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Politics Watch: Hagel for defence, Brennan for intelligence

Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., speaks during an appearance at Bellevue University, in Bellevue, Neb., Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2007.

Nati Harnik/AP

Politics Watch* 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.

Ford fights for his political life

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford will be in court to today to begin his appeal of the conflict-of-interest case that would kick him from office. City council (a little dysfunctional at the best of times) has not fared well with the uncertainty over Mr. Ford's Schrodinger's-Cat-like status as mayor. But don't expect things to calm down any time soon: If Mr. Ford loses his appeal (the ruling is likely to come in early February), council then has 90 days to decide where to have a by-election or appoint someone to the position.

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For a great rundown of the issues and what's at stake, check out John Lorinc's primer.

Prison doesn't work

Prison work programs are failing inmates by not giving them useful skills, Public Safety Department documents obtained by the Globe suggest. A memo to minister Vic Toews suggests lining up the training to in-demand jobs in the areas around the prison.

Canadian boots in Africa?

The head of the African Union is meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper this week, and it's likely to come with a huge ask: Canadian troops joining an international mission in Mali. Mr. Harper's cabinet has been divided on the question in public so far, so expect clarification this week.

Hagel for defence, Brennan for intelligence

In Washington today, President Barack Obama will officially announce he is tapping Chuck Hagel to become Secretary of Defence. (Pending approval by the Senate, of course.) The former Republican senator from Nebraska is no stranger to the Obama administration: he is an intelligence adviser to the President and, before that, sat on the foreign relations committee with then-senator Joe Biden. Mr. Hagel would be the first Vietnam veteran to serve as defence secretary.

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Mr. Hagel's past comments on Israel and Iran could keep his nomination hearing interesting. Mr. Obama will also nominate his counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, to head the Central Intelligence Agency. The 25-year CIA veteran replaces David Petraeus.

Newfoundland politicians do stop talking

And just to update you on a story we reported on just before our holiday hiatus: the Newfoundland filibuster by opposition parties unhappy with the Muskrat Falls development didn't make it to Christmas after all. All told, it lasted five days and wrapped up Dec. 22.

* Political Points or Politics Watch? Or something else? Since this daily morning feature started in December, we haven't settled on what to call it. If you like one of those two names – or have another suggestion – let us know in the comments or on Twitter.

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