Inside Politics

UPDATED - Orders of the Day - So, whatever happened to the Prime Minister's Volunteer Awards?

Your regular daily lookahead resumes in a moment, but first, a brief tangent: Later this morning, Governor General David Johnston will kick off National Volunteer Week, which got me wondering, once again, about the state of the Prime Minister's Volunteer Awards

For those of you who haven't been following the tale of the PMVAs, the initiative was first announced in the 2010 Speech from the Throne, with the inaugural round initially slatede to be handed out last fall. That schedule, alas, was scuppered by a government-convened focus group, which gave collective thumbs down to major aspects of the initiatives, including the presence of the PM's name, the ambiguous nature of the awards themselves and the eligibility restrictions.  

Almost certainly as a result of the less than enthusiastic reaction, the reveal was quietly postponed until an unspecified date in 2012, although it's worth noting that only the last objection -- which questioned the age restrictions for national awards -- resulted in any change being made to the program itself. (There were also reports that very few submissions were being received, which would suggest that the focus groupies were entirely correct in their criticism.)

In any case, here we are at the start of National Volunteer Week -- which would seem like the ideal time for the PM to present his awards, but a quick check of the website suggests little progress has been made since -- well, ever, really, unless you count the focus group, and the subsequent tweak to the rules. 

I've sent in a query to PMO, and I'll provide an update on the current status of the PM's efforts to honour volunteers just as soon as I have something to report. Stay tuned!

UPDATE: According to PMO, "nearly 800 nominations were submitted from across the country," and the selection process is "well underway." We can expect an announcement on the presentation of the awards "soon"! 

Meanwhile, as the second week of the April constituency break begins, off-session parliamentary business appears to have cruised to a gentle halt, at least for today, with not a single scheduled event on the horizon, and all the political action -- such as it is --  -- will be going down on the ministerial good news circuit, which continues to weave its way across the country, spreading federal largess from coast to coast to coast.

Mere moments after hitting post on today's OotD, the press gallery got word -- by which, of course, I mean received a media advisory -- that NDP MP Pat Martin will "deliver a statement on election fraud" at 11am.

In Atlantic Canada, Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield delivers new funding to help the homeless in Fredericton while ACOA Minister Bernard Valcourt offers assistance to local youth in Edmonston, and Revenue Minister Gail Shea "celebrates" the "official opening" -- and announces more money for -- new affordable housing in Summerside.

In Quebec, Transport Minister Denis Lebel "reports on financial assistance recently granted to the mining industry" in Rouyn-Noranda, and Senator Suzanne Fortin-Duplessis embarks on a site visit at a community housing development in Montreal.

Out west, local MP Ron Cannan attends the "grand re-opening" of the "revitalized" Tenth Street Residence in Nelson, while elsewhere in British Columbia, Minister of State for Seniors Alice Wong is in Vancouver to unveil new funding for the New Horizons seniors program, with parliamentary secretary Kellie Leitch set to do the same at a satellite event in Toronto. 

Finally, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird headed out on a European tour, during which he will, according to the advisory, "represent Canada" at meetings in London, Berlin and Brussels.
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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