POLITICS

NDP satellite offices, Baird's exit and anti-terrorism bill on Hill agenda

02/04/2015 06:14 EST | Updated 04/06/2015 05:59 EDT
As the parties retreat behind closed doors for the traditional Wednesday confabs, New Democrat MPs are likely reeling from Tuesday's after-hours announcement that more than 60 caucus members are being asked to collectively repay more than $2.7 million in pooled funds that were spent on those now shuttered satellite offices in Montreal and Toronto.

Over at the Conservative caucus, meanwhile, the abrupt departure of now former foreign affairs minister John Baird will be almost certainly be on the unofficial topic list, while the Liberals still have to figure out how, exactly, the party should react to the government's latest efforts to expand police power to combat terrorism.

When the House opens for business this afternoon, MPs will be tasked with wrapping up committee stage of the proposed Victims Bill of Rights.

Later this evening, the House will hand down its collective verdict on two private members' bills: Liberal MP Ted Hsu's bid to revive the long-form census, which will almost certainly be squelched at second reading, and Conservative MP John Williamson's initiative to strip pension benefits from parliamentarians convicted of serious offences stemming from their position in public office, although not those covered by federal election laws, which will almost certainly pass.

On the committee front:

- Senator Elizabeth Hubley takes her campaign to create National Fiddling Day to Canadian Heritage, where MPs will also benefit from the perspective of the Canadian Grand Masters Fiddling Association and musicians Alexander George and Kelli Trottier before conducting what will likely be a relatively quick clause-by-clause review.

- Over at Justice, the government's proposal to set up a high-risk child sex offender database tops the agenda with a witness list that includes former federal victims ombudsman Steve Sullivan, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection and the Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness, among others.

- Meanwhile, International Trade continues to collect data on "the positive effects of the Global Market Actions Plan," while at Ethics, the committee is set to kick off the winter sitting by electing — or, more likely, re-electing — a chair.

Also on the Hill today:

Amnesty International secretary-general Alex Neve joins forces with the Association of Canadian Muslims to issue an "urgent call" for "renewed action" on the case of Bashir Makhtal, a Canadian currently detained in Ethiopia.

Outside the precinct, Health Minister Rona Ambrose marks World Cancer Day by paying a visit to Toronto's Sick Kids Hospital, where, alongside representatives from the Canadian Cancer Society and the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada, she'll share the details on new support for research.

Later this evening, the Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom teams up with Carleton University's School of Journalism and Communication to debate free speech in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, with Le Droit cartoonist Guy Badeaux, Radio-Canada news director Catherine Cano, Carleton professor Karim Karim and Centre for Law and Democracy co-founder Toby Mendel expected to take part in the panel discussion.

Finally, Defence Minister Rob Nicholson is in Paris, where he will "pay his respects" to the victims of the attack before meeting up with his French counterpart to sign two "bilateral arrangements."

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