, Ont., MP Scott Reid stopped the original bill brought forward by the Liberals, which would have given the liberals sweeping new powers to spend money and raise taxes without getting approval from Parliament. That legislation would have granted Finance Minister Bill Morneau extraordinary new powers to spend, borrow and tax without Parliament approval until December 2021.

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