… or, at least, let the haggling over the few pieces of legislation that actually have to get through before the summer recess begin. With just three weeks left in the session – assuming we go right to the official adjournment date of June 20th, a dire (and often hot and sticky) outcome that rarely comes to pass – there aren’t many committees angling to take on new business. Well, except for Ethics (Mulroney/Schreiber, Conservative in and out scandal; Public Safety (Bernier Affair); and possibly Foreign Affairs and/or International Trade (Brodie-Clinton-Obama-PMO-Wilson-and-don’t-forget-CTV NAFTA leak debacle).
So far, the only sure thing – okay, semi-sure thing is the recall of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney by the Ethics committee, which – according to the motion passed last week – must take place sometime between now, and June 12th. What happens if, once again, he doesn’t show up, and instead sends his lawyer and his communications advisor to deliver his regrets via nationally-televised press conference? Nobody knows.
In any case, the excitement at Ethics continues on Tuesday, when the committee considers a Liberal motion to investigate alleged overspending by the Conservatives during the last election – “In and Out”; just ask Pierre Poilievre to explain it if you’ve somehow managed to forget the specifics. It’s a daring move, considering that it was a similar – but not identical – motion that put the Procedure and House Affairs committee into its current comatose state.
As for the Bernier motion, all we know so far is that the Bloc Quebecois is behind it, and the Liberals – and very possibly the NDP as well – are fully on board, which means that it should sail through Public Safety later this week, unless the government realizes that it doesn’t actually have any pending security-related legislation, and lets the committee go the way of Justice.
Finally, there’s the Leak Thing – can we just call it the Leak Thing until we come up with something better than NAFTAgate? – which would seem to be a perfect fit for either International Trade, or Foreign Affairs.
(And yes, it has not escaped notice here at ITQ that, should each and every one of these proposed investigations come to pass before the House rises for the summer, it will make life a little bit hectic for certain livebloggers. That’s okay, though. We survived two consecutive nights of committee of the whole. Do your worst.)
Barring a last minute burst of filibustering from the government side of the table. the Environment committee may finally be ready to send C-474 back to the House. That’s the Liberal-initiated private members bill to establish a National Sustainable Development Strategy, appoint a truly independent Environment Commissioner, and require regular progress reports against a “standard set of environmental indicators.” ITQ must admit to being mildly astonished that the government is apparently willing to let this legislation slide through without even a pro forma attempt at shutting down the committee, given the weeks-long standoff that brought clause by clause consideration of the NDP’s climate change bill to a screeching halt.
Meanwhile, over at International Trade, study on Canada-Colombia trade relations continues as two other committees go behind closed doors: the Subcommittee on International Human Rights, which has been investigating the case of Omar Khadr, and Public Safety, which has been looking into the use of Tasers, go in camera to discuss drafting their respective final reports.
So where will ITQ be? At the Special Senate Committee on Anti-terrorism, of course.
In addition to the political melodrama (or tragicomedy) that may unfold at Ethics this afternoon — after the committee hears from the Canadian Bar Association on privacy reform, that is; the chair, no fool he, isn’t going to deal with the in and out motion until the end of the meeting — there is … wow, actually not that much going on at all. Not in public, at least; there are half a dozen or so committees meeting in camera, most of which are working on various reports that have to be tabled before the summer recess.
There is the possibility of interestingness breaking out over at Public Accounts, where the committee will review the Auditor General’s findings in her report on safeguarding government information and assets in contracting; if memory serves, it had something to do with contractors and subcontractors without sufficient background checks and security clearances.
“Dismantling” is such an ugly word – especially when applied to the words “CBC Radio Orchestra.” That’s what ITQ predicts that members of the Canadian Heritage committee will hear from the Toronto Blues Society, the West End Cultural Centre, Orchestras Canada, and opera.ca, among other artistically-oriented witnesses on the schedule for this afternoon.
Meanwhile, Industry hosts still-to-be-determined bureaucrats from half a dozen government departments – Agriculture, Environment, Fisheries, Health, National Defence and Natural Resources – as part of its study on Canadian science and technology, and the Fisheries committee gets details on a possible cod reduction in the St. Lawrence.