ITQ Committee Roundup: Once more unto the breach, dear friends ...

With hearings on the Bernier Affair scheduled to kick off tomorrow, it’s not hard to guess what might be on the in camera agenda at Public Safety this afternoon, which is why ITQ – and other journalists, most likely – will trek over to West Block and set up camp in the hallway outside, just in case committee members decide to throw open the doors and let the media in — not entirely impossible, given the sensational subject matter.

Failing that, we’ll just hunker down, exchange scurrilous gossip, speculate as to whether the House will let out early (ITQ’s guess: Not more than a day before the scheduled adjournment, if that) and wait for the post-meeting scrums to find out what, if anything, was decided as far as future meetings. Right now, the only thing we know for sure is that the RCMP officers in charge of background checks will take the stand on Tuesday, as will self-proclaimed national security expert and omnipresent talking head Michel Juneau-Katsuya.

Also meeting today: the Standing Committee on International Trade, which is still – yes, still – looking into Canada-Colombia trade relations from an environmental/human rights perspective, despite the fact that the government has already signed off on a free trade agreement. That won’t necessarily render the committee’s eventual recommendations moot, however; the treaty has to go back to the House for approval, which is unlikely to happen before the fall session. (If we have a fall session, that is.)

The Environment committee continues to blitz through private members’ business – on the docket this afternoon: Andre Arthur’s bill to ban phosphorus-laced detergent and dish soap.

Finally, the Finance committee breathes a sigh of relief at having finally finished its study of the political hydra that is C-50, and investigates a proposal to allow tax deductions for volunteer emergency service.


Citizenship and Immigration: Draft report on immigration consultants and “consideration of a preliminary summary” on undocumented and temporary foreign workers

Public Accounts, Foreign Affairs, International Human Rights and Aboriginal Affairs: Committee business


As noted above, the standing-room only show for Tuesday – at least, at the moment – is definitely the launch of the Public Safety committee’s investigation of the Bernier Affair, which isn’t currently on the schedule, but will get underway at 3:30 p.m., and will most likely be televised.

Just as tempting, however, for those of us drawn to procedural battles like a moth to a flame – or perhaps, given our track record of being present at every meltdown so far, like a flame to a moth – is the Ethics meeting scheduled for the same block of time, which – we’re assured – will finally deal with an opposition-backed motion to launch hearings into the Conservative in and out election advertising scheme. The chair is also expected to provide the latest details on former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s not-exactly-a-refusal to the committee’s request that he make a return appearance to tie up some loose ends vis a vis his relationship with Karlheinz Schreiber, although at this point, I don’t think anyone really expects him to show up.

Meanwhile, MDS Nordion goes before Natural Resources to explain the decision to mothball the MAPLE nuclear reactors that were supposed to secure Canada’s future isotope supply, alongside John Waddington, a former Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission director general turned “nuclear safety consultant,” who argued, in the aftermath of the Chalk River debacle, that there was “never a real nuclear danger”

The Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs studies the “appellation of Room 112-N” – the basement room in which it traditionally meets – with the help of House Speaker Peter Milliken and Clerk Audrey O’Brien. (Presumably, the fact that it is also the regular meeting place for Procedure and House Affairs – when they meet, that is, which hasn’t happened in months due to Conservative filibustering over in and out – will be taken into consideration before any unintentionally ironic re-christening occurs.)

Also on the agenda:

More Canadian science and technology talk at Industry, which is also working on a draft report on the service sector

The proposed free trade deal with Liechtenstein, Iceland and other European nations goes to International Trade

Human Resources hears from Newfoundland and Labrador on Ottawa’s contribution to fighting poverty

The Canadian Heritage goes in camera to work on what is likely to be a less than rosy report on the decision by CBC to abolish the CBC Radio Orchestra

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