Inside Politics

MPs get set for lengthy (but not marathon) budget vote this afternoon

As the Commons heads into what may well turn out to be the longest parliamentary night of the year, MPs will spend the first part of the day steeling themselves for a lengthy, if not quite marathon-esque voting session this afternoon to dispose of the 14 omnibudget-related report stage motions that were deferred until after Question Period today.

Depending on how quickly members can get through the required roll calls, those recorded divisions will likely delay regular House business by at least an hour, and likely closer to 90 minutes, unless a sudden desire to get it done results in unanimous consent to shorten the process by applying the votes.

As a result, the Chamber will likely stay open until nearly 2am tonight, which could prevent some New Democrat MPs from heading to Stornoway to help their leader welcome journalists to the annual garden party, which is set to take place this evening.

In the Senate, meanwhile, Government Leader Marjory LeBreton is expected to introduce a motion that would invite the auditor general to conduct a sweeping review of expenses, a move that will likely spark an equally impassioned response from the other side of the Red Chamber. 

On the House committee front:

  • Environment Minister Peter Kent will be joined by senior departmental officials as he fields questions on the draft Federal Sustainable Development Strategy 2013-2016, with the committee also slated to hear from Interim Environment Commissioner Neil Maxwell, as well as representatives from the International Institute for Sustainable Development and Sustainable Development Technology Canada.
  • Over at Aboriginal Affairs, MPs begin their review of the Yale First Nation Final Agreement Act with the help of the BC Treaty Commissioner, as well as the Sto:lo Nation and Tribal Council.
  • Meanwhile, at Citizenship and Immigration, the committee will get a mini-briefing on temporary resident visas before heading behind closed doors to discuss unspecified business.
  • Later this morning, Government Operations will embark on an investigation into "integrity provisions for procurement and real property transactions," while Foreign Affairs considers Canada's current policy towards North Korea.
  • Finally, this afternoon will see BlackBerry senior government relations director Morgan Elliott appear alongside representatives from CANARIE Inc. and Open Text Corporation as Industry continues its study into digital technology adoption by Canadian business.

On the Senate side, the Standing Committee on the Rules, Procedures and Rights of Parliament committee will begin its inquiry into a privilege complaint related to alleged interference in the scheduled appearance of RCMP member Rolly Beaulieu, who was originally scheduled to testify on harassment within the force last month, but was told by his superiors that if he did so, his sick leave would be cancelled on the spot.

During his appearance before the committee studying harassment yesterday afternoon, RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson went after Beaulieu directly in his testimony, claiming that he was involved in an "upstart union effort" in British Columbia, and that just days earlier, had offered to leave the force if Paulson could arrange a settlement payment of "$500,000 tax free ... a couple of promotions [and] some extended pension benefits."

On the witness list for this morning: Beaulieu himself, as well as senior RCMP officials from BC's "E" division, including the chief of health services.

This afternoon, the Conflict of Interest committee holds an in camera session with Senate Ethics Officer Lyse Ricard.

On the Hill media circuit today:

  • New Democrat environment critic Megan Leslie hits the parliamentary press theatre to reveal the latest batch of 'Heritage Rivers' that her party will "try to protect from Conservatives' environmental attacks" through the introduction of strategic private members' bills targeting specific waterways.
  • Later this morning, Royal Canadian Geographic Society executive diector Andre Prefontaine unveils a "giant floor map" depicting Canada's national parks, which will be on display in a Centre Block meeting room.

Outside the precinct, a trio of ministers will hold separate event at their respective departmental headquarters: Industry Minister Christian Paradis will deliver an "important announcement" on the wireless telecommunications sector, while his colleague, Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq shares the details of a new effort to "make the the marketplace safer for Canadian consumers."

Later this morning, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver will "highlight innovations in fuel efficiency in the automotive sector" as this year's Eco-Run gets underway in the departmental parking lot.


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