Inside Politics

UPDATED - NDP pitches power boost for next parliamentary budget officer

The future of the parliamentary budget office will be the first item on the agenda when the House reopens for business later this morning, courtesy of New Democrat Leader Tom Mulcair's proposal to promote the next PBO to full parliamentary officer status, which would give Kevin Page's successor the power to request all financial and other data that he or she believes is necessary to do the job, and take the matter directly to federal court if thwarted.

Even if he were able to win over a sufficient number of independent-minded Conservative backbenchers to overcome the almost certain opposition from the government, however, Mulcair's bill may be doomed from the outset, as the speaker has already voiced his concern that it could impose a cost on the treasury, which would mean it would require a royal recommendation to proceed.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has dutifully given notice of his intention to bring forward the much-anticipated budget implementation bill, thus setting the stage for its Common debut to take place as early as later this afternoon, although he's under no procedural obligation to introduce it immediately.

UPDATE - It's starting to look like the next omnibudget bill will indeed be hitting the House floor later this afternoon -- and that it will include, among other measures, those promised changes to the Temporary Foreign Workers Program. 

EVEN MORE UPDATED: And it's official -- according to another this-just-in advisory, the finance minister will table the bill after Question Period, and then head out to the Foyer to take questions from the press. 

According to a just-in advisory, that will be the subject of a post-QP (and, presumably, tabling) press conference with Human Resources Minister Diane FInley and Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. 

After the PBO debate wraps up, MPs will devote the rest of the day to considering various report stage amendments to the government's bid to modernize the military justice system.

On the committee front:

  • Bloc Quebecois MP Maria Mourani goes before Justice to discuss her private members' bid to increase the penalties for those convicted of procuring and trafficking in persons, with representatives from the Montreal and Winnipeg police services also on the witness list for today's session
  • Defence continues its investigation into the care of ill and injured Canadian Forces members
  • Lobbying Commissioner Karen Shepherd fields questions on the main estimates at Ethics

Outside the Chamber, Liberal MP John McCallum has summoned reporters to a mid-morning press conference to "highlight some of the Conservative government's largest cuts to the environment, safety and services to Canadians."

Later this afternoon, Conservative MP Stella Ambler, Liberal MP John McKay and economist Jack Mintz will host a "lunchtime briefing" on income splitting to "give the family a break" as part of a day-long event organized by the Institute for Marriage and the Family.

Out and about on the ministerial circuit:

  • Revenue Minister Gail Shea spends an extra day in her home province of Prince Edward Island, where she's scheduled to speak at the 2013 Federation of PEI Municipalities Meeting in Cornwall.
  • Minister of State for Transport Steven Fletcher marks Rail Safety Week with a visit to the Ottawa Train Station, where he will unveil "a Canada-wide series of local projects."
  • Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq makes an appearance at Toronto's MaRS Centre, where she will take part in the awarding of this year's W. Garfield Weston Foundation - Brain Canada research grants
  • Elsewhere in Toronto, Minister of State for Sport Bal Gosal will attend the Borden Ladner Gervais Awards.

Finally, the Parliamentary Budget Office releases its latest report on the economic and fiscal outlook, which will be posted to the PBO website at 9:00 AM. 

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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