Inside Politics

So, about those budget cuts -- hey, look! Pandas!

The anxious eyes of a heretofore panda-starved nation will be fixed on the interior of otherwise nondescript FedEx hangar in Mississauga in anticipation of the imminent arrival of Er Shun and Da Mao, who are slated to touch down on Canadian soil later this morning.

On hand to welcome the photogenic ambassadors of fuzzy-wuzzy Canada-China good will: the PM, his wife and Chinese ambassador Zhang Junsai.

Back on the Hill, meanwhile, the House is scheduled to resume debate on the budget in principle. 

As a reminder -- and to anticipate any eventual arguments that might be put forward by the government on the length of time allotted to dutiful parliamentary consideration of its fiscal plan-- today's discussion is very much not the same as debating the still unreleased budget implementation bill, or the accompanying estimates, both of which will almost certainly contain substantially more information on the program cuts, spending reductions and other nitty-gritty details that were so conspicuously absent from last week's presentation. 

Think of it as the difference between, say, announcing, amid much fanfare, the imminent arrival of a pair of pandas -- pandas! -- and actually putting forward a comprehensive 10 year plan on the care, feeding and general maintenance thereof. 

Before that gets underway, however, New Democrat MP Finn Donnelly will get his last chance to try to persuade his colleagues to back his bid to ban shark fin imports, which is slated to go to a vote on Wednesday.

On the committee front:

  • International Trade continues its study on the pros and cons of signing on as a full member of the Pacific Alliance
  • At Justice, representatives from the Manitoban government and Winnipeg Police Association, as well as the local Boys and Girls Club, share their thoughts on Conservative MP Parm Gill's pitch to crack down on gang recruitment, which will go to clause-by-clause review later this afternoon
  • Defence hears from retired LtCol Stephane Grenier as part of its ongoing investigation into the care of ill and injured veterans

Outside the precinct, International Trade Minister Ed Fast heads to Montreal for a roundtable chat with the Quebec chapter of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, during which he's expected to "highlight" both the benefits of Canada-European free trade and the "key points" of the just-released budget, while closer to the capital, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt takes part in a signing ceremony at the Museum of Civilization.

In Leduc, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz unveils a new five-year 'funding and programming agreement' to support the province's agricultural sector.

Finally, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty hits the VIP circuit in Hong Kong, where he'll speak at an Asia Society-hosted lunch and meet with various high-ranking officials. 

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. 

Mobile-friendly auto-updating text feed available here

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

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