Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Jim Flaherty, this is your life. Or, more accurately, this is your speechwriter – Hugh MacPhie, who you might remember from your past life as an Ontario cabinet minister, when he toiled in the office of your Premier Mike Harris, or perhaps from your stint as a candidate in the post-Harris provincial Tory leadership race – or, more recently, as the grateful beneficiary of your current department’s untendered largesse, which has subsequently commanded the attention of the federal ethics commissioner.
Don’t worry if it all seems a little hazy – it will all come back to you later this morning at Public Accounts, which is about to embark on a three hour tour down memory lane, starting with two senior Treasury Board officials who will have to explain why your office apparently broke the rules to hire his company to provide “communications advice”, followed by MacPhie himself – and his colleague, Sarah Beth Mintz, also a former fellow traveller with the Ontario PC Party, and then, finally, you get to take the stand to explain why this is all just another imaginary Liberal scandal. (Unfortunately, due to a previous commitment, ITQ will only be able to liveblog the first two hours, but we’re sure that it will be your appearance that everyone will be talking about after the meeting rolls to a close.)
So where the heck will ITQ be, if not watching a cabinet minister under fire at committee? Listening to Senator Romeo Dallaire castigate the Conservative government for its hands-off policy on former child soldier Omar Khadr, currently caught in the quagmire of the American military tribunal system. The former general will testify before the Subcommittee on International Human Rights this afternoon, along with Syracus University law professor David Crane.
Over at Agriculture, members take a break from parsing the fine print on Product of Canada claims to meet with Canadian Wheat Board president Ian White, who will brief the committee on the operations of the venerable federal marketing body that, for the Conservatives, ranks just below the CBC and Elections Canada on the institutional enemies list.
Meanwhile, over at Citizenship and Immigration, embattled minister Diane Finley is once again slated to discuss the proposal to give her – and, of course, her eventual successors in the job – sweeping new discretionary powers to rejig immigration policy on the fly, ostensibly to reduce the backlog (all the Liberals’ fault, she’ll say) and make the system itself more flexible. The committee is also scheduled to meet this morning, which will make for a very long day for members — six hours total, unless the videoconference gremlins or a broken water main forces yet another cancellation.
Finally, parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page makes another appearance – this time, at Government Operations and Estimates – to talk about his role as federal fiscal policy fact-checker.