Inside Politics

UPDATED - Orders of the Day - Welcome to the wonderful world of parliamentary oversight, Michael Ferguson!

The man who would -- and likely will -- be the Canada's next auditor general goes before Public Accounts this afternoon, which will give the opposition parties their first opportunity to put their previously stated concerns over his reported lack of proficiency in both official languages to Michael Ferguson himself. In any case, the outcome of the meeting itself is an all but foregone conclusion: with the government holding the  majority of seats at the table, Ferguson's nomination will almost certainly be approved by the end of the day.

This may not be Ferguson's last appearance before a panel of sceptical parliamentarians, however: late last week, Liberal Senate Leader James Cowan gave notice to his Conservative counterpart that he would like the putative AG-in-waiting to come before committee of the whole before the Upper House endorses his nomination. 

UPDATE: Turns out that Cowan will get his wish after all. According to a release sent out by the Senate Liberal press office, Ferguson, along Treasury Board Secretary Michelle d'Auray and Deputy Cabinet Secretary Patricia Hassard, will appear before the Senate in Committee of the Whole tomorrow afternoon. 

Meanwhile, back in the Chamber, MPs are set to spend the day debating the NDP's call for a ban on the use and export of asbestos, which will almost certainly go down to defeat when it comes to a vote.

Those with a deep and abiding fascination for Machiavellian legislative manoeuvres will want to keep a watchful eye on routine proceedings this afternoon when, according to the Notice Paper, the government could well unveil the latest iteration of its bid to crack down on loans to leadership candidates.

Depending on whether it follows the same format as previous unsuccessful attempts, that could put the Official Opposition, which has supported the bill in the past, in a tricky position, as I outlined in a weekend post. 

The New Democrats are, after all, for all practical purposes the only party in the midst of an active leadership race, and it's a good bet that several of those vying for the top job were counting on being able to borrow a spot of cash to cover campaign costs, which could become distinctly more difficult if the legislation was fast-tracked through the House before the Christmas break, which could result in the new rules -- which would, among other things, impose the current contribution cap not only on loans from individuals, but also guarantors willing to sign on to those from financial institutions.

Outside the precinct:

  • Transport Minister Denis Lebel announces "major funding for post-market research into the safety and effectiveness of drugs" at the Centre for Clinical Epidemiology in Montreal.
  • Finance Minister Jim Flaherty takes part in the launch of Financial Literacy Month in Toronto, and then heads to Trenton for the unveiling of the Highway of Heroes commemorative silver coin.
  • Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney is in Charlottetown, where he will attend the local stop of Kin Canada's Portraits of Honour tour, and "honur exceptional citizens from Atlantic Canada and Ontario" with ministerial commendations.
  • Finally, Ottawa's official residences -- Rideau Hall, Stornoway and 24 Sussex, which, for nomenclative consistency, should really be known as "Gorffwysfa" -- will open their respective doors to trick-or-treaters this evening. 
For up to the minute dispatches from the precinct and beyond, keep your eye on the Parliament Hill Ticker below -- or, alternatively, bookmark it and check back throughout the day. 

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