Orders of the Day - #IdleNoMore hits the Hill

Programming note: As of today, OotD is going on holiday hiatus, but will return on January 7, ideally fully refreshed, reinvigorated and ready to take on 2013. 

Seemingly undaunted by snowpocalyptic forecasts, thousands of protesters are expected to hit the Hill this morning to rally under the banner of Idle No More, the nascent First Nations awareness movement. Among those expected to speak at the four-hour long event are NDP MP Paul Dewar and Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett. 

Meanwhile, outside the precinct, the lone standard bearer on the government good news circuit is Minister of State for Sport Bal Gosal, who will hand out Diamond Jubilee medals to Canadian Olympians and Paralympians at a ceremony in Toronto. 

Finally, Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau will spend the morning chatting with students at St. Charles College in Sudbury. 

For up to the minute dispatches from the precinct and beyond, keep your eye on the Parliament Hill Ticker below -- or, alternatively, bookmark it and check back throughout the day. 

Farewell, @PatMartinMP

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Orders of the Day - Good news, maple syrup producers!

As the Hill holiday news blackout draws near, the list of noteworthy -- or, at least, advisory-worthy -- political events dwindles by the day. 

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Orders of the Day - Thanks for saving some news for today, Jason Kenney!

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney headlines today's ministerial circuit with a special appearance at the National Press Theatre, where he will make himself available to reporters to discuss the "new selection criteria" for the Federal Skilled Workers Program. 

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UPDATED - Liberal courting of Mark Carney reveals gap in lobby reporting regime

Yesterday afternoon, the Bank of Canada put out a statement absolving departing governorMark Carney of any ethical impropriety with regard to his now notorious summer sojourn at a Nova Scotia cottage owned by Liberal finance critic Scott Brison. 

As per the bank's general counsel, the week-long visit "did not breach [BoC] conflict of interest guidelines in any way" -- even though it took place at the very same time that various and sundry named and unnamed Liberal operatives were trying -- and failing -- to convince him to run for the party leadership.  

So, case closed? Most likely, at least unless further revelations of far more obviously improper cosiness were to surface. 

Even then, it's difficult to see what, if any, sanctions could be brought to bear, considering how few of the rules that govern the conduct of elected officials and senior civil servants apply to the man in charge of the country's central bank. 

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Orders of the Day - Conservative MPs, ministers hit the pre-Christmas good news circuit

The cacophonous din of democracy that normally fills Parliament Hill may have fallen silent for the holidays, but outside the precinct, the pre-Christmas political circuit is in full swing across the country. 

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OotD - Flaherty, fellow finance ministers retreat behind closed doors for fireside fiscal chat

As the Hill slumbers away the last week before official Ottawa shuts down for the holidays, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is off to Chelsea, Quebec for a closed-door confab with his provincial and territorial counterparts, which began last night with what was, by at least some  accounts, a convivial dinner, and continues in a more formal setting today. 

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FLASHBACK: What's in a name? When it includes "Prime Minister", maybe too much.

NOTE: As Prime Minister Stephen Harper prepares to honour the first recipients of the inaugural Prime Minister's Volunteer Awards, I thought it was worth taking a trip down focus group memory lane. This post was first published on July 26, 2011

With the first round of the newly-created Prime Minister's Awards for Volunteerism slated to be handed out later this fall, it's no surprise that the government would want to make sure that the program -- which was announced by the PM in the 2010 Speech from the Throne -- would garner widespread public support. 

Given that goal, one can only imagine the awkward silence that greeted this report from Harris Decima, which was brought on board by Human Resources Development Canada last fall to find out how Canadians would respond to the communications materials prepared for the initial call for nominations. 

The firm conducted focus groups in three cities -- Halifax, Montreal and Vancouver -- last November, with 89 participants in total, including both volunteers and non-volunteers, as well as representatives from non-profit and social organizations and "managers or decision-makers  in small and medium-sized businesses." 

The verdict? 

Cautious, if consistent thumbs up for the notion of honouring Canada's volunteers -- but a fairly conclusive thumbs down on the decision to brand the award with the Prime Ministerial moniker: 

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Orders of the Day - Omnibudget bill headed for Royal Assent

As the Senate readies itself to give final parliamentary seal of approval to the government's  omnibudget bill this morning, the PM himself will be watching approvingly from the sidelines of the Red Chamber as the Governor General signs off on Royal Assent, at which point the parliamentary sitting will officially wrap up for the year.  

Later today, the PM will pay tribute to the first round of recipients to be honoured by his very own Volunteer Awards, which were originally slated to be handed out in 2011

Also on the Hill this morning: New Democrat MP Charlie Angus joins First Nations chiefs from Northern Ontario to voice their collective and respective support for hunger-striking Attawipiskat Chief Theresa Spence, an action that, according to the advisory, the chiefs believe "speaks to the growing frustration within First Nations Communities about the lack of consultation and respect from the federal government." 

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