Fresh from the Victoria break — or Honouring Our Monarch week, if you follow the regular Thursday now-I’m-sure-he’s-doing-it-at-least-partly-to-drive-me-crazy theme-ifying by Peter Van Loan — the kids — AKA our esteemed elected representatives – are back in Ottawa, the House is back in session and committees are back in business.
Or at least, they will be as of this afternoon; the usual scattering of Monday morning meetings having been preempted by Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko, who delivers a joint address to Parliament later this morning, which ITQ will, sadly, likely not be liveblogging since we’re almost certainly not going to be able to get a seat in the gallery to watch the festivities.
That’s okay, though, because actually, we have a prior commitment – a committee-mitment, if you will – to the Subcommittee on International Human Rights, which is currently holding hearings on the case of Omar Khadr, and whether Canada’s failure to seek repatriation for the only Westerner still in U.S. military custody at Guantanamo Bay constitutes the abandonment of our moral and legal obligations under international human rights law. So far, the answer seems to be a resounding ‘yes’, according to the witnesses who have gone before the committee thus far, and that trend will likely continue during today‘s appearance by University of Ottawa law professor Craig Forcese – the same Craig Forcese who so dazzled ITQ when he went before the Senate committee on anti-terrorism law earlier this month. Forcese will be joined by several of the law students responsible for putting together this staggeringly comprehensive report on Khadr, and the case for repatriation.
Tomorrow, however, Team Oh No It Doesn’t finally gets the chance to explain whyCanada shouldn’t lift a finger to help Omar Khadr, and should instead leave him to the tender mercies of a quasi-legal process that, according to the Supreme Court, is in violation of fundamental principles of justice. Witnesses for the prosecution include the Canadian Coalition for Democracies, University of Waterloo professor Salim Mansur, and Howard Anglin, an American lawyer who has condemned his own Supreme Court for its decision on the treatment of detainees for, in his words, establishing “a deeply flawed framework for dealing with terrorists motivated by an implacable religious desire to destroy us”.
The Environment committee is picking its way through yet another private members’ bill — this time, courtesy of the Liberals, but once again backed by all three opposition parties — that would force the government to come up with a national strategy on sustainable development, which would include issuing regular progress reports — measured against actual environmental indicators — and appointing an independent Environment Commissioner, who would report directly to Parliament, and not to the Auditor General’s Office, which is currently the case. Judging from the minutes, clause-by-clause seems to be going remarkably smoothly — no government-issue filibusters so far — but that could change once they hit the more controversial sections of the bill.
Also today: International Trade resumes its investigation into free trade with Colombia, and the environmental and human rights implications thereof; over at Finance, they still haven’t finished with C-50 – otherwise known as the Budget Implementation Act – despite the fact that the other committee that was studying the bill – Citizenship and Immigration – has already reported back to the House, and has called for the immigration-related proposals to be scrapped, at least temporarily.