Liberals drop controversial motion as Trudeau’s Commons fracas reverberates

The federal government is bowing to opposition demands and backing down on a "draconian" motion that critics say would have given the Liberals too much control over the ins and outs of parliamentary business.

OTTAWA — The federal government is bowing to opposition demands and backing down on a “draconian” motion that critics say would have given the Liberals too much control over the ins and outs of parliamentary business.

Government House leader Dominic LeBlanc said during question period Thursday that the Liberals have listened to the comments of the opposition and pulled the controversial motion, known as Motion 6.

“We’ve listened to the comments made by all of our colleagues, (and) a short while ago we withdrew Motion 6 from the order paper,” LeBlanc said as cheers rained down from the opposition benches.

“Our objective remains to work with everyone to find the proper mechanism to extend the sitting hours and allow for a more respectful debate on government legislation, and I look forward to working with all members of this House to achieve that objective.”

That about-face came after a contrite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized yet again Thursday for a physical encounter with two opposition MPs in an unprecedented fracas on the floor of the House of Commons the night before.

But Trudeau’s political adversaries were out for more, demanding he show he is serious about decorum by withdrawing a motion that would remove procedural tools — and power — from opposition MPs.

Trudeau rose in the House to apologize to all MPs, the Speaker and also Ruth Ellen Brosseau, with whom he collided on Wednesday while trying to hurry Conservative whip Gord Brown to his seat.

“I sincerely apologize to my colleagues, to the House as a whole and to you, Mr. Speaker, for failing to live up to a higher standard of behaviour,” Trudeau told a rapt Commons as the shockwaves from Wednesday’s eyebrow-raising scene continued to reverberate.

“Members, rightfully, expect better behaviour from anyone in this House. I expect better behaviour of myself.”

Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose said she appreciated Trudeau’s apology, but insisted the Liberals need to drop the controversial motion aimed at taking away some of the procedural tools opposition MPs use to combat the government.

“He is stripping the opposition of our jobs,” Ambrose said.

“We have a job to do in the House, and we take it seriously. If he truly respects the role of Opposition, and the role of every member of the House, then he has to withdraw the motion,” Ambrose said.

Trudeau did not give in, side-stepping the demand in his response to Ambrose.

“It is important that we draw a clear line between what was my unacceptable behaviour and the general tone of the House,” he said. “The escalation and the tone of the House does not lead to any justification of my actions, and I accept that fully.”

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