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George Elliott Clarke, a poet and an English professor at the U of T, who has been chosen as Canada's Parliamentary Poet Laureate, is photographed in his Toronto home on Jan 6 2016. (Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)
George Elliott Clarke, a poet and an English professor at the U of T, who has been chosen as Canada's Parliamentary Poet Laureate, is photographed in his Toronto home on Jan 6 2016. (Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)

Politics Briefing

Quoth Parliament’s new poet: ‘squander revenues, spark revolts’ Add to ...

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POLITICS BRIEFING

By Chris Hannay (@channay)

Poet, novelist, playwright and professor George Elliott Clarke, who once penned an opera about Pierre Trudeau, has been named Canada’s new parliamentary poet laureate.

Mr. Clarke comes most recently from Toronto, where he was that city’s fourth poet laureate. On April 1, 2014, he read his poem “Principles of Good Governance” to city council (then-mayor Rob Ford was away that morning). Here is an excerpt from that poem, with some advice for infrastructure spending that wouldn’t sound disagreeable to Justin Trudeau:

III–On Economy

1) The Treasury is for the citizens’ convenience.

2) Sacrosanct is Renminbi.

3) Capital flows;

Labour pools.

4) Greatness? Public works, public art.

5) Spend: Do not let potholes become sinkholes.

6) Beauty demands Maintenance.

7) When in Debt, build.

When in Doubt, build.

Paper Wealth is air:

Build.

8) Beauty rouses Diversity.

(Light does not discriminate.)

9) Nurture

Infrastructure,

Agriculture,

Manufacture,

Architecture,

Arts & Culture

To prosper.

10) Create, profit; save, invest;

Create, profit; save, invest.

11) To secure heaven, help the lowly.

12) Benevolence staves off Violence.

13) Plutocracy breeds black bread, black flags, and black batons.

14) Arms dig Deficits.

15) Spending should be like planting,

Never like eating.

16) Taxation should be transfusion,

Not vampirism.

17) Squander revenues, spark revolts.

18) Paltry is that government careless of Poetry.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW THIS MORNING

> Justin Trudeau will give a keynote speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan. 21, and will travel to China and India this spring in pursuit of a trade deal with China.

> The Liberal government is under pressure to explain why they are supporting Canada’s $15-billion arms deal, started under the previous Conservative government, with Saudi Arabia, given the country’s poor human rights record. In an interview with CBC, Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion said Ottawa would not review the contract, but it will look more carefully at future contracts before they’re signed.

> The new government’s plan to legalize marijuana may run afoul of international treaties, warn internal briefing documents obtained by The Canadian Press.

> For the first time, Ottawa has estimated how many homeless veterans there are. The government believes there could be 2,250 former soldiers regularly using shelters across Canada.

> More home reno work for the Trudeaus: the 24 Sussex pool house, built in 1975 by Pierre Trudeau through mostly private donations, is in need of significant repairs, according to a report by the National Capital Commission.

> And a couple of prominent staffing changes in the Parliamentary Press Gallery: Robert Fife begins as The Globe and Mail’s Ottawa Bureau Chief this week and Rosemary Barton has been named the permanent host of CBC’s Power and Politics.

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WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT

“The stock market is sliding, wiping out asset value in almost every sector and hurting pension plans. The Canadian population is aging slowly, with the drip-drip of higher costs for government but lower economic growth as fewer people work to support those in retirement, observations made by the Parliamentary Budget Office and the Department of Finance. ‘Sunny ways’ is now the pleasurable leitmotif of the new government in Ottawa and, the Liberals hope, by extension of Canada. However, the country’s economic prospects for 2016 and perhaps beyond are not so sunny.”

Jeffrey Simpson (for subscribers) on economic challenges.

Maryam Naquibullah (Globe and Mail): “A woman with an education has a voice, and a woman with a job has influence.”

Gary Mason (Globe and Mail): “The more apt question, perhaps, is what happens to the Premier’s electoral fortunes if Petronas and others decide to back off the interest they’ve shown in LNG in B.C. Would that spell doom for the Liberals?”

Gerald Caplan (Globe and Mail): “Rwanda’s genocide was preventable; that reality compounded the 1994 tragedy. For Burundi’s sake, for humanity’s sake, let’s pray that a lesson has been learned and that the so-called international community, including Canada, is not again guilty of being bystanders or even enablers of another Rwanda.”

David Cameron, British Prime Minister (Globe and Mail): “Beyond the great gift of language, the bringing to life of our history, his ongoing influence on culture and his ability to educate, there is the immense power of Shakespeare to inspire. From the most famous love story to the greatest tragedy; from the most powerful fantasy to the wittiest comedy; from the most memorable speeches to his many legendary characters, in William Shakespeare we have one man, whose vast imagination, boundless creativity and instinct for humanity encompasses the whole of the human experience as no one has before or since.”

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