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Opposition leaders on the move ahead of Parliament's return

A forsythia bush flowers near Parliament Hill in Ottawa on May 11, 2011.

Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Michael Ignatieff is long gone. He and his wife Zsuzsanna Zsohar are already moved out of Stornoway, the Rockcliffe Park mansion that serves as the official residence of the opposition leader.

Liberal spokeswoman Leslie Church confirms the couple are on an overseas holiday and when they return will head directly back to their Toronto home. Mr. Ignatieff has accepted a teaching position at the University of Toronto.

All this comes amid reports that Parliament will resume Friday, June 3 with a Speech from the Throne.

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While that's it for Ottawa for Mr. Ignatieff - who lost spectacularly in the May 2 election - it's just beginning for NDP Leader Jack Layton. He and his wife, Toronto MP Olivia Chow, are in no rush to move to Stornoway; their spokeswoman Kathleen Monk says that will not happen for several weeks.

The big push for the New Democrats is to move into the suite of offices in Centre Block designated for the Official Opposition. They likely want this done before the House returns.

The Sun newspapers are reporting that Stephen Harper will bring back Parliament on June 3 with a Throne Speech that lays out the new agenda of the Conservative Prime Minister's first majority government. That will be followed quickly by the budget - expected to be much the same as the one Finance Minister Jim Flaherty delivered in March, which did not pass and helped trigger the election

In addition to the budget and Throne Speech, MPs must elect new Commons Speaker via secret ballot. Speculation is that Conservative MPs Andrew Scheer, Barry Devolin and Merv Tweed will put their hats in the ring. And Michael Chong, who in the last Parliament had been very vocal about reforming Question Period to make it less dysfunctional, has told Maclean's magazine he's not interested in the position.

Jason Kenney to Foreign Affairs?

There is still great speculation as to Stephen Harper's cabinet-building process. It is expected the Prime Minister will swear in his new cabinet either Tuesday or possibly Wednesday.

Smart money - though there are no guarantees - is that Mr. Harper will keep some of his senior ministers in place. Jim Flaherty is expected to stay at Finance, Peter MacKay will likely remain in Defence and Peter Kent is well rooted in Environment.

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There is a view, however, that Jason Kenney will be promoted from Immigration to Foreign Affairs. And John Baird, one of the Prime Minister's most trusted ministers, could move from House Leader - which is not as critical a role in a majority government - to Treasury Board, where he would lead the charge on cutting government spending.

A defiant Liberal soldiers on

Glen Pearson lost his London, Ont. seat on May 2. Though no longer a member of Parliament, the Liberal - who was considered a measured MP without strong partisan tendencies - has decided to continue writing his blog, the Parallel Parliament, as he and his Grits begin rebuilding.

He has a different take on the campaign, arguing that Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff was beginning to revive the grassroots of the party that had been so long ignored.

"For many of us, the cause of the Liberal decline has been apparent for a long time but we could never get past the party's fixation with leadership politics and its 'father-knows-best' approach to Canadian challenges," he writes in is blog posted Monday. "Ye this past campaign also revealed that the grassroots of the party itself was, in fact, alive and well."

He argues that Mr. Ignatieff ran a good campaign: "He was engaging, almost viscerally open to all questioners, and maintained that the grassroots campaigning was really where politics should be all the time."

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The problem, Mr. Pearson observes, is that the "party hadn't been involved in such basic engagement for a long time. Ironically, Ignatieff was guiding the party back to its place of origins: local communities and those that inhabit them. The reality that it was too little too late shouldn't halt our journey back to the grassroots."

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