ITQ Committee Lookahead: Guess who’s coming to committee?

A former prime minister! No, not that one – Joe Clark, who appears before Foreign Affairs this afternoon, somewhat inexplicably alongside the director of South Carolina’s Canada Office, to discuss “key elements of Canadian foreign policy”.

According to the notice, Clark is representing the Association of Former Parliamentarians, which means we may not get to hear scurrilous tales from his post-prime ministerial tenure as Brian Mulroney’s secretary of state for external affairs, although it also somewhat reduces the likelihood of awkward silence-laden exchanges between the former PM and Liberal foreign affairs critic Bob Rae, who introduced the motion of non-confidence that brought down his government.

Considering the less than wildly enthusiastic response that his portrait hanging garnered from the governing party, however, it’s possible that the most pointed and passive aggressive questions will come from the other side of the committee table. Also on the docket for today’s meeting is a trio of academics: University of Toronto polysci professor Stephen Clarkson; University of Otawa business and trade law professor Donald McRae and Laval University associate professor Carl Grenier.

Unfortunately, that means that ITQ will have to take a pass on Ethics this afternoon – the committee, that is – where Information Commissioner Robert Marleau is back in the witness chair. Last week, he gave the committee an overview of his most recent report cards; today, he’ll discuss his recommendations for reforming the current Access to Information law.

Meanwhile, the Subcommittee on the Automotive Industry in Canada— created by popular opposition demand, and subsequently snubbed by two of the Big Three car companies last week – holds a special afterhours meeting from 7 to 11pm to hear from Ford president and CEO David Mondragon and CAW President Ken Lewenza – back to back, not separately – as well as various and sundry industry associations.

Also on the Monday/Wednesday afternoon committee cycle this week:

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson hits the committee circuit, making the obligatory ministerial appearance to discuss the supplementary estimates with members of the Justice committee.

Canadian Heritage continues with its review of cuts to arts and cultural spending, which is scheduled to wrap up on Wednesday with an hour-long tete a tete with senior departmental officials.

Over at Defence, the committee will be briefed on Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan by Brigadier General G. Champagne — but not until after they elect a new chair. No, we don’t know exactly what happened to the previous inhabitant, Rick Casson, but he’s no longer listed as a member of the committee.

Tuesday/Thursday cycle

Access to credit continues to be the topic du jour over at Finance. Tomorrow morning, the committee will hear from the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, as well as Export Development Canada, the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, which will likely make for a somewhat mixed bag of recommendations. On Thursday, the Canadian Bankers Association takes the stand, as does the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada.

Over at International Trade, Canada-US trade relations is on the agenda, but with less than 24 hours to go until the meeting is supposed to take place, there are still no listed witnesses. Meanwhile, at Public Safety, the world’s longest no-longer-actually-undefended-at-least-by-any-conventional-definition-of-the-term border is on the agenda as well; somehow, ITQ suspects that the trade relationships that interest the Canada-US Cross Border Crime Forum aren’t really what the folks at International Trade had in mind.

Doing the estimates rounds today are Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl and Treasury Board President Vic Toews; the last of the three may turn out to be the liveliest ministerial outing, given the continuing grumbles over the $3 billion don’t-call-it-a-slush fund.

The Agriculture committee resumes its study on the “situation” facing the red meat sector. At the moment, there’s still no sign of any movement on the subcommittee on food safety – which, ITQ readers will dimly recall, was supposed to investigate last summer’s listeriosis outbreak – but that may be what Wayne Easter’s motion is all about.

The Environment committee devotes Tuesday’s meeting to a statutorily mandated review of the Species at Risk Act before returning to its study of the oil sands on Thursday.

Also on Tuesday:

Status of Women plunges onward with its investigation of the Employment Insurance system; meanwhile, over at Human Resources, Ottawa’s efforts to reduce poverty are under the microscope.

In another bit of committee synchronicity, the Health committee continues with its study of Bill C-11, which would further regulate the use of toxins and human pathogens by laboratories at the same time that Public Accounts looks into the Auditor General’s report on the Public Health Agency of Canada’s surveillance of infectious diseases.


Note to readers: This overview does not include all scheduled hearings, but only those that, for whatever reason, ITQ felt were worthy of note. For full committee listings, check the parliamentary website.