… is the much-hoped-for answer to at least one liveblogger’s most heartfelt pleas to the universe — and she doesn’t care how cranky it seems to have made Joy Smith to have been summoned back to the Hill to preside over an emergency meeting on whether to look into the “latest developments” on the H1N1 virus, as well as the government’s current preparedness for a possible pandemic this fall. (Cue the usual suspects rolling their eyes and telling all and sundry not to get all panicky.)
Of course, those of you who obediently clicked on that first link will note that, as yet, there are no witnesses listed, and the meeting itself is only scheduled to last for fifteen minutes, but don’t worry, that’s likely just a formality, as it was convened under ITQ’s beloved, too rarely deployed SO 106(4), which obliges the clerk to convene a meeting within 48 hours of receiving a written request signed by four members. They’ll vote on the motion, and, if it passes — which it should, provided it has the support of all three opposition parties, and — of course — that there’s no filiblustery funny business from any other party during debate on the motion — the committee could go ahead and start hearing from witnesses right away.
ITQ, of course, will be there at 2:15 sharp — it may not have the star factor of last week’s Industry meeting on the Nortel deal, but really, it’s summer in Ottawa — she’d show up for Scrutiny of freaking Regulations at this point. (Note to the members of Scrutiny of Regulations committee: Any chance of that? Surely there is at least one regulation out there that deserves a little extrasessional scrutiny, isn’t there?)
Honestly, though, it’s hard not to find Smith’s reaction a little headscratchy. I mean, if Canadians actually are slowly but surely starting to shift their collective attention to health care, wouldn’t this be the perfect opportunity to demonstrate how very, very ready this government is to contend with whatever the plague gods should send our way this fall? Yet not only does Smith dismiss the whole thing as “political gamesmanship”, but it’s not even clear whether the health minister will show up. In fairness to Minister Aglukkaq, her office didn’t come right out and say that she won’t be there, but claimed that she hasn’t yet received an invitation to appear, which is probably because of the aforementioned vote that has to be held on the motion. Which is almost certainly true — the clerk can’t, after all, put out an APB for witnesses for a study that hasn’t yet been approved by the committee.
If Aglukkaq really wants to be there, however, ITQ would suggest that she collect the latest departmental briefing books and whatever ministerial staffers aren’t currently on holidays, and head over to West Block tomorrow afternoon. Once the motion has been passed, they can invite her in person, right there on the spot. Wouldn’t that be a great way to demonstrate to Canadians that their parliamentarians and government are eager to provide whatever information is needed to reassure them that the country’s flu file is in good hands?