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How much MP slop will Sheila Fraser dig through? Add to ...

1. They're back. Politicians return from a week-long break Tuesday after getting an earful from their constituents over the secretive nature of their office expenses.

All parties are now saying perhaps Auditor-General Sheila Fraser should be allowed to take a look at the way House of Commons money is spent. But how do they do that without having to explain to the public that they expensed a pack of chewing gum?

It will be a very delicate negotiation: one that the parties - well, except the Bloc - are approaching with the zeal of someone who has been tasked with digging out the outhouse. And of course it will be conducted behind the closed door of the Board of Internal Economy.

But Speaker Peter Milliken, who chairs the board, is up before the Commons procedure and House affairs committee today. So that could turn interesting.

2. A political hanging. Elsewhere around Ottawa, Tuesday is shaping up to be one of the busiest days we have seen in quite some time.

At 4 o'clock this afternoon, we will be treated to the odd spectacle of Prime Minister Stephen Harper saying some (potentially kind) words about former prime minister Jean Chrétien, whose official portrait will be hung in the Centre Block.

Mr. Chrétien will also be on hand, of course. His party, you may have noticed, has not been doing so well since he left office seven years ago. Expect some words of advice from the guy who won three back-to-back majorities for how to turn things around.

Mr. Harper, on the other hand, has not been a big fan of Mr. Chretien. There was that sponsorship thing that the Conservatives have been dining on for, well, seven years. So his tribute will also be entertaining.

3. The African century. Bono may be on his back but his anti-poverty group ONE gets a shot in at Canada and other G8 countries this morning when it releases a report following up on the commitments made to Africa at the Gleneagles summit on 2005.

Canada has actually performed better than other donors since that meeting in terms of meeting the promises it has made to the world's impoverished nations. But expect much lambasting of governments for their failure to follow through on big talk.

This comes, of course, as a lead-up to the G8 and G20 conferences that will be held in Canada next month. Mr. Harper has said he wants the big commitment this year to be centred around improving maternal and infant health - a goal that has been mired in a debate around abortion.

4. Also on tap. Parliamentary committees return to more debate over the gun registry.

The Conservatives have had some difficulty getting witnesses to back their case that the registry should be scrapped - what with Canada's police jumping to its defence.

But this afternoon Mps will hear from Kevin Gaudet of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation who will argue against it on the basis of cost. Up for the other side will be Ontario Attorney-General Chris Bentley who has been a passionate defender of the registry.

With the Liberals whipped into place, and the Bloc solidly behind the registry, the passage of the bill introduced by Tory backbencher Candice Hoeppner will likely come down to the New Democrats, some of whom have voted against the registry for years.

And slightly off the Hill, Democracy Watch will try to convince the Federal Court of Appeal that Stephen Harper broke his own fixed election date law by going to the Governor-General and asking her to dissolve Parliament in 2008.

 

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