Inside Politics

Tory senators to meet behind closed doors as Upper House showdown continues

For the second week running, the eyes of the nation -- or, at least, Parliament Hill -- will once again fix their collective gaze on the Upper House, as the ongoing showdown over the suspensions of Senators Brazeau, Duffy and Wallin continues to dominate the political news cycle.

Later this afternoon, the government is expected to bring forward a motion that would shut down further debate on the matter, a move that may itself require a closure motion to put it into effect in time to hold those votes before the Conservative convention kicks off in Calgary later this week.

Before the curtains rise on the Red Chamber, however, Conservative senators will sequester themselves inside their caucus room to talk over last week's developments -- a discussion that, according to Government Senate Leader Claude Carignan, may lead to the consideration of amendments that would soften the sanctions prescribed in the original motions.

During Friday's debate, Carignan also pledged to table the transcripts of the in camera internal economy committee on the Wallin report, which may provide more insight into the decision to accept the findings of the Deloitte audit. Last week, Wallin challenged the government to make those documents public, and even waived privilege over the contents in order to facilitate the release.

Back in the House, MPs will spend another day debating the pros and cons of the government's latest omnibudget bill, which, thanks to last week's time allocation motion, is scheduled to be sent to committee by tomorrow evening at the latest.

Before that gets underway, however, the Chamber will consider New Democrat MP Kennedy Stewart's bid to set up an electronic petitioning system that would, in theory, give Canadians the ability to trigger a Commons debate "when a certain threshold of signatures is reached."

If passed, his motion -- which, it's worth noting, is co-sponsored by Conservative-turned-Independent MP Brent Rathgeber -- would instruct the procedure and house affairs committee to recommend the necessary changes to the Standing Orders. As this is the first hour allotted for debate, however, it's unlikely to go to a vote immediately, but will have to wait until Stewart makes it back to the top of the private members' priority list later this fall.

Outside the Chamber, New Democrat defence critics Jack Harris and Elaine Michaud join party whip Nycole Turmel and two victims of the 1974 grenade explosion at CFB Valcartier to discuss Defence Minister Rob Nicholson's "silence" towards these "victims of trauma."

Elsewhere on the Hill this morning:

  • The Canadian Steel Producers Association launches this year's Steel Days, a two-day lobbying blitz that is, according to the notice, "aimed at heightening the profile" of the industry, as well as its "significant contribution to the domestic economy."
  • Vancouver Mayor and current chair of the Big Cities Caucus Gregor Robertson joins other municipal officials on stage at the Centre Block press theatre, where they will issue a joint plea for "federal action to help Canadians facing the housing crunch."
  • Representatives from Let us let us save our Children of the Microwaves [sic] will present a "justified demand for a modification to the expert's scientific committee gathered at the request of Health Canada by the Canadian Royal Society for the update of the standard of protection for Canadians (Safety code 6) against the harmful effects on the health of the microwaves resulting from wireless communications."
  • The latest economic and fiscal outlook from the Parliamentary Budget Office will be posted to the PBO website.

Outside the precinct, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty holds one of his regularly scheduled closed-door confabs with "private sector economists," which will, according to the advisory, be preceded by a photo op, and followed by a media availability with the minister.

Later this evening, Canadian Heritage Minister Shelly Glover will hit the red carpet outside the Canadian Museum of Civilization as the Ottawa premiere of Don McKeller's latest production, The Grand Seduction.

Also out and about today:

  • Minister of State for Science Greg Rickford delivers fresh federal support for his home region of Northern Ontario during a visit to Sault-Ste-Marie, where he will stop by China Steel for an "important announcement," and make an appearance at Naturallia, a "global business-to-business matchmaking event."
  • Meanwhile, in Edmonton, Health Minister Rona Ambrose is set to take part in a "virtual forum" on patient safety and quality.
  • Finally, four more ministers hit the Canada-European free trade speaking circuit: Pierre Poilievre (Manotick), Kellie Leitch (Alliston), Gerry Ritz (Saskatoon) and James Moore (Kamloops)

On the opposition front, New Democrat Leader Tom Mulcair hits the by-election hustings in Brandon, where he'll join his party's candidate, Cory Szczepanski, for a tour of the Behlan Industries factory. 

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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