Inside Politics

NDP satellite offices back on the Parliament Hill agenda

The New Democratic Party may soon find out exactly how much money it will be asked to reimburse the House of Commons for expenses related to those controversial now-shuttered satellite offices in Montreal, Quebec City and Toronto.

Later this morning, the Board of Internal Economy -- the secretive all-party panel charged with overseeing House of Commons spending -- will gather behind closed doors to discuss the latest developments in its ongoing investigation into whether the party broke House rules by using its parliamentary budget to pay the salary costs to staff the out-of-town outposts.

The board was initially expected to hand down its verdict last month, but hours before that meeting was scheduled to get underway, the New Democrats turned over stacks of fresh evidence to support their contention that those expenses were entirely legitimate.

As a result, the meeting was postponed to give both the board members and House administrators the opportunity to review the newly disclosed documents before coming to a final conclusion on what, if any repayment may be necessary.

The New Democrats have already served notice that they're prepared to take the matter to court.

On Monday night, NDP MP and board member Philip Toone sent a letter to his colleagues in which he formally requested that Tuesday's meeting be held in public.

"I fully expect that the information that we provided to the board at the last meeting will exonerate us of any partisan charges," he wrote.

"But the public will not be able to judge that for themselves since the board continues to have meetings behind closed doors."

The party also sent out an advisory inviting reporters to the putative venue for tomorrow's meeting, where they will, according to the notice, "try, yet again, to allow access to the .... meeting."

Outside the precinct, Prime Minister Stephen Harper returns to the summer ministerial circuit with an evening appearance in Brampton, where he'll speak at a gala celebrating India's Independence Day.

Back in the National Capital Region, meanwhile, Finance Minister Joe Oliver adopts a tradition established by his predecessor, the late Jim Flaherty, by convening a closed-door "summer policy retreat" at the Wakefield Inn.

Also out and about today:

    • Fisheries and Oceans Minister Gail Shea starts her day in Summerside, where she'll share the latest news on the Canada Job Grant during a visit to the waterfront campus before heading to Charlottetown for an "important infrastructure event" at Atlantic Cat Dealership.
    • Elsewhere in Atlantic Canada, Agriculture and Agri-food Minister Gerry Ritz joins local MP Scott Armstrong for a tour of the Dalhousie Agricultural Campus in Truro, where, according to the advisory, the pair will outline new support for the "Canadian organic sector."
    • Moving west, Defence Minister Rob Nicholson unveils an infrastructure-related initiative during a stop at Garrison Edmonton, while in Kamloops, Minister of State for Seniors Alice Wong teams up with local MP Cathy McLeod to deliver fresh federal cash for Interior Community Services.
    • Finally, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt makes his way to Yellowknife, where, like Shea, he's slated to provide new details on the Canada Job Grant -- in his case, alongside Northwest Territories Deputy Premier and Education Minister Jackson Lafferty at the Legislative Assembly.

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 link available here.

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