Inside Politics

Tories to bring down time allocation hammer on election bill debate

After giving MPs just two hours to debate the pros and cons of a bill that would radically rewrite Canada's election laws, the government has, it seems, heard quite enough from the duly elected representatives in the House.

Yesterday afternoon, Government House Leader Peter Van Loan served notice that he intends to bring forward a motion that would force an end to the first round of debate, which will likely be tabled shortly after the Commons reopens for business later this morning, and -- barring a last-minute rebellion on the Conservative backbench, at least -- passed before noon.

As yet, it's not known just how much time will be allocated for further discussion; the vote to send the bill to committee could, in theory, be called this evening.

By a stroke of serendipitous timing, Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand himself will be wandering the precinct today, courtesy of Procedure and House Affairs, which has invited him to appear before committee to share his thoughts on the fracas over his letters to House Speaker Andrew Scheer on then-still-unresolved election expense disputes with MPs James Bezan and Shelly Glover.

After first refusing to release the correspondence, Scheer ultimately sided with Liberal MP Scott Andrews, and found a prima facie privilege case in how the situation has handled, which is how it ended up before this particular committee, which is now charged with recommending what steps should be taken if such an issue arises in future.

Bezan, who issued a press release proclaiming that he had been 'vindicated' yesterday afternoon, is also scheduled to appear at this morning's session.

On the Hill media circuit, NDP transport critic Olivia Chow teams up with labour leaders from the International Assocaition of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and United Steelworkers to present the findings of their "first-ever" joint airport screeners conference.

After that event wraps up, Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis will take the stage alongside "a number of veterans" to discuss "the ramifications of the recent closure of the Veterans Affairs Canada centres."

Elsewhere on the Hill:

  • New Democrat MPs Philip Toone and Yvon Godin lament CN's "abandonment" of a rail line that, they aver, "will deprive the country of east-west VIA Rail passenger service."
  • Engineers Without Borders representatives join like-minded groups at a rally to "prevent foreign-aid cuts" in the upcoming budget.
  • The Parliamentary Budget Office releases the results of its MP-directed review of sick leave within the public service.

Meanwhile, as his cabinet and caucus colleagues are busily engaged in squelching lengthy debate on the election bill, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander heads to Toronto to "unveil improvements to Canada's Citizenship Act," which seems a curious choice of venue, given that the bill itself is set to be tabled in the House of Commons, an event for which the minister will apparently not be present.

In any case, after the proposed changes are made public, Alexander will hold a press conference at Fort York before making his way to Brampton for a second media availability, this time at a local community centre, as Minister of State for Multiculturalism Tim Uppal does the honours on his behalf at a satellite media event in Surrey.

Also out and about today:

  • The PM heads to Quebec City for a mid-morning visit to the Plains of Abraham, where he will pose for photos alongside Mayor Regis Labeaume, with a Q&A session at the local chamber of commerce scheduled for this afternoon.
  • Moving east, Public Works Minister Diane Finley joins Justice Minister Peter MacKay at the Irving Shipyard in Halifax, where the duo will "announce continued progress on the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy."
  • Back in the Ottawa, Minister of State for Small Business Maxime Bernier joins "young entrepreneurs" for a "conversation about [their] role in the Canadian economy, while Employment Minister Jason Kenney kicks off Black History Month with an evening reception at the Canadian War Museum.

On the opposition front, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau meets with university students in Montreal.

Finally, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May treks to Washington, DC, where she will, according to the advisory, discuss both the proposed Keystone XL pipeline and her campaign for a national Lyme Disease strategy with members of Congress, senators and environmental groups. 

Tags: blackberry jungle, orders of the day

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