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WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW THIS MORNING
By Evan Annett (@kingdomofevan)
> Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's cabinet is looking at fast-tracking infrastructure projects, including energy retrofits and transit and social-housing spending, to help shore up the Canadian economy against a declining dollar and oil prices, Ottawa bureau chief Robert Fife reports this morning. For reference, here's our party platform comparison tool so you can see what the Liberals had originally promised on infrastructure during the election. You can also check out the full Liberal platform document here.
> Celebrity businessman and former Dragon's Den panellist Kevin O'Leary is musing about a run in the Conservative Party leadership race, CBC reported Thursday. Mr. O'Leary also said he was inspired by the Donald Trump campaign in the U.S. Republican race, saying he thinks Mr. Trump is "smart as a fox." If he does enter the race, it could be a contentious one. Citing party sources, the National Post's John Ivison says the Tories' plans to set rules for the leadership contest are fracturing, and the Ottawa Citizen reports that the party could begin the process of selecting its next leader as early as next month.
> Lloyd Axworthy, a former Chrétien-era Liberal foreign minister, says the government should rethink its controversial $15-billion deal to sell light-armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia. Here's a primer on what we know so far about that deal.
> With low energy prices hitting Alberta's NDP government in the pocketbook, the province will freeze the salaries of a quarter of its civil servants for the next two years, Finance Minister Joe Ceci announced Wednesday.
> Syrian refugees coming to Canada are going to get temporary housing in military bases while the government tries to find them permanent homes, Immigration Minister John McCallum says.
> Finance Minister Bill Morneau says he's open to the idea of adding women to Canadian banknotes.
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WHAT EVERYONE'S TALKING ABOUT
"One suspects Davos is the sort of event Mr. Trudeau and the young policy geeks who surround him find irresistible. … It may not matter if the Liberals come in for criticism over their Swiss sojourn. The kind of people who will shake their heads at Mr. Trudeau deep-diving into Davos are the kind of people who are unlikely to vote for him anyway. But Mr. Trudeau's base will approve."
– John Ibbitson (for subscribers) on Justin Trudeau's travel plans for the Davos summit.
Jeffrey Simpson (Globe and Mail, for subscribers): "Energy East will test Mr. Trudeau's government, which suggests it wants a "balanced" energy policy, but thus far hasn't provided any evidence that it means what it says."
Konrad Yakabuski (Globe and Mail): "[Ontario Premier Kathleen] Wynne, like her predecessor Dalton McGuinty, has kowtowed to the public sector unions, reaping the payoff on election day. ... Is it any wonder that public-sector compensation, excluding doctors' salaries, rose at almost three times the rate of inflation in Ontario between 2005 and 2014? That the provincial debt has more than doubled to $300-billion and the debt-to-GDP ratio has surpassed 40 per cent?"
Desmond Cole (Toronto Star): "In the terrifying surveillance state we live in, you don't have to commit a crime to be criminalized. You don't even have to interact directly with people for their criminal records to be used to tarnish you. The government can accuse you of associating with a criminal, but not name him. Perhaps most shockingly, the government can suggest you are hanging out with a disreputable person, even as it uses the testimony of that apparently shady person against you."
Terry Glavin (National Post): "As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's fresh young Team Canada recruits go about the business of entrenching the decrepit Liberal party establishment's mishmash of cynical and starry-eyed obsequies to Beijing as the new government's signature foreign policy and international trade strategy, the least the rest of us should expect is that we not be taken for fools and treated like idiots."
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