ITQ Committee Update - Can't talk. Chair will eat me.

The Clerk of the Privy Council is, admittedly, no Julie Couillard, but he may be the most hotly anticipated witness that Public Safety will be able to lure into its web of investigative intrigue before the House rises for the summer – at least, until committee members are able to agree on when and how to summon not only Couillard, but her ex-ministerial ex-boyfriend as well – ideally, not in that order. In any case, Ottawa’s highest ranking civil servant is up this afternoon, and can expect a barrage of questions about – say it with me, now – what he knew, when he knew it, and – most importantly, for the opposition – when he told the PM about it. It, of course, is the security breach that led to Bernier’s resignation, although don’t be surprised if Lynch is also grilled over the protocol for background checks and security clearances, particularly given the reappearance of the RCMP tomorrow afternoon.

Although he hasn’t yet been summoned to appear before Government Operations, Lynch will likely be paying close attention to the fate of a certain motion up for debate at this morning’s meeting: a Liberal-backed proposal to kickstart hearings on his investigation into the NAFTA leak. If it passes, the committee begin hearing from witnesses on Thursday — one day before Republican presidential nominee John McCain is expected to roll into town to talk free trade with Canadian business leaders.

Meanwhile, over at the Ethics committee – where ITQ will be in attendance for what could be the final meeting before the break – debate continues on the proposed investigation into the in and out scandal – otherwise known as the Hubbard motion, which has been on the table for the last two weeks, and is now facing the same death-by-a-thousand-subamendments that brought Procedure and House Affairs to a standstill. Also on the to-do list: the letter sent last week by Team Mulroney legal counsel Guy Pratte, in which he declined an invitation to make a second appearance to clear up some of the niggling questions left unresolved by his standing-room-only performance last December. Oh, and Pat Martin also has a motion on the table, which could be exciting.

Natural Resources hears from Michael Binder, recently appointed as chair of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, who will share his thoughts on the decision by AECL to mothball plans for two MAPLE reactors — coincidentally, an issue closely related to the controversy that cost his predecessor, Linda Keen, her job.

Due to a quirk in scheduling, both soon-to-be-former Chief of Defence Staff Rick Hillier and his successor, Walter J. Natynczyk, will be on the Hill today, appearing before the National Defence and Public Accounts committees respectively. Natynczyk, testifying in his current capacity as vice-chief, will field questions on the Auditor General’s most recent findings on support for overseas deployment; Hillier, on the other hand, will discuss health services for Canadian Forces members.

Later this afternoon, Citizenship and Immigration may set a sessional record for the largest number of motions on the agenda for a single meeting: there are six on the schedule, although since three are from the same MP – JIm Karygiannis, come on down – that may not count by Guinness standards.

Finally, the Subcommittee on International Human Rights carries on with its inquiry into the persecution of religious minorities; Agriculture and Agri-food puts on its protective coveralls for a look – but no touching, and no sudden movements – at the bee industry; and  Canadian Heritage deals with “questions” about the Canadian Television Fund.

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