Inside Politics

Auditor general to report on prisons, pensions and payments to northern development agency

For the second time in less than a week, MPs are set to spend the day debating the pros and cons of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program.

This time, however, it's a Liberal-backed opposition motion under discussion.

If passed, the proposal -- which is, of course, non-binding -- would have the Commons "recognize that the current [program] is broken, and call on the government to implement measures to significantly reduce the intake of Temporary Foreign Workers over time and return the program back to its original purpose," which, in their view, should include a full review by the auditor general, as well as "stronger rules" and more complete disclosure.

Before that debate gets underway, however, House Speaker Andrew Scheer will table the latest omnibus report from Auditor General Michael Ferguson, which will include chapters on public sector pension plans, relocation services, the capacity of federal correctional institutions and First Nations policing, as well as an investigation into transfer payments to the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and a review of the quality of data provided by Statistics Canada.

On hand to provide the government's official response to Ferguson's findings will be a quartet of key ministers: Treasury Board President Tony Clement, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney, Public Works Minister Diane Finley and Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq, who is also responsible for the aforementioned northern development agency.

Also available for comment: New Democrat MPs will gather in the Foyer to make themselves available to reporters seeking comment from the opposition side of the House.

As for Ferguson himself, he'll take the stage at the National Press Theatre shortly after the report is made public.

Meanwhile, with its marathon review of the proposed election law rewrite now complete, Procedure and House Affairs can turn its attention to the next item of business on the to-do list: the much-anticipated appearance by New Democrat Leader Tom Mulcair, who is tentatively scheduled to take the witness seat this Thursday.

Last month, the House passed a motion instructing the committee to question Mulcair over his party's allegedly improper use of House resources to fund out-of-town outposts in Quebec and Saskatchewan, as well as a by-election eve mail drop.

The New Democrats, however, have already served notice that they intend to put forward a proposal to have the committee issue a similar invitation to Prime Minister Stephen Harper to be grilled over the alleged use of the Conservative Party database to place misdirecting robocalls during the 2011 election.

Elsewhere on the committee front, Ethics will hear from a pantheon of parliamentary officers, including Privacy Commissioner Chantal Bernier, Lobbying Commissioner Karen Shepherd and Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson, as well as senior officials from the Office of the Information Commissioner, all of whom are expected to testify on how the projected budget allotments in this year's main estimates will affect their respective offices.

Once that wraps up, MPs will debate a motion from Liberal MP Scott Andrews.

Over at Justice, MPs resume their review of the government's revived bid to crack down on 'online crime' by giving the police additional surveillance powers, with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada and "feminist advocate" Steph Guthrie on the witness list for today.

Also this morning: Health continues to look into the"health risks and harms" of marijuana, while International Trade analyses what the committee has apparently already concluded are the "positive effects of the Global Markets Acton Plan."

Finally, Finance Minister Joe Oliver heads to Finance to take questions on the spring omnibudget bill.

Also on the Hill today: Canadian Psychological Association CEO Karen Cohen and incoming president Kerry Mothersill call for better federal coverage of psychological services.

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