Good Tuesday morning, Prime Minister JUSTIN TRUDEAU and his cabinet are expected to hold their regular weekly meeting today at 10 a.m. Whatever could they have to talk about? Trudeau hadn’t spoken publicly about the protest-turned-occupation of Ottawa in a few days as of yesterday afternoon, and reporters and various public figures had begun to question why. The PM waded back in during an emergency debate on the subject last night. He noted that vaccine mandates had been a key issue in the recent election. Referencing the protest directly, he said that people have the right to protest, but not to block streets or harass others. "People of Ottawa don't deserve to be harassed in their own neighbourhoods," he said, or subject to "insults and jeers just because they're wearing a mask." Or, as he put it more succinctly a few moments later: "This pandemic has sucked, for all Canadians." Indeed it has. A handful of cabinet ministers also held a press conference earlier in the day to discuss the issue alongside Ottawa Centre MP YASIR NAQVI. A common hatred for Trudeau seems to be the best explanation for why the protesters have descended upon Ottawa to demonstrate against vaccine mandates, masking requirements, and business lockdowns, many of which have been imposed by provincial governments. Perhaps the PM’s decision not to castigate them on a daily basis isn’t such a bad one, with emotions running high throughout the downtown. What's going on in Parliament? While Ottawa residents bear the brunt of harassment and assault from the out-of-towners, the business of Parliament continues. Today is an opposition day in the House of Commons, and it’s the Conservative caucus’ turn to decide what MPs will debate. A sign displayed by protesters occupying downtown Ottawa. The Hill Times photograph by Sam Garcia The Conservatives' choice? A proposal to delete a clause from the Saskatchewan Act, a part of Canada’s Constitution that created the province in 1905, that made the Canadian Pacific Railway exempt from paying taxes in the province. PTM will spare you the technicalities of what has become a legal battle involving the company and multiple jurisdictions. (But if you don’t want to be spared, the Canadian Press’ MICKEY DJURIC broke it down here.) As you may recall, the Conservatives are in a bit of a state at the moment. The caucus ousted ERIN O’TOOLE from his post as party leader, and seems to be seriously considering Making Canada Great Again. CANDICE BERGEN, O’Toole’s former deputy, has taken over as interim leader while the cumbersome contest to select a full-time replacement begins. Bergen is a veteran MP from rural Manitoba, and a former Conservative opposition House leader, a role that involves coordinating how opposition MPs respond to government legislation, and use their time in the House of Commons. Her likes include the freedom convoy, and her dislikes include the journalists in the Parliamentary Press Gallery (though she did make time for many interviews with PTM back in her House leader days.) The purge didn’t end with O’Toole. House Leader GÉRARD DELTELL was given the boot in favour of JOHN BRASSARD. Moderate Tories have been chased out of the inner and not-so-inner circles of the caucus, including MP ALAIN RAYES and Senator DENNIS PATTERSON. Noted rhetorician PIERRE POILIEVRE is, at the moment, considered the front-runner to replace O’Toole atop the party, no doubt to the delight of the party base, and the despair of NDP strategists, who presumably can already sense nervous Liberal-to-NDP converts preparing to flee back to safety. Legislation corner Remember Jan. 31? It was a simpler time, and Government House Leader MARK HOLLAND, whilst laying out his legislative priorities for reporters, was optimistically proclaiming that the House of Commons was working well, and that he was “here to say that it’s going to continue doing that.” PTM has a sneaking suspicion that the good times will soon come to an end. The new True Blue Conservative leadership group may wish to be seen to be jamming things up in Parliament a little more than they have recently, and the governing Liberals may also decide they can make political hay by goading the Conservatives into doing so. Let’s hope PTM is wrong. Down to business, though: the government gave notice of a new bill yesterday. It’s titled An Act to amend the Old Age Security Act (Guaranteed Income Supplement). Since it hasn’t yet been introduced into the House, that’s all we know about it—strictly speaking, the government can’t reveal the content of bills to the public before they are shown to Members of Parliament (though governments leak like sieves when it behooves them to do so). We do know that the Liberals promised during the election campaign to bump up the Guaranteed Income Supplement by $500 for single seniors and $750 for senior couples, starting at the age of 65. Photo of the day A man waves a Canadian flag on Saturday, Feb. 5 as part of a weeklong effort by protesters, who want all COVID restrictions and mandates lifted, and have shut down Ottawa's downtown core. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade Open letter inbox Ottawa Mayor JIM WATSON sent two open letters yesterday—one to Trudeau and Public Safety Minister MARCO MENDICINO and another to Ontario Premier DOUG FORD and Solicitor General SYLVIA JONES—requesting significantly more police officers to help the overwhelmed Ottawa Police Service to, in his words, “take back the streets of Ottawa, and our parliamentary precinct, from the criminal activity and hooliganism that has transpired over the last nine days.” Watson asked for the feds and province to contribute 1,800 additional officers between them. What are the pollsters saying? Abacus Data pollster DAVID COLETTO announced on Twitter yesterday that he had polled 500 Ottawa residents about the protesters occupying their city. It turns out, Ottawans aren’t too fond of it: two-thirds of residents, and a majority of every demographic measured, oppose the protest. Opposition was strongest among Liberal and NDP supporters. Even among Conservative supporters, 64 per cent disapproved, while 25 per cent approved, and 11 per cent held no opinion. Woe betide the next Tory to run in Ottawa Centre. There was a noticeable split between age groups: 30 per cent of respondents aged 18 to 44 support the protest, while 57 per cent opposed. Among those aged 45 or over, support fell to 16 per cent, and opposition grew to 75 per cent. Prime Minister Trudeau’s response to the occupation was rated as poor by 56 per cent of respondents, giving him a worse score than Mayor Watson, Premier Ford, Ottawa’s City Council, or the Ottawa Police Service. What else is happening today? The Senate returns to action today after a long winter break. Senators will have committee meetings and a long list of private member’s bills to attend to, but there is still no government legislation within shouting distance of the Senate. At 1 p.m. Canada’s correctional investigator, IVAN ZINGER, will hold a press conference to discuss his 2020-21 annual report. Zinger’s job is to act as an ombudsperson for federal offenders, investigate their complaints, and suggest ways to improve the federal prison system to the government. Thirteen House Committees are meeting today, including the Procedure and House Affairs Committee, which is receiving a private briefing on security risks for MPs at 11 a.m. from security officials with the House of Commons and Parliamentary Protective Service. The Senate Ethics Committee is also meeting in camera at 5 p.m. to discuss the Ethics and Conflict of Interest Code for Senators (you know what they say, there’s no disinfectant like the shade cast by closed doors). In case you missed it The government axed another fossil fuel project proposed for construction in Quebec yesterday. Using the terms of the Harper-era Environmental Assessment Act (which applied when the review of the project began), Environment Minister STEVEN GUILBEAULT decided that the Énergie Saguenay Project, which proposed an export terminal for liquified natural gas in La Baie, Saguenay, would cause “significant adverse environmental effects.” So, no terminal for GNL Québec Inc. In The Hill Times On Hilltimes.com, LAURA RYCKEWAERT has an update on the massive Centre Block renovation project, and the latest on the staffing situation in Seniors Minister KAMAL KHERA’s office. If you don’t live or work in downtown Ottawa, you can see for yourself what the protest looks like by checking out a slideshow of photos from Hill Times photographer ANDREW MEADE. Send your news tips and Poilievre 2024 campaign slogans to email@example.com.