Justin Trudeau, other MPs file last-minute pre-recess questions

The House may be about to shut down for the season, but that hasn't stopped MPs from filing a flurry of written queries to the Order Paper during the final days of the sitting. Kady O'Malley has more.

Conservative backbenchers want to know how much it costs government to reply to opposition queries

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau is one of many opposition members who have filed last-minute written questions before the House of Commons shuts down for the summer. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau wants more details on the decision to approve the Northern Gateway — and what legal opinions were requested about the Crown duty to consult with Aboriginal people.

New Democrat MP Charmaine Borg wants more statistics on how often federal agencies — including CSIS, CSEC and the RCMP — request user data from telecommunications providers.

And Conservative backbencher John Carmichael wants to know just how much it cost the government to answer to each and every parliamentary written question so far this year.

The House may be about to shut down for the season, but that hasn't stopped MPs from filing a flurry of pre-recess written queries to the Order Paper during the final days of the sitting. 

Under House rules, the government is obliged to provide a response within 45 days — calendar days, that is, not sitting days.

That means the replies should be ready to be tabled on the first day back when MPs return this fall, except for the one posed by Carmichael, who, curiously, failed to specify the 45 day deadline. It's is usually standard operating procedure for inquisitive MPs to note the deadline in their requests.

Few requests from Tory backbench

In fact, Carmichael's Conservative caucus colleague Mike Wallace is still awaiting the results of a virtually identical request standing in his name on the cost of replying to the first 253 questions filed since last fall.

Wallace's query was added to the list in January, and remains unanswered nearly six months later.

The only other Conservative MP to submit a written question in the current session was Scott Reid, who earlier this month asked for background information on the controversial searches and gun seizures in High River, Alta. during last year's floods.

Although he told CBC News he had his fingers crossed that he'd get a substantive reply, Reid may want to temper his expectations.

On Thursday, the government tabled a one-sentence reply to Liberal MP John McCallum's request for a breakdown of temporary foreign workers employed by federal departments, agencies and Crown Corporations since 2002, which stated that, as it would require "a prohibitively long and extensive search" of the program archives, the department was unable to answer it within the allotted time.

A sampling of submissions from the last two days, including those referenced above:

Q-6452 — June 19, 2014 — Ms. Freeland (Toronto Centre) — With regard to negotiations in relation to the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the European Union: since January 1, 2012, what are the costs incurred in relation to travel by government officials from the current Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, as well as the former Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, to (a) Brussels, Belgium, or (b) any other European jurisdictions for meetings about the CETA, broken down by (i) department, (ii) individual, (iii) itemized expenses?

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