Inside Politics

NDP 'outreach offices' back on the agenda at House Affairs committee

Just two weeks after New Democrat Leader Tom Mulcair underwent a two-hour grilling over his party's taxpayer-funded 'outreach offices,' MPs will get the chance to put a few follow-up questions to House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer, deputy House clerk Marc Bosc and chief financial officer Mark G. Watters, who are scheduled to spend an hour at Procedure and House Affairs this morning.

Although the meeting is officially designated as part of the annual main estimates review, the subsequent question-and-answer session will almost certainly include pointed queries from the Conservative side of the table on the allegedly 'inappropriate use of House resources' by the Official Opposition.

The committee is also scheduled to hear from Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand.

Over at Justice, the ongoing review of the government's bid to crack down on 'online crime' continues, with University of Ottawa research chair Michael Geist, Canadian Association of University Teachers executive director James Turk, Federal Victims Ombudsman Sue O'Sullivan and representatives from the Canadian Centre for Child Protection on today's witness list.

Meanwhile, Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino may find himself facing a considerably larger audience than he expected when he testifies on his department's latest estimates this morning.

The Canadian Veterans Advocacy group has arranged for "numerous veterans and representatives of veterans' organizations" to attend today's meeting to hear what he has to say on the effects of funding cuts on the department, as well as the Veterans Review and Appeal Board.

Other ministers set to hit the main estimates committee circuit today: Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford, Defence Minister Rob Nicholson, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt and Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq.

International Trade Minister Ed Fast is also scheduled to appear before his home committee, where he'll share his thoughts on the "positive effects of the Global Markets Action Plan" before committee members go behind closed doors to discuss their report on the proposed Canada-European free trade agreement.

Also on the committee agenda today:

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May pitches her private members' proposal to set up a National Lyme Disease Strategy at Health, Ethics members find out what Canada's banking industry has to say about the threat of identity theft, and Finance returns to clause-by-clause review of the spring omnibudget bill.

Back in the Chamber, MPs continue to work their way through the backlog of government bills on the pre-recess priority list, including a proposal to revamp the regulatory framework for Canadian offshore energy development (C-22), new air and sea security laws (C-3) and the implementation of an international treaty banning the use of munitions clusters (C-6).

On the Hill media circuit today:

    • New Democrat small business critics Glenn Thibeault and Annick Papillon unveil a "major outreach campaign" that will "echo the Canadian Federation of Independent Business" by calling on the government to "drop their plan to end an important small business tax credit."
    • Representatives from the National Council of Canadian Tamils brief reporters on "extensive discussions with federal parliamentarians" in support of the use of targeted economic sanctions against Sri Lanka.
    • UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres hits the National Press Theatre to outline "global displacement challenges" before making his way to the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat, where he will deliver a speech on pluralism.

Elsewhere in the capital, Public Works Minister Diane Finley speaks at CANSEC, the annual security and defence tradeshow hosted by the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries.

Outside the precinct, Prime Minister Stephen Harper spends a second day in Toronto, where he will joins Gates Foundation co-chair Melinda Gates, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete and Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan for an announcement related to Canada's efforts on maternal, newborn and child health.

Across the river in Gatineau, Canadian Heritage Minister Shelly Glover will be on hand as the now officially renamed Canadian Museum of History opens a new exhibition on 'Canada's Titanic', the Empress of Ireland.

On the opposition front, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair heads to Saskatchewan, where he'll meet with reporters at a restaurant in downtown Saskatoon.

Finally, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May will make a virtual appearance at the International Association for Great Lakes Research 2014 Conference, where, due to "House of Commons commitments" and the ongoing clause-by-clause review of the budget bill, she'll deliver closing remarks via Skype.

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