Inside Politics

Anti-abortion ralliers converge on the Hill for annual March for Life

Just one day after Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau found himself on the defensive over his pledge to ensure a pro-choice slate of Liberal candidates, thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators are set to converge on Parliament Hill for the annual March for Life rally.

This year's protest will focus on RU-486, which Campaign Life Coalition organizers call the "chemical abortion pill," and which is currently under review at Health Canada.

Back in the Chamber, while the official to-do list includes two relatively non-contentious pieces of legislation dealing with air security and offshore safety. the government may open a new front in the ongoing battle over the now-amended election law rewrite bill by introducing a motion to set a deadline for a final vote.

Report stage debate on the bill officially got underway yesterday afternoon, albeit not before the New Democrats were able to demonstrate their continuing opposition to the bill with their signature slow-voting protest tactic.

That, it seems, was enough to prompt Government House Leader Peter Van Loan to serve formal notice of his intention to bring down the time allocation hammer, which he can do at any point, but will likely want to get out of the way sooner rather than later.

When that report stage vote arrives, it will likely keep MPs on their feet for several hours --- even after the speaker tossed out a handful of substantive amendments put forward by Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, and grouped the remaining motions for ease of passage, it will still require 16 votes to get the bill through to third reading.

On the committee front, Justice Minister Peter MacKay is scheduled to appear at Justice, where he'll almost certainly find himself under fire over his -- and his boss's -- comments on the Supreme Court and the Nadon decision.

Over at Health, MPs continue to weigh the "risks and harms" of marijuana, with today's witnesses to include representatives from the Federation of Medical Regulatory Authorities of Canada, as well as a trio of University of Toronto psychiatry professors.

Meanwhile, former Rights and Democracy chair Aurel Braun testifies alongside Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute vice-president Colin Robertson as Defence resumes its study on continental defence.

Finally, the Subcommittee on Private Members' Business goes through the next batch of backbencher initiatives bound for the House floor to determine which, if any, should be deemed non-votable.

Also on the Hill:

    • Liberal MP Irwin Cotler hits the stage at the Centre Block press theatre to "officially launch" Iran Accountability Week.
    • Later today, Cotler will join fellow MPs Rob Anders and Helene Laverdiere to show their support for Venezuelan congresswoman Marina Corina Machado, will will share more details on her ongoing visit to Canada.

UPDATE: According to an NDP spokewoman, Laverdiere will not be attending the event -- her name was apparently added in error. 

    • New Democrat MP Alex Atamanenko outlines his private members' bid to, as the advisory explains, "restrict the slaughter of horses to only those raised primarily for human consumption and which carry a lifetime medication history."
    • Canadian Psychological Association CEO Karen Cohen teams up with the local organizers behind Ottawa's Defeat Depression to call on MPs and senators to show their support for planned events set to take place "across the country" on May 10th.
    • This afternoon, House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer will open his parliamentary salon for a reception to honour the 2014 Governor General's Performing Arts Award recipients.

Outside the precinct, Governor General David Johnston will be on hand to greet the Soldier On Afghanistan Relay team as they arrive in Gatineau in advance of Friday's commemoration ceremonies.

On the opposition front, New Democrat Leader Tom Mulcair heads to Montreal to deliver the keynote address to delegates at the annual convention of the Canadian Labour Congress.

Meanwhile, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau kicks off a western mini-tour with a stop at the Okotoks Elks Club, where he'll meet up with Dustin Fuller, his party's candidate-in-waiting for the looming Macleod by-election, and deliver "brief remarks" to campaign volunteers.

Finally, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May drops by the University of Ottawa, where she's set to speak at an early evening "launch event" for Transparent Lives: Surveillance in Canada.

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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