Voting Marathon in House of Commons: Opposing the Estimates

Voting Marathon in House of Commons: Opposing the Estimates

UPDATE March 23, 2018 4:25pmET: The Conservatives withdrew further motions earlier this afternoon, bringing an end to voting after more than 20 hours.

Here’s Conservative House Leader Candice Bergen:

Click to watch Bergen’s full scrum with reporters.

Here’s additional reaction from MPs on PrimeTime Politics Weekend with Martin Stringer:

March 23, 2018 11:49amET

The House of Commons has been holding non-stop recorded votes since last evening, as Conservatives protest the defeat of a motion calling for the prime minister’s national security advisor to answer questions at committee on the Jaspal Atwal/India controversy.

Here’s what is happening in the chamber:

MPs are voting on motions that relate to interim estimates totalling $30.9 billion for the 2018-19 fiscal year, which begins on April 1.

As the name suggests, interim estimates supply funding for government departments, agencies, and Crown corporations until the main estimates pass later in the year. (Typically the interim estimates represent one-quarter of the full year’s estimates, representing three months.)

There are hundreds of items in the interim estimates, all of which have been referred by standing committees back to the House of Commons for agreement, or “concurrence.”

Any MP can “can give notice to oppose any item … such items are then referred to as ‘opposed items’ in the estimates … a mechanism by which Members force the government to propose a separate motion for the concurrence in each vote that is the subject of total or partial opposition,” according to House of Commons Procedure and Practice.

These “opposed votes” take place following the final opposition motion of the supply period that ends March 26. In this case, that was yesterday’s Conservative motion on national security advisor Daniel Jean.

Once again, here’s how the House’s procedural manual describes the process (emphasis added):

On the last allotted day of each supply period, once the proceedings on the opposition motion are completed, motions to restore or reinstate votes in the estimates are considered first, followed by motions to concur in each of the votes for which a notice of opposition has been given, and the motion to concur in the remaining unopposed votes. The House then proceeds to the appropriation bill based on those estimates. For these purposes, the House may sit beyond the ordinary hour of daily adjournment.

That last point means that although the voting has continued into Friday, the House remains in its official sitting for Thursday, March 22.

Live from the House of Commons:

-Andrew Thomson