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Hello,

The holidays are nearly upon us, so why not take a moment for a bit of fun?

For years, Nova Scotia Liberal MP Rodger Cuzner would deliver a politics-tinged spin on the Christmas poem A Visit From St. Nicholas before the House of Commons rose for the holidays. Mr. Cuzner retired this fall after 19 years in the House. Now his tradition has been taken up by other members, on both sides of the aisle.

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Last Thursday, Liberal MP Anthony Housefather picked up the torch.

'Twas the last sitting week before Christmas

And who knew?

That Cuzner's Christmas poem tradition

Would be assumed by a Jew.

But whether we light the menorah

Or a big Christmas tree,

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Parliamentarians are asking for presents

On that, we agree.

For our Conservative colleagues

I know today has been a shock.

In the spirit of the holidays

l will go straight to the Bloc.

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And for the Bloc leader, flush with success

For Mr. Claus he had but one request.

When flying over Quebec, please remove that red suit.

It is a religious symbol and ugly, to boot.

For the NDP, pharmacare was on the list.

It is supported by the government, but they have requested a twist.

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They asked Santa, who is known for passing out candy,

To put dental care on the agenda. Would that not be dandy?

And when it comes to our PM

We know what he wants, all being equal,

No more hot mikes

And a new Star Wars sequel.

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I wish all members some holiday cheer.

Enjoy your family and friends, and maybe some beer.

And when we come back in January, let us see the light,

Let us work together for Canadians and let us get it right.

And on Friday, Conservative MP Scott Reid made a reply.

'Twas just before Christmas and the six-week long break,

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Which after six days of hard work, all we members must take.

The PM could not nestle all snug in his bed

Any time the election replayed in his head.

In votes he'd come second but of seats he'd won most

He had new-found love for first-past-the post.

Far more voters had liked the Conservative pitch

But we got fewer seats, which is just such a—let down.

The Bloc had 32 members including our Dean,

Who seems like he’s been here since 1915.

New Dems really miss Layton's vote-winning flair.

They may even miss Thomas Mulcair.

We're glad to be joined by our dear friends the Greens,

Three MPs from two coasts. Sadly, no in-betweens.

An independent MP is now here from B.C.,

Who's got plenty to say about SNC.

In a minority perhaps the best give we can give,

Is if we all learn to live and let live.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

Editor’s note: the Politics Briefing newsletter is going on hiatus for the holidays. Today is our last edition of 2019. We will be back in your inboxes on Monday, Jan. 6. Have a happy and safe holiday.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

According to his daily itinerary, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has started his holidays by getting some sun in Costa Rica. (One wonders if he’ll run into Brian Pallister while he’s down there.)

Since a unit of SNC-Lavalin pleaded guilty to fraud this week, more details are coming out about the firm’s dealings with the former Moammar Gadhafi regime in Libya. The agreed statement of facts between SNC-Lavalin and prosecutors say the company paid $47.7-million in cash, gifts and other expenses to secure $2-billion worth of contracts. For instance, newly disclosed details indicate SNC-Lavalin paid for an even bigger yacht for Mr. Gadhafi’s son than the one that was already publicly known. Still, the plea deal may not help Canada’s international reputation for fighting bribery.

The U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement has cleared the U.S. House of Representatives. It now must go to the Senate before President Donald Trump can sign it. The deal has to still be ratified by Canada’s Parliament, which isn’t sitting again until Jan. 27.

China has responded to Mr. Trudeau’s comments that the U.S. shouldn’t sign a trade deal with China until the country releases two Canadians who were arbitrarily detained last year. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Mr. Trudeau’s efforts to secure the Canadians’ release by talking about the trade deal was “totally in vain.”

Meanwhile, Chinese consulates in Toronto and Calgary are recruiting volunteers to be the governments “eyes, ears, mouths and hands” to ensure the “safety” of Chinese citizens in Canada.

The federal government says it is delaying a tax hike on stock options for highly paid executives so it can sort out which companies it applies to.

And the Northern Pulp mill near Pictou, N.S., is essentially dead. The pulp mill, which has operated for decades, has been the source of controversy because it pumps its waste into a nearby First Nation. Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil announced this morning he wasn’t going to give the company any more time to find an alternate place to leave its waste, and said the provincial government would create a $50-million fund to help the thousands of workers who will lose their jobs. “The company has had five years and a number of opportunities to get out of Boat Harbour, and to this point we aren’t even close to doing that,” he said.

Robyn Urback (The Globe and Mail) on Donald Trump’s impeachment: “Although the readout of the call between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky – along with witness testimony, phone records and evidence the President ordered executive branch and other government officials to defy subpoenas – all seem to confirm the President abused his office, Mr. Trump’s power as a leader has long been his ability to look at a dog, call it a cat and have his legions of blind supporters start making meowing noises.”

Rita Trichur (The Globe and Mail) on how the federal Liberals can work with conservative premiers: “Given recent strides by Alberta and Manitoba to lift some internal trade restrictions on their own, [Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia] Freeland would be wise to tap [Alberta Premier Jason] Kenney and [Manitoba Premier Brian] Pallister as her emissaries to mediate with holdouts. Such a non-partisan gesture could go a long way in garnering support for her efforts from Tories in a minority Parliament, especially since they pledged to break down interprovincial trade barriers during the federal election campaign.”

John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on Jean Charest’s possible bid to be federal Conservative leader: “So the former premier has baggage. If he won the leadership, there is a risk – although probably only a small one – that the party could rupture into its Red Tory and Reform wings, with the Liberals guaranteed another decade in power. All that said, there are first-tier candidates and second-tier candidates in any leadership race, and in this Conservative race Mr. Charest would belong emphatically in the first tier, along with former cabinet minister Peter MacKay and former interim leader Rona Ambrose. As a political performer, he would run circles around his opponents.”

Josephine Mathias (National Post) on Ms. Ambrose’s possible bid: “If there’s anyone that could put Mr. ‘because it’s 2015’ in his place, it has to be Ambrose. I would love to see Trudeau attempt to argue how much of a feminist he is with a woman who fights for women’s rights and has an actual degree in feminist studies.”

Andrew MacDougall (Ottawa Citizen) on a Prime Minister in need of a break?: “Watching Trudeau tick his way through his end-of-year interviews, you don’t get the impression of a man who is enjoying the less glamorous parts of the job (i.e. the actual work). Trudeau has never been a compelling interview, wedded as he is to tight scripts, but his focused grouped-word soup seems less persuasive than ever. His heart just doesn’t seem in it. Then again, Canadians didn’t exactly give Trudeau a ringing endorsement at the last political beauty pageant.”

Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on what remains unresolved in the SNC-Lavalin affair: “If prosecutors offered to settle with SNC-Lavalin on such advantageous terms, say, six months ago, when a DPA seemed off the table, why would the company not have accepted? If, on the other hand, the offer was made more recently – SNC-Lavalin was still filing papers in court as late as Nov. 26 seeking to overturn the prosecutors’ decision – what changed? What, other than the government’s re-election?”

Linda Nazareth (The Globe and Mail) on what could be in store for the economy next year: “The global economy went through a tough time in 2019, and the pitched trade battles between the United States and China took the world close to recession. Now, between some hope of an end to them, as well as hastily lowered interest rates around the world, the alarm bells are rescinding. That is a bullet dodged for Canada, which would have been dragged down with everyone else.”

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