Inside Politics

UPDATED - No Hawn, all Neufeld as election bill goes back under committee spotlight

Just days after former chief electoral officer Jean Pierre Kingsley delivered a blistering review of the government's bid to rewrite Canada's election laws, the committee studying the bill in question will hear from the man behind the report on vouching irregularities that has been a staple of the current Conservative talking points in its defence: former BC electoral chief Harry Neufeld, now styled as an "electoral management consultant," who is expected to elaborate on his contention that his findings have been misrepresented in support of claims of widespread fraud.

Also set to testify today, although not, as yet, named on the witness list: sitting Conservative MP Laurie Hawn, who is expected to elaborate on his eyebrow-raising reminiscences of being offered a stack of voter information cards, presumably for nefarious purposes, during the 2006 election.

UPDATE: Despite Conservative MP Scott Reid's statement on what sounded, at least, like Hawn's intention to expand on his claim at today's meeting, it appears that the affable Tory will not be making a formal presentation, although he's expected to be at the committee table. 

In theory, this could provide him with the opportunity to put his claims on the record by repeating his story during his allotted speaking slot, although that wouldn't allow opposition members to pose questions in response.

Other electoral experts due to take the stand today include youth vote evangelist Taylor Gunn, Fair Vote Canada board member Nathalie Des Rosiers, Institute for Research on Public Policy president Graham Fox and Samara executive director Alison Loat.

Back in the Chamber, despite going to procedurally extreme lengths to impose a one-day deadline on the suddenly resurfaced online surveillance bill, the government is set to switch its legislative focus to a bill to amend offshore health and safety regulations, which is currently at committee stage.

This evening, New Democrat MP Anne Minh-Thu Quach will get her first opportunity to sell the House on her proposal to ensure full federal promotion of local foods.

Elsewhere on the Hill today:

    • The Special Committee for Canadian Unity, which counts among its members Conservative MP Peter Goldring, convenes a mid-morning press conference to call on the federal government "and all concerned elected representatives to intervene, forcefully and immediately, in the Quebec election."
    • Liberal MP David McGuinty shares the details of what his party avers are "Conservative cuts to infrastructure funding."
    • Later this afternoon, Conservative MP Steven Fletcher will take questions on his private members' bills on physician-assisted suicide, which he's planning to table in the House this morning.

Outside the precinct, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird will give a major speech on foreign policy -- and, specifically, "modernizing Canadian diplomacy for the 21st century" by building on the legacy of former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker.

According to the notice, the minister also "use this opportunity" to launch the 29th, and final volume of "Documents on Canadian External Relations," which chronicles Canada's 13th prime minister's forays into foreign affairs.

Elsewhere on the ministerial circuit:

    • Minister of State for Social Development Candice Bergen highlights "government measures related to mental health" at a conference in Ottawa.
    • Lois Brown performs parliamentary secretary duties on behalf of the absent International Development Minister Christian Paradis at the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat.
    • Justice Minister Peter MacKay heads to Toronto with fresh federal funding for the For Youth Initiative, which he will dole out alongside local MP Bob Dechert.
    • In Edmonton, meanwhile, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt takes part in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's 7th National Event.
    • Finally, Industry Minister James Moore will hold what the advisory warns will be a "brief conference call to discuss his successful visit to the Netherlands."
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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