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Opposition Parties Just Won A Big Standoff With The Liberals

The Liberals agreed to scrap a motion that the opposition called "the most draconian power grab that any government has ever attempted in Canadian history."

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The Liberals announced Thursday they are abandoning their plan to seize complete control of the parliamentary schedule.

Motion 6 would have essentially stripped opposition parties of any ability to push back and delay legislation for the rest of the spring.

The Liberals announced the motion after the opposition surprised the Liberals with a snap vote and came one vote away from striking down a government bill.

The motion would have prevented future unpleasant surprises for the Liberals, as well as give cabinet ministers massive amounts of control over the parliamentary schedule.

Opposition parties were outraged. NDP House Leader Peter Julian called it "the most draconian power grab that any government has ever attempted in Canadian history."

But the plan seemed to fall apart after Justin Trudeau grabbed one colleague and elbowed another, then had to repeatedly apologize. That gave opposition MPs the opportunity to hijack debate and hold up government business.

Because they were debating a point of privilege, opposition MPs could talk indefinitely about the elbow incident.

After several hours of this discussion, Liberal House Leader Dominic Leblanc said Thursday afternoon that the government is withdrawing Motion 6.

Now the question is whether opposition MPs will let the government get back to its normal schedule, which includes passing the assisted dying bill.


A deal has been struck. In exchange for withdrawing Motion 6, the opposition agreed to wrap up the Trudeau elbowing discussion and send it off to a committee. The House can now return to its regularly-scheduled programming.

Paul McLeod is a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.

Contact Paul McLeod at

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