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Politics Today: Are Environment Canada’s days numbered?

Green Party leader Elizabeth May asks a question during Question Period in the House of Commons in November 2012. Ms. May says senior sources who would lose their jobs if they went public have told her that the Conservative government is planning to eliminate the federal environment department and merge any remaining functions with Natural Resources Canada.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Politics Today 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.

Will Environment Canada be merged with Natural Resources?

Elizabeth May says Environment Canada will be eliminated and merged with the natural resources department, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says sources are telling her. While many environmental regulations have been cut in last year's omnibus bills, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his chief spokesmen deny Ms. May's allegations. Critics of a merger say that while the two departments may overlap in some cases (like pipelines), their mandates are very different.

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Northwest Territories, Canada's 11th province?

Northwest Territories Premier Bob McLeod and his entire cabinet are in Ottawa today and tomorrow to talk devolution with the federal government, John Ibbitson reports. The territory could soon gain control over its land and resources at the perfect time: The value of its mining sector is set to nearly double within the decade and five new mines are set to open in the next four years. That investment will benefit the territory more directly when its no longer federal land.

Horwath calls for inquiry

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is expected to call for a public inquiry into the cancelled gas plants Wednesday morning. This, just days after Kathleen Wynne won leadership of the governing Liberals, seems calculated to hamstring Ms. Wynne before the two leaders even have a chance to start working together, Adam Radwanski argues.

Aid to Mali, but not to African troops

Canada has pledged $13-million in aid to Mali, but – so far – won't help with funding African troops, Campbell Clark reports. Canada provided $110-million in aid in the 2010-2011 fiscal year before cutting direct aid after a coup last year. Foreign affairs $75-million has still made it to the country since the coup through the UN and NGOs.

Scotland snubs Quebec

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And in the "ouch" department, Quebec Premier Pauline Marois's "historic" meeting with Scotland's pro-independence leader Alex Salmond turned into a big letdown. Ms. Marois got squeezed into the Scottish leader's calendar, and no news agency photographers were allowed in (the only photo of the meeting is from a local freelancer). It's worth reading about the meeting from the Scottish perspective; here's one report, from the Guardian: [Mr. Salmond's] officials were puzzled by the heavy billing that their meeting was getting in the Québécois and Canadian media. "It's purely a courtesy event: 'Very nice to meet you,' " said one bemused civil servant in Edinburgh.

"The Québécois are making more of this. We've a photographer in there who will take a handshake, [a] greeting; he's meeting her in between running votes, so it will be short." But she stressed: "He is delighted to meet her, and share some understanding. But that will be it."

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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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