Conservative senators put forward a motion Friday that would gut caucus colleague Michael Chong's Reform Act, a bill aimed at rebalancing power between MPs and party leaders.
The Conservative MP's private member's bill was passed with the support of all parties in the House of Commons but has been getting a rough ride in the Senate, where it has reached the final stage in the dying days of this Parliament before the summer break and the election call.
One of the key parts of the bill would give MPs in a party caucus the power to trigger a leadership review, and to subsequently vote to oust their leader.
Two Conservative senators, David Wells backed by Denise Batters, introduced an amendment Friday that specifically neuters that part of the bill.
Wells and other senators maintain Chong's bill ignores the will of the tens of thousands of party members who select leaders, as well as that of senators who sit in caucus.
In a sharply worded speech, Wells pointed out that Chong had unsuccessfully tried to get rank and file Conservative party members to support his ideas at policy conventions.
"Mr. Chong's work-around was to bring it to Parliament as a private member's bill, divide the caucus...and then bully the Senate into bending to his wishes," Wells said.
Chong has argued that unelected senators have no right to thwart the will of the Commons on a bill that aims to empower MPs.
His bill would also give MPs the power to oust and reinstate colleagues from their caucus, and to select their caucus chairperson.
Another section would eliminate a leader's veto power over candidates in a federal election.
All elements of the bill would be subject to a vote by each party caucus after each election. They could choose to adopt the rules, change them, or go with the status quo.
Other senators, including Liberal Pierrette Ringuette, said they supported Chong's bill in its existing form.
"If you vote on this amendment, you are effectively killing this bill," she said.
Just as the bill was set to come to a vote, the Conservative Senate whip moved to push off the matter until Monday afternoon.
It was second time that a vote was put off by the Conservatives this week.