OTTAWA — The House of Commons will take up the question of Ottawa's transit strike in an emergency debate on Thursday night, Speaker Peter Milliken has ordered.
The move came at the request of Liberal MP Mauril Bélanger, who represents Ottawa-Vanier.
There is a lot to say about such a debate. Members of Parliament from across Canada could conceivably enter a debate that concerns a large number of Canadians in a very concentrated location. Perhaps parties will stack their respective allotted times for debate with local MPs, or perhaps not.
Little information is available about the nature of the debate. It could be a take-note debate, wherein no binding votes are taken (similar debates occurred involving Canada's involvement in the mission in Afghanistan).
No matter what, federal politicians of all political colours will enter their opinions into the record, and what they say could have significant consequences for Ottawans.
UPDATE: David Reevely is looking into nature of the debate, according to his Twitter: "Parliament to hold emergency debate on Ottawa transit strike. Working out whether that means more than a gabfest."
UPDATE AGAIN: Apparently this won't be a gabfest. The Citizen and CBC are reporting that labour minister Rona Ambrose will introduce back-to-work legislation that, she hopes, will receive the support of the opposition Liberals.
An Ambrose quotation from the Citizen:
"As of last night, the talks have stalled and they are at a stalemate and it is my belief that when the government sees a situation where there is clearly no compromise or no flexibility being shown by either side to reach an agreement, it is our obligation to act," [Ambrose] told reporters on Parliament Hill. "I'm prepared to act at this time, I'm prepared to introduce back to work legislation. However, I do need the support of the opposition. So I have approached the Liberal Party and asked them for that support. As you know, if we do introduce back-to-work legislation, we will need those votes to pass it in the House."The Sun reports that NDP MP Paul Dewar was initially reluctant to lend full support to the move.
Dewar said his party would prefer to see Ambrose name an arbitrator - a move that, he says, would halt the strike immediately.ONE MORE UPDATE: This is straight from one of the Citizen staff who knows more than most, the aforementioned Reevely, as he dictated to Twitter: "Best understanding: Emergency debate on bus strike IS a gabfest; legislation proceeds on a separate track. Maybe faster, probably slower."
So much for federal inaction on the strike. Stay tuned.