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The Liberals likely got a real taste of what it's like to be the third party in Parliament today.

Interim Leader Bob Rae scheduled a 12 p.m. news conference to announce the assignments he's given to his 34 MPs for critic roles, house leader etc.

But he had to push it back while the press gallery was absorbed in a news conference with B.C. regional minister James Moore and other B.C. Tories, celebrating the Vancouver Canucks Stanley Cup chances.

Hockey always seems to take precedence in this country, but it most certainly will take precedence over an announcement of a third party's critic roles.

Rae tried to slough off suggestions the party was going to struggle to find attention, noting there were many members of the national press corps gathered to hear what he had to say.

"This doesn't feel like oblivion to me," he said.

Manitoba's lone Liberal, Kevin Lamoureux, has a not insignificant role in the new caucus. The MP for Winnipeg North was named deputy house leader and the critic for immigration and citizenship. The first role brings with it a small salary bump of $5,684 and a little bit of cachet in the reduced Liberal caucus, especially for an MP first elected just six months ago.

The immigration critic role Lamoureux takes on is fitting since matters of immigration and helping constituents navigate Canada's system, have been central to much of his work as a politician, first provincially and now federally. He takes the job from Justin Trudeau, who was the official opposition critic for immigration in the last parliament and actually achieved a significant amount of respect for his work on the file.

Trudeau, considered a contender for the permanent Liberal leadership when it is decided in about two years time, was relegated by Rae to post-secondary education critic. It's a smaller file to be sure.

Is this Rae rewarding Lamoureux for being one of his chief supporters over the last seven years? (Lamoureux was one of the only higher profile Manitoba Liberals to back Rae's leadership bid from the start in 2006 and served as his Manitoba campaign co-chair). Or is Trudeau being moved to give him a smaller portfolio on the hill and leave him with more time to ponder a run at the leadership?

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About Mia Rabson

Mia Rabson is a born and bred Winnipegger whose interest in politics seemed clear when she dressed up as Prime Minister Brian Mulroney for Halloween in the 7th grade.

Her interest in writing was no surprise to her parents, who learned early in Mia’s life that no piece of blank paper — or wall, for that matter — was safe in her hands.

She holds an honours BA in English from Queen’s University, a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Western Ontario, and has completed a political journalism fellowship in Washington, D.C. with the Washington Centre for Politics and Journalism.

Prior to working for the Winnipeg Free Press, Mia briefly worked for the Detroit News in the paper’s Washington bureau.

Mia joined the Free Press team in February 2001, and in April 2001 was appointed to the Manitoba legislature bureau. In December 2004, she was appointed bureau chief at the legislature. She became the newspaper’s parliamentary bureau chief/national reporter in Ottawa in January 2008.

In 2008 she was nominated for a Michener Award with a team of reporters from the Free Press for its coverage of the province’s child welfare system.

She counts reliving the invasion at Dieppe, France, with veterans of the failed Second World War expedition and overcoming her fear of heights to touch the Golden Boy statue atop the Legislative Building among her favourite experiences as a reporter.

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