POLITICS

Bid to boost CSIS powers back on House agenda

01/28/2015 06:09 EST | Updated 03/30/2015 05:59 EDT
With just two days to go before the government unveils its latest bid to crack down on terrorism, terrorists and terror-related activities, Government House Leader Peter Van Loan has served notice that he intends to impose a deadline on House debate over a related bill introduced last fall — C-44, which would expand the power and scope of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, most notably by giving the agency the explicit authority to track persons of interest overseas.

On Tuesday evening, Van Loan advised his Commons colleagues that he will move time allocation on that discussion, which is scheduled to resume — and, depending on that motion, very possibly conclude — at report stage this afternoon.

Before that gets underway, however, MPs are set to spend the morning engaged in what will undoubtedly be lively discussion behind the closed doors of their respective caucus rooms.

Shortly after his party confab wraps up, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is expected to hold court in the Centre Block press theatre — an uncharacteristically formal setting for the traditional post-meeting scrums, but one that staffers aver augurs no major news to impart; they're just giving it a try to see how it works.

Also on the Hill today: Canadian Veterans Advocacy President Mike Blais and veterans advocate Ron Clarke, who will discuss a meeting between Blais and Trudeau on Tuesday, the recent report from the auditor general on mental health services, the closure of Veterans Affairs offices "across Canada," and the government's response to the New Veterans Charter.

Later this evening, the New Veterans Charter — and specifically, the government's response — will be on the agenda at the Polish Combatant's Association Hall, where it will be debated by "parliamentarians and veterans."

Meanwhile, the Senate finance committee is slated to hear from no fewer than four parliamentary agents — Auditor General Michael Ferguson, Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault, Official Languages Commissioner Graham Fraser and Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien — as well as Public Service Commissioner Anne-Marie Robinson as they continue to review Conservative MP Mark Adler's proposal to force anyone applying for a job with a parliamentary officer disclose any and all partisan activity undertaken over the previous decade.

Although a similarly united front against the bill at the House committee stage ultimately resulted in the removal of many of the more controversial provisions, it appears the watchdogs still have concerns over what remains.

Elsewhere on the committee front:

- National Defence hears from Conference of Defence Associations Institute senior analyst David Perry and Royal Military College professor Ugurhan G. Berkok before moving in camera to discuss future business.

Outside the precinct, the University of Ottawa Common Law Section is hosting a morning symposium on the constitutionality of several "Senate renewal proposal," with University of Manitoba Professor Paul Thomas and University of Ottawa Professor Errol Mendes amongst the scheduled speakers.

Finally, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz heads to Edmonton for FarmTech 2015, where he'll share the details of a new initiative related to "transparency in Canada's crop sector."

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