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Prime Minister Stephen Harper participates in a question and answer session with the Greater Kitchener Waterloo and the Cambridge Chambers of Commerce in Kitchener, Ont., on Friday, April 25, 2014.Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

The Conservative government threw a very large pail of cold water over the opposition's main line of Question Period offence by announcing significant changes last week to its elections-reform bill.

But there has been plenty of news since the death of Jim Flaherty prompted an early start to a two-week break of Parliament. And, when MPs return to Ottawa on Monday, they will find lots of kindling to fuel other fires.

The New Democrats have targeted the bill the government calls the Fair Elections Act since the legislation was introduced in early February. Pierre Poilievre, the Minister of State for Democratic Reform, is now promising to revise the aspects of the legislation that the NDP found most objectionable. But that doesn't mean Thomas Mulcair is ready to throw in the towel.

Peter Julian, the NDP House Leader, says the act continues to be a major concern for his party despite the government's plans for revision because the changes have yet to be enacted.

"If the Conservatives do what Mr. Poilievre has committed to, it's a major step back on an issue that they thought they could just ram though Parliament," said Mr. Julian. "So we'll see whether or not they actually do what that said they would do."

The opposition will also turn its sights on the Senate.

The government lost a major battle there last week when the Supreme Court said abolition would require unanimous consent of the provinces, while elections and term limits would need the approval of at least seven provinces comprising half the country's population.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper made it clear that the ruling means the fight for Senate reform has dropped off his agenda. But the New Democrats and the Liberals will keep pressing for change to an institution which polls suggest the majority of Canadians want changed or abolished.

Then there is the matter of temporary foreign workers. Employment Minister Jason Kenney announced on Friday that he was placing a moratorium on the use of the program by the food service industry after multiple allegations of abuse.

The program "has been managed as ineptly and as incompetently as I have seen any file in the 10 years I have been in Parliament," said Mr. Julian. Mr. Kenney, he said, "is trying to do a step-down but the issues are still out there. The issues go beyond the food industry."

Mr. Harper has announced that Canada will send up to 500 observers to monitor the elections in Ukraine as well as six CF-18 fighter jets to take part in a NATO operation there. Because all parties have been moving in sync on that issue, those measures are unlikely to provoke opposition criticism.

But cuts to postal services, rail safety, and economic issues remain hot topics. As does the Keystone XL pipeline which was delayed yet again by the Obama administration after Parliament broke for the Easter recess.

Ralph Goodale, the deputy leader of the Liberals who hails from Saskatchewan, said the government will be getting questions about grain transportation. A bill designed to get a serious backlog of grain to market was supposed to have been passed on the Friday after Mr. Flaherty died – but that sitting was cancelled so the bill was delayed.

"According to the government's own estimates, the grain transportation crisis could cost farmers up to $8-billion," said Mr. Goodale. "We're obviously not going to try to block the legislation, but we need to make the point that this (the bill) is a tiny little bandage on a hemorrhage."

And despite a New York Times report last week that suggested Canada's middle class is better off than that of the United States, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau will continue to press the government on economic issues affecting middle-class Canadians.

The Conservative government has an austerity agenda at a time when the leading economic indicators suggest the imperative should be growth "so that you can lift the middle class and also balance your budget on a sound foundation instead of on quicksand," said Mr. Goodale. "So we will be pursuing the economic themes and the position of the middle class that has been our priority."

Gloria Galloway is a parliamentary reporter in Ottawa.

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