Inside Politics

The House is back in session, so let the routine proceedings roll!

As the first full sitting day of the new session gets underway, the first item on the Commons agenda is, somewhat appropriately, Government Business No. 1, a motion that would, in theory, result in the following slightly belated, but still heartfelt congratulatory address being dispatched to the Royal Grandmother on the occasion of the birth of Prince George: 

We, Your Majesty's loyal and dutiful subjects, the Commons of Canada, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our congratulations to Your Majesty on the birth of a Prince, a son to Their Royal Highnesses, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and assuring Your Majesty that this happy event affords the greatest joy and satisfaction to Your faithful Members of the House of Commons of Canada.

During the short but rancorous post-Speech sitting last night, however, Government House Leader Peter Van Loan tried to get unanimous consent to limit debate on the motion to just 10 minutes per speech, which would have pre-empted any future attempt by the opposition to turn it into filibuster fodder, but failed to convince his colleagues to support his proposal.

But why, you may wonder, would the opposition parties be poised for procedural warfare just one day into the new session? Patience. We'll get there. (Feel free to skip the next paragraph to do so immediately.)

UPDATE: As it turns out, the opposition appears to have softened its collective position on the Prince George debate: earlier today, the House agreed to Van Loan's proposed timeline, which will limit that discussion to just 40 minutes, at which point it will be deemed adopted. 

Next on the to-do list is Government Business No. 3 -- a take-note debate to "recognize that Canadians' top priority remains economic growth and job creation; and commend the government's economic record which includes the creation of more than one million net new jobs since July 2009, a banking system recognized as the safest and soundest in the world for the past six years, and the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio among G7 countries."

Later this afternoon, the House will turn its attention to the most contentious of the three items of government business currently before the House: No. 2, which would give the government a blank cheque to restore each and every bit of unfinished legislative and committee business in one fell swoop.

Not surprisingly, that omnimotion has already raised the ire of the New Democrats, who have asked the Speaker consider splitting it into separate sections to allow swift passage of the non-contentious sections -- specifically, re-striking the special committee on missing and murdered aboriginal women, assigning the procedure and house affairs committee to look into reforming the MP expense system, and making minor adjustments to the parliamentary calendar to accommodate the Conservative convention later this month.

As yet, the government has been unmoved by their pleas, which would seem to set the stage for an eventual Commons showdown -- which, in turn, explains why Van Loan was so keen to curtail debate on the seemingly non-controversial Royal Baby motion, which could easily be hijacked by disgruntled opposition members seeking to run down the clock.

Of course, all of the above business would -- and, it seems, almost certainly will -- be briefly superseded by the point of privilege the New Democrats intend to raise over the PM's past statements in the House on the subject of that still mysterious $90,000 Senate expense repayment deal between his former chief of staff and Senator Mike Duffy.

As is the parliamentary tradition, that point of privilege will likely be put forward as soon as House business gets underway, which would postpone the rest of the above listed business, although not by more than a half hour or so.

Finally, parliamentary wonks of an inquisitive nature will be relieved to see that the Notice Paper is already filling up with with a mix of newly posed and still unanswered written questions-- 43, to be precise, as of this morning, plus an additional five motions for production of papers.


Meanwhile, outside the Chamber, New Democrat House Leader Nathan Cullen will hit the Foyer to share his party's proposals to "end the Conservative abuse of in camera committee meetings."

Also on the Hill today: Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault, who will take the stage at the National Press Theatre to field questions on her latest report, which is slated to be tabled in the House this morning. 

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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