Pamela Wallin at a Senate committee Patrick Doyle/Canadian Press
Senator Pamela Wallin has arrived in the Senate chamber ahead of the throne speech after months of controversy over her expense claims.
All sitting senators — including Wallin, Patrick Brazeau and Mike Duffy, who are being investigated by the RCMP over their housing or travel claims — received an invitation from Senate Speaker Noël Kinsella to attend.
While the Conservative government has been promoting a consumer rights-focus to the speech, which will lay out its agenda for the next two years, the NDP said that won't distract Canadians from the Senate scandal.
"We know what this [prorogation] was all about. It was trying to switch the channel and have Canadians forget about Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin and the prime minister's very bad judgment. It's not going to work. Canadians know what they know. And they've seen a government that has run out of ideas and has lost its way, and more and more corruption has crept in," said NDP House Leader Nathan Cullen.
Duffy and Wallin are both being investigated by the RCMP over their expense claims.
CBC News will have live coverage of the throne speech starting at 3 p.m. ET.
NDP say PM misled House
The Official Opposition is doing what it can to keep the focus on the Senate expenses scandal, including the payment by Harper's then-chief of staff to cover Duffy's wrongly claimed expenses.
The NDP will present a point of privilege in the House tomorrow asking Speaker Andrew Scheer to find Harper misled the Commons when he said no one in his office knew his chief of staff paid Duffy's illegitimately claimed expenses.
Points of privilege take precedence over all other business.
"Last spring, Stephen Harper stood up in the House of Commons and, in the most formal setting possible, told Canadians that no one else in his office was aware of what had gone on between [then-chief of staff] Nigel Wright and Mike Duffy," NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said. "In very official documents the RCMP, over the summer, made it quite clear that that was not true."
"You don't get away with just saying one thing that's the opposite of the truth in the House of Commons and expect to have no consequences. There are legal, technical, procedural and honour consequences here in the House of Commons for Stephen Harper for having done that and we're calling him to account," he added.
An RCMP affidavit filed in court in July listed three other PMO officials, plus Senator Irving Gerstein, who Wright allegedly said also knew about his agreement with Duffy.
The RCMP said in court documents earlier this month that they received hundreds of pages of emails from Wright regarding Duffy.
Wright handed over the emails, as well as a binder containing four years of Duffy's calendar, through his lawyer on Aug. 21.
Wright resigned from the prime minister's office in May, shortly after news of the transaction leaked out.
Hints of throne speech
Prime Minister Stephen Harper addressed his caucus Wednesday morning ahead of the speech, which will be read by Gov. Gen. David Johnston.
The Conservatives have already given interviews about the consumer focus of their agenda over the next two years, with strategic leaks providing more information about what will be included.
CBC News has learned the speech will announce honourary citizenship for Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban over her fight for girls in Pakistan to go to school.
CBC News has also confirmed that Canada and the European Union have reached a tentative trade deal that will provide greater access to European cheese in Canada, an issue that is contentious because of Canada's protected dairy industry.
Harper tweeted Wednesday morning that a deal is close, although it's not clear whether the details will be announced in the throne speech.
The guests who will be in the Senate gallery for the speech also give hints of what issues may be touched on in the speech:
- Colette Roy-Laroche, mayor of Lac-Mégantic, the town hit by a massive rail disaster, which has had trouble paying for the clean-up.
- Claude Dauphin, president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, which has long advocated for more money for cities to build infrastructure.
- National Inuit Leader Terry Audla, President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said in a news release that she has written an alternate throne speech and will be tweeting along with the one delivered by Johnston.
"To be legitimate, government must exist by consent of the governed," she said in an excerpt from the speech.
"Parliament is supreme; The prime minister reports to parliament and not the other way around.”