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Liberal MP warns Tories not to interfere with Senate expense info request

A week after his leader turned to the Order Paper in an attempt to glean addition details of the now infamous repayment deal between former PMO Chief of Staff Nigel Wright and former Conservative still Senator Mike Duffy, Liberal MP Ralph Goodale has filed similar queries under the access to information regime -- and issued a stern warning to the government to ensure no political interference ensues in the fulfillment of those requests. 

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Speaker sides with Tories in battle over budget amendments

Well, that was fast: just moments ago, House Speaker Andrew Scheer handed down his preliminary ruling on the right of independent members like Green Party Elizabeth May to propose budget bill amendments at report stage, which he had previously strongly reaffirmed in a landmark ruling last December.

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Once more unto the omnibreach, dear MPs, once more -- until next time, that is.

After a series of minor procedural skirmishes earlier this month, the now traditional biannual battle over the omnibillification of the budget process is set to get underway in earnest today as the government's latest bid to encourage jobs, growth and a sustainable economy hits the top of the pre-recess legislative to-do list.

As of this morning, the Notice Paper lists 80 proposed amendments to be considered as C-60 begins report stage debate this morning, the bulk of which were submitted by New Democrat finance critic Peggy Nash, and the rest from her Bloc Quebecois counterpart Jean Fortin and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May.

At press time, the Liberals hadn't yet added a single amendment to the list, although that could, of course, change by Monday.

At the moment, of course, the immediate, if not ultimate fate of the budget bill -- or, more precisely, the process by which it will all but certainly be passed -- is in the hands of House Speaker Andrew Scheer, who, as reported yesterday, has been tasked with deciding if what the government describes as its "generous offer" to invite non-members to put forward amendments at committee is sufficient to supersede the right of independent members to do so before the whole House at report stage.

In any case, watch for Government House Leader Peter Van Loan to pop up at some point during the shortened sitting day to serve notice that he intends to move time allocation on the bill when the Commons reconvenes on Monday.

How much time will he magnanimously propose be put aside for further debate? Since the House switched to extended hours earlier this month, the trend has been to offer up five hours per bill, but we'll find out later today.

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Power & Politics' Ballot Box question



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Liveblog: John Baird talks internet-age diplomacy in the Google #BigTent

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Opposition MPs unite against Tory efforts to dodge marathon budget vote

New Democrat House Leader Nathan Cullen has served notice on the government that, despite occasional outbursts of inter-opposition rancour, he and his party are fully prepared to fight for the right of Green Party Leader Elizabeth May and any other independent MP to keep  the House on its collective feet for hours -- or even days -- at a time when the latest omnibudget bill goes to a vote later this month.

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Welcome to the precinct, President Pinera!

The parliamentary red carpet will be rolled out this morning in preparation for the arrival of Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, who scheduled to make his way to the Hill later this morning to kick off his state visit to Canada.

The PM will be on hand in the Foyer to welcome Pinera and his wife, Cecilia Morel, after which the two leaders will head to the PM's Centre Block office for a private tete-a-tete, which will be followed by the traditional Hall of Honour photo op and joint statement. Later this afternoon, the two will head behind closed doors for a "business roundtable."

Back in the Commons, Government House Leader Peter Van Loan is expected to start the day with yet another time allocation motion -- this time, to cap debate on his party's bid to tighten up the witness protection program, which is currently poised for third reading approval.  

Later this afternoon, House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer will host a reception to honour this year's recipients of the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards -- including Sarah Polley, Eric Peterson and Daniel Lanois, among others -- who will also be officially recognized in the House after Question Period.


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Power & Politics' Ballot Box question



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Call in the members!

As the Hill holds its collective breath to see whether yesterday's unexpectedly substantive leaders' exchange in Question Period over the ongoing Senate expense scandal will turn out to be an irreproducible fluke occurrence, MPs will spend the morning sequestered in their respective caucus rooms, plotting their attack -- or, in the case of the Conservatives, defence -- for the days and weeks ahead.

Once the hurly-burly of QP's done -- although the battle will likely have been neither lost nor won -- MPs will burn off a backlog of deferred votes, including third reading of the technical tax tweak package ands second reading of the bill to rename the Canadian Museum of Civilization, as well as private members' business on the Last Post fund and National Charities Week standing in the names of Liberal MP Judy Foote and Conservative Peter Braid, respectively.

After that wraps up, it's onto routine proceedings,which may or may not be superseded midway through by a motion to go straight to Orders of the Day, courtesy of Government House Leader Peter Van Loan, who is also expected to move for time allocation on final reading of the freight rail bill, which would require a 30 minute debate, followed by a 30 minute bell, before the actual discussion can get underway.


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