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Senate, election bill to dominate as Parliament resumes after Easter break

The Peace Tower is seen on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on November 5, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

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The Peace Tower is seen on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on November 5, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA - Members of Parliament are back to work in Ottawa today after a two-week break, and it's going to be a fast-paced return with Senate and electoral reform both on the hot topics list.

The Senate will be front and centre again as MPs discuss Friday's pronouncements by the Supreme Court of Canada.

The high court told the Harper government that any significant reforms to the Senate would require the consent of a majority of provinces, and abolishing it would require unanimous approval.

As that unfolds, a lawyer for suspended senator Patrick Brazeau will be in court.

Christian Deslauriers is to appears on behalf of Brazeau, who is facing fraud and breach of trust charges in connection with the Senate expenses scandal.

Expect much debate as well over the Conservative government's proposed Fair Elections Act, Bill C-23.

Quebec's Chief Electoral Officer Jacques Drouin will get the ball rolling as he appears at the Commons house affairs committee studying the bill.

The debate will continue in question period in the House of Commons after Pierre Poilievre, the minister for democratic reform, announced amendments Friday to many contentious aspects of the bill.

Here are some other events happening in and around Ottawa:

— Petty officer James Wilks will face a sentencing hearing in a Gatineau, Quebec court. A court martial found him guilty of 25 out of 26 breach of trust and sexual assault charges last November. Sixteen complainants testified during the case that centred on work he did while doing medical examinations;

— Statistics Canada releases a study that examines the factors that influenced the wage gap between young high school graduates and bachelor degree holders over the last decade;

— The Parliamentary Budget Officer releases a report that gazes into a crystal ball to predict how the economy will fare this year;

— Maj.-Gen. Michael Day, the Chief of Force Development at National Defence, appears at a Senate committee to discuss the status of Canada's international security and defence relations with the US, NATO and NORAD;

— Immigration Minister Chris Alexander appears at a Commons committee to discuss Bill C-24, the Strengthening the Canadian Citizenship Act;

— Status of Women Minister Kellie Leitch is set to appear along with department officials at a Commons committee to talk about her department's spending estimates.

— And leaders in the global effort to pre-emptively ban so-called "Killer Robots" will present an in-depth look at the problems with autonomy in weapons and discuss an upcoming meeting on the issue at the United Nations.

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