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Monday : take-note debate on Ukraine military training

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March 20, 2017 6amET

Canada’s military training mission in Ukraine (Operation UNIFIER) is the subject of a take-note debate this evening in the House of Commons. LIVE at approx. 6:30pm ET / 3:30pm PT

The government recently extended the operation until March 2019. About 200 armed forces personnel at a time are involved in the training effort, hosted at two locations in western Ukraine.

The House of Commons reverts to a Committee of the Whole for this style of debate, which looks at broader national issues rather than specific bills.

The Speaker leaves their customary chair and moves to the Clerk’s seat at the main table on the Commons floor. MPs can speak up to 10 minutes at a time — and don’t need to be in their normal seat.

►Committees of the Whole

Committees of the Whole date back to the 1500s and the creation of the committee system in England’s Parliament. Major bills were debated in a less restrictive forum than formal proceedings of the House of Commons overseen by a Speaker.

Canadian legislatures adopted the custom with little change until 1968, when the current system of standing committees was established.

Today, the House of Commons switches to this less formal setting on rare occasions. One notable example was the 2008 official apology to residential school victims. Sitting in a Committee of the Whole allowed First Nations representatives to sit on the floor of the Commons and deliver remarks after the prime minister and opposition leaders spoke.

MPs also continue to consider Bill C-22 at report stage, with an expected time allocation motion from the government.

Bill C-322 is debated for the first time this morning. The NDP private member’s bill on railway safety would give the transport minister power to order operators to construct road crossings.

In committee :

  • Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Ahmed Hussen discusses estimates and his ministerial mandate letter at the Commons immigration committee. LIVE ONLINE 3:30pm ET / 12:30pm PT

-Andrew Thomson

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