Liberals Back Down from Power Grab

March 25, 2020

The Honourable Andrew Scheer, Leader of Canada’s Conservatives and of the Official Opposition, issued the following statement:
 
“Since the beginning of this crisis, Conservatives have been focused on Canadians and getting them the support they desperately need.  We recognize that these are unprecedented times and that urgent action is needed.  Almost a million Canadians have already been laid off, stores and restaurants have been told to close their doors, and Canadians have been told to stay at home.  We also know that this crisis has hit our economy hard and that the months to come will be difficult.
 
“That is why Conservatives have been flexible in our approach, while also continuing to ensure government oversight.
 
“When we agreed to the extraordinary suspension of Parliament, Conservatives insisted that the government be subject to substantial accountability measures including that the Auditor General would audit any new spending, that parliamentary committees would be able to review all of that spending when Parliament resumes, that parliamentary committees could be recalled at any time, and that the government must immediately inform the Opposition of any spending and make it public within seven days.
 
“We also agreed to bring back the House of Commons this week with only a small number of Members present.  We were prepared to quickly pass the measures that the Prime Minister had announced to date.  What we were not prepared for was the government’s attempted undemocratic power grab.
 
“The Liberals shamefully tried to use a public health crisis to give themselves the powers to raise taxes, debt and spending without parliamentary approval until January 1, 2022.  But after hours of negotiation, the government has backed down.
 
“Conservatives have secured the following concessions: 

  • We demanded that the government remove the section that would have allowed them to raise taxes without parliamentary approval.  They agreed.
  • We demanded that the government walk back their unlimited spending powers and that special warrants expire on June 23, 2020 instead of September 30, 2020. They agreed.
  • We demanded that the government include explicit reference to putting taxpayers’ rights first. They agreed.
  • We demanded that the government put sunset clauses in their legislation.  They agreed.
  • We demanded that the government be accountable to Parliament through regular reports to the House of Commons Health and Finance committees and that the Finance Committee have the right to recall Parliament if we identify any abuses. They agreed.

“Our effective Opposition has also gotten the government to reverse course on other policies.

“Conservatives called for stronger action to protect our borders and the government responded.  We asked about the impact of the border closure on the temporary foreign worker and seasonal agricultural worker programs and the government made exemptions.  We called on the government to stop the flow of illegal border crossers into Canada, particularly at Roxham Road, and the government listened.

“We will continue to use all of the tools available to us to hold the government to account.  And we will continue to use our strengthened Opposition to ask tough questions on behalf of Canadians and put forward constructive solutions to ensure that no one falls through the cracks.”