Inside Politics

UPDATED - OotD Jamaican PM Portia Simpson Miller comes to town

The PM rolls out the red carpet for his Jamaican counterpart, Portia Simpson Miller, who is scheduled to arrive on the Hill mid-morning, whereupon she will be welcomed by Harper and others before heading behind closed doors for a private "tete a tete," followed by the traditional walk down the Hall of Honour, and a joint statement by the two leaders. 

Interestingly, the Jamaican Observer report on the trip drastically downplays the Ottawa leg of Miller's visit -- to the point that her meeting with the PM doesn't even merit mention, although it does note that she is slated to meet "the country's governor general," as well as other unnamed "Canadian government officials" during her four-day sojourn in Toronto, where she will also "make presentations on investment opportunities in Jamaica." 

Meanwhile, on the House agenda today: The government's much self-touted food safety bill (S-11), which will begin its journey through the Commons with what is likely to be a lively -- and topical -- round of second-reading discussion.

Before that gets underway, however, Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae will make himself available to reporters in the Foyer to share the details of his private members' motion to "work with First Nations on a nation-to-nation basis to replace the Indian Act," which will undergo its first hour of debate when the Chamber doors open at 11am.

The full text of his proposal:

That, in the opinion of the House, the Indian Act is the embodiment of failed colonial and paternalistic policies which have denied First Nations their rights, fair share in resources; fostered mistrust and created systemic barriers to the self-determination and success of First Nations, and that elimination of these barriers requires the government to initiate a formal process of direct engagement with First Nations within three months of passage of this motion, on a nation-to-nation basis, which focuses on replacing the Indian Act with new agreements based on: (a) the constitutional, treaty, and inherent rights of all First Nations; (b) the historical and fiduciary responsibilities of the Crown to First Nations; (c) the standards established in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including the principle of free, prior, and informed consent; (d) respect, recognition, reconciliation and support for First Nations; (e) partnership and mutual accountability between the Crown and First Nations; and (f) stability and safety of First Nations; and that this process be completed within two years before reporting with a series of concrete deliverables for the government to act upon.

Meanwhile, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May has served notice that she will be absent from her seat today -- a rare event, given her enviable attendance record -- in order to take part in the Defend Our Coasts sit-in outside the BC legislature.

Elsewhere on the ministerial circuit:

  • Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird heads to Quebec City for an appearance at the 127th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, during which he will speak on "citizenship, identity and linguistic and cultural duality." 

  • In Montreal, Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq delivers an "important announcement" on "epigenetics and health research" and Minister of State for Science and Technology Gary Goodyear attends the 2012 World Conference on Information Technology. 

Finally, back in the national capital region, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney will serve as quizmaster at the Historica-Dominion Institute co-hosted Canadian Citizenship Challenge: Are You Smarter than a 10th Grader, a "game-show style competition" that will see a Grade 10 civics class take on CBC journalists Laura Payton and Kady O'Malley (hey, that's me!) to see "who knows more about Canada, its history and political institutions." 

Wish us luck, everyone. It's been a long time since either of us saw the inside of a high school civics classroom. 

UPDATE: Well, we tried, but alas, the date of the first flying of the flag (February 15, 1965, for future reference) confounded us, and allowed the students to romp to a well-deserved victory.  

The final score: 10th Graders - 9 // Journalists - 8.5

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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NOTE: Updates added in reverse chronological (newer to older) order.

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