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Political Points: Let’s hope Ontario Liberal debate won’t be a snoozefest

Gerard Kennedy, former Ontario education minister, announces his bid for leader of the Ontario Liberal Party Monday, Nov. 12, 2012 at a coffee shop in London, Ont.

Dave Chidley/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

Harper to Netanyahu: no more settlements

Prime Minister Stephen Harper warned his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu against building more settlements east of Jerusalem, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird told The Globe and Mail. As John Ibbitson details, this is a marked shift for Mr. Harper, who has rarely criticized the Middle East country. But it does bring Canada in line again with the United States, after the countries were among the handful that voted against upgraded status for Palestine at the United Nations.

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Will Ontario Liberals finally put up a fight?

The seven candidates vying for Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty's job hold their second leadership debate in Toronto today, moderated by TV host Steve Paikin. Their first outing last weekend was tame. But this time around, they are fresh from a lecture from Finance Minister Dwight Duncan, who warned his former cabinet colleagues in a speech this week about the province's gloomy fiscal outlook.

Some of the contenders have already hinted they would have handled the dispute with teachers differently. On the eve of one-day walkouts by many elementary teachers, expect some of the candidates, notably the blunt-speaking Gerard Kennedy, to stray farther from the party line. – Karen Howlett in Toronto

Hudak's cutting position

On the other side of the Ontario aisle, Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak will release another policy position this morning on cutting public-sector jobs. He's had announcements every day this week, calling for the province to get out of gambling and alcohol, and opening up bidding for more government contracts. It's part of Mr. Hudak's long-term goal of repositioning himself as a more serious – dare we say, wonky – candidate. It's a response to the 2011 provincial election that many say he lost because he was too heavy on attack and not on substance.

Mr. Hudak is a brave man, as Steve Paikin pointed out on Twitter Wednesday. One hopes that today he'll wear a coat.

First nation education

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Today is the final day of the Assembly of First Nations' Special Chiefs Assembly in Gatineau, Que. One contentious policy area they're discussing is education, with several resolutions calling for members to reject the government's current plans to work with first nations to improve education.

On Tuesday, some assembly-goers marched across the river on Parliament Hill. They posted videos from the rally on Facebook, including an appearance from NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair.

How open is your government?

Information Commissioner of Canada Suzanne Legault today tables her annual assessment of the government's openness. The Canadian Press got an early copy and found that, among other things, CBC has been dramatically better at responding to access to information requests than two years earlier. No doubt Sun News will be happy.

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