Yikes – sorry about the delay, y’all – I did have every intention of being installed in my gallery perch at 6:30, when the bells started to ring, but there was scrumming, and what with one thing and another, I didn’t make it back to the House til now. It’s absolutely full, btw – the House, that is – and the traditional middle aisle mingling has just started to wind down as they all head to their respective seats. There are a few desk-bangers agitating – I’m not sure if Stockwell Day is one of them, but he’s definitely one of the usual suspects, but I think we’re all expecting the Newfoundland resistance to vote with the caucus tonight, since this is, after all, their party’s amendment. The crucial vote on the budget itself isn’t til tomorrow.
Here come the Whips – and we’re off!
Okay, first, the Speaker has to read the amendment – I’ll spare you the play by play in lieu of telling you that Ignatieff looks – actually, slightly putupon, even as he rises and his caucus joins with him, including front-bench Newfoundlander Gerry Byrne – who, as it happens, was scrumming outside just before the vote, and informed reporters that a decision has been made on tomorrow’s vote – the big one – which will be announced tomorrow, with the leader. He didn’t look mad, so I doubt it involves mass expulsions, but you never know.
Jim Flaherty is making wavy hand gestures at his colleagues, but that doesn’t change the fact that the government is currently somewhat resignedly supporting the Liberal motion, as NDP members yell “shame” at the nearest live mic.
There go more Conservative MPs – Jacques Gourde looks like an elf beside Dean del Mastro, y’all. I wonder which caucus has the tallest average height. I think it would probably be the Conservatives, but I’m not positive.
Stephen Harper is hunched over his papers, and the rest of his caucus looks impassive, but not displeased. Having dispatched the yeas, the vote continues with the nays, although the fate of the amendment has already been decided. Apparently, Ignatieff will be scrumming in the foyer after the vote; my guess is that he won’t say much more than Byrne had to offer earlier, but you never know, right?
As the clerks tally up the vote on yellow stickies, the slow clapping begins – on the government side, in fact. In seconds, it’s official: the amendment passes. The Conservatives have agreed to the Liberal amendment, and the Newfoundland Revolutionary Army has one more day to determine what its members will do during tomorrow’s vote. Which ITQ will cover, of course – hey, we did this one, despite being one of just two reporters in the gallery. See you then – or, more likely, before.