Trade, First Nations and Mali to top the agenda as Parliamentarians return to Ottawa

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

The Conservative party's mantra since earning their majority in 2011 has been 'economy first.'

So, it should be no surprise to see that continue as our members of Parliament return to Ottawa this week after a long Christmas break.

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According to the Globe and Mail's John Ibbiston, the government's focus -- this time around -- will be on economic growth through international trade.

"Either as part of the budget, or as a stand-alone item, the Harper government will release what one official, speaking on background, described “as close to a white paper as the Harper government will get on trade.”

That report will respond to the seismic shifts that are transforming this country’s trading relationship."

Ibbitson notes that while trade with the United States has been stagnant for the past 10 years, "trade with the rest of the world has increased by 80 per cent." He says that the government will help buoy that growth by finalizing the EU free-trade deal and by furthering trade-talks with India, Japan and Thailand.

Aside from the economy, The Hill Times suggests that First Nations issues will force their way onto the agenda this Parliamentary session.

"There are several bills on the Order Paper that some political insiders say will move to the front burner, including Bill C-27, the Financial Accountability and Transparency of First Nations Bill which is currently at committee in the Senate; and Bill S-2, the First Nations Matrimonial Real Property Rights; Bill S-6, the Election and Term of Office of First Nations Chiefs and Councillors Bill; and Bill S-8, Safety of Drinking Water on First Nation Lands all at second reading in the House."

The Ottawa-based weekly also warns that we will see at least some debate take place in the House with regard to Canada's role in Mali.

And, as usual, there will be a flurry of private members bills that will elicit a lot of debate but little else.

According to PostMedia News, this session's batch of back-bench bills include "tax credits for travel inside Canada, compensation from airlines if your flight is cancelled and adding transgendered people to the Bill of Rights.

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Finally, if you were wondering what the Conservative MPs did over their 'Christmas break", Sun News' David Akin explains in his blog:

"Back in their ridings, government MPs handed out more than 150 cheques for new highways, curling club improvements, training for the disabled, marina improvements and all sorts of other things. The grand total for all those cheque presentations? $1.5 billion. So, for the sake of the federal treasury if nothing else, let me be the first to welcome the country’s MPs back to the House of Commons."