Inside Politics

Ethics committee to consider two opposition-backed Duffy/Wright motions

As reported yesterday, the ethics committee is set to plunge into the murky waters of the Duffy/Wright affair, thanks to duelling opposition motions that would, if adopted, launch competing inquiries into two separate aspects of the case.

Last week, Liberal MP Scott Andrews launched a bid of bring Deloitte senior partner Michael Runia and Conservative Senator Irving Gerstein before the committee -- not, as one might expect, to discuss the alleged attempt to interfere with the ostensibly independent Deloitte audit into Senator Duffy's finances, but to "share their expertise" on Canada's current conflict of interest regime.

Soon after the Andrews motion was added to the agenda, the New Democrats submitted a Duffy/Wright-related proposal of their own, in the form of a motion to have the committee investigate the mysteriously reappearing email archive of former PMO legal advisor Ben Perrin within the context of the access to information system and the "duty to document."

According to the committee schedule, debate on one or both motions should get underway later this morning, although there's no guarantee that the Conservative majority will allow that discussion to take place in public.

Meanwhile, Procedure and House Affairs will finally turn its attention to a particularly prickly privilege claim that arose earlier this year when two Conservative MPs, James Bezan and Shelly Glover, found themselves facing the possibility of being temporarily barred from the Commons due to then-active but subsequently resolved disputes with Elections Canada over past campaign spending claims.

Last June, House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer sided with Liberal MP Scott Andrews, and agreed that the fate of those MPs -- and specifically, whether they should be allowed to remain in the Chamber pending resolution of their cases -- should ultimately have been decided by the Chamber, not the speaker.

The matter was subsequently referred to committee, but due to a prorogation-delayed start to the fall session and an unexpectedly heavy workload, it has only just now made it to the top of the agenda, with Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand scheduled to be the first witness.

Elsewhere on the committee front:

  • Canadian Heritage goes behind closed doors to consider a draft report on Canada's 2014 Olympic and Paralympic readiness.
  • Over at National Defence, committee members will get an update on Canada's contribution to the humanitarian efforts underway in the Philippines before returning to their investigation into the care of ill and injured Canadian Armed Forces members.
  • International Trade and Agriculture resume their respective reviews of the Canada-European free trade deal, with the former continuing to take a more sweeping approach while the latter focuses on the impact it may have on the agricultural sector.
  • Foreign Affairs goes back to parsing the fine print of the government's proposal to implement the United Nations treaty on cluster munitions.
  • Finally, Government Operations launches a new study on the "mandate and activities of the Build in Canada Innovation Program," and goes over the 2013 report from the Public Service Commission.

Back in the Chamber, with just days to go before the House is set to rise for the holidays, MPs will keep working their collective way through the remaining items on the government's non-priority to-do list, starting with a bid to change the rules governing First Nations elections.

On the Hill media circuit:

  • New Democrat MP Craig Scott will mark the 10th anniversary of Kempton Howard's death by calling for more support for victims of gun violence, with Kempton's mother, Joan, and grief counsellor Reverend Sky Starr also scheduled to be in attendance.
  • Later this morning, his fellow New Democrat Claude Gravelle will join Matthew Dineen, "a young father diagnosed with dementia," to make the case for a national dementia strategy.
  • Representatives from the National Trade Contractors Coalition of Canada head to the Centre Block press theatre to urge the government to "help ensure the success of small businesses" by bringing in "prompt payment provisions.
  • Finally, Liberal veterans critic Jim Karygiannis will hold a press conference with veterans involved in the Equitas Society lawsuit against the government for full disability benefits.

Outside the precinct, Revenue Minister Kerry-Lynne Findlay drops by the Ottawa headquarters of the United Way to "highlight tax measures available to Canadians this holiday season, while in Mississauga, Minister of State for Social Development Candice Bergen "promotes the importance of saving now for children's education" during a visit to India Rainbow Community Services. 

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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