Trudeau's surprise move could force party rule rewrite

In a somewhat mischievously ironic twist, it appears that Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau's decision to strip senators of caucus membership rights may require opening the constitution after all -- the party constitution, that is. 

(Which, to be fair, is considerably more amenable to amendment than the Canadian version.) 

According to a letter sent to party president Mike Crawley earlier today, although Trudeau was operating entirely within his rights when he announced his decision to turf the Upper House contingent from caucus, the party constitution does include "clear roles and responsibilities" that will now have to be "adjusted" to reflect what it describes as "our new caucus reality." 

"We urge the National Board to develop a process for amending the LPC Constitution to remove reference to Senators and to operate immediately in a manner that is consistent with only elected Members of Parliament being part of the LPC National Caucus," it concludes. 

"This should include LPC communications materials and election readiness activities." 

Interestingly, Trudeau is not one of the four signatories: that duty, it seems, fell to Liberal MPs Ralph Goodale, Francis Scarpaleggia, Dominic LeBlanc and Judy Foote.  

Hit the jump to read the letter.

Speakers converge on the Hill as the first week of the winter sitting wraps up

As the first week of the winter sitting winds to what would seem, at least at press time, to be a reassuringly post-climactic close, MPs still on the parliamentary clock will spend the half-day remaining before the Chamber shuts down for the weekend discussing the merits and drawbacks of the government's bid to crack down on counterfeit products, which is currently at report stage.

Should that debate wrap up early, they will turn their attention back to the proposal to impose stringent restrictions on community-based safe injection sites, which is still at second reading despite having been the very first piece of legislation to hit the Order Paper following the Throne Speech reboot last fall, largely due to the seemingly implacable opposition of -- well, the opposition. That is, after all, their job.

Elsewhere on the Hill this morning: House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer joins his Senate counterpart Noel Kinsella for the launch of the Canadian Presiding Officers' Conference, which brings together speakers, deputy speakers, clerks and other presiding officers from legislative assembles across Canada to share tips, tricks and tales from behind the curtains

Hit the jump for the full post. 

Power & Politics' Ballot Box question

Yesterday we asked: What effect does raising the minimum wage have on the economy? Here are the results: Help: 1270 votes (90%) Hurt: 65 votes (5%) No effect: 59 votes (4%) Not sure: 17 votes (1%)

NDP to force House debate on veterans' 'mental health crisis'

Earlier this week, House Speaker Andrew Scheer advised the New Democrats that he would not be granting their request for an emergency debate on veterans' mental health care, and pointed out that the party could devote a future opposition day to the topic.

It appears that they've taken his advice.

Hit the jump for the full post. 

Power & Politics' Ballot Box question

Yesterday we asked: Should all Senators sit as Independents? Here are the results: Yes: 2938 votes (96%) No: 93 votes (3%) Not sure: 16 (1%)

House to deliver verdict on NDP pitch for e-petitions

New Democrat MP Kennedy Stewart will learn the fate of his bid to have a House committee investigate the possibility of implementing an e-petition system, which is officially opposed by the government but could squeak through if a sufficient number of backbench Conservative MPs were to break ranks to support it. 

Power & Politics' Ballot Box question

Yesterday we asked: Has Barack Obama's presidency been good for Canada?  

Here are the results:

Good for Canada: 988 votes (67%)
Bad for Canada: 193 votes (13%)
Not sure: 286 (19%)

Government replies to Wright/Duffy questions reveal curiously consistent omission

Last fall, opposition members filled the back pages of the parliamentary order paper with pointed written questions on those now infamous negotiations between then-PMO chief of staff Nigel Wright and then-Conservative Senator Mike Duffy.

On Monday, the government duly tabled its replies, which, for the most part, added no new or noteworthy information to the public record -- that is, except for one curiously consistent omission that weaved its way in conspicuous absentia through the otherwise largely non-responsive responses.

Hit the jump for the full post. 

MPs to debate Canada Post service cuts

MPs will get their first chance to share their views on those controversial cuts to Canada Post door-to-door service today as the New Democrats kick off the winter supply cycle with a non-binding motion that would, if passed, see the House "express its opposition to Canada becoming the only country in the G7 without such a service."

Hit the jump for the full post. 

Power & Politics' Ballot Box question

Yesterday we asked: How much time should the opposition be spending asking questions about the Senate scandal? Here are the results: More: 1651 votes (84%) Less: 295 votes (15%) Same amount: 26 votes (1%) Not sure: 4 votes