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Senators still on the job after MPs head home for the summer

by Kady O'Malley (feat. Colin Robertson and Elinor Sloan)

Ottawa Citizen
June 20, 2016

The House of Commons may have shut down for the summer, but the Senate is still up and running, at least for the moment, although the Chamber itself isn’t scheduled to open for parliamentary business until this evening.

When it does, senators will likely take up the government’s bid to extend collective bargaining rights to RCMP members, which, like the new laws on medically-assisted dying, has undergone a significant rewrite following its arrival in the Upper House, which could continue when it begins report stage, which could happen later today.

On the Senate committee front:

  • National Security and Defence members hold back-to-back sessions as they continue to look at “issues related to the Defence Policy Review presently being undertaken by the government,”  with Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute vice-president Colin Robertson, Carleton University professor Elinor Sloan, Swedish Ambassador H.E. Per Sjögren and Canada’s former ambassador to Syria and Afghanistan Vice-Admiral (Ret’d) Glenn Davidson on the witness list for today, along with representatives from the Conference of Defence Associations.
  • Transport Minister Marc Garneau will lay out his government’s plan to tweak the Air Canada Public Participation Act at Transport and Communications, which is also scheduled to hear from Manitoba Justice Minister Heather Stefanson, Manitoba Federation of Labour President Kevin Rebeck and representatives from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and the Aerospace Industries Association.
  • Over at Finance, senators will go over the fine print of the budget implementation bill.

Also on the Hill today:

Senate Committee on Human Rights chair Jim Munson and deputy chair Salma Ataullahjan hit the National Press Theatre urge the government to consider the “practical solutions that will improve the lives of North Korean defectors” that will be included in a new report on “the forgotten many.”

Outside the precinct, Citizenship and Immigration Minister John McCallum marks World Refugee Day with a special breakfast at Ottawa City Hall, with “refugees and members of refugee serving organizations” also expected to be in attendance.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hosts a morning cabinet meeting before making his way to Toronto, where he’s slated to speak at the Canada-Ukraine Business Forum.

Just before the prime minister hits the stage, International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland will team up with Ukraine economic development minister Stepan Kupiv to “discuss the strong relationship between the two countries and the opportunities that the Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement will create once implemented.”

Elsewhere on the ministerial circuit:

  • Canadian Heritage Minister Melanie Joly heads to Alfred “to lead a round-table consultation on official languages,” after which she’ll take questions from reporters.
  •  Finance Minister Bill Morneau goes behind closed doors in Vancouver to talk “priorities” with his provincial and territorial counterparts.

Finally, former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney delivers what is being billed as “a very important foreign policy address” at a gala to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the NATO Association of Canada, which will take place at a downtown Toronto hotel this evening.


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