The morning buzz: What's making news on Parliament Hill
1. Mike Savage isn't feeling the Olympic spirit. The Olympic torch is in Nova Scotia today and it has been in the province for the past few days. But the Liberal MP from Dartmouth hasn't seen it. You've heard the stories of opposition MPs being excluded from Olympic torch events? Well, that's what Mr. Savage believes is happening here. He was upset earlier this week when his star constituent, Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was running with the flame. It was quite the event; Mr. Savage's invitation, however, was lost in the mail.
"I think it's a shame the Olympics are becoming partisan this way," he said in an interview with The Globe. "But there is no way that you can have the number of events, specific events, and not invite local members of Parliament because of politics, that's just wrong. That's not the Olympic spirit."
Contrast that, however, to the fact that his colleague, Scott Brison, the Liberal MP from Wolfville, N.S., is right now on his way to meet the torch in Windsor, N.S. and then on to Wolfville, New Minas and Kentville. He will also be speaking at the torch relay event today. So the non-partisan nature of the Olympic spirit is strong in the Annapolis Valley, at least.
2. Abolishing the long-gun registry: the wedge issue. If you are a Liberal you want to keep the long-gun registry - at least 47 per cent of Grit voters do, according to a new EKOS poll. This poll was inspired by Conservative MP Candice Hoeppner, who earlier this month, successfully maneuvered her private member's bill to abolish the registry through the Commons - with the help of some Liberal and NDP MPs - and into committee.
The poll shows that only 20 per cent of Conservative voters want to keep it compared to 29 per cent of NDP supporters and 32 per cent of the Greens. Not surprisingly, 47 per cent of Bloc voters would like to keep it, too. Meanwhile, 56 per cent of Conservative supporters say they would abolish the registry compared to 27 per cent of Liberals, 35 per cent of the NDP, 20 per cent of Bloc and 29 per cent of Green supporters.
As EKOS's pollster Frank Graves notes, the "conventional wisdom" has been that the majority of Canadians support the registry. His poll shows otherwise. It found that 38 per cent of Canadians would vote to abolish the registry compared to 31 per cent who would vote to keep it. "The Conservatives may have known something we didn't because this is no longer the case," says the release accompanying the poll.
3. If it's Friday, the House is empty. MPs have either left or are on their way back to their ridings. Life, as we know it on Parliament Hill, is pretty much over for the week. However, there are those who remain on the Hill today, including Timmins MP and NDP heritage critic Charlie Angus. In his previous life Mr. Angus was a punk rocker, having played in a couple of bands: L'Etranger and the Grievous Angels.
The rights of musicians remain close to his heart and that is what he will be dealing with in his press conference this morning. Along with Billy Bragg, the British alternative rocker, and Wide Mouth Mason's Safwan Javad, the trio will be advocating for the rights of musicians and artists to control the rules for the development of digital culture. Mr. Bragg, whose music often takes on political themes, is a spokesman for the British Featured Artists Coalition (FAC), which lobbies and campaigns for the rights of "featured artists" (the musicians whose names are featured on the cover of the record as opposed to session musicians).
And Wide Mouth Mason's Mr. Javed is part of the Canadian Music Creators Coalition, which deals with similar issues as FAC. It wants to ensure that Canadian artists, and not multinational record companies, make the rules for copyright and ownership. For his part, Mr. Angus pushed for hearings, which are about to begin, into digital culture and the new media are about to begin. Will the three bring their guitars to today's press conference? We can only hope.
(Photo: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, from nearby Cole Harbour, N.S., carries the Olympic torch in Halifax on Wednesday, November 18, 2009. Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)