Marc Ouellet: Welcome back to the national conversation

Tease the day: Get ready to learn much more about the fast-rising Canadian Cardinal

Riccardo De Luca/AP

“I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.” With that stark assessment of his hampered ability to perform papal duties, Pope Benedict XVI declared he will resign his position, effective Feb. 28. This is big, to say the least. No pontiff has resigned in six centuries. News broke early this morning, and this morning’s papers are more concerned with Grammy Awards fallout than Vatican politics. But as for the rest of the day: expect to see Benedict’s aging face all over news networks as far as the eye can see.

Expect to learn more about one Canadian man who’s rumoured to be filling Benedict’s shoes in the Vatican City. You’ve heard his name before, likely, because he’s risen quickly in Rome’s ranks: Marc Cardinal Ouellet, the 68-year-old Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. Quebec’s former archbishop once told La Presse that the pope’s duties “would be a nightmare” to perform. Cardinal Ouellet, welcome back to the national conversation.

What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with the federal strategy to persuade the White House to accept the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The National Post fronts the potential health issues posed by heavier-than-average Aboriginal babies. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s choice of Charles Sousa as finance minister. The Ottawa Citizen leads with the planned transport of highly enriched uranium from a Chalk River facility to South Carolina. iPolitics fronts Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s apparent suggestion that Canada “acted against its own domestic political interests” when it listed the Tamil Tigers as a terrorist group. leads with Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation as pontiff. National Newswatch showcases Tim Harper’s column in the Toronto Star about Senator Mike Duffy’s image-management issues.

Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. RCMP. One of the first female RCMP officers submitted an action plan to address gender-related concerns on the force well before the issue hit the national spotlight in 2012. 2. Polar bearsCanada’s export of polar bear parts, a practice long protected by the country’s Inuit population, may be banned by an international body at a conference next month.
3. Bank notes. The Bank of Canada considered a number of multicultural and socially progressive images for its new bank notes before settling on more traditional icons. 4. Idle No More. The Aboriginal movement that took Canada by storm during the holiday season, and into January, has seen its online presence diminish in recent weeks.

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