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Politics Vancouver, Toronto make affordable housing pitches to Ottawa

From left, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, Toronto Mayor John Tory and  London Mayor Matt Brown arrive for a news conference at the big city mayors' conference in Toronto on Thursday.

Frank Gunn Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic/THE CANADIAN PRESS

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POLITICS BRIEFING

By Chris Hannay (@channay)

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> Vancouver is offering up $250-million of city-owned property as part of a pitch to Ottawa for new affordable-housing funds. The Liberals have identified affordable housing as a key component of their promised "social infrastructure" spending. Toronto Mayor John Tory says he will be making a similar pitch when big-city mayors gather in Ottawa on Thursday and Friday.

> The Auditor-General will release his 2015 fall report today, including probes into security at the border, the effectiveness of the government's major IT initiatives and how Ottawa is doing at implementing gender-based analysis in its policies.

> The federal government is defending the sale of military goods to Kuwait, even after a United Nations report accused the country of taking part in a bombing campaign in Yemen that hit civilians. The NDP says it will ask the foreign affairs committee to create a subcommittee to monitor arms shipments abroad.

> Dozens of soldiers contacted a new response centre to report incidents of sexual harassment or assault after it was set up in the fall, the military says.

> Liberal fundraising has remained high after the election, though the Conservative and NDP hauls are returning to more normal levels, according to an iPolitics review of Elections Canada data. Take a look at our election analysis of past fundraising data to see how the parties were faring before.

> Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says Justin Trudeau must be a "champion" of the energy sector, as the province prepares to face two years of budget deficits.

> And in Iowa, Calgary-born Texas Senator Ted Cruz won the Republican caucuses, with Donald Trump and Florida Senator Marco Rubio hot on his heels. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders fought to a virtual draw in the Democrats' contest.

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WHAT EVERYONE'S TALKING ABOUT

"The federal government's infrastructure program will help accomplish a couple of extremely important things. First, with its heavy emphasis on mass-transit undertakings, it will help boost Mr. Trudeau's environmental cred. On that front, there are few politicians in the country the Prime Minister admires and respects more for the job he has done in making his city a green leader in the world than Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, someone who definitely has the ear of the country's new leader. But the infrastructure plan will also help bolster the Liberals' standing in the country's largest cities, centres that are critical to the party's political future." – Gary Mason on what cities are asking of Ottawa.

Lawrence Martin (Globe and Mail): "It's a joke to think a healthy democracy can be restored given the continuing depletion of the one industry that holds business and government to account."

Gerald Caplan (Globe and Mail): "A word to the present cabinet: I implore you not to follow the Conservative example of treating the House in general, and Question Period in particular, as either a complete waste of your time or a relentlessly partisan, point-scoring session. The world will cheer if you answer serious questions seriously. You might even begin to resurrect Parliament's reputation."

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Colby Cosh (National Post): "The [Alberta] New Democrats destroyed a lot of voter goodwill with their changes to farm labour regulation, and this royalty review will recoup some. The PCs, instead of catcalling, should be explaining why Albertans had to vote for somebody else to obtain high-quality evidence and solid economic thinking on this question."

Aaron Wherry (CBC): "That the prime minister should be made to face voters and have to deal with their concerns seems like the sort of thing that should happen periodically in a democracy – a prime minister might even be compelled to treat an everyday Canadian with more deference than he would an opposition MP or a mere member of the press."

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