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Pierre Poilievre set to break a record as he speaks for hours in House to block budget

'I will keep speaking and keep speaking and keep blocking this inflationary train wreck'

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OTTAWA – Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre was set to break a record Wednesday as he intends on speaking in the House of Commons for nearly four hours to filibuster the Liberals’ budget implementation bill on Wednesday.

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Poilievre, who started his speech shortly after 8 p.m., announced his intention to run the clock with a speech on the budget and the cost of living until the debate ends at midnight – making it the longest speech of its kind in recorded parliamentary history, which dates back to 1911.

“I am rising today to speak and to speak, and to speak for the people who have no voice,” he said at the start of his filibuster. “The people who are have been silenced for too long. The quiet ones, the ones who toil away to pay their bills, but have no means to pay any longer.”

“Lately for them, it has seen it has felt like nothing but darkness. In this period of difficulty, everything feels broken and the government is broke,” he continued.

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Shortly after the start of Poilievre’s speech, Conservative MP Stephanie Kusie rose on a point of order to point out that the government benches were empty and that it was not very “respectful” on their part.

Poilievre had already promised at the start of the week that his party would use an array of procedural roadblocks and delay tactics to block the passage of C-47, the Budget Implementation Act, until Parliament rises for the summer in three weeks.

But the Liberals, with the support of the NDP, have managed to circumvent their delay tactics and impose a time allocation motion that would restrict debate on the budget bill until end of day Wednesday. The 900 amendments to the bill brought forward by the Conservatives were also regrouped in nine votes in order to move the process more quickly in the House.

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But even voting on these amendments took MPs a total of four hours. And during the process, multiple Conservative MPs kept referring to technical issues during electronic voting – in an apparent effort to further delay the process – which led to Liberals and New Democrats calling on the Speaker of the House to investigate the situation.

“Mr. Speaker, I would suggest to you that what we have witnessed is something that’s being orchestrated out of the Conservative leadership office,” said Kevin Lamoureux, parliamentary secretary to the government House leader. “One would say it’s borderline contempt of our rules.”

Poilievre announced his intention to filibuster the budget bill with an hours-long speech during a speech to his caucus Wednesday morning.

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“I will keep speaking and keep speaking and keep blocking this inflationary trainwreck until the Prime Minister rises with a plan to balance the budget and bring down inflation and interest rates,” he said, prompting a round of applause from Conservative MPs.

The Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition have unlimited time for speeches during budget debate as per procedural rules, and Poilievre has already indicated he would go on for as long as he likes until the time allocation motion for C-47 expires at midnight.

The budget bill is expected to be voted on at third reading Thursday, and is expected to pass with NDP support before it is sent to the Senate.

Speaking earlier this week, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland called the Conservatives’ attempts to block C-47 “incredibly irresponsible” and “frankly, incredibly juvenile.”

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If C-47 doesn’t pass, a credit for tradespeople’s tools that the government promised won’t come into force. Additionally, steps to improve the air passengers’ bill of rights process, a home flipping tax, and steps for a broader dental plan will all be stalled until the legislation passes.

“These kinds of partisan games and delaying tactics really, really show that the Conservatives don’t care about regular Canadians. We do. I want to reassure Canadians we are going to get the budget legislation passed because it has things that Canadians need,” Freeland said.

Poilievre’s new attempt at blocking the budget bill comes as the Bank of Canada announced a new rate hike of a quarter percentage point to 4.75 per cent — the highest in 22 years — in the light of stubbornly high inflation and consumer demand.

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“The government does not set the interest rates, but it does set the policy that drives inflation which forces the bank to raise interest rates,” Poilievre told his MPs in his speech.

He blamed the Liberals for having suggested at the start of the pandemic that interest rates would stay low which caused many Canadians to contract an expensive mortgage and has led to Canada now having the highest household debt level in the G7.

He predicted there will be a “severe default crisis” when Canadians renew their mortgage in the next five years because of the higher interest rates, echoing concern from the IMF, which believes that Canada is the most at risk country for mortgage defaults of any country in the G7.

“What do we do to save Canadians from this financial catastrophe? The answer is to reverse the policies that got us into the mess in the first place,” said Poilievre.

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Freeland reiterated on Wednesday that Canadians should be “confident in the strength and the resilience of the Canadian economy,” pointing to the strong economic growth, which is expected to continue until next year, and the higher number of jobs created since before the pandemic.

“There is no country in the world that is navigating these challenges more effectively than Canada and there is no country in the world better positioned for a soft landing than Canada,” she told reporters at a press conference in Ottawa.

Freeland highlighted that the Bank of Canada predicts inflation will fall to 3 per cent this summer, slowly approaching the inflation target of 2 per cent.

“We are very close to the end of this difficult time and to a return to low, stable inflation and strong, steady growth.”

With files from Ryan Tumilty. 

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