Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen in the House of Commons in a file photo. iPolitics/Matthew Usherwood
PM skips House duty to kick off international women’s summit, commemorate 75th anniversary of D-Day in Paris
After joining his buddy Barack Obama for a post-speech bite to eat at the Big Rig Brewery on Friday night, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau kicked off his latest extended absence from the capital by spending the weekend in British Columbia, where, as the Canadian Press reports, he made a “surprise appearance” at a Burnaby street festival, and also met with local mayor Mike Hurley to chat about his ongoing concerns over the risks posed by the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline.
Last week, his office announced that he would be travelling to Paris to take part in the ceremonies surrounding the 75th anniversary of D-Day, which will include stops in Portsmouth, Juno Beach and Paris.
But before he heads out across the Atlantic, he’ll hit the stage at the official opening of Women Deliver, an annual meet-up that, according to the official advisory, is “the world’s largest gathering for gender equality and the health, rights and well-being of women and girls.”
As per Toronto Star columnist Heather Scoffield, it will also serve as the staging area for what will likely be “the last high-profile spending announcement” that Trudeau will make before the campaign officially gets underway: The first round of initiatives to receive cash from the $300 million “Equality Fund,” which aims to “bolster feminist activism and women’s groups in Canada and globally.”
Status of Women Minister Maryam Monsef will, of course, be front and centre throughout the conference — and is also hosting a pre-summit ministerial with her international counterparts. Small Business Minister Mary Ng is also expected to make an appearance at the Canada Pavilion, where she’ll “provide remarks on getting more women into politics.”
As previewed over the weekend by Star Vancouver reporter Tessa Vikander, Sophie Trudeau will host a panel discussion on “stepping up to use power for good” on Wednesday.
Other A-list attendees expected at the event: Melinda Gates and #MeToo founder Tarana Burke, among others.
Making headlines this weekend:
- Is onetime Team Trudeau front bencher turned independent candidate Jody Wilson-Raybould hinting that she “wouldn’t rule out rejoining” her former party? Well, maybe. In response to CTV Question Period host Evan Solomon, she noted that you should “never say never,” but even so, given her other comments, it remains a distinctly unlikely future outcome.
- Meanwhile, Canadian Press reveals that the government is hitting pause on a policy overhaul that could have allowed SNC-Lavalin — which is, of course, the embattled Quebec engineering firm at the centre of the criminal case that ultimately led Wilson-Raybould to leave the Liberal fold — to dodge the ten year ban that it may face if convicted on bribery and fraud charges.
- Finally, could the House be recalled over the summer to ratify the new North American free trade deal? It’s a possibility, according to Transport Minister Marc Garneau, so adjust your vacation plans accordingly, Hill denizens.
Back in Ottawa, the Conservatives are planning to kick off the final three weeks of the sitting by aiming the Commons spotlight at their latest partisan cause celebre: namely, the addition of avowedly anti-Conservative labour giant Unifor to the panel charged with coming up with a plan to divvy up more than $500 million in direct and indirect subsidies to the beleaguered Canadian media sector.
The motion, which stands in the name of Quebec MP Gérard Deltell, begins by affirming “the importance of a free and independent press to a healthy democracy.” It then goes straight for the rhetorical jugular by condemning the move to put Unifor — “a group that has taken and continues to take partisan political positions” — on the panel, and calling on the government to “immediately cease trying to stack the deck for the election with their media bailout and replace it with a proposal that does not allow government to pick winners and losers.”
The Conservatives will get a second chance to set the House agenda on Friday, and while they haven’t yet revealed what, exactly, they have planned for round two, there are a flurry of new motions on the notice paper that cover a wide range of hot-button issues: illegal border crossings, Canada-China relations, rising gas prices and the recent communications snafu by National Defence during the dedication of a new monument commemorating Canada’s mission to Afghanistan.
Scheer, however, may not be in the House for the late-week airing of the grievances, however. As per the party website, he’s heading to Calgary on Tuesday for a $1,600-per-head meet-and-greet with local supporters.
In the House: Countdown to summer recess continues
As noted above, as of Monday, there are just 15 sitting days left on the parliamentary calendar before the pre-set start of the summer recess — which, as always, could be bumped up or down by a day or two through unanimous consent. That means it’s time for the Liberals to start winnowing down the long list of unfinished legislation to ensure swift and safe passage for their most time-sensitive — and/or pre-election mission critical — priorities.
According to the latest upcoming business statement from Government House Leader Bardish Chagger, they’re hoping to send at least three bills to the Senate this week: Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s omnibus budget package, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale’s plan to set up a streamlined process for simple pot-related pardon applications and Indigenous Services Minister Seamus O’Regan’s proposed overhaul of First Nations family and child support services.
MPs will likely also get the chance to vote on the government’s motion to have the House declare a “climate emergency,” which is currently expected to sail through a final vote, with only the Conservatives on the record against it.
And in what may be the most stark sign yet that the 42nd parliament will soon wrap up for good, the House has agreed to set aside two three-hour blocks of time to allow departing MPs to bid farewell to the Chamber, their colleagues, their constituents and, in some cases, public life, which will be held after private members’ business wraps up on Tuesday and Wednesday evening.
At committee: Online hate study to wrap up witness hearings with Mark Steyn, other free speech advocates — Rona Ambrose’s bid for mandatory sexual assault training for judges back in the spotlight
With the testimonial phase of their ongoing study into the phenomenon of online hate poised to wrap up this week, JUSTICE members have blocked off just one hour to hear from three of Canada’s most high-profile free speech activists — Lindsay Shepherd, John Robson and Mark Steyn — on Tuesday morning, and have also scheduled an add-on afternoon session with Google Canada policy head Colin McKay.
One MP who won’t be at the microphone during the ensuing question-and-answer session, however, is Conservative deputy justice critic Michael Cooper, who lost his seat at the table over the weekend following a much-publicized faceoff with a Muslim witness last week.
On Saturday, Scheer announced, via Twitter that, after “having taken the time to review the incident,” he made the call to remove Cooper from the members’ roster “as a consequence” for his actions.
“Reading the name and quoting the words of the Christchurch shooter, especially when directed at a Muslim witness during a parliamentary hearing, is insensitive and unacceptable,” Scheer noted in a two-part tweet.
“Mr. Cooper has apologized. I accept his apology and I consider the matter closed.”
Meanwhile, the spring estimates cycle continues to roll through the committee timetable, with three more Team Trudeau front benchers — Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett and Indigenous Services Minister Seamus O’Regan — slated to field questions on the latest spending requests submitted for consideration by the departments and agencies under their respective aegises at PUBLIC SAFETY (Monday PM) and INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS (Tuesday a.m.).
Also on the to-do list at INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS: A briefing from Grassy Narrows First Nation chief Rudy Turtle to discuss his community’s ongoing efforts to get the government to provide more specialized health support to the many residents affected by mercury poisoning, which, as Canadian Press reported last week, has yet to be finalized, even after O’Regan trekked to the community for a signing ceremony that was subsequently called off due to a lack of agreement on the terms. (Thursday p.m.)
Finally, following last week’s conspicuous non-appearance by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who had been summoned to appear before the International Grand Committee on Big Data, Privacy and Democracy, ETHICS members go behind closed doors to chat with House law clerk Philippe Dufresne on the committee’s powers — actual and theoretical — to order witnesses to appear, as well as the process and sanctions for finding a non-compliant witness in contempt. (Tuesday p.m.)
On the Senate side, former Conservative interim leader Rona Ambrose returns to her erstwhile parliamentary stomping grounds as she goes before LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS to make the case for her private members’ pitch to require judges to undergo training in dealing with sexual assault cases.
The bill — which was introduced before Ambrose resigned her seat in the House — was unanimously adopted by the Commons more than two years ago, but has been languishing in limbo ever since, despite having a willing Upper House sponsor in Sen. Raynell Andreychuk, who will join Ambrose at the table. Also on the witness list: Representatives from the National Judicial Institute and the Canadian Judicial Council. (Monday p.m.)
Also on the Hill this week
As the Senate gears up for what may or may not be the final round of debate on Environment Minister Catherine McKenna’s hotly contested bid to overhaul the federal environmental assessment process, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers teams up with Canada’s Manufacturers and Exporters and the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors to urge the Upper House to sign off on the changes made by the Senate environment committee. (Monday a.m.)
CAPP representatives have also booked a second, solo slot in the National Press Theatre to unveil their “federal energy platform,” which, according to the notice, will offer suggestions to “all of Canada’s federal political parties” on how to address key issues facing the oil and gas sector, including “market access, Indigenous prosperity, regulatory policy, climate and innovation and fiscal and tax policy.” (Monday a.m.)
Outside the precinct, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls holds a two-hour “closing ceremony” — which will take place at the Canadian Museum of History and will, as per the notice, be open to the public — to present their “key findings and recommendations,” as well as “celebrate the resilience of Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people.” (Monday a.m.)
Out and about on the ministerial circuit
Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains joins Science Minister Kirsty Duncan for a mid-morning visit to the National Research Council’s Ottawa headquarters. The duo will share the details of what the advisory is billing as “transformative plans to renew and refocus science and innovation in Canada,” while simultaneously highlighting how current “funding commitments” are “encouraging collaboration on bold new ideas and innovations that will benefit all Canadians.” (Monday a.m.)
After spending the weekend at “Asia’s premier defence summit,” the annual Shangri-Law Dialogue in Singapore, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan heads to Japan to meet with his ministerial counterpart, Takeshi Iwaya, as well as Canadian Forces Members on duty in the region. (Monday through Tuesday)