Inside Politics

Let the first annual Backbench Independence Day begin!

Just one day after House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer challenged disgruntled backbenchers to start exercising their privilege to stand and be recognized without the prior approval of the party whip, MPs will find themselves faced with a proposal that would go one step further in freeing the pre-QP members' statements from central control: the once-delayed, much-discussed Liberal-backed opposition motion to forcibly randomize the speaking order by replacing the current system of party-submitted lists with an alphabetized rotation.

Later this evening, MPs will get a second chance to demonstrate their desire to shrug off the mantle of central party control as debate begins on Conservative MP Brad Trost's quietly radical proposal to have the Commons elect committee chairs by secret ballot, instead of continuing with the pro forma votes at the table that merely confirm the choices made by the government - or, in some cases, the Official Opposition, which controls the chair at the three oversight committees, as well as Status of Women.

Several opposition MPs, including Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, New Democrats Kennedy Stewart and Jamie Nicholls, and Liberal Ted Hsu have added their names as seconders, as have 15 of Trost's fellow backbenchers, which bodes well for its eventual passage even if the government were to advise the Conservative caucus not to support it.

Meanwhile, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, who was originally slated to introduce today's motion, is off to Labrador this afternoon, where he'll hit the hustings with by-election candidate Yvonne Jones. Before departing for points east, however, Trudeau will attend the weekly caucus meeting, after which he will make himself available to the press.

Later this afternoon, the PM will invite the cameras -- and, it's worth noting, just the cameras, both video and still -- into his office for a brief photo-op to mark the 75th anniversary of the Canadian Cancer Society.

Also hitting the Hill media circuit this afternoon: representatives from the International Fund for Animal Welfare, who will hold what may well turn out to be an overly high concept event by the Centennial Flame, during which "Wayne Mustardson," the "Minister of Obsolete Industry," will introduce the "Seal Blubber Innovation Tax Credit," which will "secure the future of the Commercial Seal Harvest and help Canadians who care deeply for this proud industry."

On the committee front:

  • Treasury Board President Tony Clement goes before Government Operations to defend the latest round of estimates, a task in which he'll be aided by a parade of senior civil servants, including his second-in-command, Treasury Board Secretary Yaprak Baltacioglu and a full accompaniment of assistant secretaries.
  • After being forced to call off last week's meeting due to a flurry of afternoon votes, Ethics members will once again attempt to hear what Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault has to say about her last two annual reports, both of which have been languishing on the committee to-do list for months.
  • Over at Canadian Heritage, the committee will give due consideration to Conservative MP Wladyslaw Lizon's bid to establish John Paul II Day, which is scheduled to begin clause-by-clause review after just one hour of testimony from the bill's sponsor.
  • Finally, International Trade retreats behind closed doors to work on its report on the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement between Canada and India.

Outside the precinct, Conservative MP Royal Galipeau drops by the Canadian Science and Technology Museum to make an announcement "regarding Canadian entrepreneurial spirit," as exemplified by "leading-edge products developed by Canadian innovators."

Also out and about today:

  • Industry Minister Christian Paradis heads to Montreal to talk up his government's support for Canada's aerospace sector at an industry-sponsored convention that, according to the advisory, will bring together "about 550 companies and 1,300 participants from 28 countries."
  • Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver embarks on his fourth trip to Washington, DC since assuming his current role, where he'll speak at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.

Finally, not on the nightly PMO-issued notable event list: an "information picket" outside Foreign Affairs departmental headquarters, during which members of the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers, who are currently in a legal strike position, and, as such, are calling on the government to "return to negotiations immediately." 

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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