1. It's all about the economy and Finance Minister Joe Oliver insists he's staying the government course, notwithstanding plunging international oil prices that have blown a multibillion-dollar hole in federal revenues and delayed the delivery of the 2015-16 budget until at least April, after the fiscal year-end. New Democrats and Liberals believe they've found a fresh crack in the Conservatives' economic armour and spent most of the first question period Monday challenging the government's fiscal management.
2. Conservative House leader Peter Van Loan framed the spring sitting of the Commons with an address to reporters that mentioned taxes seven times and "strong" leadership six times. Conservative tax-cutters in a dangerous world, backed by new anti-terror laws and more tough-on-crime bills, is the campaign-tested government brand.
3. NDP Leader Tom Mulcair's first three questions in the House revolved around the Canadian military being drawn into a ground war in Iraq. Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau also explored the subject during his initial round of questions. A debate over extending Canada's six-month mission against the Islamic State — and defining Canada's military role — appears likely to be a dominant theme this spring.
4. New Democrats are calling for an economic "reality check" from the government to summarize the current state of the economy in light of the decision to delay the budget. The Conservatives used a similar demand for "report cards" from the Liberals during the 2009 global financial crisis to stage a series of campaign-style town hall meetings the Liberals soon came to regret.
5.The government is promising new anti-terrorism legislation later this week in response to last fall's deadly domestic attacks on soldiers in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., and Ottawa. Civil libertarians may be concerned about the impact of new laws on the right to free speech and dissent, but in Parliament this was the dog that didn't bark Monday, with nary an opposition probe. "Of course one of the most important things is to protect Canadians," Mulcair told reporters after question period. "We're going to wait and see what is actually in the bill."
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