Inside Politics

Orders of the Day - Whither the F-35 inquiry at Public Accounts?

On the same day that Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault is set to release her latest report on the state of Canada's access to information regime, yet another skirmish in the perennial battle over Parliament's -- and, ultimately, the public -- right to know is underway at Public Accounts, where opposition members are expected to continue their efforts to stop the government from shutting down the ongoing inquiry into the F-35 procurement debacle.

At least, that's what we think will happen: the meeting itself is set to take place in camera, which means we may never know what goes on behind committee doors. (Unless, of course, an aggrieved committee member decides to breach the non-disclosure rules as an act of parliamentary civil disobedience.) If she has time to kill before her press conference, the information commissioner could always drop by -- but, then again, she, too, would be barred from the room. 

Meanwhile, at Finance, another long day of omnibudget testimony lies ahead.

On the witness list this morning: economists, academics and immigration lawyer Lorne Waldman, as well as representatives from the Canadian Federation of Students, Oxfam Canada, the Canadian Autoworkers Union, Retail Council of Canada and Campaign 2000 national chair Laurel Rothman.

This afternoon, the committee will hear from former Rights and Democracy chair Aurel Braun, as well as Canada Without Poverty, the Canadian Association of University Teachers, the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Conference of the Arts, the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, Canadian Media Guild, Canadian Museums Association and finally, the Council of Canadians. 

Over at the C-38 subcommittee, members wrap up the witness phase of their review with one final panel -- the World Wildlife Fund, National Energy Board, Canadian Chamber of Commerce, West Coast Environmental Law Association and the Canadian Electricity Association -- before retreating behind closed doors to begin drafting their report, which is due back at the main committee early next week.

Elsewhere on the committee circuit:

  • Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson goes before Procedure and House Affairs to discuss the conflict of interest code of conduct for MPs, which is currently under statutory review
  • Ethics continues its investigation into the privacy implications of social media with the help of University of Ottawa Canada Research Chairs Michael Geist and Teresa Scassa
  • Occasionally embattled ombudsman Guy Parent talks "transformation initiatives" at Veterans Affairs
  • Canadian Heritage will get an update on Canada's preparations for the upcoming Olympic Games in London, courtesy of Canadian Olympic Committee president Marcel Aubut, British High Commissioner John Pocock and former Olympian Charmaine Crooke
  • Public Safety Minister Vic Toews and Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney go before their respective home committees to defend their respective main estimates.

Back in the Chamber, members will spend the day debating an NDP motion that calls on the government to "to abandon plans to further restrict access to Employment Insurance for Canadian workers who have followed the rules and who will now be forced to choose between taking a pay cut of up to 30% or losing their Employment Insurance benefits."

Hitting the Hill media circuit today:

As noted above, Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault hits the Charles Lynch Press Theatre to take questions from reporters on her latest report, which will highlight both improvements and "ongoing concerns".

The National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco marks World No Tobacco Day with a press conference on Canada's "anti-contraband tobacco activities"

Liberal MP Marc Garneau will provide a status update on his private members' bill to 'establish the Office of the Commissioner for Children and Young Persons in Canada."

Outside the precinct:

  • Environment Minister Peter Kent speaks at the closing ceremony for the inaugural National Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation Congress
  • Industry Minister Christian Paradis addresses "industry leaders from Canadian defence and securities companies" at CANSEC 2012.
  • Veterans Affairs Minister Steve Blaney attends a ceremony to commemorate the 110th anniversary of the Boer War. 
  • Maxime Bernier delivers "brief remarks" at a cocktail reception at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier, which is celebrating its centennial this year.

Finally, later this morning, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair will begin what may well turn out to be a spectacularly ill-considered tour of Alberta, during which he will get to see various oilsands projects and related development and conservation initiatives, meet with western politicians and, almost certainly, be greeted at every public appearance by questions about Dutch disease and carbon taxes.  

 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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