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Alberta will make or break Canada’s pension reform

Alberta Finance Minister Doug Horner arrives for a dinner meeting with Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and his provincial and territorial counterparts in Ottawa, Dec. 16, 2012.

FRED CHARTRAND/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Political Points is your daily guide to some of the stories we're watching in Ottawa and across Canada, by The Globe and Mail's team of political reporters.

Saul's in the Hall

The capital's art community are eagerly anticipating an unveiling this morning in Rideau Hall: the first portrait of a former governor-general's spouse by an aboriginal artist.

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Kent Monkman, a "rock star" among fans of aboriginal art, painted author John Ralston Saul, the husband of former governor-general Adrienne Clarkson. She served in the office from 1999 to 2005.

Official portraits for former governors-general are paid for by the government, and spousal portraits, while a long tradition, must be commissioned by the family themselves. That's why, according to the G-G's office, not all spouses have a portrait at Rideau Hall.

L'affaire Carney

Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney is likely to respond today to a Globe and Mail exclusive that was the talk of Ottawa this weekend. The story, from Daniel Leblanc, Steven Chase and Jane Taber, details the courtship of the central banker by Liberal party strategists, including a week-long stay at the Nova Scotia home of MP Scott Brison, the party's finance critic.

At issue is the impartiality of the Bank of Canada, which must at all times seem to be apart from politics to work effectively (not to mention a peek into the backroom of the anyone-but-Trudeau camp). Michael Babad, Mike Moffatt and Stephen Gordon have more on how this affects the church-and-state of monetary policy.

What will Alberta do?
by Bill Curry in Ottawa

All eyes will be on Alberta Finance Minister Doug Horner today as Canada's finance ministers gather at Meech Lake, deep inside Quebec's Gatineau Park near Ottawa.

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Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's claim last week that any reform of the Canada Pension Plan must have unanimous support means Alberta must be on board. Alberta has been the most resistant to the idea. But Mr. Horner is new to the scene. This year he replaced former finance minister Ted Morton, who did not retain his seat during the 2012 Alberta election.

The federal, provincial and territorial ministers are scheduled to discuss various options for pension reform, as well as proposals for a national securities regulator, equalization and the state of the economy at large. They are expected to receive a briefing on the national and global economic picture from Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney.

Ashfield back to work

Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield returns to work in Ottawa this week, after a heart attack in October and bypass surgery, according to the Prime Minister's Office. The Fredericton MP had been temporarily replaced in his portfolio by National Revenue Minister Gail Shea.

Omnibus bills saved the Tories some time

Parliamentarians are done law-making this year, so legislative geeks, this one's for you: a tally of the sitting that was.

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The governing Conservatives were busy this year, according to an analysis by Éric Grenier of ThreeHundredEight.com. He found that the fall sitting was roughly in line with the end of the Tories' minorities in terms of number of bills passed (after a flurry of activity when they first became a majority).

But the sheer number of bills doesn't take into account the size of the legislation – take omnibus Bill C-45, which, at 120,000 words, was nearly 10 times bigger than the next-longest bills.

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About the Author
Assistant editor, Ottawa

Chris Hannay is assistant editor in The Globe's Ottawa bureau and author of the daily Politics newsletter. Previously, he was The Globe and Mail's digital politics editor, community editor for news and sports (working with social media and digital engagement) and a homepage editor. More

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