Leader of the Opposition Andrew Scheer speaks during a news conference on the COVID-19 virus in Ottawa, Tuesday March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Tories will support aid to Canadians, not Liberal ‘power grab’: Scheer

MPs are supposed to debate and vote on legislation to deliver an $82-billion aid package

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says his party will support emergency efforts to get money to Canadians struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic, but will oppose any “power grab” by the Liberal government.

The comments came ahead of an emergency sitting of the House of Commons on Tuesday in which a small group of 32 MPs were expected to debate and vote on legislation to deliver an $82-billion aid package proposed by the Liberal government to deal with COVID-19 and its ensuing economic damage.

However, the sitting had no sooner begun than government House leader Pablo Rodriguez asked that it be suspended.

It appeared the Liberals were continuing to negotiate details of the legislation with opposition parties after the Conservatives balked at a provision that would have given the government sweeping powers to unilaterally spend, borrow and change taxation levels without the approval of Parliament.

The Liberals had said they would change the legislation before tabling it in the Commons but Scheer indicated during a morning news conference that the Conservatives had not seen the final draft.

“Today, Conservatives would like to focus on Canadians and passing the measures the prime minister announced last week,” he said. “Any conversation about new government powers should not get in the way of passing this much-needed assistance. Canadians are counting on us.”

READ MORE: Trudeau: More ‘stringent measures’ will come if Canadians ignore COVID-19 guidelines

Even as Scheer was speaking, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted that the legislation would be tabled “without clause 2,” suggesting the bill would not contain the offending elements.

At the same time, Scheer sidestepped questions about whether the Tories would vote against the emergency-aid bill, the defeat of which would be a vote of no-confidence for the minority Liberal government and possibly trigger an election.

“Justin Trudeau announced a number of measures last week and we’re here to support them,” he said.

“Our hope is that (the government) will stay focused on providing to Canadians, not focused on a power grab. Not focused on giving themselves unprecedented new powers. We can be here on 48 hours’ notice to do exactly what we’re doing today: to pass measures to provide that assistance to Canadians.”

In an interview with The Canadian Press, Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre said the parliamentary budget officer has the bill and should be given the freedom by the government to immediately release an analysis, given the importance of the contents.

There may not be much time between the bill’s publication and the vote to pass it, he added.

“The public is not going to know who to believe so let’s free the parliamentary budget officer to tell everyone what’s inside it, publicly before it gets passed.”

Meanwhile, the premiers of Ontario and Quebec premiers are ordering non-essential businesses to close their workplaces by midnight tonight, provinces are contemplating closing their borders to each other, and Trudeau has hinted that harsh measures might be used to keep people from gathering in groups.

The death toll in Canada reached 24 yesterday as the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 passed 2,000.

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Andrew ScheerCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Mental Health: Fractured services leave community to fill gaps

Greater Victoria service providers working together to help youth

Bag containing meat, sewing needles found by dog owner in Cordova Bay

Saanich police don’t believe it’s a trend

UVic creates emergency bursary for students facing hardships due to COVID-19

Students can apply by emailing the financial aid office

Colwood Spring Clean-Up postponed, branch drop-off continues

Strict measures in place for branch drop-off

Saanich teen earns $100,000 commerce scholarship to the University of Calgary

Matias Totz is graduating from St. Michaels University School

‘Hold our line’: 29 new cases of COVID-19 announced in B.C.

Saturday’s number of new cases marks the lowest in weeks.

Two inmates found positive for COVID-19 at federal prison in B.C.; other tests pending

15 staff self-isolating waiting results, refusal to work notice sent, says correctional officer

Critic, workers’ group ‘disappointed’ Trudeau chose Amazon to distribute PPE

Amazon Canada said in an email to The Canadian Press that it is working with Canada Post, Purolator

Full World COVID-19 update: National Guard collect ventilators in New York; Spain, Italy improve

Comprehensive coronavirus update with news from around the world.

Nanaimo’s Harmac mill works to fill doubled pulp order for medical masks and gowns

Mill’s president says extra cleaning in place and workers are social distancing

Two people fined after B.C. police spot online ads re-selling 5,000 surgical, N95 masks

Police confiscated the masks, being sold at inflated prices, and now working with Fraser Health

Unclear if Cowichan couple refusing to self-isolate will face penalty

No fines or charges have been laid to date, including Cowichan couple who won’t self isolate

POLL: Will you be able to make your rent or mortgage payment this month?

With the COVID-19 delivering a devastating blow to the global economy, and… Continue reading

COVID-19: Postponed surgeries will be done, B.C. health minister says

Contract with private surgical clinic to help clear backlog

Most Read