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Potential suitors for Stephen Harper's job speak at right-wing conference

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OTTAWA - Preston Manning once tried to convince Reform Party activists to "Think Big" as they pondered joining Progressive Conservatives.

There'll be a lot of big thinking going on in Ottawa today as the Manning Networking Conference holds its annual gathering.

Among the speakers slated to put on their thinking caps are Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, federal cabinet ministers James Moore, Jason Kenney and Tony Clement, and CIBC chairman Jim Prentice.

Moore, Kenney, Clement and Prentice all have one thing in common — they have all at one time or another been touted by political pundits as potential successors to Prime Minister Stephen Harper as Conservative party leader.

Ontario Tory leader Tim Hudak will speak at the event. Hudak is also slated to speak to the Economic Club of Canada.

Among the other happenings in and around Ottawa today:

— Liberal MP Irwin Cotler holds a news conference to discuss "breaking the silence" on behalf of political prisoners.

— And Statistics Canada releases the Canadian economic accounts for the fourth-quarter of 2013, along with the gross domestic product figures by industry for December.

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