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All hands from all parties on deck for democracy caucus debut

By Shruti Shekar      
Liberal MP Anita Vandenbeld, the chair of the all-party democracy caucus, says an event hosted by Carleton University on Feb. 6 will be a good platform for more people to learn about the new all-party caucus. The Hill Times file photograph
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The all-party democracy caucus will have a chance to make its big debut during a Feb. 6 panel discussion.

The event, examining the role of Canadian legislators in democracy abroad, is organized by Carleton University’s Initiative for Parliamentary and Diplomatic Engagement. Registration starts at 4:30 p.m. at the Sir John A. Macdonald Building and the discussion will be followed by an evening cocktail reception.

Liberal MP Anita Vandenbeld, the chair of the democracy caucus, said the group’s mandate is to promote healthy democracy in Canada and around the world. Members will be present Feb. 6 to showcase the group.

It was created last June after NDP MP Kennedy Stewart, Conservative MP Michael Chong, and Liberal MP Scott Simms launched their book Turning Parliament Inside OutPractical Ideas for Reforming Canada’s Democracywhich is about parliamentary procedure and enhancing cross-party co-operation.

“We had an authors’ lunch when the book was launched and we started brainstorming and said ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to have discussions like the way we were having at lunch?’” she said.

The caucus has a membership of 20 people and is hoping to expand to include Senators, Ms. Vandenbeld said.  “Our biggest issue is that a lot of Parliamentarians aren’t aware that it exists. … The Feb. 6 event will put us out there so that both civil society and other Parliamentarians know that we are there and maybe we can drum up more interest to the point where we can maybe formalize it a little bit more.”

Vice-chairs of the democracy caucus include Mr. Stewart, Green Party leader Elizabeth May, and Conservative MP Randy Hoback.

Director of the initiative Maureen Boyd said if there aren’t any House duties, up to 35 MPs of all parties will be attending the event.

Rockcliffe Park burglary under scrutiny

Stornoway, the official residence of the official opposition leader, is one of the residences located in the area where the break-in occurred. The home, which is currently inhabited by Andrew Scheer, hosts multiple parties throughout the course of the year. The Hill Times photograph by Cynthia Münster

Ottawa Police are looking for leads after an early January break-in occurred in Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer’s Ottawa neighbourhood.

The investigation into a break-and-enter in the area of Acacia Avenue and Mariposa Avenue—home to the opposition leader’s official residence, Stornoway, and the residences of several high commissioners and ambassadors—is ongoing after three suspects, described as Caucasian males, entered a home shortly before 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 4 and stole various pieces of jewelry and a winter jacket, according to police in a Jan. 13 press release.

Det. Mitch Houle of the Ottawa Police Service told The Hill Times that “there was nothing more to add [to the case]” since the release was issued.

“The media release was done basically with the hope that we would get some information, which would assist further in the investigation, but there is nothing at this point,” he said.

He said that there have been no new reports of a breaking and entering in the area.

“There are sporadic [cases] here and there, but nothing that would be cause for concern,” Det. Houle said.

Separated at birth, eh?

Photograph courtesy of Chrystia Freeland’s Twitter and Mingle Media TV

She may not be able to see Russia from her house, but Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland looks like actress, comedian, and writer Tina Fey, who was noted for her uncanny resemblance to Alaskan politician and former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

Parliament Hill offers new shuttle service to parking lot

The parliamentary shuttle bus service will service to parking lot 180 located behind the Supreme Court of Canada starting Jan. 29. The Hill Times file photograph

To ensure pedestrian safety along the Ottawa River Pathway, Parliamentary Precinct Operations is offering a shuttle bus service to those parked in parking lot 180.

A Jan. 8 press release said that the House of Commons transportation service would be providing rides from Jan. 29 to March 2 at 4 p.m., 5 p.m., 6 p.m., and 6:30 p.m. on days the House is sitting.

It noted the shuttle will go to the Justice and Confederation Buildings before heading to the parking lot that’s located behind the Supreme Court of Canada.

Tom Mulcair to take on the Earth in new gig

Former NDP leader Tom Mulcair is the chairman of the board of directors of Earth Day. The Hill Times file photograph

Looks like the former leader of the New Democratic Party, Tom Mulcair, has already found a new gig before leaving politics.

On Jan. 11 he became the chairman of the board of directors of Earth Day, a charitable organization that helps people and organizations to reduce their carbon footprint. The news was announced in French on Earth Day’s website.

Mr. Mulcair said in mid-December that he was going to resign from his House of Commons seat in the spring after holding it for about 10 years.

Sarah Andrews, spokesperson for the NDP, said in December that the next parliamentary session would be his last and he would begin working in academia. She was not able to specify details at that time.

Mr. Mulcair was first elected in 2007 for the riding of Outremont, Que., which is in Montreal.

He became the leader of the party in 2012, taking over from the late Jack Layton.

In October, Jagmeet Singh took reins of the party from Mr. Mulcair, also becoming the first person of colour to lead a major federal party in the country.

Former Senator Normand Grimard die, Senators Charlie Watt, Claudette Tardif to retire

Former Progressive Conservative Senator Normand Grimard died last month. Photograph courtesy of the Senate

Former Progressive Conservative Senator Normand Grimard died on Dec. 28 at the age of 92.

Sen. Grimard a well-known lawyer, served for almost 10 years after being appointed in 1990 by Brian Mulroney to represent Quebec.

A funeral was held for him on Jan. 6 in Rouyn-Noranda, Que.

In other news, after getting elected Makivik Corp.’s president on Jan. 18, Quebec Liberal Senator Charlie Watt has apparently decided to step away from his Senator duties a little sooner than expected.

His mandatory retirement date is  June. 29, 2019, but NunatsiaqOnline.com reported he had given his notice to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in December, indicating that if he became president he would step down as Senator.

The article noted that by stepping away from the Senate, he would be able to fulfil his election promises.

Makivik is an economic development corporation that is in charge of implementing the 1975 James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement. It is Canada’s first modern land claim agreement.

Sen. Watt was recently selected as chair of a new Senate Special Committee on the Arctic, which plans to study issues that affect Canada’s North. The committee had its first meeting on Dec. 13.

Alberta Liberal Senator Claudette Tardif will be retiring much sooner than expected.

Liberal MP Randy Boissonnault tweeted Jan. 22: “Today Senator Claudette Tardif, a dear friend, announced her imminent retirement. Senator Tardif served Edmonton & Canada with distinction and a passion for improving the country. An ardent champion for official languages, I wish her all my best wishes for her future adventures.”

Sen. Tardif was expected to retire on July 27, 2022, but in an email to The Hill Times she said her retirement is effective Feb. 2.

“After 13 years, I have decided it is time to spend more time with my family and loved ones,” Sen. Tardif said.

Former lobbying watchdog Karen Shepherd watching Health

The former commissioner for lobbying, Karen Shepherd, has quickly moved on and gotten herself a new job with Health Canada.

Former lobbying commissioner Karen Shepherd has been hired as the executive adviser to Simon Kennedy, deputy minister of health. The Hill Times file photograph

Ms. Shepherd is now the executive adviser to Simon Kennedy, the deputy minister of health, his office said.

The office noted she began her new role on Jan. 15.

As part of her duties, she will provide advice on issues regarding stakeholder engagement, transparency, and guidance on values and ethics, a statement from Health Canada said.

Her work will also include the “development and implementation of the proposed Cannabis Act,” and assisting the Opioid Response Team on policy issues, Health Canada said.

Ms. Shepherd was appointed the lobbying commissioner in 2008 and was in that role for seven years. She was in charge of monitoring lobbyists communicating with the federal government, handling the federal lobbying registry, and administering the Lobbying Act and Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct. She was also in charge of conducting investigations when she believed lobbyists contravened the law.

Nancy Bélanger replaced Ms. Shepherd as lobbying commissioner in December.

sshekar@hilltimes.com

@shruti_shekar

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