What with one thing and another, the ITQ committee lookahead preparation team is running a little bit late today, which means there won’t be a complete overview of the week until later tonight – or possibly even tomorrow morning, in which case I promise that it will totally be worth the wait. To tide our fellow committee junkies over in the meantime, however, here’s what’s going on behind the committee room doors this afternoon:
As predicted by the Hill Times, the Finance committee will be whipping through the budget bill in record time, with just two days of hearings on the schedule. Those are actual days, however – ten hours in total, from 10 am to 10 pm, stopping only for a combination lunch/QP break at 1:30 pm and an hour for dinner at 6pm. The list of witnesses reads like — actually, like the list of witnesses at a traditional pre-budget consultation meeting, not one of which the Finance committee was, of course, able to hold due to that nasty case of prorogation flu that Parliament caught last December. Flaherty aficionados take note: the ministerial bearpit session, which lasts only an hour, starts at 3:30 pm.
ITQ, on the other hand, will be over at West Block, where she will be reunited with her beloved Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics committee for a briefing from Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart, followed by a motion from Carol Freeman, currently the odds-on favourite to take over the Voice of Sanity position left vacant by the departure of Carole Lavallee.
Speaking of Carole Lavallee, ITQ has every intention of dropping in on the former VoS later this week, when her new committee, Canadian Heritage, is supposed to hear from embattled National Battlefields Commissioner Andre Juneau on that whole Plain(e)s of/d’Abraham kerfuffle — provided, that is, that they don’t decide to cancel his appearance during this afternoon’s closed door meeting to discuss various items of varying degrees of import, from a motion tabled by Pablo Rodriguez to the selection of witnesses. (Also retreating in camera to discuss committee business on Monday afternoon: National Defence, which is still dealing with its first report on agenda and procedure.)
Meanwhile, over at Justice, the much-ballyhooed study on impaired driving gets underway with a briefing from Greg Yost, counsel with the department’s criminal law policy section, before getting an earful (or so ITQ guesses) from the Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers and the Association of Canadian Distillers, both of which, we recall, were less than thrilled by the Conservatives’ last attempt to drop the blood alcohol level threshold still lower.
At Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the committee kicks off its review of “key elements of Canadian Foreign Policy” with a visit from Fen Osler Hampson and Michael Hart, both of the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs.
Finally, Veterans Affairs hears from the Defence attache at the Embassy of France, who will make MPs feel either a) smug or b) guilty by detailing the various benefits and services that his country provides to its military veterans.
(Check back tomorrow morning for the full overview of this week’s hearings.)