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Senators to MPs: Yes, we can change budget bills, but we’ll let this one slide

Click to play video: 'Trudeau breaks down specifics of federal carbon tax' Trudeau breaks down specifics of federal carbon tax
Pressed for details on the Liberal federal budget's booze tax, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau instead took the moment to explain the specifics of a federal carbon tax – Jun 21, 2017

Canadian Senators have agreed to pass the federal budget without amendments, but they’re simultaneously reasserting their right to amend any bill, including budget bills.

They have voted 50-33 to not insist on their amendments to the budget implementation bill, which would have deleted a provision allowing the government to hike the federal excise tax on wine, beer and alcohol every year by the rate of inflation.

READ MORE: Senate, MPs locked in test of wills over budget bill

But at the same time, they’ve sent a message back to the House of Commons, reminding MPs that the Senate is constitutionally entitled to amend any legislation “whatever its nature or source.”

Senators were incensed Wednesday after the government summarily and swiftly rejected their amendments, sending a message back to the upper house that the changes “infringe upon the rights and privileges” of the Commons.

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READ MORE: Senate narrowly defeats motion to separate Trudeau government’s budget bill

That message, passed unanimously by the Commons, amounted to an assertion that only the elected chamber of Parliament has the right to make decisions on budgetary matters and that the unelected Senate had no business trying to rewrite the budget.

Senators countered that the Constitution prohibits the appointed upper house from initiating a money bill, but does not stop it from amending – or even defeating – one.

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