Budget watchdog 'disappointed' by Senate ruling on legal challenge

In a surprise (well, at least to some of us) ruling, Upper House Speaker Noel Kinsella has sided with Independent Senator Anne Cools, clearing the way for the Senate to order the parliamentary budget officer to drop his legal challenge against the federal government for failing to disclose data. 

The nut graf of that ruling, which you can read in full below: 

By asking the courts to decide thequestion of his mandate, the Parliamentary Budget Officer has disregarded the established authority and organizational structure of which he is a part. 

The question of his mandate is solely for Parliament to determine.

The officer's actions run contrary to the constitutional separation of powers between the branches of government. As a consequence, both the second and third criteria have been fulfilled.

Later tonight, the Senate will begin debate on a motion to refer the matter to the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament, which would report its recommendations -- which, as Cools suggested in her initial complaint, could include a direct order to current PBO Kevin Page to withdraw his legal request for a court ruling on the extent of his mandate. 

For more background on what is, as far as I can tell, unprecedented procedural ground for the Red Chamber, read this recap of the debate so far.  As soon as I know what's likely to happen next, I'll post an update. 

In the meantime, hit the jump for the full text of Kinsella's ruling. 

UPDATE: Flanagan offers 'unreserved' apology for 'child porn' comments

Hit the jump for the full story and a statement from the CBC.

15 new MP-sponsored bills, motions on House priority list

As reported last week, 15 lucky MPs, including New Democrat leader Tom Mulcair, are about to be promoted to the private members' business priority list, which is scheduled to undergo one of its semi-regular updates, known within parliamentary circles as 'replenishment,' on Wednesday afternoon. 

Hit the jump for the full post. 

Conservative MP wants House, not government, to pick committee chairs

Conservative backbencher Brad Trost is preparing to put forward a motion that could strip the governing party -- in this case, his own party -- of the power to control who wields the gavel at committee. 

Hit the jump for the full post. 

PM heads to Quebec as EI debate heats up on the Hill

As debate over his government's approach to employment insurance continues to rage on the Hill, the PM takes a road trip to Riviere-du-Loup, where, alongside Transport Minister Denis Lebel, he'll make "an announcement" and pose for photos at the world headquarters of Premier Tech before heading off to a nearby hotel for an "economic consultation." 

That is, unless the aforementioned EI changes lead to localized protest rallies, which could throw off -- or even supplant entirely -- his planned itinerary. 

Back in Ottawa, New Democrat EI and labour critics Anne-Marie Day and Alexandre Boulerice unveil "tens of thousands of petitions ... slamming the Conservative EI reform" that, as per the advisory, have been "collected throughout Quebec," and will be tabled in the House this morning.  

Meanwhile, the now seemingly perpetually embattled parliamentary budget office will release a new report on the "feasibility" of the government's shipbuilding plans. 

It's worth noting that the PBO event was scheduled weeks ago, yet comes just one day after a hastily organized yet ostensibly unrelated Public Works-hosted background briefing with Senior Government Officials (as the advisory required them to be identified by reporters) on that very same issue. 

Hit the jump for the full post. 

Power & Politics' Ballot Box question

We asked: Should EI be used as a way to supplement the income of seasonal workers?

Here are the results:

Yes: 57%
No: 42%
Not sure: 0%

Mulcair unveils his plan to boost parliamentary budget officer's independence

Hot off the Official Opposition legislative presses, it's NDP Leader Tom Mulcair's bid to make the Parliamentary Budget Officer a fully independent Officer of Parliament, which should come up for an opening round of debate in April. 

Hit the jump to read the full text. 

Senator says budget watchdog could be ordered to drop legal challenge

Undaunted, it seems, by the virtually unprecedented level of sceptical public scrutiny currently aimed at the Red Chamber, perennially independent Senator Anne Cools is calling on her colleagues to issue an unprecedented rebuke against Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page by ordering him to cease and desist his ongoing legal action against the federal government. 

Hit the jump for the full story. 

Conservative EI changes bring critics, Quebec employment minister on the Hill

New Democrat Leader Tom Mulcair will kick off the day with a morning appearance in the House of Commons Foyer, during which he will, according to the advisory, "slam Conservative EI reform" before heading behind closed doors for the regular weekly Wednesday caucus confab. 

Hit the jump on the 

Power & Politics Ballot Box question

We asked: Do you support the Quebec student protests over tuition?

Here are the results:

Yes: 34%
No: 63%
Not sure: 2%