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Liberals walk back bill that would have reportedly given Justin Trudeau a “blank cheque”

The bill would have given the Trudeau government unfettered taxing and spending authority without parliamentary approval, until December 2021.

The federal Liberals have vowed to amend a bill they were planning to table at an emergency session of Parliament Tuesday after pushback from opposition parties.

“We consulted with the opposition and will bring changes to the draft legislation,” tweeted Liberal House Leader Pablo Rodriguez Monday evening. “We will always work collaboratively and respect the fundamental role of Parliament.”

The bill, as reviewed by opposition parties and reported by numerous media outlets, would have given Justin Trudeau’s government unfettered taxing and spending authority without parliamentary approval, until December 2021.

The law would have effectively allowed the minority government to skirt debates and voting by elected MPs in the House of Commons, irrespective of opposition concerns.

If passed, it would also have granted the Liberals the benefit of avoiding confidence votes on spending bills.

Interim Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer indicated his party wouldn’t support the government’s proposal. 

“We will not give the government unlimited power to raise taxes without a parliamentary vote. We will authorize whatever spending measures are justified to respond to the situation, but we will not sign a blank cheque,” Scheer said in a statement. 

On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with provincial leaders to discuss the possibility of invoking the federal Emergencies Act. 

If declared, it would give the Trudeau government the power to restrict travel within Canada, seize and control goods, or build emergency hospitals, among other things. 

Tuesday’s emergency House of Commons meeting will see a small number of MPs return to debate and vote additional federal coronavirus aid. It will be the first time the Parliament has convened since it was suspended on March 13. 

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