Inside Politics

Orders of the Day - How many ministers does it take to re-announce new cross-border exemption limits?

No fewer than five ministers - Joe Oliver, Keith Ashfield, Vic Toews, Ed Fast, Maxime Bernier and Ted Menzies - fan out across the country for a series of synchronized appearances at or near the US passenger check-in counters at local airports, where they will, collectively and individually, "highlight a new measure that will benefit Canadian consumers"  -- almost certainly those higher exemptions for Canadian cross-border shoppers, which were first announced, amid similar fanfare, in the budget, and will come into effect on June 1, much to the undisguised glee of all those American border town retailers hoping to cash in on the revolving door for bargain-hunting Canadians.

Back in Ottawa, what was, by any standard of measurement, a very, very long week on the Hill will conclude with the final round of report stage debate on the refugee reform bill, which has one more hour before the clock runs out, although the votes on the proposed amendments -- of which, we have been assured, there will be many -- will be deferred until Monday. 

Elsewhere on the Hill, Finance convenes a rare Friday morning session to hear from still more omnibudget-related witnesses: the Council of Canadians with Disabilities. the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association, the Rotman International Centre for Pension Management and McMaster economist Arthur Sweetman.

Also out and about in the precinct: the Subcommittee on International Human Rights will hold an all-party press conference to condemn the "continuing widespread persecution of ethnic and religious minorities in Burma." Among the MPs set to attend: subcommittee chair Scott Reid, Conservatives Russ Hiebert and David Sweet, NDP MP Wayne Marston and Liberal Irwin Cotler.

Elsewhere on the ministerial circuit: 

  • Treasury Board President Tony Clement, stops by the Toronto Board of Trade to remind its members of the many projected benefits -- jobs! growth! red tape reduction! -- contained in the most recent budget.  

  • Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore convenes a roundtable on the "next phase" of the "roadmap for Canada's linguistic duality" in Rockland as Veterans Affairs Minister Steve Blaney announces, on his behalf, new funding for the 2012 Rendez-vous naval de Quebec. 

  • In Winnipeg, Rona Ambrose unveils federal support for "women and girls living in rural and remote communities." 

  • The PM, meanwhile, makes his way to North Bay, where he will attend a parade to mark Canadian Armed Forces Day. 

Finally, opposition party leaders Tom Mulcair and Bob Rae are in Saskatoon, where they will vie for the attention and approval of the crowd at the annual conference of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

Awkwardly, both the NDP and Liberal advisories bill their respective leaders' speeches -- scheduled for 9:30 and 12:45, respectively -- as "the keynote," leaving it for observers to decide, and partisans to spin, which is the better timeslot.

As for federal government representation, later this afternoon, Transport Minister Denis Lebel will discuss the "next steps in .. Canada's new long-term infrastructure plan later this afternoon.

Outside the FCM venue, the local Council of Canadians chapter will protest the Canada-European Union trade by staging a poker game to represent the ongoing negotiations. 

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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