Roundup: Keystone XL and paper cuts

The US State Department released their draft environmental impact statement for the Keystone XL pipeline yesterday. While it’s not final approval, it certainly doesn’t see any particular environmental problems, but it now invites input, which will likely mean an intensification of the protests taking place on both sides of the border. The one point that seems to be most contentious is the assertion that without the pipeline that the oilsands will continue to expand – environmentalists seem to disagree on this point, but I have a hard time seeing their point. The development may not expand at the same rate (which is not necessarily a bad thing either), but operations will expand regardless, and market forces will find other means ensuring that the bitumen is transported to where it needs to go, be it by an alternate pipeline, or even by rail.

Elizabeth Thompson looks at the Achilles’ heel that Claude Patry’s defection exposes in the NDP around their adoption of soft nationalists in the party, and how the Bloc has laid a trap for them with their bill to repeal the Clarity Act. Chantal Hébert says that the wound of Patry’s defection is more of a paper cut and less of a puncture wound for the NDP. Aaron Wherry looks at the three departures from the NDP (so far) and while he doesn’t see an obvious pattern, I would say that the iron-fisted caucus discipline might be it – not just votes, but backroom discipline in various other means as well. I’ve heard this from people more familiar with Lise St-Denis’ reasons for leaving, Bruce Hyer hasn’t been shy about saying so, and Daniel Paillé suggested that was one of the reasons that Patry was also unhappy with the NDP. If three is a trend this may be it.

The Senate is doing another top-to-bottom review of its spending rules and controls in light of the recent controversies. They had approved new rules back in June of 2012 after the review by the Auditor General of their systems, and now have decided to further strengthen them – which isn’t such a bad thing. Meanwhile, it seems that the question of Senator Mike Duffy’s residency isn’t as settled as Senator Marjory LeBreton suggested on Thursday, and in fact it seems that the legal opinion has not yet been rendered, and Senator Duffy could yet lose his seat. Tabatha Southey turns her sardonic eye on Senator Duffy and his residency issues, and it’s a delightful read.

The CBC has obtained documents that detail the suggested way for EI auditors to conduct their random home audits, including the kinds of questions to be asked for both checks into special benefits – like maternity leave – or for regular benefits. The opposition, not surprisingly, is crying foul.

An analysis of the new electoral boundaries shows that the NDP might have picked up an extra couple of seats based on the 2011 data – but that is certainly no guarantee of what the next election will look like, with a whole different set of leaders and variables in play.

Susan Delacourt writes about the need to look at quality and not just quantity when it comes to evaluating the impact of women in the political sphere – including in the journalism world. Just because there are more in the sphere, it doesn’t always mean that real gains have been made.

Tony Clement made a big deal of holding the first ministerial Google hangout. Wait – is Google+ still a Thing? I thought it remained dead on arrival, like their attempt at a Twitter rival?

Here are the three things you need to see from last night’s political shows, which seems focused on ways in which American political decisions (or inaction) is affecting us.

And to start your weekend off right, here is a story on the Dachshund UN performance art piece.

Up this weekend: It’s the fourth Liberal leadership debate, from Halifax. We’ve had one elimination so far – is it too much to hope for a couple more?