Inside Politics

New Democrats to pitch proposal for more powerful speaker

Undaunted, it seems, by the fact that, just one day into the winter sitting, one of his own caucus charges has already moved House Speaker Andrew Scheer to issue a gentle reprimand for less than decorous conduct after he compared Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre to a red nose-festooned clown, New Democrat House Leader Nathan Cullen hits the Commons Foyer today to share his plan to "improve civility" in the House by "increasing the authority of the speaker." 

(Spoiler alert: It will almost certainly not involve mandatory ankle bracelets that would allow Scheer to punish unruly members by administering non-lethal but disorienting electrical shocks.) 

The potentially fatal flaw in this plan, of course, is that the speaker already has all the power in the world -- or, at least, the Chamber --  to put the smackdown on stroppy MPs, at least in theory. What he doesn't appear to have is the slightest desire to do so, at least beyond the occasional mid-QP intervention. (In defence of the current occupant of the chair, it's not like his predecessor, the avuncular Speaker Milliken, was any less reluctant to crack the gavel.) 

Also hitting the Hill media circuit this morning: New Democrat immigration critics Jinny Sims and Sadia Groguhe, who will hit the Centre Block press theatre to "call on the Conservative government to rectify its mishandling of thousands of files from its former Buffalo immigration office."

Outside the precinct, Environment Minister Peter Kent pops over to the National Arts Centre to "highlight [its] national historical significance" at an afternoon ceremony.

Back in the Commons, the House will absorb itself in report stage debate of the government's bid to streamline the refugee deportation process.

Later this evening, not one but two backbench MPs will get to bask in the private members' hour spotlight: Bloc Quebecois MP Maria Mourani, who will present her bill to crack down on human trafficking, as well as Conservative MP Devinder Shory, whose carrot-and-stick approach to Canadian citizenship -- reducing the residency requirement for permanent residents who enlist in the military, and stripping it entirely from any non-citizen resident who "engages in an act of war against the Canadian Forces" -- was originally slated to be debated last fall.

On the committee front, according to membership changes announced yesterday, former Environment chair Mark Warawa has moved to Industry.

As a result, today's meeting will kick off with a pro forma vote to choose his successor, who could, in theory, be any one of the Conservative MPs who currently sit as permanent members: Rober Sopuck, Stephen Woodworth, James Lunney, Lawrence Toet, Michelle Rempel and new arrivals Harold Albrecht and Brian Storseth. 

UPDATE: Congratulations are in order for Harold Albrecht, who was officially elected chair moments ago. 

Meanwhile, over at Aboriginal Affairs, members are set to resume consideration of C-47, which would enact the Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act and the Northwest Territories Surface Rights Board Act. On the witness list for today: the Nunavut Impact Review Board.

Also this morning: Public Safety examines the "economics of policing" with representatives from the department and the RCMP, and Status of Women -- which, thanks to the arrival freshly by-elected Conservative MP Joan Crockatt to replace Jay Aspin, is now made up entirely of women -- picks up its study on sexual harassment in the federal workplace;

This afternoon, representatives from the Tibetan Youth Congress will brief the International Human Rights subcommittee on the human rights situation in Tibetan areas of China, and Natural Resources returns to its investigation of "innovation in the energy sector."

Finally, Public Accounts retreats behind closed doors once again to work on its draft report on the regulation of pharmaceutical drugs. 

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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