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Today on the Hill: Harper, Lebel to lift veil on Building Canada Fund

OTTAWA – Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be away from Parliament Hill today, taking his government’s budget sales pitch on the road with an infrastructure announcement just north of Toronto.

Harper and Infrastructure Minister Denis Lebel will be in Gormley, Ont., to unveil how the government will dole out its 10-year, $14-billion Building Canada Fund, which it promised to launch before the end of March.

Municipalities across Canada, which are struggling to fix their crumbling bridges, roads and wastewater systems, will be watching closely to see who the benefactors are.

Back in Ottawa, it’s a safe bet the opposition parties will have their sights set on Finance Minister Jim Flaherty in the House of Commons.

The New Democrats and Liberals may be smelling blood now that Flaherty appears to be at odds with Prime Minister Stephen Harper over a long-standing promise to extend income splitting to couples with children.

New Democrats Jinny Sims and Robert Aubin will also try to focus the attention of Canadians on what they perceive as shortcomings in the Harper government’s approach to skills training.

Other events and happenings around the Parliamentary precinct:

— The trial continues for Khurram Syed Sher, the London, Ont., doctor who faces a charge of conspiracy to facilitate terrorism.

— How much does it cost to buy a house in Canada? Statistics Canada may provide a sense of where prices are going when it releases the new housing price index for December.

— There are a number of Commons committees meeting, including the transport committee hearing from National Defence officials on Bill C-3, the Safeguarding Canada’s Seas and Skies Act.

— The Commons natural resources committee hears witnesses on the rare earth industry in Canada.

— The human resources committee will hear from Elizabeth McPherson of the Canada Industrial Relations Board, who is among the witnesses appearing on Bill C-525, the Employees’ Voting Rights Act.

— The Commons finance committee hears from financial organizations on the emerging digital payments system.

— Sue O’Sullivan, the federal ombudsman for Victims of Crime, appears at the Commons public safety committee to discuss Bill C-479.

— Senate committees are also meeting, including the chamber’s constitution affairs committee, which will hear from Royal Canadian Legion Dominion president Gordon Moore about Bill C-217, which is aimed at curbing mischief against Canada’s war memorials.

— Alex Neve, the secretary general for Amnesty International Canada, will be at a Senate foreign affairs committee to talk about security condition and economic developments in the Asia-Pacific.

— NDP status of women critic Niki Ashton and the Native Women’s Association of Canada will continue their push for the government to call a national inquiry into violence against women.

— The Supreme Court of Canada will issue decisions in various leave to appeal applications.

— And Elton John brings his “All the Hits” tour to the national capital.