Inside Politics

Commons debates climate change in aftermath of ministerial slam of US scientist

By a serendipitous twist of supply day timing, MPs from all parties will have the opportunity to weigh in on Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver's recent attack on leading US climate scientist James Hansen as the House devotes the day to what will undoubtedly be a lively discussion, courtesy of New Democrat environment critic Megan Leslie, who will put forward the following motion:

That this House: (a) agree with many Canadians and the International Energy Agency that there is grave concern with the impacts of a 2 degree rise in global average temperatures; (b) condemn the lack of effective action by successive federal governments since 1998 to address emissions and meet our Kyoto commitments; and (c) call on the government to immediately table its federal climate change adaptation plan.

Originally slated to be held in conjunction with Earth Day, that debate was put off until today by the same last-minute hasty rejigging of the schedule that delayed yesterday's bid by the Liberals to pry the control-craving hands of the whips from the pre-QP speaking list, which goes to a vote later this evening.

Will it pass? Unlikely, it seems -- although with the support of the New Democrats and all but one independent MP, it would only take a handful of government backbenchers breaking ranks with the government -- or, alternately, not showing up at all -- to put it over the top.

Before that gets underway, however, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson hits the Commons Foyer alongside victims' advocate Sharon Rosenfeldt and Manitoba MP James Bezan to discuss 'criminal justice legislation.'

Although no further details are provided in the the advisory, almost certainly refers to Bezan's private members' bid to tighten up parole ineligibility, which is scheduled to begin its first hour of debate this evening, thus making this the perfect moment for the minister to announce, to the surprise of precisely no one, that he will encourage both cabinet and caucus to support the bill -- or, alternately, that he will go one step further, and adopt it as a government initiative, which would put it on the legislative fast track.

Later this morning, the PM is scheduled to hand out unspecified military honours to unnamed recipients before joining other dignitaries in the Rotunda to welcome Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who will subsequently be whisked away for a private chat in his Centre Block office, followed by the traditional Hall of Honour walk and joint statement.

Later this evening, both prime ministers are expected to speak at a reception in Toronto.

Also running the press gallery gauntlet this morning:

  • Representatives from the Canadian Dental Hygienists Association kick off a new public awareness campaign to "encourage the use of sports mouthguards at the recreational and competitive level, in both practices and games."
  • Former parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page reminisces about his experiences in his previous role at a forum hosted by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternative on 'the changing nature of budgets'.
  • The Canadian Association of University Teachers unveils a new campaign to "reorient the science and research priorities of the federal government."

On the committee front:

  • Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney goes before his home committee to field questions from MPs on his department's budget for the upcoming year, with Government Operations also slated to spend the morning analysing the details of the estimates with the help of senior Privy Council officials, as well as the Canadian Intergovernmental Conference Secretariat.
  • Aboriginal Affairs continues to go over the fine print of Conservative MP Rob Clarke's bid to impose new transparency requirements on First Nations band councils, while Status of Women studies the government's efforts to modernize the rules regarding on-reserve matrimonial interests and property rights
  • Over at Finance, MPs will hear from a wide variety of expert witnesses on income inequality, including Canadian Medical Association president Anna Reid, the Canada West Foundation, the Conference Board of Canada and the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, a trio of Canadian academics and, via videoconference, Professor Emeritus of Social Epidemiology Richard Wilkinson from the University of Nottingham.
  • Meanwhile, Ontario MPs Ted Hsu, Scott Reid and Peter Van Loan will share their thoughts on proposed riding changes with the members of Procedure and House Affairs, who will subsequently go behind closed doors to discuss their pending reports on the electoral boundaries commission recommendations for British Columbia and Saskatchewan.
  • Finally, the Special Committee on Violence Against Indigenous Women gets a briefing from Justice senior counsel for children, family and youth Lisa Hitch.
  • Outside the precinct, Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq joins Olympian Clara Hughes, senior Bell executives and mental health advocacy groups at the Canadian Museum of Civilization for the launch of a "major national event" in support of Bell's Let's Talk campaign.

Elsewhere on the ministerial circuit:

  • Durham MP Erin O'Toole attends ANZAC Day commemorative services at the Canadian War Museum.
  • International Trade Minister Ed Fast talks Canada-Japan trade at a Canadian Chamber of Commerce-hosted symposium in Toronto.
  • On the east coast, Revenue Minister Gail Shea speaks at the 'semi-annual Atlantic Mayors' Congress Dinner' in Halifax.

Finally, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau spends a second day on the by-election hustings with Labrador Liberal candidate Yvonne Jones. 

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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