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Fantino arrives on the Hill

On a very packed World AIDS Day (which I have a dedicated article about here, and another post here), things got off to a start with the Liberals and the Conservatives showing off their new MPs, here for the weekly caucus meetings. Julian Fantino’s arrival means swirling talks of an impending cabinet shuffle, though the wisdom around the Hill is that putting him in the public safety portfolio might be a bit too rife with potential conflicts of interest. (Fantino later went on Power & Politics to recite all of the Conservative talking points about being “tough on crime.”)

After caucus, the Liberals came out against Bill C-49 (the human smuggling bill). I’ll have a story on that online at xtra.ca later today.

Question period began with Michael Ignatieff decrying the government’s bad spending priorities and how awful they were to seniors, to which Harper replied about how great they were to seniors. Judy Foote got up to call Jim Flaherty out for being a terrible finance minister in Queen’s Park and it was all just a little bit of history repeating in Ottawa, but Flaherty accused her of not being around in the 90s. Gilles Duceppe asked about child detainees in Afghanistan (to which some anonymous Conservative backbencher shouted out “Boring!”), while Claude Bachand wanted to know whether this new training mission would be in or out of Kabul, and if out of Kabul, how many soldiers would be out? Jack Layton asked about the economic standstill, the upcoming parliamentary budget officer report on stimulus, and keeping the spending going.

Round two saw Mark Holland and Denis Coderre both asking questions about the potential WikiLeaks and the questionable trading of mining stock, Carole Lavallée asking after Bill C-32 on copyright reform, Michel Guimond and Guy André looking into stimulus deadlines, and Alexandra Mendes and Scott Brison asking about fiscal policy.

The rest of QP saw questions on Tom Flanagan’s comments about the WikiLeaks founder, child detainees, education for First Nations children, the upcoming PBO report on stimulus, Bill C-393 on CAMR, funding cuts for HIV and AIDS prevention for aboriginals, and Canada winning more fossil awards at the Cancun climate conference.

Sartorially speaking, it was another fairly blah day, but snaps go out to Alexandra Mendes for her chocolate-brown leather jacket and skirt. The style citation goes once again to habitual offender Chris Charlton for her fluorescent-yellow jacket paired with a black top and trousers (again with the yellow and black, people). The Megan Leslie outfit watch reports a red top with a big rounded collar, a pleated grey skirt and knee-high grey boots.

Elsewhere, Senator James Cowan writes a scathing piece on how Harper is abusing the Senate to make it his own personal backstop and “obedient chamber.” Meanwhile, Frances Russell reminds us that we once tried having a “Triple E” Senate before – in the 1850s, and it turned into a “Triple R” – rich, rural and reactionary, and was such a failed experiment that the Fathers of Confederation opted for the current model instead. Something to think about.

Here’s a glance at yesterday’s WikiLeaks releases, including how the US was monitoring our (rather excellent) CBC programming, specifically The Border and Intelligence.

A controversial witness at the BC polygamy trial says that the women of Bountiful don’t feel oppressed.

And The Globe and Mail has a special editorial about why Bill C-389 is important.

PS – If you want a couple more things to ponder, Glen Pearson offers his thoughts on media pundits trying to force the news into their pre-existing narratives, such as with this week’s by-elections, and Susan Delacourt looks at women in the press gallery, and their virtual lack of representation among the pundit class.
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