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Karl Nerenberg has been reporting on federal politics from Parliament Hill for rabble.ca since September, 2011. In his long career, he has won numerous awards as a broadcaster and documentary filmmaker.
On the first day of the Mike Duffy trial, both the prosecution and the defence made arguments that were damaging to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his inner circle.
Crown Prosecutor Mark Holmes said, "Sen. Duffy was probably ineligible to sit in the Senate as a representative of Prince Edward Island."
Holmes added that this trial will not decide that thorny constitutional question.
But folks in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) must have collectively winced when they heard that assertion from a non-partisan public official.
The PMO had, it seems, made great efforts to establish that Duffy could be a Prince Edward Island resident for the purpose of representing that province in the Senate, but not for the Senate expense rules.
There are two lessons we can learn from the trial of Senator Mike Duffy even before it gets very far.
First, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has happily used the Senate not for its constitutional purpose but rather to provide taxpayer-funded, partisan star power to his Conservative Party.
And second, behind the shield of a compliant parliamentary majority, Harper's taxpayer-funded Prime Minister's Office (PMO) has become as much a partisan agency of the Conservative Party as an office of the government of Canada.
When the Prime Minister appointed Duffy and Pamela Wallin to the Upper House he knew they did not live in the provinces for which they were appointed.
The Constitution specifies rather few qualifications for Senators.
It is two out of three for the North American continent.
The United States and Mexico have both submitted detailed and ambitious plans for combatting climate change to the United Nations, ahead of the Paris meeting that will try to forge a new climate change agreement in December of this year.
The U.S. plan relies on the authority of the President, since the Republican-controlled Congress would not likely agree to any serious anti-global warming measures.
It includes regulations to make steep cuts in emissions from cars and power plants, coupled with a speedy timetable.
The plan assumes that President Obama will formulate and put in place all necessary regulations before he leaves office less than two years from now.
The Prime Minister has announced that Canada will renew its commitment to participate in military action against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also know as ISIS), for one year.
Canada's role, which began six month ago, is supposed to be limited to air strikes and training of Iraqi government and Kurdish forces, behind the actual battle lines.
Canadian troops are not mandated to participate in ground, offensive action. But it seems, in the field, there is no clear demarcation between active participation in combat and training. So far, one Canadian has been killed in action, by friendly fire from Kurdish forces.