House debating Liberal motion to free 'muzzled' federal scientists

The Liberals will spend their final opposition day of the 41st Parliament speaking out on behalf of federal scientists who, they will aver, been "muzzled" by the Conservative government.

Also today: Prime Minister Stephen Harper meets with Aga Khan

Centre Block's Peace Tower is shown through the gates of Parliament Hill. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

The Liberals will spend their final opposition day of the 41st Parliament speaking out on behalf of federal scientists who, they will aver, been "muzzled" by the Conservative government, and calling on that same government to "immediately rescind all rules and regulations" that have "constrained" their freedom to share their research with the public and with their peers."

If passed, which it almost certainly won't be, the motion would also have the House give its backing to the creation of a Chief Science Officer to ensure that "government science is freely available to those who are paying for it, namely, the public."

A trio of Liberal MPs — Ted Hsu, Marc Garneau and Kristy Duncan — will make themselves available to the press in the Commons Foyer just before the debate is slated to get underway at 10 a.m. ET.

Outside the Chamber, no fewer than four ministers are slated to go before their respective home committees to discuss — and, if necessary, defend — their departmental budget projections, plans and priorities for the coming year: Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander, Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq, Public Works Minister Diane Finley and Industry Minister James Moore.

Meanwhile, the government's latest omnibus budget bill has been duly divvied up and parcelled out amongst the relevant committees, which will now commence their review of their designated sections, with Veterans Affairs, Finance and Public Safety all scheduled to begin hearing witnesses today.

Over at Procedure and House Affairs, meanwhile, acting deputy House clerk Andre Gagnon and other Commons officials will update committee members on the implementation of the e-petition system before the committee turns its attention to the government's proposal to make it more difficult for Canadians living outside the country to exercise their right to vote.

On the Senate side of the precinct, Conservative MP Michael Chong will present his bid to rebalance the political power structure to the Senate rules committee, which is currently studying the bill, and will also hear from former Liberal interim leader Bob Rae and Carleton University political science professor William Cross.

Also on and around the Hill today:

  • New Democrat MPs Dennis Bevington, Romeo Saganash, Niki Ashton, Carol Hughes and Jonathan Genest-Jourdain share what they have learned about the "close to 50 communities" that are not covered by the Nutrition North program.
  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper takes part in a closed-door "tete-a-tete" with the visiting Aga Khan.
  • Canadian Chamber of Commerce CEO Perrin Beatty drops by the Centre Block press theatre to launch the group's "election platform" under the title "A Canada that Wins."
  • Later this morning, Canadian Association for Equality representatives will be on hand to show their support for Egyptian-born Canadian Mohamed Attah as he demands "public exoneration" for what the advisory characterizes as "misconduct" on the part of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
  • Outside the precinct, supporters join Deepan Budlakoti and his legal team before heading into the Federal Court of Appeal to challenge a decision that has left him both stateless and facing deportation.

Elsewhere in the capital:

Veterans Affairs Minister Erin O'Toole makes his way to the Hylands Golf Club, where he's set to speak an event hosted by Women in Defence and Security.

Minister of State for Finance Kevin Sorenson gives what the notice characterizes as a "post-budget speech" to the Economic Club of Canada.

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander teams up with Minister of State for Small Business Maxime Bernier in Niagara Falls, where the pair will share their respective and collective thoughts on international tourism at "Rendez-vous Canada," an annual trade show for "travel professionals."

Finally, back in Ottawa, National Post editor and columnist Andrew Coyne will face off against author John Pepali on whether Canada's democracy is in crisis at an evening debate — which is also the final such event of the season — hosted by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute.

Mobile readers: Follow the Parliament Hill ticker here.


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