Inside Politics

Upper House holds rare Friday sitting as suspension showdown continues

After burning the midnight oil last night, the showdown in the Senate is expected to continue today, as the Upper House holds a rare Friday sitting to debate the pros and cons of suspending embattled Senators Brazeau, Duffy and Wallin from the Chamber without pay.

When the Red Chamber rose last night, Government Senate Leader Claude Carignan had spent nearly six hours fielding questions from both side of the Upper House on the Wallin suspension motion -- including, at one point, a short but tension-fraught intervention by Senator Wallin herself, who took issue with his repeated assertion that his open invitation to pose her own queries was equivalent to giving her the opportunity to present her own defence.

First on the agenda today, then, will likely be Liberal Senate Leader James Cowan's response, which will almost certainly conclude with a proposal to send the matter to committee for further study.

Although it seems distinctly unlikely that any of the suspension-related motions currently in play will actually go to a vote today, there's always the possibility that debate could wrap up before the Chamber closes down for the weekend at 4pm, which would set the stage for a recorded division on Monday night. 

Back in the Commons, MPs will spend the day debating the fall omnibudget bill, which is scheduled to be dispatched to committee(s) next week.

Outside the precinct, no fewer than 11 cabinet ministers hit the Canada-European free trade benefit-cheerleading circuit today, with CETA-boosting appearances slated to take place across the country:

Justice Minister Peter MacKay (Goffs), ACOA Minister James Moore (Fredericton), Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird (Ottawa), Minister of State for Sport Bal Gosal (Brampton), Human Resources Minister Diane Finley (Kitchener), Canadian Heritage Minister Shelly Glover (Winnipeg), Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz (Lloydminster), Employment Minister Jason Kenney (Balzac), Minister of State for Finance Kevin Sorenson (Calgary), International Trade Minister Ed Fast and Industry Minister James Moore (Vancouver)

Also out and about today:

  • Defence Minister Rob Nicholson will "join other dignitaries" at the Queenston Heights Bistro Restaurant in Niagara-on-the-Lake, where he will formally announce the War of 1812-themed names that will be given to the newest joint support ships.
  • Meanwhile, in Toronto, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander "celebrates a milestone for the new ePassport" by hitting the stage of the Tim Horton's Theatre at the Hockey Hall of Fame, while his caucus colleague Kerry-Lynne Findlay shares the details of her government's latest steps to reduce red tape at the ministers' regional office.
  • Elsewhere in the city, Ontario economic development Minister of State Gary Goodyear pays a visit to George Brown College, while in Hamilton, Minister of State for Science Greg Rickford joins local MPs David Sweet and Dean Allison to "tour the manufacturing areas" of Mabel's Labels Inc.
  • On the east coast, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt ferries fresh federal support for official languages to Edmundston, while in Halifax, Justice Minister Peter MacKay will discuss the findings of the internal review on the Ernest Fenwick MacIntosh sex abuse case.
  • Western Economic Development Minister Michelle Rempel heads to Winnipeg to unveil a "new initiative" to boost "Canadian business innovation" at the University of Manitoba, while in Calgary, Employment Minister Jason Kenney chats with attendees at the World Petroleum Council Youth Forum.

Meanwhile, on the opposition front, New Democrat Leader Tom Mulcair joins his Greater Vancouver caucus at the Burrard Skytrain Station to push for "a strong federal partnership with provinces and municipalities on transit issues."

Finally, in Washington, DC, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau will make himself available to reporters to discuss what the advisory describes as "his first official visit to the U.S capital since becoming leader," during which he apparently met with Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer, "economic advisors to President Obama" Gene Sperling and Jason Furman, and Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley (no relation). 

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