POLITICS
06/11/2014 02:42 EDT | Updated 08/11/2014 05:59 EDT

NDP to test Justin Trudeau's pro-transparency position

The New Democrats are preparing to put Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau's pro-transparency positioning to the test.

Later Wednesday afternoon, New Democrat House Leader Peter Julian is expected to seek the support of the House for a proposal to lift the curtain of the ultra-secretive Board of Internal Economy by declaring that all future meetings — including, presumably, the one scheduled for this afternoon — be held in public, barring discussion of matters related to security, employment, staff relations or contracting decisions.

In a written statement, Julian stressed that his party still believes that "the only way to have real accountability for the BOIE is to replace it by an independent body."

Until then, however, the only way to make it more transparent is to lift the veil of secrecy and to ensure that all meetings are open to the public," he said.

BOIE expecting report from House administration on NDP spending 

If passed — which, it's fair to say, seems unlikely to happen on such short notice — the NDP move would neatly preempt the still-untabled private members' bill that Trudeau plans to introduce today.

It would also force the Board into the spotlight at the precise moment that its members are reportedly expecting to receive a report from the House of Commons administration on those now infamous NDP satellite offices.

They may also get an update on the similarly controversial pre-byelection mass mail drop in Bourassa, which could include a recommendation that the party — or, in this case, individual New Democrat MPs — be asked to refund some or all of the associated costs.

On that note, Julian also intends to ask his Commons colleague to back a motion that would instruct the Board to conduct a full investigation, "in a transparent manner," into "all large-volume mail programs administered by MPs, or their offices," and "clarify all rules surrounding mail sent using franked envelopes."

Given how closely those motions seem to line up with Trudeau's legislative efforts, it's hard to see how the Liberals could oppose the New Democrat motion.

The Conservatives, on the other hand, could go either way.

As always, it only takes one 'nay' to block unanimous consent — which, in this case, seems all but certain to happen. The only real question would seem to be whether it will come from the Liberal corner of the Commons.