Inside Politics

NDP bid to endorse proportional representation to be free vote for Liberals

Electoral reform -- and specifically, mixed-member proportional representation -- will be on the Commons agenda when the Chamber opens for business this afternoon.

As reported yesterday, the New Democrats will devote the final opposition day of the sitting to a proposal to make the next election the last held under a "first-past-the-post" formula, which, according to the motion, "has repeatedly delivered a majority of seats to parties supported by a minority of voters."

Though almost certainly doomed to failure due to the staunch opposition emanating from the government side of the House, the motion will, at least, put Liberal MPs on the official record as far as their individual views on the issue, as it will be a free vote for that caucus.

Although the party has backed resolutions in favour of electoral reform at its most recent policy conventions, both Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and others favour a preferential ballot system, which is incompatible with what the New Democrats contend in the motion is "the best electoral system for Canada."  

Before that gets underway, however, MPs from all parties will retreat behind closed doors for their usual Wednesday morning confabs.

On the committee front:

    • As the pre-holiday supplementary estimates circuit wraps up, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney returns to his home committee for a one-hour Q&A on the latest batch of budget top-off requests from his department, as well as the RCMP, CSIS and other agencies under his ministerial aegis.
    • Over at Finance and Citizenship and Immigration, however, committee members will have to make do with senior departmental officials, as neither National Revenue Minster Kerry-Lynne Findlay nor Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander is expected to appear this afternoon.
    •  Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt  will, however, be front and centre for the first hour of discussion on his department's expenditures and operations.

On the Senate side, Conservative MP Dave Mackenzie will present his backbench bid to crack down on prison leave -- or, as his bill puts it, "escorted temporary absence" -- at Legal and Constitutional Affairs, while Green Party Elizabeth May discusses her proposal for a federal framework on Lyme Disease at Social Affairs.

May is also scheduled to join newly appointed Green Party Deputy Leader Daniel Green and Forces et Democratie MP Jean-Francois Larose for a mid-morning press conference to "voice opposition" to the Energy East pipeline proposal, and "give a forum to citizens groups," several of which will also have representatives in attendance.

Also this morning: A delegation of Yukon First Nations will outline their concerns over aspects of the government's proposal to give the territory more control over nature resources, which they fear will "cause harm to the environment and the economy."

Outside the precinct, Labour and Status of Women Minister Kellie Leitch teams up with Minister of State for Social Development Candice Bergen for an "important announcement," with no further details provided nor any hints as to the content beyond the address, which links back to a downtown Ottawa office building that houses a diverse group of tenants.

Elsewhere in the capital, Health Minister Rona Ambrose kicks off a new campaign to promote blood donation in Canada by joining Conservative MP Ted Opitz and Laureen Harper for an afternoon photo op at Canadian Blood Services, followed by an evening reception back on Parliament Hill.

Finally, the Hill itself will play a starring role at the annual Christmas Lights Illumination Ceremony, which takes place this evening. 


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