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By Chris Hannay (@channay)
Justin Trudeau's got a busy week ahead. The entire Liberal cabinet is in New Brunswick right now, for a 40-ish-hour ministerial retreat at a St. Andrews by-the-sea resort hotel ("[experience] the joys and restorative delights of The Algonquin Resort…an absolute triumph of leisurely diversion," says the website).
The economy will no doubt be weighing on their minds as they plan for the next session. The Bank of Canada will make its next rate announcement on Wednesday, and market watchers are increasingly convinced they'll see a rate cut (though the odds are currently about even). Cities and provinces are awaiting infrastructure stimulus from Ottawa with open arms.
On Tuesday, the Prime Minister heads to Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum. At the gathering of political and business leaders, public intellectuals, journalists and movie stars, Mr. Trudeau will speak twice: one speech will lay out his vision for Canada's new government, and he will also participate in a panel discussion on gender parity with Melinda Gates.
The Prime Minister will spend four days in Davos before heading back to Canada for Parliament's return next Monday. As John Ibbitson said, "One suspects Davos is the sort of event Mr. Trudeau and the young policy geeks who surround him find irresistible." (for subscribers)
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW THIS MORNING
> Canada must stand with its allies in the aftermath of an al-Qaeda-linked attack that killed at least 28 – including six Quebeckers – in Burkina Faso, said Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion.
> New Syrian refugees are finding a lot of support from refugees who had settled in Canada years earlier. (for subscribers)
> Cities aren't spending enough to maintain their infrastructure, according to a sweeping report from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
> The Liberals are beginning a "year-long project" to negotiate a new health accord with the provinces and have taken a first step: Ottawa will co-ordinate with the provinces to lower the cost of prescription drugs.
> Ontario is moving ahead with its pension plan plan.
> Of the last seven prime ministers who won an election, Justin Trudeau is the most liked and Stephen Harper is the most disliked, according to an Abacus Data poll. Not surprisingly, Liberals loved Mr. Trudeau and disliked Mr. Harper (and the opposite held true for Conservative supporters).
> The Canada Council for the Arts, a major Ottawa-based granting body, is going through big changes, including the tying of funding to diversity.
> And William Shatner has a plea for the Prime Minister: "Justin: please follow your sophisticated imagination and leave the confines of Star Wars and be embraced by Star Trek."
NIK NANOS: CAN AMBROSE REMAKE TORY IMAGE?
With the House set to come back and Rona Ambrose on a national tour to introduce herself to Canadians, polls show the public doesn't yet have an opinion of the interim Conservative leader, Nik Nanos says. That's an opportunity to Ms. Ambrose – if she can ditch the baggage the previous nine-year-old Harper government left her. (for subscribers)
WHAT EVERYONE'S TALKING ABOUT
"Parliament should change the language in the Constitution that refers to Senators from 'he' to 'she or he' or some other gender-neutral form. In the section that deals with qualification for appointment to the Senate, the words "he" or "his" are used no less than 12 times. This may have been understandable in 1867 when women were not considered "persons" who could be qualified to be appointed to the Senate. But since 1929, when the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council declared that women were qualified "persons" who could be appointed to the Senate, this language has been outdated. The time has surely come to make the constitutional language apply to all those who are subject to it. After all, it's 2016."
– Adam Dodek on some easy suggestions for Senate reform.
Konrad Yakabuski (Globe and Mail): "Barack Obama's grand plan for sparking a transportation revolution with hefty subsidies for electric cars and increasingly stringent fuel-economy standards has been entirely overwhelmed by surging U.S. oil production (and the resulting low gas prices) and consumers' love of SUVs and pickups, which generate the highest profit margins for auto makers, but which consume the most gas and produce the highest carbon emissions."
Preston Manning (Globe and Mail): "If the aim of conservatives is not only to recharge the right politically, but also to be better able to govern the country as a result, putting all the renewal eggs in the charismatic leader basket would be a mistake for both conservatism and the country."
Paul Wells (Macleans): "The NDP does not, today, have an obvious leader-in-waiting who could replace [Tom] Mulcair."
Geoffrey Stevens (Waterloo Record): "The ascent of Trump has not gone unnoticed in Canada's Conservative party."
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