Inside Politics

Tories to impose deadline on 'online crime' bill

MPs will spend much of the morning cloistered between the walls of their respective caucus rooms, but when the Chamber reopens for regular parliamentary business this afternoon, the first order of business on the agenda will be a vote on newly minted Finance Minister Joe Oliver's first ways and means motion, which will likely take place shortly after Question Period.

Once that bit of House-keeping business has been settled, Government House Leader Peter Van Loan is expected to drop the time allocation hammer on his party's ostensible bid to crack down on cyberbullying and other "online crimes", which has been languishing on the Order Paper since November, but has apparently suddenly become such a high priority item that a deadline for a second reading vote is now required. 

It's worth noting that, despite its seemingly benign title, the bill includes provisions similar to those contained in the much maligned and now defunct internet surveillance legislation, including measures that would, according to critics, greatly expand the power of police to harvest personal usage data.  

In any case, imposing that deadline, in turn, will very likely result in committees being interrupted by a mid-afternoon vote, which may affect the timing and length of the following meetings:

  • Foreign Affairs members get an update on the situation in Ukraine, courtesy of a series of expert witnesses, including Munk School of Global Affairs director Janice Stein, CMS Cameron McKenna's Kyiv-based managing partner Daniel Bilak, Freedom House and the Public Commission for the Investigation and Prevention of Human Rights Abuses in Ukraine.
  • Meanwhile, at Public Accounts, MPs will get the chance to question Auditor General Michael Ferguson about his recent findings on federal oversight of rail safety, with senior departmental officials also scheduled to appear.
  • Over at Fisheries and Oceans, MPs will get a briefing on the state of the European Union ban on Canadian seal product imports.
  • Finally, the Procedure and House Affairs steering subcommittee meets behind closed doors to discuss pending committee business, including, almost certainly, logistics related to the ongoing review of the election bill.

Also on the Hill today:

A gaggle of environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, the David Suzuki Foundation, Equiterre and the Wilderness Committee hit the stage at the Centre Block press theatre to unveil documents that, according to the advisory, "reveal Health Canada has failed to enforce its own demands for toxicity studies, especially the toxicity to bees of neonicotinoid pesticides."

Outside the precinct, Gubernatorial General spouse Sharon Johnston will provide opening remarks at the Canadian Depression Research and Intervention Network Conference.

Elsewhere in the capital, Revenue Minister Kerry-Lynne Findlay teams up with Minister of State for Finance Kevin Sorenson at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, which will serve as backdrop as they "highlight the government's support for charities to create stronger communities."

Meanwhile, in Toronto, Labour Minister Kellie Leitch shares her thoughts at a symposium on labour relations organized by the Canadian Electricity Association.

Finally, New Democrat Leader Tom Mulcair heads west, where he'll spend the afternoon at an Assembly of First Nations-hosted conference on resource equity in Winnipeg before heading to Edmonton, where, alongside his party's lone Alberta MP Linda Duncan, he'll speak at a nomination meeting in Edmonton Centre.

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