With the Liberal government’s commitment to bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees, Governor General David Johnston and his wife Sharon Johnston are hosting a forum on welcoming them to Canada. “Welcoming refugees isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the smart and caring thing to do, as generations of Canadians have done before us,” Mr. Johnston said in a statement. “I look forward to bringing together over 100 leaders from the public and private sectors, as well as representatives of civil society to work collaboratively and to strengthen our national response to the Syrian crisis.” The forum, which takes place at Rideau Hall starting at 9 a.m., features a number of panel discussions including on issues around mobilizing the public sector with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister John McCallum, Ontario Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade Minister Michael Chan, Quebec Immigration, Diversity and Inclusiveness Minister Kathleen Weil and Halifax Mayor and Federation of Canadian Municipalities taskforce on Syrian Refugee Resettlement co-chair Mike Savage. The discussion, starting at 9:15 a.m. will be moderated by Stephen Wallace, secretary to the Governor General. At 10:30 a.m., there will be a session on mobilizing communities and individual Canadians. Ian Bird, Community Foundations of Canada president and chief executive officer, will moderate the discussion featuring panelists Naomi Alboim, co-founder of Lifeline Syria; Brian Dyck, co-chair of the Canadian National Refugee Sponsorship Agreement Holder Association; Conrad Sauvé, Canadian Red Cross president and CEO, and Paula Speevak, Volunteer Canada president and CEO. The last panel discussion focuses on mobilizing the private sector. Canadian Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Perrin Beatty will moderate the discussion. Panelists include Toronto Region Immigration Employment Council executive director Margaret Eaton, Vancity Community Foundation executive director Derek Gent, Canadian Meat Council executive director Jim Laws and Canadian Council of Chief Executives senior vice-president Susan Scotti. Mr. Johnston will deliver closing remarks at 12:25 p.m. In case you missed it Veteran Liberal MP Mauril Bélanger, pictured above, announced yesterday that he was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Mr. Bélanger, who represents Ottawa-Vanier, Ont., said in a statement that at his doctor’s advice, he’s withdrawing from the House of Commons Speaker’s race but will continue his job as an MP. “I wish to thank everyone who has encouraged me and supported my candidacy for Speaker. I will be eternally grateful. Thank you to my election team and the voters of Ottawa-Vanier for the privilege of serving them,” he said. “I look forward to seeing you all at the Opening of Parliament.” Mr. Bélanger, 60, was first elected to the House of Commons in a byelection in 1995. He was re-elected on Oc.t 19 with 58 per cent support. He announced last week that he had undergone a number of tests including MRIs and a CT scan that looked normal. In his statement, he said he met with Ottawa neurologist Pierre Bourque, who confirmed Mr. Bélanger has ALS, a progressive neuromuscular disease in which nerve cells die and leave voluntary muscles paralyzed. In response to the news, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted: "My thoughts are with my friend @Mauril_Belanger today. Stay Strong. We will always have your back, Mauril." Last year, the ALS Society of Canada participated in the ice bucket challenge, in which supporters poured ice water on themselves to raise awareness about and money for the disease. A number of MPs took the challenge. Former Liberal Hill staffer Brian Parsons also led the charge to raise awareness about the disease on the Hill last year. Mr. Parsons also has ALS and tweeted: "Terribly saddened to learn of Mauril Belanger's diagnosis of ALS. Spoke with him in Aug #Hell." On the agenda (all times local) The House of Commons is conducting a background briefing today for media to provide an overview of the House business prior to the 42nd Parliament returning on Dec. 3. Table officers will speak about the new process for the election of the Speaker, what will happen the first few days of Parliament, and the e-petition system and the new redesigned committees website. The background briefing will be held at 2 p.m. in the National Press Theatre in downtown Ottawa. Newly-elected Members of Parliament will also participate in a procedural orientation session in the House of Commons chamber. There will be a photo opportunity at 8 a.m. in the Commonwealth Room. The orientation starts at 8:50 a.m. Interim Conservative Party Leader Rona Ambrose will attend an event to support eliminating violence against women. Ezcape Spa & Salon (900 Watters Rd., Ottawa) will be accepting new or gently-used clothing to be donated to Nelson House. The event takes place at 10:30 a.m. Parliamentary Budget Officer Jean-Denis Frechette will release a new report at 9 a.m. today. The report, An Assessment of the Government’s Fiscal Outlook, will dissect the government’s fiscal outlook in its recently-released fiscal update. The report will be available online. Canada 2020 is hosting a conference called Healthcare Summit: Creating a Sustainable Healthcare System for Canada. Keynote speakers include Health Minister Jane Philpott, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett, Ontario deputy premier Deb Matthews, former Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page, former Bank of Canada governor David Dodge, Health Canada deputy minister Simon Kennedy, Telus Health’s Josh Blair and The Commonwealth Fund’s Robin Osborne. The conference focuses on the future of healthcare in Canada. The event takes place at the Chateau Laurier hotel in downtown Ottawa starting at 8 a.m. The University of Calgary school of public policy and the Canadian Global Affairs Institute will host an event on “refreshing Canada’s defence strategy.” The event, Military Procurement for a Purpose, focuses on how “high-profile setbacks in military procurement threaten Canada’s ability to get the new kit needed to make our military strong and responsive.” Former DND deputy minister Rob Fonberg, former National Defence minister David Pratt and others will speak at the conference, which takes place at the Westin hotel in downtown Ottawa from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Natural Resources Canada is hosting the 58th annual Forest Pest Management Forum in Ottawa. NRCan scientists will be speaking about their research as part of the forum, including Robert Lavallée on the use of fungus to slow emerald ash borer, Rona Sturrock on forest diseases and climate change, Lucie Royer on how climate affects the key processes of population growth of hemlock looper and Leland Humble on phytosanitary issues in forestry. The forum takes place at the Shaw Centre starting at 9:30 a.m. The Fraser Institute will release its annual Global Petroleum Survey today at 5:30 a.m. online. The survey ranks 126 jurisdictions around the world based on their investment barriers such as taxes and regulatory obligations. Library and Archives Canada governance and political affairs manager Élizabeth Mongrain will speak about the LAC’s role before, during and after federal elections. The Q&A seminar will answer questions such as what becomes of ministerial, personal and political documents from outgoing politicians and what types of documents do they transfer to the Library and Archives? The event takes place at 2 p.m. at the Library and Archives Canada in downtown Ottawa. Photo of the day Veteran journalist Les Whittington, pictured above, is retiring from the Toronto Star. Friends and colleagues will say farewell at Metropolitain Brasserie in downtown Ottawa at 6 p.m. Mr. Whittington got his start in the industry as a paper boy for the Washington Post, and has covered everything from world summits, civil wars, elections in Canada and abroad and countless federal budgets. His book, Spinning History: A Witness to Harper’s Canada and 21st Century Choices, is available from Hill Times Books.