Conservatives get break from Senate scandal as House adjourns
After weeks of rancour, MPs agree to adjourn three days early until Jan. 27
The Conservatives will get a six-week reprieve from being grilled about the Senate expenses scandal during question period as members of Parliament agreed Tuesday evening to adjourn the House of Commons until Jan. 27.
Questions about the role members of Stephen Harper's inner circle played in a $90,000 secret deal between the prime minister's former chief of staff Nigel Wright and now suspended Senator Mike Duffy dominated the fall sitting of Parliament with NDP Leader Tom Mulcair leading the charge in question period.
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The Commons adjourned with both Harper and Mulcair in South Africa leading the Canadian delegation that attended the memorial of Nelson Mandela.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau was in the Commons for question period on Tuesday where he asked the government about its controversial proposal for First Nations education reform — a legislative proposal the Assembly of First Nations has so far rejected in its current form.
While it is not unusual for the Commons to adjourn early, Government House Leader Peter Van Loan said there was unanimous consent for the House of Commons to rise today with "a record amount of legislation passed" since the federal government returned with a speech from the throne on Oct.16.
"Are you sure?," the House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer joked as he sought unanimous consent for the motion.
"Yes!," MPs declared.
"Agreed and so ordered," Scheer said.
The RCMP are not only investigating Wright and Duffy for possible bribery, fraud and breach of trust but the Mounties have also widened their probe to include the PMO in documents filed in court on Nov. 15.
The allegations have not been proven in court and no charges have been laid.
'Take-note' debate on Ukraine
Before all MPs return to their home ridings, some will spend the better part of their Tuesday evening taking part in a "take-note" debate on the situation in Ukraine.
While take-note debates are intended to solicit the views of MPs on a particular subject or aspect of government policy, they do not usually come to a vote.
David Anderson, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs, told the Commons "we have consistently messaged and urged action with the Ukrainian authorities that they protect the rule of law, that they work toward human rights, that they strengthen democracy."
"We continue to carry that message to them, we want to support those folks who are out on the streets, who believe those are important principles that Ukraine continues to move in the direction of seeing stronger democracy, seeing a stronger rule of law, and in particular seeing human rights protected," Anderson said.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird was just in Ukraine where he said Canada remained committed to long-term democratic development despite its recent tilt toward Russia and the violence that has spilled into its streets.