Anti-terror bill briefing for MPs scheduled during question period

A briefing tomorrow for MPs regarding the government's proposed anti-terror legislation is set for a rather inconvenient time: the middle of question period.

Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney invites MPs to session when they're supposed to be in House

Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney has scheduled a briefing Friday for opposition MPs on the government's proposed anti-terror legislation, but the timing has been questioned. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

A briefing tomorrow for MPs regarding the government's proposed anti-terror legislation is set for a rather inconvenient time: the middle of question period.

Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney's office sent an invitation to MPs on Wednesday to tell them the briefing on the latest anti-terrorism measures will be held at 11:30 a.m. Friday, just down the hall from the House of Commons.

Question period on Fridays runs earlier than on other days, starting at 11 a.m. ET rather than 2 p.m.

It could be difficult for MPs to choose where to be: question period is the only time opposition MPs have to question cabinet ministers about legislation, spending and other issues. Other than votes, it's also the only time most MPs can be expected in the House.

But a briefing on newly tabled legislation can be vital to understanding the intention behind a bill's measures — and to spotting potential trouble spots.  

A Friday briefing would be difficult enough for most MPs to attend, since many are at home in their ridings by then, or travelling home.

Briefing described as a 'courtesy'

Government House leader Peter Van Loan said the briefing will extend well past question period.

It is scheduled for an hour, to end at 12:30 p.m., which means half the briefing will take place during question period.

"This is a courtesy that is offered and if members want additional briefings we're happy to offer those as well. It's just we wanted to be sure they had an opportunity to be briefed before it was introduced," Van Loan said.

The bill is now on notice on the order paper as "an Act to enact the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act and the Secure Air Travel Act, to amend the Criminal Code, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts."

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