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Politics Today: The link between climate change and Keystone

U.S. ambassador to Canada David Jacobson delivers a speech on the impact of the U.S. election on Canadian-American relations, Dec. 4, 2012 in Montreal.

Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

Politics Today is your daily guide to some of the stories we're watching in Ottawa and across Canada, by The Globe and Mail's team of political reporters.

What climate change means for Keystone

The U.S. wants something from Canada in exchange for its oil, according to U.S. ambassador David Jacobson: progress on climate change. With President Barack Obama making climate change an issue for his second term, Mr. Jacobson said Ottawa should follow suit.

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Mr. Jacobson, doing the rounds, gives a luncheon speech to the Empire Club of Canada in Toronto today.

Canadians don't like the Senate: poll

Canadians are not happy with the Senate's status quo, but are split on whether it's better to elect senators or just get rid of the institution all together, according to a new Angus Reid poll.

Thirty-seven per cent of respondents want to abolish the Senate, while 40 per cent want elected senators. The two are within the survey's 3.1 per cent margin of error. Just 5 per cent said they liked the current guidelines and 19 per cent weren't sure. About half of Albertans and British Columbians favoured election, while half of Quebec respondents said Canada doesn't need a Senate.

Respondents were very supportive – with at least two-thirds support – of a national referendum, eight-year terms and direct elections. Opinion was nearly evenly split on the questions of abolishing the Senate or having them appointed by a panel of distinguished Canadians (instead of just the prime minister).

The online survey among Angus Reid's 1,002 panelists was conducted Feb. 11 to 12.

Wallin's Senate expenses

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Senator Pamela Wallin is facing an audit by Deloitte over her travel expenses, which both she and Prime Minister Stephen Harper say are in line with what other parliamentarians bill. A Globe and Mail analysis of the publicly available disclosure reports shows that Ms. Wallin has the third total travel costs since Sept. 2010, behind Northwest Territories Senator Nick Sibbeston and Nova Scotia Senator Terry Mercer. The average Senator's travel costs are $119,530 during that period, while the top seven senators billed more than $300,000.

The travel costs are broken down by "regular" and "other travel" – the former being travel between a senator's home province and Ottawa, and the latter representing other official Senate business. Most of Ms. Wallin's travel is classified as "other," and in fact is much higher than her comrades: $321,000 of other travel, with the next-highest Colin Kenny of Ontario at $192,000.

Among Saskatchewan Senators, Ms. Wallin has the highest travel expenses, though most are above average. Robert Peterson, who retired last year, billed $272,000 from Sept. 2010, while Pana Merchant billed $237,000 and David Tkachuk with $203,000.

But enough about the Senate, here are some other goings-on today:

'Ensuring the protection of personal information'

Human resources bureaucrats, including deputy minister Ian Shugart, are testifying before the human resources committee this morning over the protection of personal information. Human Resources and Skills Development Canada announced last month it had lost a hard drive with the personal information of 583,000 student loan borrowers. The government is facing class-action lawsuits over the loss.

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What Canada won't concede to Europe

Canada's foreign takeover rules are complicating its free-trade talks with the European Union, The Globe and Mail has learned. The EU wanted exemptions to the rules, but the Harper government has resisted, given the high drama when the guidelines were released late last year.

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About the Author
Assistant editor, Ottawa

Chris Hannay is assistant editor in The Globe's Ottawa bureau and author of the daily Politics newsletter. Previously, he was The Globe and Mail's digital politics editor, community editor for news and sports (working with social media and digital engagement) and a homepage editor. More

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