Inside Politics

Orders of the Day - The C-11 (Copyright) Committee Closes Its Doors (For now)

The copyright bill -- which, up until two days ago was likely the most contentious bit of legislation on the government's to-do list, but now seems downright cuddly in comparison to the tungsten balloon of online surveillance -- heads to committee this morning for what could be a lengthy sojourn under the parliamentary microscope.

First on the agenda: "committee business", which is scheduled to take place in public, and will involve much discussion of just exactly how the future will unfold. It's worth noting that will be an opposition member -- NDP MP Glenn Thibeault, to be precise -- who will wield the gavel at this and future sessions, which could prove significant if relations turn rancorous later in the process.

UPDATE: Less than five minutes after the meeting began, Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro moved to go in camera to talk witness selection.

Also worth watching on the committee front today, albeit through the access-denying veil of in camera privilege: Procedure and House Affairs, which will meet behind closed doors to review the Standing Orders as a prelude to tomorrow's take-note debate. Readers can rest assured that I will have much, much more to say about that particular undertaking, so stay tuned for a more extensive overview later today. 

Also in camera this morning: Public Accounts, members of which are set to receive an off-the-record briefing on the estimates process, courtesy of Treasury Board Secretariat. As noted in yesterday's OotD, it probably isn't such a bad idea to allow such meetings to take place in private, as the presence of reporters might render members reluctant to pose seemingly stupid questions, despite the fact that, when it comes to performing proper parliamentary oversight, there's really no such thing.

Convening freely and openly, in full view of the public, however, is Ethics, which will hear from Hill and Knowlton president Michael Coates and senior associate Elizabeth Roscoe, as well as Lobbying Commissioner Karen Shepherd, as it begins to wrap up its review of the Lobbying Act.

Finally, private members' bills hit the table at Health and Justice, the members of which will examine Liberal MP Geoff Regan's bid to establish "Purple Day" to raise public awareness of epilepsy, and NDP MP Joe Comartin's attempt to loosen the laws governing sports betting in Canada.

Meanwhile, back in the Chamber, MPs will devote the last full sitting day before a week-long constituency break to an NDP opposition motion calling on the government to provide "high-quality, culturally-relevant education" to First Nation children by adopting "Shannen's Dream" as its own.

As that debate gets underway in the Commons, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney heads to the National Press Theatre to reveal the details of an "important move to protect Canada's immigration system" -- a crackdown on allegedly "bogus" refugee claimants, to be specific, which would roll back opposition-imposed changes that were made to a minority-era bill, giving the minister sweeping new powers to amend the safe country list without any requirement to consult human rights experts, and depriving claimants from those countries of the right to appeal the decision through the Immigration and Refugee Board.

The bill will be introduced later this morning, with the minister set to take questions from the press shortly after it hits the floor of the House of Commons; before that gets underway, however, there will be a technical, "not for attribution" briefing conducted under lock-up conditions.

On the media circuit today: Green Party Leader Elizabeth May marks the seventh anniversary of the coming-into-force of the Kyoto Protocol with a press conference, during which she will "outline the many 'fictions' being put forward by the Harper spin machine ... on the protocol, the year-end deadline and oilsands emissions."

NDP foreign affairs critic Helene Laverdiere discusses her plan to resurrect a private members' bill to "make vital medication available to poor communities struck by disease," a proposal that was passed by the House last spring, only to die on the floor of the Senate.

Laverdiere isn't the only NDP MP running the gallery gauntlet today: her caucus colleagues Marie-Claude Morin and Andrew Cash will present a party-backed bill on "national housing," and veteran MP Pat Martin continues his campaign against the asbestos industry by holding a press conference with "Asbestos widow and advocate" Margaret Buist of Sarnia.

Meanwhile, the Justice for Mohamed Harkat Committee will reveal new support being drawn for an appeal from MPs and human rights groups. 

Elsewhere in the precinct, the PM, for reasons left tantalizingly unspecified by the advisory, holds a mid-morning photo-op in his Centre Block office.

Also making him/herself available for the cameras this morning: "Bou", the six-foot tall Caribou currently serving as mascot of a campaign to protect boreal woodland, who will be present as the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society delivers a 32,000-strong petition in support of preserving its natural habitat.

Finally, acting in her often overlooked junior ministerial capacity, Diane Ablonczy heads to the Ottawa airport for an "outreach effort ... to promote safe travel habits among Canadians who travel abroad." 

 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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