Inside Politics

Orders of the Day - If those caucus room walls could talk ...

... well, one suspects the word "robocall" would come up with remarkable frequency, at least as far as the opposition parties, with "Vikileaks" running a close second. 

Yes, it being Wednesday, the halls of Centre Block will seem deceptively serene this morning as MPs from all parties disappear behind closed doors for the traditional Wednesday rap sessions. Don't worry, they'll almost certainly make up, and then some, for the temporary dearth of sound and fury during the equally traditional caucus outs.

On the agenda for the House of Commons today: the proposed free trade agreement between Canada and Panama -- which up until this moment, I hadn't noticed has been branded the "Canada Panama Growth and Prosperity Act," leaving one to wonder whether there is any item of parliamentary business that can't be converted into a talking point.

As far as I can tell -- and I may be wrong -- the bill itself has not yet been placed under time allocation, which is somewhat odd, given the cheerfulness with which the Official Opposition has successfully stymied the passage of similar free trade proposals during minority parliaments past, to the point that I started thinking of its occasional cameo appearance at the top of the order paper as a tacit admission that the government house leader had simply run out of useful business to keep the Chamber occupied, and was simply running down the clock.

Meanwhile, worth watching on the committee front:

Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page will provide advice and guidance to the members of Government Operations and Estimates, who are currently conducting a somewhat meta, but nevertheless necessary review of the estimates review process itself.

Over at the C-11 (copyright) committee, MPs will hear from two artists' groups -- the Canadian Independent Music Association and the Canadian Artists Representation Copyright Collective -- as well as the Canadian Consumer Initiative, Audio Cine Films, Criterion Pictures and the Société des auteurs de radio, télévision et cinéma

At Foreign Affairs, the investigation of the role of the private sector in "achieving Canada's international development interests" continues with appearances by Clark University geography professor Anthony Bebbington and Goldcorp vice-president Brent Bergeron.

Before all that gets underway, however, MPs will retreat behind closed doors for the weekly meetings of their respective caucuses.

Hitting the media circuit: Liberal MP Irwin Cotler, who will present a joint statement issued by the Inter-Parliamentary Group for Human Rights in Iran -- of which he appears to be the only Canadian member -- which will "sound the alarm on escalating mass domestic repression" and condemn the "massive state-sanctioned assault on human rights".

Also making the rounds: Bloc Quebecois leader Daniel Paille and his "parliamentary leader" Andre Bellavance, who will share their party's recommendations for the (presumably) upcoming budget. (Seriously, shouldn't we have a date by now? It's starting to seem vaguely ominous without even a reassuring 'Real Soon Now' from the usual unnamed source suspects.) 

Later today, Rob Stewart, director and star of Sharkwater, a documentary that, according to the official site, "expos[es] the exploitation and corruption surrounding the world's shark populations" will hold court with reporters before a screening of the film at Library and Archives Canada.

Outside the precinct:

  • Public Safety Minister Vic Toews will preside over the official opening of a NEXUS lane at the Queenston-Lewistown Bridge
  • Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan is in Calgary, where he will make "an announcement of national importance" on water and First Nations community
  • Industry Minister Christian Paradis unveils "two unique space projects" related to biomedical technology at the National Optics Institute in Quebec City
  • In Ottawa, International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda delivers "closing remarks" at a Women's Economic Empowerment "public conversation" hosted by the Aga Khan Foundation of 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. 

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