ITQ Committee Lookahead: As below, so above.

Or, “What’s that, canary? You have a bad feeling about going back down the mineshaft?”

As was the case during the last parliament, committees remain an excellent early warning system for potential storms on the parliamentary horizon, at least as far as ITQ is concerned. We may still need an unnamed government official to let us know exactly when the Conservatives plan to launch the next round of negative advertising, but as of last week,  it was already pretty clear from the list of items on various committees’ respective agendas that the feigned civility and faux nonpartisanship that accompanied the introduction of the budget was unlikely to survive much longer.

As such, it should come as no surprise to veterans of P39.2 and P40.1 that the trend continues this week, starting this afternoon, when Canadian Heritage continues to pick at the scab that was last summer’s (as it turned out wildly politically ill-advised, at least in Quebec) cuts to arts and culture funding. Today’s witnesses include the Canadian Film and Television Fund, the Canadian Screen Training Centre, and screenwriter Marc Robitaille – who, for some reason, will appear in camera. On Wednesday, the committee hears from the Association of Cultural Industries of Newfoundland and Labrador, Magazines Canada, the Canadian Art Museum Directors’ Organization, Grand ballets canadiens de Montréal and various other groups that one suspects will not be leading spontaneous rounds of pro-government applause.

ITQ, meanwhile, will be at Ethics, where preparations for the upcoming In and Out hearings are likely already underway and three more Officers of Parliament are slated to make appearances this week. On Monday, the committee will be briefed by Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson and Lobbying Commissioner Karen Shepherd, and on Wednesday, they’re scheduled to hear from Information Commissioner Robert Marleau, fresh from last week’s Slightly Frustrated As Heck media tour. Expect to hear many a quote from Conservative campaign platforms past from opposition members, and many a reference to the scourge that was the sponsorshop scandal from the government.

Also on the agenda for the Monday/Wednesday committee cycle: Foreign Affairs continues to review “key elements” of Canadian policy with the help of former deputy minister Peter Harder, now with Fraser Milner Casgrain and James H. Taylor  (not, ITQ assumes, the “travelling troubadour” but more likely the former foreign service officer and one-time Canadian Ambassador to the North Atlantic Council and Japan). Wednesday’s witness list is more eclectic: Paul Heinbecker, the Canadian-American Business Council and UBC professor Michael Byers, who ran as a candidate for the NDP during the last election and will be appearing via teleconference.

Over at National Defence, senior military officials may face a grilling from opposition MPs on the ongoing security preparations for the upcoming Vancouver Olympics, and Justice wraps up three days of hearings on impaired driving this afternoon. They’ll start putting together a draft report on Wednesday.

Tuesday morning will see the Finance committee begin its first bit of post-budget business, which, as it turns out, will be a study on access to credit and “the stability of the Canadian financial system”, with witnesses from the department and the Business Development Bank of Canada.

On the agenda at Agriculture, meanwhile, is the Red Meat Sector, which is apparently facing a “situation”, according to the notice of meeting; as yet, the organizational meeting for the much-anticipated subcommittee on food safety has not appeared on the schedule, but we’ll keep you posted.

Also on the Health front, officials from the Public Health Agency of Canada appear before that committee to discuss Bill C-11, which deals with human pathogens and toxins

Also on Tuesday:

  • Citizenship and Immigration goes behind closed doors to work on its report on undocumented and temporary foreign workers, apparently undaunted by the fact that large chunks of it appear to have been made public already, or so this press release from United Steelworkers would suggest.
  • Government Operations continues to explore the mysterious world of government procurement
  • Public Accounts gets a crash course on the even more mysterious – mechanics of federal-provincial transfer payments from the Auditor General, as well as representatives from Finance, PCO, Treasury Board and the Public Sector Accounting Board
  • Natural Resources investigates “integrated approaches for providing energy services in Canadian communities”
  • The Environment committee plots future business.
  • Official Languages holds a second hearing on the standardization of Braille in French

For the full list of all scheduled meetings, click here.

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