Inside Politics

UPDATED - Former election chief Jean Pierre Kingsley to testify at House Affairs committee

They may not be headed out on that cross-country tour that the opposition parties were -- and are -- demanding, but after weeks of tense -- and occasionally downright testy -- negotiations over the scope of its review of the government's efforts to rewrite the country's election law, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs is finally ready to get down to serious legislative scrutinizing business, it seems -- starting with a much-anticipated appearance by former chief electoral officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley, who is scheduled to spend an hour on the witness stand this morning.

Since the bill was introduced in February, Kingsley's preliminary praise -- most notably, the "A minus" he awarded it on the day it was tabled -- has been quoted repeatedly by Conservative MPs in defence of the bill, but Kingsley himself has largely remained silent on the subject since his initial comments.

Will he maintain his stance? Or has reading the fine print changed his view of the bill? Tune into PROC at 11am to find out!

After Kingsley's testimony wraps up, MPs will also get to hear from BC Chief Electoral Officer Keith Archer, and his Northwest Territories counterpart David Brock.

UPDATE: On a related note, the Council of Canadians, in cooperation with and the Canadian Federation of Students, has designated today a "National Day of Action to Stop the Unfair Elections Act," which will include synchronized cross-country attempts to deliver petitions to Conservative MPs' riding offices "in an effort to stop the government's plan to make US-style voter suppression a part of Canadian law."

Also on the committee front:

  • Treasury Board President Tony Clement and a retinue of senior officials field questions on the main estimates at Government Operations, while at Transport, Infrastructure Minister Denis Lebel will do the same for budget items related to matters under his portfolio.
  • Meanwhile, National Defence members will learn more about the "defence of North America", courtesy of expert witnesses Philippe Lagasse and Elinor Sloan, professors at the University of Ottawa and Carleton University, respectively.
  • Later this afternoon, Conservative MP Dave Mackenzie begins the process of shepherding his private members' bid to tighten the rules on escorted absences for inmates through committee review at Public Safety, where members are also expecting to hear what Federal Victims Ombudsman Sue Sullivan and Parole Board chair Harvey Cenaiko have to say about his proposal.

On the Hill media circuit today:

  • New Democrat MPs from Eastern Quebec and Atlantic Canada hit the Centre Block press theatre to discuss their recent "Let's Save Via Rail" train trip to Ottawa.
  • Speech-Language and Audiology Canada members release a report card on "the state of Early Hearing Detection and Intervention programs across Canada."
  • Representatives from the Armenian National Committee of Canada team up with "concerned MPs" to share the latest developments in what the advisory describes as "the Armenian populated Kessab region of Syria," which, according to the notice, has come under attack in recent days from "al Qaeda affiliated armed groups" who have crossed into Syria from Turkey.
  • The Parliamentary Budget Office posts a new labour market assessment.

This afternoon, opposition party leaders Tom Mulcair, Justin Trudeau and Elizabeth May will join Conservative MP Michael Chong to discuss "the importance of youth engagement in the democratic process" at iVote-jeVote, a one-hour event at the University of Ottawa that will also include presentations by former parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page and pollster Nik Nanos.

Elsewhere in the capital, Labour Minister Kellie Leitch will deliver a keynote speech at the 13th annual InfoNex conference on Managing Your Duty To Accommodate.

Finally, Transport Minister Lisa Raitt heads to Washington, DC, where she's scheduled to speak to both the Canadian American Business Council and the American Association of Port Authorities. 

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. 

Mobile-friendly auto-updating text feed available here

NOTE: Updates added in reverse chronological (newer to older) order.

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