Saskatchewan riding dispute roils MPs

Tease the day: Opposition crying foul of alleged Conservative gerrymandering

AP/Kevin Ellis

There’s a kind of calm that’s taken hold in Ottawa. People are still yelling at each other and getting worked up about things, but the issues of the day are far removed from those explosive files that dominated the final week’s of last year’s sitting. Fighter jets and foreign investment, billion-dollar files both, had opposition and government clawing at each other. These days, in advance of a federal budget downplayed daily by the Minister of Finance, and in the absence of any looming economic or political crises, charges of good ‘ol fashioned gerrymandering has taken Centre Stage.

Here’s the story so far: a so-called “push poll” went out to Saskatchewan voters last week. The robo-voice wasn’t exactly enamoured with proposed riding boundary changes in Saskatchewan, which would see the demise of some of the pie-shaped, urban-rural ridings that dominate the province. The Conservative Party denied that it was behind the calls. Then it admitted it was behind the calls. The Prime Minister defended the calls. Tom Lukiwski, a Conservative MP in Saskatchewan, wasn’t happy about the calls. He pointed the finger at a prominent party operative in Ottawa. The opposition has had a field day with the file, claiming the governing party is unduly influencing the riding redistribution process (even though some opposition MPs have, in their own way, raised a stink about boundary changes in ridings near them—legitimately, they claim, and transparently). Maybe the charges are fair. Gerrymandering would be unfair, out of line, and even reprehensible. But surely, something bigger is coming. Right?

What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s prediction of little new spending in the next federal budget. The National Post fronts a Senate report on the price gap between Canadian and American consumer products. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with a “massive shakeup” among the leadership of the Canadian Forces. The Ottawa Citizen leads with the arrest of a man alleged to have murdered two Ottawa sex workers. iPolitics fronts Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney’s testimony to the U.K.’s treasury committee. leads with changes in Russia since the country last hosted the Olympic Games. National Newswatch showcases a CTV News story about Senator Patrick Brazeau using his father-in-law’s address to receive a tax exemption.

Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. Chemical storage. The Mounties are worried about the potential liability posed by chemicals in police custody that could leak, explode or react in an “unforeseen” way.
2. Aboriginal affairs. The federal government will appeal a court’s ruling that Metis and non-status Indians should be included in the government’s definition of Indian.
3. Fracking. Quebec’s provincial government will table a bill that would place a moratorium on a controversial gas-extraction technique in the St. Lawrence Valley.
4. Charbonneau. Quebec’s ongoing inquiry into corruption in the construction industry heard more testimony from Joe Borsellino, a construction boss who denies wrongdoing.

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