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By Laura Stone (@l_stone)
Most members of Parliament have headed home for the summer, with a promise to return next Wednesday when U.S. President Barack Obama arrives in Ottawa to address the Commons and attend the Three Amigos Summit with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.
But for a dozen MPs, the work is just getting started.
Say hello to ERRE, otherwise known as the special committee on electoral reform. The topic of discussion? Canada's voting system, and what to do with it.
The Liberals have promised an end to the first-past-the-post system, but what its replacement will be is up for debate. The NDP wants a more representative electoral system, as do the Greens, while the Conservatives are pushing for a referendum on the issue – a proposal supported by the Bloc Québécois.
The committee, whose opposition parties outflank the Liberals, had its first meeting on Tuesday – an administrative gathering to chart the committee's course over the next few months. (Other topics included Green Party leader Elizabeth May's request for locally sourced lunches, and Bloc MP Luc Thériault's inquiry about additional resources for himself and Ms. May.)
Liberal MP Francis Scarpaleggia was elected chair of the committee, while Conservative MP Scott Reid and NDP MP Nathan Cullen were chosen as vice-chairs.
The plan for the committee will be finalized next week, after a subcommittee decides on scheduling and how the meetings will be structured – including Mr. Cullen's proposal for members of the public to submit questions by email or Twitter.
The committee also intends to do some travel across country, and hear from witnesses such as Elections Canada chief electoral officer Marc Mayrand, and former chief Jean-Pierre Kingsley.
But the first order of business, according to Mr. Reid, should be to call Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef, who is expected to do her own summer travel on the subject.
Ms. Monsef's appearance, however, won't happen before Canada Day, when the committee's MPs head back to their ridings for the weekend. Somebody has to host the barbecue.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW IN OTTAWA
By Chris Hannay (@channay)
> Canada has signed a Joint Action Plan with six Arab Gulf states in an effort to deepen relations with the countries but, like many documents recently, the global affairs department is refusing to say what exactly Canada agreed to.
> A pair of new polls show Canadians seem generally content with the new Liberal government. From the Angus Reid Institute, 31 per cent of respondents say the House of Commons is working better than before, 36 per cent say it's working about the same, and just 22 per cent say it's worse. (Those responses fall mostly along partisan lines, of course.) However, respondents believed Justin Trudeau was a little heavy on the photo ops. Abacus Data, meanwhile, says 56 per cent of respondents to their poll approve of the new government, and every region of the country – even Alberta – gives Mr. Trudeau net-positive support. Nanos Research, in their weekly tracking polls, continue to show the Liberals with much stronger support than the other parties.
> Christian doctors are challenging a provision of the new assisted-dying law that says they must refer patients asking for the procedure to another physician who will do it.
> The House of Commons has released its first annual report concerning its new harassment policies. Ten complaints were processed concerning sexual harassment, harassment or abuse of authority, though none proceeded to a formal investigation stage. Most of the issues were raised by women about their male coworkers or bosses.
> The Alberta Federation of Labour says the RCMP should investigate why female politicians are more often the subject of violence.
> How the Canada Pension Plan deal came together (in brief): Ontario pushed aggressively, Saskatchewan didn't want to be left out and British Columbia came up with the compromise.
> And Rob Carrick looks at what the CPP changes mean for your personal finances.
Globe and Mail European correspondent Paul Waldie looks at what will happen – step by step – if Britain votes to leave the European Union.
WHAT EVERYONE'S TALKING ABOUT
Campbell Clark (Globe and Mail): "[The CPP deal] seemed a pipe dream when [Finance Minister Bill] Morneau met provincial finance ministers in December. Only Ontario was gung-ho. Saskatchewan was dead set against it. Quebec already has its own pension plan, which is underfunded but levies higher premiums, and was never going to join a major expansion. B.C. Premier Christy Clark's Liberal government worried small businesses would object to sudden hikes of premiums, was cool. But Mr. Morneau, the former CEO of a human resources firm, kept everyone talking. And Ontario set a deadline that pressed other provinces to close a deal." (for subscribers)
Barrie McKenna (Globe and Mail): "But the [CPP] changes do nothing to narrow the large and politically divisive gap between the haves and have-nots of the Canadian retirement landscape. The awkward reality is that the pension haves overwhelmingly work in the public sector. They are teachers, health-care workers, civil servants and police. They are among a fortunate but dwindling minority of the working population that has the gold standard of pensions – a defined benefit plan that pays out a guaranteed income for life, adjusted for inflation." (for subscribers)
Jeffrey Jones (Globe and Mail): "He's tried to avoid it, but the time will come when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is forced to anger someone over pipelines. It will be a premier, a mayor, a CEO, an aboriginal chief or an industry lobby head, or some combination of those. Someone, at some point, is going to get mad." (for subscribers)
Jeffrey Simpson (Globe and Mail): "The Court read assisted death into broad provisions in the Charter, provisions that reasonable people could have interpreted differently. Instructed to do its job – legislate – parliamentarians did just that in a prolonged debate in which many voices were heard, the two legislative houses listened to each other, and the government whom we elected ultimately decided." (for subscribers)
Tim Powers (Hill Times): "Parliament has risen for the summer. By and large, the Trudeau government will be happy with its performance and that of many members of the federal cabinet. There is, however, one dramatic exception: Stéphane Dion, the minister of foreign affairs. Dion is the weakest link in the Liberal regime."
Susan Delacourt (iPolitics): "Canadian voters, and not just the young ones, wanted wholesale change in Ottawa when they cast their ballots last year, and the Trudeau government has presented them with youth as the answer. It's a government so determined to be youthful, in fact, that it often runs the risk of seeming ageist in the other direction – giving the back-of-the-hand treatment to veteran senators, for instance, or long-time Liberals."
Editor's note: The Globe Politics newsletter is going on hiatus for the summer. After June 30, the newsletter will not be sent in the mornings until after Labour Day. Let us know what you think.