Well, sort of. So far, it’s just a whole bunch of chair elections on the schedule, but it’s a start, right? They’ve got to get the housekeeping and parliamentary administrivia out of the way before they can get down to serious committee business.
Unfortunately for ITQ, who still hasn’t managed to master the art of liveblogging more than one meeting at the same time (confound you, stubbornly rigid laws of physics), this afternoon is already triple-booked, with Justice, Foreign Affairs and International Development, and Canadian Heritage all holding organizational confabs during the post-QP slot, forcing us to choose between the three. At the moment, she is tentatively planning to go with Justice for old time’s sake, but are willing to listen to arguments in favour of one of the other two rivals for our berry-powered affections.
It gets even harder to pick a committee room for Tuesday morning, however, when Aboriginal Affairs, Citizenship and Immigration, Environment and Sustainable Development, and Finance get together to choose their respective chairs – Finance would seem to be the logical choice, since it is, after all, the eventual destination of the much-anticipated Budget Implementation Act, which could be tabled as early as this week. Part of me, however, is drawn to Environment, whose raison d’etre has been shoved so firmly onto the backburner by the ongoing Global Economic Unpleasantness. Who would want to captain the Marie Celeste of committees? And shouldn’t ITQ be there, since most of her colleagues (by which she means David Akin and the other five reporters who enjoy the tabletop banter) will show up for the aforementioned Finance?
It gets easier, thankfully, at 11am, when the first opposition-chaired committee on the schedule — Government Operations and Estimates, as it turns out – is called to order. Other meetings scheduled for that timeslot: Agriculture (worth watching after this week to see if the opposition parties start agitating over their unfinished hearings into the listeriosis outbreak, and the budget cuts at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency) and Fisheries and Oceans.
Tuesday afternoon, another opposition MP will be elected chair over at Public Accounts, and should probably take care of the usual stack of routine motions before the end of the week, since the Auditor General is about to release her December report; meanwhile, the Health and Transport, Infrastructure and Communities committees will be readying their respective shovels, as it were, to plunge into fallow ground.
Finally, on Wednesday afternoon, the first meeting of the committee whose antics ITQ spent so many, many hours of the last year so diligently chronicling gets underway: Welcome back, new and returning members of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics! (You too, members of the Defence and Veterans Affairs committees, but we’re still not going to make it to your respective chair elections. Sorry.)
As usual, we’ll keep y’all updated on any last-minute changes to the schedule, but since these are, after all, organizational meetings, we don’t expect much in the way of parliamentary drama – but that won’t stop us from showing up.
Finally, at this juncture, ITQ would like to express her grave concerns over the changes that have been made to the main committees page on the parliamentary website, which may, to the untrained (read: non-obsessed) eye, seem to be at least a mild improvement over the previous version, but which appears to have made it impossible to tell which meeting notices have been modified since the initial posting, or even when a particular notice was added to the list. Would it be that difficult to set up an RSS feed, really? The Parliamentary Budget Office managed to do it, after all. We’re just saying.