Inside Politics

As MPs debate barring senators from caucus, the Senate debates barring 3 senators from the Chamber

As teasered yesterday, the New Democrats will spend the first opposition day of the new session making their collective case for a blanket ban on senators engaging in "partisan activities" -- up to, and including, attending weekly caucus meetings -- as well as imposing new restrictions on travel allowances to cover "only those activities clearly and directly related to parliamentary business."

This afternoon, however, the spotlight will shift from the Commons to the Senate itself, which is expected to begin debate on a trio of potentially incendiary motions that would, if passed, suspend Senators Patrick Brazeau, Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin from the Chamber without pay.

At press time, it's not certain whether any of the three senators facing sanctions will show up to speak in their own defence, but even if their seats remain empty, it's clear that a good number of their colleagues -- on both the opposition and government sides of the Chamber -- appear to be distinctly uncomfortable with the move.

Just before what is anticipated to be an epic Upper House floor fight is scheduled to get underway, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty will hit the House of Commons Foyer to share the highlights of the second budget bill, which will be tabled in the House today.

Meanwhile, on the committee front, Procedure and House Affairs will hold its first meeting of the new session, during which it will give its collective approval to the proposed membership lists for all other House committees, a pro forma procedure that must take place in order for those committees to reassemble and return to regular parliamentary business.

Also on the Hill today:

  • New Democrat MP Peter Stoffer takes the stage at the Centre Block press theatre, where he will "slam" the government for "refusing to recognize its sacred obligations towards Canadian Forces members and veterans."
  • Representatives from the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies discuss "the importance" of the government's "long-term commitment to infrastructure," as well as the "urgency of a timely launch of the new Building Canada Plan."
  • Later this morning, the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability will throw its weight behind Liberal MP John McKay's latest attempt to, as the title of his private members' bill describes it, "promote financial transparency, improved accountability and economic sustainability" by requiring mining, oil and gas companies to publicly report all payments made to foreign governments, which will go up for a first hour of debate tomorrow afternoon.

Outside the precinct, Transport Minister Lisa Raitt will drop by the National Arts Centre to chat with students taking part in a day-long "youth symposium" on teen driver safety.

Across the river, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander will make his debut appearance as co-host of the Canadian Citizenship Challenge.

Meanwhile, in Mississauga, International Trade Minister Ed Fast kicks off the promised pro-Canada-European free trade cross-country ministerial blitz with a speech to what is likely to be an exceptionally receptive audience at annual conference of the Canadian Association of Importers and Exporters.

Finally, later this evening, the second edition of what may well become the annual Travers Debates -- or, as the notice puts it, "The Sequel" -- will unfold at the National Arts Centre.

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