NDP MP's Tyrone Benskin and Marie-Claude Morin bring in a round of coffee for fellow MP's taking part in the federal Budget vote, in Ottawa , June 14, 2012.
Credits: Chris Roussakis/QMI AGENCY
OTTAWA - Opposition parties are warning they'll continue to try and sandbag the Conservative government's plan to pass the omnibus budget bill even after they hit the finish line on their voting marathon.
Still, by press time, the Conservatives had won every vote as parliamentarians continued to grind their way through 800 amendments introduced by the opposition on Bill C-38.
MPs began voting at 1 a.m. Thursday and are expected to continue until the wee hours of Friday morning.
The New Democrats are drawing out the maximum 159 votes to their limit by choosing to slow votes to a molasses pace on amendments they feel are especially key.
NDP House leader Nathan Cullen said the opposition is stepping up to its responsibility of holding the government to account.
But Finance Minister Jim Flaherty called the delay tactic "nonsense" during a news conference at the vote marathon's halfway point.
"This is not a time for gamesmanship," he said. "We'll do whatever we have to do today, tonight and the early hours of tomorrow morning to get the job done."
The Conservative majority ensures Bill C-38 will pass when it comes up for a final vote, likely early next week.
But Liberal MP Marc Garneau said the opposition had won "a moral victory."
Meanwhile, MPs confined to the House were making themselves comfortable for the last hours of voting.
The atmosphere remained jovial Thursday afternoon, even as some MPs nodded off for brief naps between watching movies, reading novels, chatting with seatmates and squeezing in work.
Coffee, energy drinks and chocolate-covered coffee beans kept the rest awake - and a little jittery - through the voting.
NDP MP Glenn Thibeault, spotted in his socks outside the House, said 24 hours straight was too long to keep wearing dress shoes.
"It's the only thing I can take off without being ruled out of order," he joked.
Parliamentarians aren't the only ones pulling long hours - security, cafeteria staff, parliamentary clerks and pages, bus drivers, and TV and sound crews worked overtime in the House during the all night and all day voting session.
Opposition parties accuse the government of ramming the omnibus bill through Parliament without enough scrutiny, while the Conservatives charge their political rivals are playing procedural games with important legislation.
The omnibus bill is more than 420 pages, would adjust 70 separate pieces of legislation, and contains some 700 clauses.
It covers everything from making the governor general's salary taxable to bringing Mounties into the public health-care system, boosting the age of eligibility for old age security, reforming employment insurance, and streamlining the environmental assessments.