1. More orphans on the way. Operation Stork is what the government is calling Canada's humanitarian evacuation of Haitian orphans. Another group of 52 children is expected to arrive in Ottawa this afternoon on an Air Transat flight, accompanied by Immigration Deparment officials, airline staff and medical personnel.
These newest Canadians follow the 24 young Haitians - aged 18 months to seven years - who arrived early Sunday morning on a special Air Canada flight. Those children were destined for families who come from across Canada. Again, today's group - three of the children are less than a year old, with one being just six months - are going to families in Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Quebec.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced last week his department was expediting the adoption process for those whose applications were basically complete. The children who are arriving today are in that group of 154 he had identified.
2. New Liberal line: Mulroney versus Colvin. This morning Michael Ignatieff's Liberals are making an issue of the government's refusal to pay the legal fees for senior diplomat Richard Colvin, who blew the whistle on the Afghan detainee issue.
"The Harper Conservatives are trying to intimidate and punish Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin by refusing to pay for the legal counsel he is entitled to as a public servant," a Liberal news release says. "… The Harper Conservatives did not hesitate to pay former prime minister Brian Mulroney's legal fees. Taxpayers paid over $2-million to cover Mr. Mulroney's legal costs at the inquiry into his dealings with Karlheinz Schreiber."
This release comes on the heels of meetings and press conferences the Liberals held yesterday with three former federal watchdogs, whose stories of coming "under attack" by the Harper government are garnering lots of attention. The Colvin release picks up on the Liberal theme of the Conservative government punishing officials because it doesn't like what they have to say.
The Liberals are pushing hard this week, working on Parliament Hill to protest against Stephen Haper's decision to prorogue. "Canadians should be asking: Why are the Conservatives arbitrarily harassing Mr. Colvin and, and obstructing the work of the Military Police Complaints Commission by denying him a much smaller amount for the legal counsel he needs to prepare his testimony?"
Earlier this week, Mr. Colvin's lawyer sent a letter to the MPCC noting that there has been no resolution to his client's request for legal aid. He is entitled to as much as $50,000 for independent legal counsel; he has received $20,000. And he is saying that he is being punished by the government for testifying at the committee.
Expect senior Liberal MPs to be talking up this issue after their caucus this morning.
3. Tories fight back: Watching the watchdogs. Conservative pundits and spokesmen were singing the same song yesterday, criticizing the former watchdogs for appearing before the Liberals. And now we know where they got their lines: the PMO's infamous Alerte-Info-Alert, an email document sent out to Tory supporters and MPs, spelled it out precisely for them.
"Today, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff is holding a meeting on 'governance' featuring three people appointed by the previous Liberal government - Paul Kennedy, Peter Tinsley and Linda Keen. Canadians might question their judgment in appearing at a partisan Liberal event so soon after their terms expired," the talking points say.
Former Harper communications director Kory Teneycke had clearly read the talking points and delivered them well on CTV's Power Play last night: "If one is worried about the perception of politicization of tribunals I think that those individuals would be well-served by not participating in a partisan Liberal event," he said. "So I think they are really feeding the optics that these guys are Liberals by participating in a partisan Liberal event."
Mr. Teneycke was referring to Mr. Kennedy, the former chair of the RCMP Public Complaints Commission, Mr. Tinsley, the former chair of the Military Policy Complaints Commission and Ms. Keen, the former chief executive at the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.
And then Ottawa Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre used the other lines supplied in the document. "I'm not sure that the Liberal Party is in a position to be lecturing anyone," he said on CTV National News. He was aping the talking points: "As for the issue of governance, our Conservative government needs no lessons from a Liberal Party tainted by its direct involvement in one of the biggest scandals in Canadian history, the Sponsorship Scandal."
(Photo: A Haitian orphan arrives in Ottawa last weekend. Chris Wattie/Reuters)