Thursday June 14, 2012
1:00am: We are starting the omni-vote over seven hours later than scheduled. We were told the 159 votes on C-38 would commence at approximately 5:30 pm Wednesday. But a series of Points of Order and Points of Privilege delayed Routine Proceedings deliberately and considerably. I guess the Opposition really wants to make the Government and its Members “pay” for passing this Bill. But do they not understand they too are here, presumably for the next 24 hours (minimum), and they too are therefore “paying”??
1:15 am: 2 down; 157 to go!
1:39 am: The only thing weirder than the four reporters in the media gallery is the dozen or so people in the Public Gallery. Don’t these people have anything better to do, like sleep??
1:47 am: Just got word that there was a C-38 protest outside my Constituency Office in St. Albert tonight. Apparently about a dozen people participated. I wonder if they were protesting the contents of the Bill or the fact that their MP has to stay up all night (and day) voting???
1:51 am: NDP just voted against a Liberal amendment causing confusion for the Liberals, as in this instance, the NDP are voting with the Government!
1:56 am: The NDP have now started slow-motion voting—standing only one Member at a time, very slowly—turning a marathon into a glacially slow marathon!!
2:40 am: I just had my first 30 minute respite. I don’t get another one for another 5 ½ hours (7:30 am). I sure hope I can hold that Diet Pepsi and Red Bull until then!!
2:51 am: If we do 8 votes per hour, this debacle will take 20 hours; if the NDP keep slow voting and we only do 4 votes per hour, it will take 40 hours and we will be here until Friday night!!!
3:34 am: I am watching Season 2 of “Family Guy” to try to stay awake.
3:36 am: I almost miss a vote due to distraction.
3:37 am: Pandemonium breaks out in the House as Elizabeth May and Liberals fail to “stand five” to force a standing vote and the motion fails quickly (much to their chagrin). I guess we’ll get out of here 15 minutes earlier than anticipated!
3:41 am: Now the Liberals are also voting slowly in an apparent protest to the fact that the last motion failed without a standing vote.
3:46 am: The Media Gallery is completely empty. Amazingly, there are still two people in the Public Galleries!
4:21 am: Motion 178 is defeated by a vote of 136-100. Opposition has lost 33 Members since this fiasco commenced.
4:32 am: We are strategically not voting all of our Members in an attempt to speed matters up—even if only slightly!!
4:35 am: Liberals have abandoned slow voting—I guess their protest is over.
5:12 am: I am so tired. Still 2 people in the Public Gallery but I think one of them is different than from 3:46. Media Gallery is still completely vacant.
5:21 am: Prime Minister is still in the House. I think he has only missed 2 votes tonight. Liberals are showing stoicism. Almost all of their Members are, and have been, in the House. NDP are down at least ¼ of their caucus.
5:45 am: Prime Minister Harper is taking a break.
5:48 am: Motion 227 is defeated 144-102—our numbers and resolve are strong.
6:05 am: Speaker Scheer is finally taking a break from the Chair. Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie is now in charge of proceedings. Maybe she can encourage her NDP colleagues to speed things up a bit!
6:53 am: The last standing vote took 8 minutes 20 seconds. At that pace, we will do 7 ½ votes per hour. At that pace, this allnightmare voting should take 21.2 hours.
7:02 am: NDP reinforcements just arrived in the House. 7 am must mean a union shift change. But the Opposition still loses the vote 146-122.
7:15 am: The Honourable Steven Fletcher and Leader of the Opposition, Thomas Mulcair, take their first breaks of the marathon.
7:42 am: I get my second 30 minute respite of the night (now day).
8:18 am: I am back in the House after a Breakfast of Champions: Bacon, Scrambled Eggs and Red Bull.
8:19 am: Prime Minister Harper is back in the House.
8:31 am: Big dispute and Points of Order regarding whether the Prime Minister was in his seat when the last vote was called. Speaker Devolin (now in the Chair) takes the PM at his word that he was in his seat in time.
8:52 am: There is another kafuffle regarding who was in and not in their seats during the last CPC shift change and before the last vote was called. Also the NDP calls out CPC Members for having coffee in the House. Chief Government Whip says he is petty and anal under the all night voting circumstances!!
9:24 am: Prime Minister leaves the House—probably has some running the country type meetings to attend to.
9:25 am: I have now been awake for 24 hours; spelling mistake frequency will undoubtedly increase!
9:57 am: The Prime Minister is back in the House; must be a “light” day running the country.
10:00 am: It is now 10 am, the normal time the House would start sitting. As a result, there can be no sitting on June 14, 2012. However, the June 13 sitting will continue until the omni-vote is complete.
10:53 am: We are now about 40% through the 159 votes and we have been here almost 10 hours. This thing will go past midnight tonight. Members do a variety of things to stay awake—watching movies on laptops, reading novels; one member has play dough and crayons. I’ve seen a couple decks of cards but I have not actually seen anybody playing. The really clever MPs pass the time writing real time blogs!!
11:03 am: House Leaders Peter Van Loan and Nathan Cullen are chatting—could détente be a possibility??
11:09 am: There does not appear to be any deals to apply votes and end this thing. However, the NDP appear to be voting considerably quicker.
Updated 11:27 am: NDP House Leader, Nathan Cullen, rises on a Point of Order. He wants to suspend voting at 2:15pm for an hour of Question Period. Not going to happen—there is no June 14 sitting, as the June 13 sitting went past 10 am.
11:45 am: Elizabeth May and 4 Bloc Members accidentally vote with the Liberals and the Government against an NDP amendment they meant to support. May is nearly in tears when she discovers her error and pleads with the Speaker to allow her to change her vote. Speaker Scheer will hear none of it. As a result, the amendment is soundly defeated with a slightly inflated 170 Members recorded as voting against.
11:51 am: Nathan Cullen alleges Minister Kenney missed the start of a vote because he had spilled water on his laptop and left to get a towel. Kenney says it was coffee and the House erupts in feigned indignation.
12:36 pm: I am way too tired to think of anything clever or witty to write.
12:48 pm: The House has a rare moment of collegiality when Denis Codeire asks for and receives Unanimous Consent to thank the House of Commons staff and pages for the great job they have been doing in the almost twelve straight hours that we have been voting.
12:58 pm: The NDP has returned to slow voting. They have not won a vote yet today; apparently, they enjoy losing so much they want to extend the time for it as long as possible!!
1:01 pm: We have been here 12 hours; we are on vote 80 of 159 (the exact half-way point). This allnightmare will extend into an alldaymare and take 24 hours to complete.
1:08 pm: Time for my next 30 minute respite.
1:34 pm: During the break, I learned from the Whip’s people that smokers get a break every 3 rather than every 5 ½ hours. That’s all the motivation I need!
3:30 pm: The Prime Minister is attending way more votes than Tom Mulcair. Mulcair hasn’t been seen in the House in hours. As Jack Layton famously said, “if you don’t show up for work, you don’t get a promotion”!
3:43 pm: Elizabeth May raises another inane Point of Order—Apparently, Rule 61 says you are not supposed to make noise during a vote—which only encourages CPC Members to yell louder when the PM rises—which also serves as a wake-up call that it is time for me to vote soon!!
4:11 pm: The NDP are clapping and chanting inexplicably. Perhaps they are unaware that they have lost 100 votes in a row!
4:17 pm: Make that 101!!
4:36 pm: I am losing feeling in my fingertips. Do MPs qualify for WCB if they suffer exhaustion related sensory deficits???
5:07 pm: We are kind of in the home stretch. The NDP have picked up the pace. There are 50 votes left to go; if we continue to do 8 votes/hour and if God is a Conservative (which we all suspect), this allnightmare will end before midnight!!
Updated 6:33 pm: MPs from all sides of the House getting their second and third wind. Who would have thought that one of the important qualities of a successful Member of Parliament was physical stamina?
6:41 pm: NDP benches looking a little thin—that should speed up the votes considerably. Most CPC and Liberal Members are in the House.
6:54: More quibbling between parties as to who was and wasn’t in the House when the vote was called. Motion is defeated 93-131.
7:30 pm: I have my last 30 minute respite and all hell breaks out. Resources Minister Oliver accuses Opposition Members of making offensive “Nazi” salutes; Opposition members claim they are “mocking” the “obligatory” applauses afforded the Prime Minister. I wasn’t in the House so I don’t know what happened. I do know, however, that Members are very tired and agitated and tempers are very short!!
7:52 pm: Having been cooped up in the House of Commons for the last 20+ hours, I did not realize or appreciate what a beautiful day it was today outside in Ottawa!
8:11 pm: We are making pretty good progress; I think everybody wants to get out of here. Obviously I am not on the 8:20 flight to Edmonton. And obviously I won’t be playing Sturgeon Hospital Foundation Heritage Classic tomorrow. I have missed it 3 out of the last 4 years for a variety of logistical challenges.
8:28 pm: Every Party has a proposal to end this debacle and defeat the remaining amendments on division. Predictably, nobody can accept anybody else’s proposal and there is no unanimous consent. Worse, the NDP have been agitated in the process and have reverted to ultra slow voting. The maturity and goodwill in this place really is disappointing!!
8:35 pm: Mrs. Harper enters the Government Lobby and gets applause equal to or greater than that of the Prime Minister.
8:43 pm: 20 votes/motions left to go; Speaker Devolin encourages Members to co-operate so we can get through this “in no time”.
9:00 pm: The Public Galleries are starting to attract some occupants. Obviously, there is no seventh game of the Stanley Cup Finals tonight (or anything else entertaining)!
9:17 pm: I am now 36 hours without sleep and feeling it!! I am having trouble standing for the standing votes!
9:26 pm: I could see the finish line if my eyes weren’t so blurry!!
10:24 pm: NDP lose a Point of Order on splitting off an environmental regulatory provision and like a petulant child resort to slow voting.
11: 24pm: We made it; we are done!! All 871 proposed amendments are defeated and the Opposition loses all 159 standing votes. It took 22 ½ hours from glacial beginning until painful end. Bill C-38 passes at Report Stage without amendment. Undoubtedly, the marathon voting session will live in Parliamentary infamy as a colossal waste of time, proving yet again that two things that you never want to watch being made are laws and sausages!!
It’s time for Mr. Head to meet Mr. Pillow.