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Politics Briefing newsletter: NHL alumni play hockey on Parliament Hill

Construction continues on the skating rink on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Nov. 20, 2017.

Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

Good morning,

We begin with a chilly report today from Bill Curry in Ottawa:

With Members of Parliament back in their ridings, the action on Parliament Hill shifts outside Friday for an NHL alumni game.

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The temporary Canada 150 Rink on the front lawn of Parliament Hill will be the setting for an evening Senators Alumni Classic. The list of former Ottawa Senators stars participating in the old-timers game includes Daniel Alfredsson, Chris Phillips, Alexei Yashin, Mike Fisher, Martin Havlat and Chris Neil, who officially retired from the NHL Thursday.

The Friday night friendly sets the stage for Saturday's outdoor game between the Senators and the Montreal Canadiens. While there was some early talk of that game being played on Parliament Hill, the logistics proved to be too challenging. Saturday's game will instead be played at TD Place, a football stadium about 3 kilometres south of Parliament Hill.

Organizers will set up a live viewing party on Parliament Hill Saturday night with two large video screens and public skating on the rink. That will be the backdrop for Canadians tuning in to the panellists on the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast.

The temporary rink has attracted criticism for its substantial cost – at least $5.6-million but likely more after the government extended its run through to the end of February – and its detailed list of rules. Like other rinks across the country, hockey is not allowed to be played during times reserved for public skating. The government has said the arena will be donated to a community after it is shut down for the season.

On Thursday morning, another kind of Senator scored a big goal on the Hill. A group of MPs and Senators from several parties challenged the Parliamentary Press Gallery to a game this week. The wind-chill warning (-27C) and core temperature of -16C didn't stop the one hour match from going ahead.

The back-and-forth game was kept close thanks to the two goalies – Liberal MP Marc Miller and Joël-Denis Bellavance of La Presse – and the game appeared headed for a 2-2 tie. But in the final seconds, a late rush by the politicians saw Independent Senator Patrick Brazeau score the winning goal just ahead of the final buzzer. For Mr. Brazeau, who famously lost to Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau in a 2012 boxing match, the rink was friendlier than the ring.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay in Ottawa, Mayaz Alam in Toronto and James Keller in Vancouver. If you're reading this on the web or someone forwarded this email newsletter to you, you can sign up for Politics Briefing and all Globe newsletters here. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

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CANADIAN HEADLINES

It is Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin's final day on the bench today. In reflecting on her term with the CBC, she says she was quite worried that a public spat with Stephen Harper in 2014 would tarnish the court's reputation.

Conservative Senator Victor Oh, who has said he has not conducted "personal business" in Canada or China since his appointment in 2013, set up a Canadian company with another Conservative senator and two Chinese business people, records show.

A donor who claimed ties to the provincial and federal Liberal Party has been accused of immigration fraud and swindling $4-million from Chinese citizens looking to come to Canada.

The Canada Revenue Agency says it is tightening up its voluntary disclosure program to make sure wealthy Canadians with "sophisticated" tax schemes can't financially benefit from intentionally not filing their taxes.

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Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz says Canada's economy is right now in a "sweet spot."

The Liberal government will announce new lifetime pensions for veterans next week, though some groups say $1,200 a month isn't enough.

Justin Trudeau says Canada's presidency of the G7 will focus on climate change, gender equality and how technology is changing jobs.

Officials in British Columbia and the United Kingdom are investigating a Canadian company's role in potentially influencing last year's Brexit vote. AggregateIQ has been under scrutiny for its role in the Vote Leave campaign, and both U.K. Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham and the B.C. Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner say they're looking into the issue.

United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney, who drove the campaign to merge Alberta's Progressive Conservative and Wildrose parties, has won a seat in the Alberta legislature. The former federal Conservative cabinet minister handily defeated six candidates, including the leader of the Liberal party, in a by-election last night in the riding of Calgary Lougheed, allowing him to take on the New Democrats in the legislature in the lead-up to the 2019 general election.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says her government is looking for ways to cut spending, while promising that "vulnerable" people won't be affected. Ms. Notley's NDP government is seeking to rein in a $10-billion deficit. The premier says she's looking at infrastructure spending as an area that could be trimmed, though she isn't providing examples of projects that could be cut.

B.C.'s system for detaining people with mental illness has come under scrutiny for harsh treatment, poor oversight and a lack of legal representation for patients. But some of those patients are speaking out in support of the system. Bryn Ditmars, who has been dealing with schizophrenia since he was a child and was detained under the Mental Health act in his early 20s, says of his compulsory treatment: "It's the best thing that could have happened."

Environmentalists are calling on the federal government to intervene to save an endangered population of southern mountain caribou in B.C.

A Quebec inquiry says journalists need more legal protections from those in power.

And six men died in the Quebec City Mosque attack. Aymen Derbali barely survived. He spent two months in a coma and will never walk again. Now, as he struggles to recover, his appeals to city and provincial officials for help have gone unanswered. The Globe's Ingrid Peritz tells his story.

Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on cabinet minister Kent Hehr: "The fact that he is the only minister from Conservative-dominated Calgary should also not enter into any calculation concerning his suitability for a seat at the cabinet table. It's time the Prime Minister dealt with this issue in the manner it should be. If he does, Mr. Hehr will no longer be in cabinet."

Robyn Urback (CBC) on cabinet minister Kent Hehr: "His off-script remarks darken the whole sunny facade, which is supposed to be about caring and smiles and unlimited budgets and hope and hard work. It's about as off-brand as you can get for this government. It's a wonder Trudeau would allow the impression it's tolerated."

Globe and Mail Editorial Board on Brad Wall's swan song: "This is all so petty. Canada as a whole needs to eliminate provincial trade barriers that can make it more difficult for Canadian companies to do business in this country than in a foreign one. The sight of a premier grandstanding over relatively minor disputes is a reminder of the truism that short-sighted populists are the biggest barriers to free trade."

Adrienne Clarkson (The Globe and Mail) on Beverley McLachlin: "Our Chief Justice has broken any number of records and we know that she has done her work and she has done it well. In her work and in her life, she has shown what it is to understand each other in a human and lawful way. She has helped us as Canadians understand the parameters within which we live. And in our treasured Supreme Court, she has led us all to learn the limits that human understanding can bring to human behaviour."

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna in The Globe on energy: "With smart and strategic investments, governments are moving away from coal and spurring clean economic growth. The federal government is doing this through historic investments in public transit, innovation and energy-efficient infrastructure – which together are making our economy stronger and our towns and cities cleaner. We know phasing-out coal power will require hard work and collaboration, but the benefits to our health and our planet are immense."

INTERNATIONAL HEADLINES

The Globe's Eric Reguly sat down for an interview with Yisrael Katz, Israel's Intelligence and Transportation Minister. Mr. Katz is eyeing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's job and has plans for an economic bloc that would connect Israel and the Sunni Arab countries. The bloc would be anchored by a vast rail and port network and would be part of an anti-Iran axis. "Iran is the big enemy," he said from the transport ministry office, near the Knesset, Israel's parliament. "It's very clear we [Israel and Saudi Arabia] are practically on the same side … All Sunni countries are against Iran. We wish to have a peace agreement in parallel with advancing regional economic development initiatives."

Canada announced last week that it was scrapping its plan to buy fighter jets from Boeing and was instead turning to Australia's military to buy up to 30 second-hand planes. Australia is now set to buy 58 F-35s from Lockheed Martin.

British Prime Minister Theresa May may have suffered a defeat at home when members of her caucus rebelled on a key Brexit bill, but she won plaudits from European leaders on the progress made so far on the United Kingdom's separation from the European Union.

A round of peace talks on Syria ended yesterday but the UN's mediator says it was a missed opportunity. Staffan de Mistura said another set of talks may occur next month. Neither President Bashar al-Assad's government nor the opposition attended the talks.

Weapons supplied to Syrian opposition groups by the U.S. and Saudi Arabia routinely ended up in Islamic State hands, researchers say. "These findings are a stark reminder of the contradictions inherent in supplying weapons into armed conflicts in which multiple competing and overlapping non-state armed groups operate," the Conflict Armament Research group wrote in a 200-page report.

And Roy Moore has still refused to concede after narrowly losing Tuesday's special election for an Alabama Senate seat to Democrat Doug Jones. His supporters are looking for evidence of voter fraud while the White House says that a concession speech "should have already taken place."

Doug Saunders (The Globe and Mail) on Brexit and Theresa May: "As she knows, the hard-Brexit faction will never view a Norway-style deal as a true Brexit. Yet her soft-Brexiteers will never allow a total break to be negotiated. If the simple task of talking about a parliamentary vote has left her pro-Brexit MPs denouncing one another as traitors, the vote itself – given the irreconcilable visions of post-Europe life – will be destructive. A second referendum, or a victory by the even more deeply divided Labour Party, both sound more likely than a parliamentary decision on Brexit."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told people attending the Liberal caucus holiday party on Wednesday that seeing Star Wars: The Last Jedi was a “wonderful” experience. Sophie Gregoire Trudeau teased her husband about being a “geek.” The Canadian Press
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