Inside Politics

UPDATED - Citizenship stripping bill sparks late-night clash at committee

As the House continues to meander its way through the government's legislative priority list, a pitched battle is underway at Citizenship and Immigration over Conservative MP Devinder Shory's bid to strip citizenship from dual nationals who commit acts of war against Canadian soldiers.

At press time, the details of the ongoing dispute are somewhat sketchy, but reports suggest that the opposition parties are attempting to stop the Conservatives from using their majority to extend the existing deadline for sending the bill back to the House by an additional 30 days, which would, in theory, give them sufficient time to incorporate the substance of Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney's musings on the matter earlier this year by extending it to cover acts of terrorism as well.

(Diligent readers will recall that earlier this spring, the committee sought the permission of the House to expand the scope of the bill to extend its provisions beyond the Canadian Armed Forces, which sparked objections from both the New Democrats and the Liberals. Although the speaker ultimately concluded that it was, indeed, in order, the Commons has not granted its approval, as it has not been asked to concur in the report.)

Under the Standing Orders, if a committee fails to send a bill back to the House within a certain timeline --in this case, by June 21 -- it is automatically deemed to have been reported without amendments.

If that were to take place in this case, the recently Speaker-reaffirmed limits on substantive amendments at report stage that could have been put forward at committee would make it considerably more difficult, if not effectively impossible, to bring it in line with Kenney's specifications.

In any case, after meeting until just after 2am last night, MPs are expected to reconvene this morning, at which point the debate will resume. 

UPDATE: Here's the motion at the centre of the current discussion: 

Pursuant to Standing Order 97.1 (1), your Committee is requesting an extension of thirty sitting days to consider Bill C-425, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (honouring the Canadian Armed Forces), referred to the Committee on Wednesday, February 27th, 2013.

On Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013, the Committee recommended to the House that it be granted the power to expand the scope of the Bill. The Committee is awaiting for a decision of the House before further considering the Bill. Therefore, your Committee requests an extension of thirty sitting days.

The committee has also voted -- unanimously -- to allow the rest of the meeting to be televised. 

Meanwhile, via twitter, citizenship parliamentary secretary Rick Dykstra says he's been sitting in the House "every day" awaiting the opportunity to put it forward for concurrence, but the opposition has "blocked it every single day." 

Meanwhile, as the countdown to adjournment continues, two committees will turn their respective attention to bills that have already made it through the Senate, and are now poised to hit the Royal Assent finish line as soon as the Commons has signed off:

Environment, whose members will begin a lightning-round review of the government's bid to create the Sable Island National Park Reserve, and Foreign Affairs, which will hear from the Canadian Bar Association, the North South Institute and Transparency International before heading into clause-by-clause review of S-14, which was drafted to discourage the corruption of foreign public officials.

Elsewhere on the committee front:

  • Official Languages will host a special session to question Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney on how his department handles its linguistic obligations
  • Public Accounts goes behind closed doors to work on various outstanding reports stemming from the auditor general's findings on long-term sustainability and the grant and contribution program,both of which were tabled last fall.
  • Later this evening, representatives from the Families of Sisters in Spirit, Carrier Sekani Family Services, the Caribou Child and Youth Cenre, the PACE Sexual Assault and Crisis Centre and the RCMP will go before the Special Committee on Violence Against Indigenous Women to offer their respective and collective perspectives on the issue.

On the Senate side, Internal Economy will open its doors to the eyes of the public once again as it gets an update on the ongoing investigation into senatorial expenses.  

Outside the precinct, Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism Maxime Bernier drops by the Pine View Municipal Golf Course for a breakfast speech at the annual general conference of the Orleans Chamber of Commerce.

Later this morning, Industry Minister Christian Paradis kicks off a symposium on internal trade co-hosted by the Public Policy Forum, which, according to the advisory, will "bring together federal, provincial and territorial stakeholders as well as business leaders and academics from across Canada to discuss internal trade and the elimination of barriers to promote a strong domestic market."

Finally, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews heads to Toronto, where he's scheduled to deliver a national security-related announcement at the Canadian Forces College.  

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