Inside Politics

Orders of the Day - Welcome back, Parliament!

No, really, we've missed you -- although come to think of it, what with both the Liberals and the NDP heading back to the Hill for caucus last week, it's hard not to feel like they never really left. (By the way, did anyone else notice that the Conservatives apparently didn't feel the need to convene one this time around? I think that's the first time since being elected to government that they haven't held a pre-session caucus retreat.) 

In any case, as of 11am this morning, the House of Commons is officially back in business (obligatory ominous reference to possibly imminent election: BUT FOR HOW LONG?), although sadly, it won't be serving as backdrop when Finance Minister Jim Flaherty unveils his final report on the status of the much-touted stimulus program, which he's set to do in Vaughan, Ontario -- yes, that Vaughan -- later today. 

A brief tangent: Elephant-like readers might recall that it was, of course, the Official Opposition that first came up with the idea of those mandatory quarterly reports as a condition of their support for the 2009 budget, which undoubtedly seemed like a masterful bit of strategy at the time. Alas, since they failed to specify that such presentations should take place in Parliament, the result was to give the government the opportunity -- actually, to be accurate, four separate opportunities -- to send its ministers - and, on occasion, the prime minister himself --  off to picturesque out-of-town venues to trumpet the success of their Economic Action! Plan. Ports, train yards, factory floors, construction sites; really, the options were endless. They liked it so much, in fact, that they kept doing it for a full year beyond the original agreement. Good plan, Liberals! 

Now, where was I? Oh yes, Vaughan, where Flaherty will deliver the final verdict on the program, which is scheduled to wrap up at the end of March -- and yes, of course Julian Fantino will be there; conspicuously absent, however, will be any potentially dissenting opposition finance critics, who will have to respond to its revelations from Ottawa, most likely during the perennially keenly anticipated, yet inevitably disappointing First Question Period of the New Year, which will also likely see the prime minister -- or his designated stand-in --  grilled over not just the country's fiscal health, but also the ongoing events in Egypt, and Canada's response to the crisis. 

After that wraps up, it's back to the legislative grindstone, starting with a bit of crime-related clean-up from before the Christmas break; specifically, third reading of S-6, which was passed by the Senate last June, and would prevent persons convicted of murder or high treason from applying for early parole, and report stage of C-48, which would change the "parole inadmissibility period" for those convicted of multiple murders. Since both bills sailed through previous votes with the support of all but the Bloc Quebecois, it's a safe bet that both will likely be primed and ready for Royal Assent by the end of the week. 

Meanwhile, on the committee front, the Ethics committee -- which we may have to refer to as the ATI committee for the next few weeks, although that might just get confusing for all concerned -- kicks off its long-awaited study on open government with a briefing by noted public-dataphile David Eaves

Over at Justice, they'll hear from the Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness, as well as the Ontario Provincial Police and Canada Family Action Coalition president Brian Rushfeldt on proposed amendments to the Criminal Code related to sexual offences against children; International Trade is investigating "cultural diversity and the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement," which ... actually sounds kind of interesting, now that I think about it, and finally, National Defence takes a field trip to Newfoundland and Labrador to find out more about Canada's search and rescue capabilities. 

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. 

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