04/03/2014 04:30 EDT | Updated 06/02/2014 05:59 EDT

Today on the Hill: Conservatives put victims of crime in Commons spotlight

OTTAWA - The Conservative government is introducing a long-awaited victims' bill of rights in the House of Commons today, hoping to burnish its reputation as tough-on-crime Tories.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is marking the occasion at an event in Mississauga, Ont., alongside Justice Minister Peter MacKay and Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney.

And with Harper out of town, the House of Commons committees will get a share of the spotlight today as they tackle key issues on Parliament Hill.

Executives from the Railway Association of Canada, Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. and Canadian National will be before the Commons transportation committee talking about hauling dangerous goods.

Meanwhile, the Commons house affairs committee will continue hearings on Bill C-23, the government's controversial effort to change election rules.

The committee is hearing witnesses from the Assembly of First Nations, the National Pensioners Federation and the Native Women's Association of Canada.

Also giving testimony before the Commons defence committee are Defence Minister Rob Nicholson and John Forster, head of Communications Security Establishment Canada, the country's secretive electronic spy agency.

The Commons access to information, privacy and ethics committee will hear senior Mounties discuss identity theft.

In other Ottawa events:

— Statistics Canada releases international merchandise trade figures for February.

— Vadym Prystaiko, Ukrainian ambassador to Canada, gives an address at Carleton University entitled "Ukrainian Renaissance: Another Chance?"

— The Supreme Court will release its decisions on a variety of leave-to-appeal applications.