Inside Politics

UPDATED | OotD - No Sleep Till ... 3rd Reading of the CP Back To Work Bill!

As the battle over the Canadian Pacific back-to-work bill looms over the parliamentary horizon, according to the Projected Order of Business, the House will kick off what will likely be the longest uninterrupted sitting day of the year on a distinctly anticlimactic note: third reading of the pooled registered pensions bill.  

But as the saying goes, don't mistake the map - or, in this case, the POB - for the territory. Objects -- or obstructionist procedural tactics -- may indeed be closer than they appear. 

After all, the government's workplan for the morning could be easily curtailed, if not derailed, by a well- (or, depending on your perspective, ill-) timed opposition-proposed motion to concur in one of the many committee reports languishing on the Order Paper, which would force the government to interrupt proceedings with a motion to move onto regular House business in order to get back on schedule.

Indeed, the government itself could choose to postpone the pensions bill debate to take care of a bit of pre-emptive procedural loose-end tying to clear the decks for eventual swift passage of the refugee reform bill: there is, after all, a pending time allocation motion, which, if moved, would use up an additional hour or so of House time. 

UPDATE @ 11:45 am: As predicted, the refugee bill time allocation motion was, indeed, called, thus delaying the scheduled debate by an hour, but leaving the full programme otherwise unaffected. 

In any case, the Great CP Rail Back-to-Work Debate won't get underway until 3pm, when the government is expected to invoke the closure motion for which notice was duly given yesterday, which will take approximately an hour, as it requires 30 minutes for questions and comments, a 30 minute bell and, finally, a vote.

Once that's been ticked off the to-do list, the Chamber will resume debate of the main time allocation motion, which will continue until 8pm -- with a one-hour break  for private members' business/dinner/dog-walking -- and concludes with another 30 minute bell and one final vote before the back-to-work bill itself can be brought forward, and the real marathon begins.

So how long will that take? As is so often the case when it comes to parliamentary business, that depends.

Although the time allocation motion imposes a rigid schedule on the length of the various stages of debate -- two hours for second reading, one hour for committee of the whole and 30 minutes for third reading -- when it comes to votes, including votes on amendments that may or may not (read: may) be proposed during CotW, the clock stops.

Unless the House agrees to apply results, that would mean a full standing vote for each amendment, which generally takes between 7 and 10 minutes, depending on how quickly MPs stand up to be counted during the roll call, which could push the final vote on the bill into the wee small hours of the morning.

UPDATE: As I was reminded after posting, the House must also vote on each and every one of the 19 clauses in the bill, as well as the bill itself, which means that even if no amendments are brought forward, it would take just one stroppy MP to deny consent to apply results to force a bout of midnight voting madness, which would likely take at least 2 hours to complete.   

Once CotW has wound down, the Chamber will hit the final hour of debate at third reading. After that, everyone gets to go home to bed -- or, depending on exactly what time it is, caucus. Or breakfast. Do they serve breakfast at caucus? They really should on days like this. 

While all that is going on, the Finance committee and C-38 subcommittee will continue with their respective reviews of the omnibudget bill, with three super-sized sessions set to unfold today for a combined total of 12 hours of hearings, all of which will almost certainly be interrupted in mid-testimony at least once for back-to-work bill-related voting business.

On the witness list at the main committee this morning: the Canadian Association of Professional Professional Employees, Democracy Watch coordinator Tyler Sommers, Merit Canada and the United Food and Commercial Workers.

Later today
, committee members will hear from the Canadian Labour Congress, former RCMP complaints commissioner Paul Kennedy, the Windsor Police Service,  the director of Border Law Enforcement Strategies at Public Safety, and the RCMP's Border Integrity division, as well as various and sundry witnesses that have yet to be announced.

Over at the subcommittee, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo will be part of a panel that will also include University of Alberta ecology professor David Schindler, the BC Coast Pilots Association and Liberal MP David McGuinty.

At 8:30 -- the halfway point -- a new batch of witnesses will take the stand, including the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, Ecojustice Canada, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, the Pacific Pilotage Authority, the First Nations Tax Commission and, somewhat bizarrely, Environment and Sustainable Development Commissioner Scott Vaughan, who one might think deserves a slot of his own.

Earlier on the committee front, Public Accounts meets behind closed doors to deal with as yet unresolved -- and, of course, unspecified -- "business", which almost certainly involves the government's attempt to shut down the F-35 inquiry without hearing from further witnesses.

Later this morning, Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand heads to Procedure and House Affairs, ostensibly to discuss his office budget under the latest estimates, but more likely to field -- or, depending on his level of reticence, avoid -- questions on the ongoing robocalls investigations.

Finally, over at Ethics, turns its attention to social media, and specifically, the privacy implications thereof, during an appearance by Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart.  
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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Tags: blackberry jungle, orders of the day

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