The morning buzz: A roundup of what's making news in the nation's capital
1. Rick Hillier's memoir. The former chief of defence staff takes shots at the Harper Conservative communication team in his tell-all autobiography, A Soldier First: Bullets, Bureaucrats and the Politics of War. The media savvy soldier, now a consultant in Ottawa, says he was told to stay out of the limelight by former Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor. This did not sit well with him as well as other decisions taken by the Harper government. The book, which is to be launched later this week, is getting great pre-publicity in the form of a blog post from Norman Spector, two spots on the front page of the Toronto Star and column treatment from Don Martin.
2. Jean Chrétien's royal honours. The former Liberal Prime Minister received the Order of Merit from the Queen at Buckingham Palace today. Accompanied by his wife, Aline, his daughter, France Desmarais and her husband, Andre, and their four children, Mr. Chrétien was awarded the most senior honour a Canadian can receive. It ranks ahead even of the Order of Canada. "It was a great moment for the family," Mr. Chrétien said after the ceremony. The Order of Merit has only 24 members at one time; vacancies are created when a member dies. Since it was founded in 1902 by King Edward VII, there have been only 169 members. Mr. Chrétien joins former South African leader Nelson Mandela and former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, who are current members. Florence Nightingale was a member, as were T.S. Eliot, Winston Churchill, Mother Teresa and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Mr. Chrétien is busy in Europe right now. He was the keynote speaker yesterday in Paris at the 100th anniversary of the France-Ameriques Society. He also took a moment to bemoan Canada's " lost foreign stature."
3. Pork and patronage. Halifax Chronicle Herald reporter Steve Maher and Ottawa Citizen reporter Glen McGregor teamed up on an investigative piece looking at the amount of infrastructure stimulus money that went into Conservative ridings. Their findings show that 57 per cent of projects with more than $1 million in federal funding went to Tory ridings. The Liberals have charged this was happening since almost the beginning of the spending but Tories dismissed their complaints. Mr. Maher and Mr. McGregor provide a new level of proof. We've got a call into Infrastructure Minsister John Baird.
4. Ignatieff Liberals backing off. There is a report today in Le Devoir that Michael Ignatieff and his Liberal team will not use their next opposition day - a day assigned to an opposition party allowing debate on an issue important to that party - to vote on a motion of confidence in the government. This is more evidence of the Liberals backing off from their bravado at their Sudbury national caucus this summer in which they vowed to bring down the government, suggesting they would use every opportunity to force an election. So much has changed since then with Leader Michael Ignatieff signaling in a CBC interview earlier this month that they would now look at confidence motions on a case-by-case basis. They're realizing, too, that Canadians do not want another election.
5. A frigid Parliament Hill. The Ottawa Citizen has a front-page story today about a huge explosion at the plant that heats Parliament Hill and about 52 downtown buildings yesterday. A worker was critically injured and it's not clear when heat will be restored to these buildings. The explosion is believed to be the result of a boiler that blew up.