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Politics Today: The abortion debate will not go away

Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott

Greg Pender/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.

Chretien and the oil deal

In today's Globe exclusive, former prime minister Jean  Chrétien is revealed to have helped broker a deal for Chad to grant a lucrative oil deal to Calgary's Griffiths Energy – a development that later led Griffiths to plead guilty to bribery and a $10-million fine. There is no evidence Mr. Chrétien was involved in any way with dealings that led to the bribery case, and the situation is complicated, so you should read the full report.

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Harper and Marois, together again for the first time

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Quebec Premier Pauline Marois meet on Canadian soil for the first time today in Quebec (they briefly ran into each last fall in Kinshasa). Ms. Marois' top priority will be employment insurance. Federal changes mean that many former EI recipients could soon weigh on the province's budget.

The two will make a joint statement, but won't answer questions from reporters. According to the Canadian Press, that's because Ms. Marois bristled at Mr. Harper's tightly controlled rules for taking questions.

The abortion debate will not go away

Even with the Woodworth vote last fall, the most divisive of the term so far, some members of the Conservative backbench refuse to be quiet on abortion. Now three MPs – Maurice Vellacott, Leon Benoit and Wladyslaw Lizon – are asking the RCMP to investigate what they call post-abortion killings. The party strategy of letting the backbench blow off steam with Woodworth doesn't seem to have worked, with another subsequent abortion-related motion and now this.

Meanwhile, a poll of Canadians released this week (on the 25th anniversary of the Morgentaler ruling) found a majority didn't want to reopen the abortion debate.

Nothing arrested about this development

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Following on from this week's scoop that Canada will cede new powers to the Northwest Territories, largely to let the territory benefit directly from its natural resources, observers expect Canada to take a very pro-development stance when its leadership of the Arctic Council begins this year. Leona Aglukkaq, the first Inuk cabinet minister, will represent Canada at the council.

Wynne's positive

Ontario's premier-elect is now premier-designate, after Kathleen Wynne yesterday visited the Lieutenant-Governor. Ms. Wynne, in a sit-down interview with The Globe's new Queen's Park reporter Adrian Morrow, said she'll be taking a much more conciliatory approach to governing than her predecessor. How to keep up her positivity? "It's keeping my eye on the ball," she said. "It's being clear where I want to go and taking the people with me who want to come. And if there's going to be negativity, of course we have to answer it. But the way we answer it is with our story and our narrative about what we believe in."

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