When I left, there were more than 250 MPs sitting in the chamber. C-6 had just passed second reading, so most of the MPs – with some absences, including a big chunk of Liberals – voted, and then stuck around for the next stage of debate. That was early evening on a Saturday in June, and there they were. Throughout much of the filibuster, each party sent a skeleton crew to monitor events. But after second reading, when MPs debated each clause of the bill in the Committee of the Whole (which comprises every MP), they all stuck around in case they needed to vote on any of them. So there they sat, as a group, debating every line of the legislation in front of them.
And people watched. When I was in the gallery on the south side of the Commons, it was at least two-thirds full – and even fuller, at times. While there were a few pro-union folks in the crowd, there were also families, complete with at least one crying baby, sitting there, watching intently. And there were no doubt other people like me, who’d made the short walk from their downtown dwellings to watch some history in the making.