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Stephen Harper drops in on his (other) Sens Army

1. Liberal 'foolishly' misses out on Tory tax credit. Michael Ignatieff's finance critic, John McCallum, did not take advantage of Stephen Harper's popular tax credit - spend $10,000 on renovations and get a $1,350 credit on your 2009 taxes. The credit program ended at midnight last night.

Mr. McCallum, who was the chief economist at the Royal Bank of Canada before entering politics, acknowledged yesterday he "perhaps foolishly" did not use it. (Interestingly, the Liberals voted against the tax measure when they did not support the Tory budget last November; the Bloc and the NDP supported it.)

Meanwhile, Mr. McCallum's political counterparts did take advantage of it: Ted Menzies, the parliamentary secretary to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, said he renovated two bathrooms in his house; Thomas Mulcair, the NDP deputy leader and finance critic, said he fixed his driveway.

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Last week, Mr. Mulcair held a press conference asking that the credit be extended. Mr. McCallum and the Liberals are not opposed to extending it but have focused more of their attention on putting forward job creation proposals in a number of sectors, including manufacturing, youth and venture capital.

On CTV's Question Period yesterday Mr. Menzies shot down the idea of extending the program, saying the tax credit is ending "as of 12 o'clock tonight … and the Finance Minister has been very clear in saying that." Still, there are doubters out there. Some people believe the Tories are picking their words carefully and will find a way to bring back the measure in their March budget.

2. Stephen Harper and his senators. The Prime Minister just can't shake those Senators. On Friday, he made five new appointments to the Red Chamber and by doing so grabbed the upper hand over the Liberals. And then on Saturday, for Hockey Day in Canada, he was in the stands at Scotiabank Place watching (he is cagey as to he cheers for) the Ottawa Senators play the Montreal Canadiens.

Between periods he posed for pictures with the hockey fans and signed autographs. The Prime Minister is a big hockey fan and he was there with his son, Ben. His office says he used his personal credit card to pay for his tickets.

Indeed, he has told his MPs and senators that they can take no freebies during the Olympics; everyone who goes has to pay their own freight. Meanwhile, the Sens won the game, setting a club record for winning nine games in a row.

3. Child-trafficking in Haiti. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is taking a cautious approach to the adoption of Haitian orphans. Mr. Kenney had initially identified a list of 154 children, whose cases were far enough along they could be expedited to come to Canada. He says Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, who he spoke to last week when the Haitian leader was in Canada, is discouraging the adoption of children not in the process prior to the earthquake.

"In due course if it is determined that they are truly orphaned [Mr. Kenney says the ideal is to reunite children with family members]and they have no homes left in Haiti we can consider allowing them to be candidates for adopting in an orderly fashion," he says.

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Not a bad decision, given what is happening now. A group of American Baptists tried to take 33 children across the border into the Dominican Republic over the weekend; 10 of those children have parents. Ten Americans are in custody in Port-au-Prince accused of trying to take the children out of the country without proper documentation.

More than 60 orphans, whose adoptions had already been approved, came to Canada Saturday on an Air Canada humanitarian flight. More than 140 orphans have been evacuated to Canada since the earthquake last month.

(Photo: An ice sculpture decorates Scotiabank Place as part of Hockey Day in Canada on Saturday. Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)

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About the Author
Ontario politics reporter

Jane Taber is a reporter at Queen’s Park. After spending three years reporting from the Atlantic, she has returned to Ontario and back to writing about her passion, politics. She spent 25 years covering Parliament Hill for the Ottawa Citizen, the National Post and the Globe and Mail. More

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