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.
Your politics laugh of the day
Here's something for your lunch break: A Peace Tower mascot with a cardboard costume takes to the streets to convince Torontonians that politics isn't boring – with hilarious results.
Tougher sentences for child predators
The Harper government's tough-on-crime push continues today with an announcement to toughen sentences for child predators. Sheldon Kennedy, former hockey player and victim, will join Justice Minister Rob Nicholson to champion victims' rights and harsher punishments over rehabilitation. The initiative is also part of community safety, one of the four 2013 pillars identified by Prime Minister Stephen Harper at a caucus meeting last week.
A nickel for your thoughts?
Today is the last day of the penny. The mint stopped producing them last year and as of today the mint stops shipping pennies out to retailers and banks. The move was a relatively minor part of last year's budget, but few budget policies will have as immediate and tangible effect as the loss of the copper coins. Businesses and consumers will need to adapt cash registers and habits. The government hopes to say $11-million a year.
In 60 seconds, Hannah Sung gives an appreciation for and quick history of the penny.
Tory MPs breaking ranks – a little bit
Conservative MPs are more likely to break ranks than their opposition counterparts, according to a new Globe analysis of voting records. Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair hasn't allowed any of his MPs to vote against the party since he took over, whereas Tories have been more allowing of free votes. That said, it's worth keeping the trend in perspective – the most rebellious MP still votes with his party 98 per cent of the time. The vote that caused the biggest caucus split was, not surprisingly, the Woodworth motion in the fall about the beginnings of life.
The story is today's instalment of our week-long series Reinventing Parliament, looking at how to make the institution more relevant to Canadians. Check out our opening story from the weekend from John Ibbitson on why fixing Parliament may be impossible.
A 'useless' Arctic treaty
Greenpeace Canada is calling a proposed Arctic Council treaty on oil spills so pro-development that it's "useless," the Globe's Paul Koring reports. The guidelines deal with offshore drilling and cleanup. The vagueness of the treaty, though, may be just as likely due to giving individual states maximum flexibility to set their own rules and get buy-in from all parties.
East meets west
And there's one meeting definitely worth watching in Calgary today: Alberta Premier Alison Redford meets with New Brunswick Premier David Alward to talk about proposed pipelines to go from the oil sands to Atlantic Canada. Ottawa gave support to the idea late last week.