The House of Commons may have powered down for the summer, but the Commons ETHICS committee is gearing up for what could be a highly charged emergency session, courtesy of a Conservative-initiated push to launch a full investigation into whether Liberal MPs are “using taxpayer’s money to subsidize their political operations” via contracts between MPs’ offices and two firms involved in the Liberal Party’s digital campaign efforts: U.S.-based firm NGP VAN and Data Sciences, which was founded by longtime Liberal strategist Tom Pitfield. (11 AM)
As per the letter sent to the committee’s Conservative chair, Chris Warkentin, “there are a number of questions that remain unanswered,” according to the four MPs who co-signed the request for an emergency meeting: Conservatives Michael Barrett, Jacques Gourde and Colin Carrie, as well as Bloc Québécois MP Marie-Hélène Gaudreau.
“Who in the government instructed Liberal MPs to send taxpayer money to Mr. Trudeau’s childhood friend, Tom Pitfield? When did Mr. Pitfield start receiving taxpayer money? How much money has Mr. Pitfield made to date from Liberal MPs? As the Liberals signal their intent to call a risky election this summer during a pandemic, these questions must be answered as soon as possible.”
The Conservatives will get to make their case for opening a formal parliamentary probe into the expenses later this morning, although they’ll need the backing of all three opposition parties to succeed, and as yet, there’s no word on whether the New Democrats are prepared to support the motion.
Elsewhere in the precinct, International Development Minister Karina Gould joins Public Services Minister Anita Anand and UNICEF Canada CEO David Morley for a mid-morning briefing in the West Block press theatre to share the details of what the advisory describes as “Canada’s support for global vaccination efforts in developing countries, humanitarian and conflict situations.” (11 AM)
Later this afternoon, Anand will team up with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — who, it’s worth noting, is back in Ottawa after wrapping up his first cross-country tour since the outbreak of the pandemic — for a virtual meet-up with the volunteers behind the This Is Our Shot campaign, which, as per the notice, “is a movement aimed at rallying Canadians and encouraging them to replace vaccine hesitancy with confidence in order to end the pandemic.” (2:30 PM)
Meanwhile, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole hits the West Coast hustings with a midday appearance at an in-person event hosted by the Richmond Chamber of Commerce. (3:20 PM)
Also making the rounds today: Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet, who will join card-carrying Bloc supporters at a restaurant in Victoriaville, Que., as they get ready to choose who will carry the party’s banner in the riding of Richmond—Athabasca before traveling to Lac-Mégantic to visit the memorial for victims of the deadly 2013 train derailment.
Also on the radar today: Representatives from the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami host an online technical briefing on the Inuit Nunangat Food Security Strategy. (9 AM)
IN THE CHAMBER
The House of Commons and the Senate have risen for the summer, with regular programming scheduled to resume on September 20, 2021.
OUTSIDE THE PRECINCT
Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna joins fellow Team Trudeau front-bencher Harjit Sajjan and Vancouver Mayor (and one-time New Democrat MP) Kennedy Stewart for a Zoom briefing that will, according to the notice, “shine light on Vancouver’s natural environment and infrastructure.” (12 PM)
Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller drops by the Membertou Trade and Convention Centre to share details of a new funding initiative in co-operation with Membertou First Nation and Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey. (8 AM)
Back on the mainland, Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau teams up with Cuisine collective Hochelaga-Maisonneuve general manager Benoist de Peyrelongue to announce “investments (in) food security and local food systems” throughout the Montreal region. (11 AM)
Economic Development Minister Mélanie Joly heads to the Bay of Quinte, where, alongside local Liberal MP Neil Ellis, she’ll make what the advisory calls an “important virtual announcement for Canada’s tourism sector.” (2:30 PM)
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