1. When ministers of the Crown tweet. Tony Clement and Heritage Minister James Moore put out an invitation to their no-iPod-tax announcement Tuesday on Twitter - the first time ever, the Industry Minister says, the government has announced an event via " tweet-visory."
"James & I invited those following us on Twitter, & I'd reckon about 50 showed up," Mr. Clement told The Globe on Wednesday morning.
Part of his strategy evolved as a result of what he was seeing on his Twitter feed: "tech savvy people using Twitter are overwhelmingly against an iPod tax."
"I wanted to see whether we could mobilize them. I received many supportive tweets after the event, so it worked," he said.
The Industry Minister - who uses the micro-blogging tool regularly along with the Heritage Minister and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney - believes the "government has to be better at utilizing social media."
"So, the only way to improve is to try things out like the event yesterday," he said.
Using the backdrop of a music store at a downtown mall, Mr. Clement and Mr. Moore confirmed the Harper government would not impose a tax on iPods as part of its copyright legislation.
It was the perfect pre-Christmas shopping announcement designed to put a smile of the face of consumers and a frown on those of songwriters. A little opposition-bashing was even thrown in for good measure.
Canadian songwriters have been lobbying ministers and MPs for months to impose a levy on modern music consumers, arguing that fees applied to blank CDs and cassettes be extended to digital media. But the government has consistently sided with the recording industry, which says the solution is tougher piracy laws.
So the Conservatives came out swinging at the opposition Tuesday, accusing them of wanting to put a "massive new tax" on iPods. "The Harper government's top priority remains the economy," according to a memo circulated by party strategists to their supporters.
"During this fragile economic recovery, the last thing Canadian families and consumers need is a massive new tax on iPods," the Tories say. "The Ignatieff-NDP-Bloc Quebecois Coalition wants to impose a massive new tax that would cost Canadian families and consumers up to $75 extra per iPod!"
The Liberals deny this, accusing the Conservatives of making this all up in an effort to change the channel from reports about a former Tory staffer leaking budget documents to lobbyists with whom he sought employment.
A senior Ignatieff official says the iPod tax is a fabrication "perpetuated by Conservatives looking to draw attention away from their very bad day yesterday."
"Under fire for leaking confidential budget documents to Conservative insiders and for their hand-picked integrity commissioner's lack of integrity, Conservatives are trotting out a tired routine to distract Canadians," the Liberals charge.
And in a scrum, industry critic Marc Garneau declared himself "furious" and accused the Harper Conservative government of again attempting to "divide Canadians."
"They're coming out and talking about $75. This is totally preposterous," he said. The Liberals do not "endorse an iPod levy approach," he added, suggesting the Tories have not taken the time to talk to Canadian artists.
"They have not tried to find a solution to what is a principle that the Liberal Party created, which is to fairly recognize and compensate, pay our artists for their works because 90% of the music that you listen to out there has not actually been purchased in a legal fashion."
2. Don't head for the exit just yet. Expectations of MPs leaving Parliament Hill later Wednesday for their Christmas break went out the window after a scrum Tuesday between Government House Leader John Baird and reporters.
Around this time of year everyone is pretty sick of everyone else. Breaking early is what MPs dream of, even it's just a couple of days early.
"Scheduled to go till Friday," Mr. Baird told reporters. "These guys will go to Friday. We have a House leaders meeting this afternoon."
He also argued his minority government was productive this fall. "I think we expect a good number, a dozen bills to get royal assent this week."
Indeed, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is to attend a royal assent ceremony in the Senate on Wednesday. Governor-General David Johnston is also scheduled to be there.
"So we've had, I think, a pretty good fall," Mr. Baird said. "We've got a good number of justice bills passed. We got the budget bill and the supplementary estimates, which are also key to the Economic Action Plan ... I think we've had a productive session."