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politics briefing

Mike Duffy, a former member of the Conservative caucus, arrives at the courthouse for his trial in Ottawa on Dec. 8.Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

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POLITICS BRIEFING

By John Ibbitson (@JohnIbbitson)

The legacy of Stephen Harper's government, at least in part, ends with neither a bang nor a whimper, but a groan, as Mike Duffy finally testifies in his marathon fraud trial.

In the first day of testimony, Tuesday, Mr. Duffy offered a bit of autobiography about his up-by-the-bootstraps childhood, his many health problems and the circumstances in which Stephen Harper offered him a Senate appointment. (He says he wasn't inclined to take it until his wife pointed out that, with the CTV going through layoffs, the move might save someone's job.)

But there is much more to come – about Nigel Wright's infamous cheque and the circumstances leading up to it, about how the senator convinced himself he could claim to live in PEI and file travel expenses when in fact he lived in Ottawa, and about his relationship with the former prime minster generally.

Then will come several days of cross-examination from Crown Attorney Mark Holmes that could be the true climax of the proceedings.

When the future of the Conservative government hung in the balance, journalists minutely parsed every twist and turn of the Duffy trial. Now that that government lies in its grave, no one seems to care about the alleged shenanigans of the broadcaster-turned-senator.

But Mike Duffy loves to tell a good story, and sometimes the story is true. For Conservative true believers, these days of testimony will be agony, as Mr. Duffy dredges up some of the Harper government's dirtiest laundry.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW THIS MORNING

By Chris Hannay (@channay)

> Liberals are set to introduce the ways and means motion today that, when passed, will put into effect their tax reforms (including a cut for the middle-income bracket, hike for the highest, and lowering the annual contribution limit for TFSAs). But professionals and small business owners are bracing for more.

> Chiefs of staff have finally been hired for most Liberal cabinet ministers, including veterans affairs, natural resources and justice. (for subscribers)

> Although the Liberals have highlighted the need to make decisions based on quality evidence, the infrastructure minister's department is warning him good statistics are hard to find on Canada's infrastructure needs.

> What infrastructure funding B.C. wants from Ottawa.

> Families of missing and murdered indigenous women are giving support to the launch of the first phase of a national inquiry.

> Conservative senators are not happy with Liberal reforms.

> The White House is preparing to welcome Justin Trudeau for a state visit early in 2016.

> And as the price of oil and the dollar sink, the Bank of Canada is looking at all its options – including negative interest rates.

SECUREDROP

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WHAT EVERYONE'S TALKING ABOUT

"The prospect of a law allowing medically assisted suicide wasn't mentioned in the Speech from the Throne, but there is no doubt that this issue will come up some time in 2016. Canada will then, perhaps, follow the path of Quebec and allow, under certain conditions, physicians to provide patients who ask to die with a lethal injection."

Lysiane Gagnon on the upcoming debate.

Jeffrey Simpson (Globe and Mail): "It was evident when the ink dried that the Liberal platform rested on shaky fiscal foundations, some of which have already begun to wobble." (for subscribers)

Ann Cavoukian (Globe and Mail): "Modern-day Bonnie & Clydes don't rob banks any longer, they rob bank accounts."

Evan Solomon (Maclean's): "Partisanship is not a dirty word. It is an essential part of our democracy."

Tim Harper (Toronto Star): "If Trudeau can pull this off, resetting a fundamental relationship in this country and uniting an often fractious First Nations leadership behind his goal, he will make history and ensure a legacy regardless of what dark clouds obscure his sunny ways in the future."

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