Inside Politics

Orders of the Day - Let a new new era of parliamentary civility begin!

Newly minted NDP House Leader Nathan Cullen hits the Foyer to discuss the current state of affairs in the Chamber, and specifically, his plan to "engage the other parties" -- as well as House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer -- to "ensure that the decorum Canadians expect from parliamentarians takes root," an endeavour which would almost certainly involve exerting gentle, but firm pressure on the Speaker to enforce the existing rules by making use of the tools already available to him.

Left unanswered, at least for now, however, is the somewhat cynical but still reasonable question of why, exactly, the NDP believes that the Speaker would be willing to start swinging the Mace now, given his reluctance to do so thus far. After all, it's not like he isn't fully aware of his powers. He just doesn't seem terribly keen on the idea of invoking them. Like his predecessor, Scheer seems more comfortable serving as parliamentary facilitator than disciplinarian. At the end of the day, however, he is the servant of the House, and if a majority of his masters -- or, at least, their respective parties -- were to demand that he take a more activist approach to laying down the law, he would have no choice but to comply.

Meanwhile, the Commons itself will spend the day debating a Liberal opposition motion that will attempt to draw parallels between the actions of former Ontario Premier Mike Harris and "the painful lessons from Walkerton," which, it avers, "proved that cuts to essential government services protecting the health and safety of Canadians are reckless and can cause Canadians to lose their lives," and the regulatory changes being proposed by the current federal Conservative government, specifically "reducing food inspection, search and rescue operations, and slashing environmental protections."  Just to drive the point home, the motion includes specific references to the three former Ontario PC ministers in the current cabinet: Jim Flaherty, John Baird and Tony Clement. 

On the committee front, Citizenship and Immigration appears determined to burn through the C-31 (refugee reform) witness list in record time, with more than six hours of testimony scheduled for today, beginning with back-to-back panels of senior officials from CIC, Public Safety, Canada Border Services Agency and the RCMP, followed by representatives from the David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights and lawyer Barbara Jackman.

At that point, members will break for lunch, but reconvenes at 3:30 this afternoon to hear from Centre for Immigration Policy Reform spokesperson Martin Collacott and immigration and refugee lawyer Julie Taub, as well as the director of the Refugee Forum at the University of Ottawa's Human Rights Research and Education Centre, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants and Ontario crown attorney Toni Skarica.

Over at Government Operations, MPs will get the chance to go through the fine print of the latest set of estimates for the Privy Council Office, as well as the Canadian International Development Agency -- as Foreign Affairs -- which you'd think would be the more logical committee to review the CIDA estimates, really -- continues its investigation of the role of the private sector in international development, and Status of Women does the same with its study on improving economic prospects for Canadian girls.

Meanwhile, on the precinct media circuit, Canadian Council for Policy Alternatives senior economist David Macdonald unveils a new study that "estimates the previously secret extent of government aid" that flowed to Canadian banks during the global economic crisis.

Later this morning, Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore will provide an update on the upcoming Royal Tour during a teleconference with media.

Finally, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair heads to a downtown hotel to deliver an address at the Canadian Police Association General Meeting. 
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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