WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW THIS MORNING
> The House of Commons has risen and members of Parliament are headed back to their ridings until the end of January.
> Ethics commissioner Mary Dawson will interview Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Liberal MP Bill Blair about recent party fundraisers. Based on how those discussions go, Ms. Dawson will then decide whether or not to launch an investigation.
> The Liberal Party rented space from the non-profit organization Canada 2020 in the last election, according to Elections Canada data. The think tank has deep ties to the party — its president, Tom Pitfield, was the Liberals' chief digital strategist in the campaign.
> Provincial health ministers aren't sure it's even worth their time to attend a finance-ministers' meeting in Ottawa this weekend, where a main topic of discussion will be the multibillion-dollar federal health transfer.
> We will soon know more about the troubling surveillance of journalists by police in Quebec — and what politicians and judges had to do with it. New court documents are expected to be released in the coming days.
> Chamber of Sober Second Thought, indeed: Kady O'Malley points out the Senate has done a lot to delay or scuttle legislation with its newfound independence this year.
> ... such as this bill: Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett has agreed with senators saying the Liberals need more time (and possibly to go back to the drawing board) on legislation to end gender discrimination in the Indian Act.
> Liberal MP Rodger Cuzner used his annual holiday poem to take shots at the Conservative and NDP for their leadership races.
> Brian Topp, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley's chief of staff and a former NDP leadership candidate, is stepping down.
> A political scientist in the Washington Post says Kellie Leitch's campaign is a creation of the media. (Does this link help or hurt his argument?)
> And disturbing evidence is emerging of how Russian hackers may have influenced the U.S. election — even to the level of individual House races.
WHAT EVERYONE'S TALKING ABOUT
Campbell Clark (Globe and Mail): "Liberal MPs are saying two kinds of things about the cash-for-access fundraisers that are embarrassing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. One is that there's no real problem. The other is that there's no real problem and something has to be done about it pretty darn soon." (subscribers)
Chantal Hébert (Toronto Star): "When Justin Trudeau introduced gender parity in the makeup of his cabinet last year, skeptics wondered whether the move was little more than cosmetic. They questioned whether influence would follow titles. There were suggestions that competence had been sacrificed to gender balance. There are those who seem to think women should be appointed to cabinet only after the last qualified male has been handed a portfolio. In some quarters, [Rona] Ambrose's accession to the interim leadership of the Conservative party was similarly rationalized as a good move on optics rather than more simply the most qualified candidate for the job. The events of the past year have validated neither of those presumptions."
David Reevely (Ottawa Citizen): "[Trudeau]'s supposed to be cleaner, more open and transparent, more honourable. Instead, he's going to dinners with rich people who want things from him and holding out a bag. Trudeau's provincial cousins in Ontario have been through this, with a leader — Premier Kathleen Wynne — in much the same position. Decency is part of both Trudeau's and Wynne's brand, but they've behaved indecently."
Terry Glavin (National Post): "Aleppo has fallen. The last and sturdiest bastion of the Syrian uprising is gone. The Battle of Aleppo is over, the revolution is finished, and the Syrian mass murderer Bashar al-Assad has won. Russia has won. Iran has won. Hezbollah has won. The United States has lost. The United Nations has lost, and the bloody war in Syria, already having taken nearly half a million lives, goes on. … The truth of it is we'd just rather not take the trouble [to intervene]. We aren't prepared to suffer the sacrifices demanded of the commitments to universal rights we profess, so we absolve ourselves by talking about 'the Muslim world' as though it were a distant planet. We talk about Arabs as though they were a different species. It's easier on the conscience that way."
Note: This newsletter goes on hiatus for the holidays after Friday, Dec. 16. We will return in January.
Written by Chris Hannay. Edited by Steven Proceviat.