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Grits to go back to work: Iggy

OTTAWA – Liberal MPs and senators will return to work as scheduled in the nation's capital later this month, even though Parliament has been suspended until early March.

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff informed his caucus during a conference call Tuesday that he expects them to report for work on Jan. 25.

He told caucus members they can't let Prime Minister Stephen Harper get away with shutting down Parliament and stifling debate.

The move is intended to capitalize on what Liberal strategists believe is a groundswell of public opposition to Harper's decision to prorogue or suspend Parliament until March 3.

"We think there's lots of work to do even if the government doesn't," said one Liberal involved in the call.

Still, Liberals want to avoid anything that might be dismissed as a partisan stunt. To that end, insiders say there'll be no mock Parliament or banging on the padlocked doors of the House of Commons.

Rather, they'll do things like hold roundtable discussions with experts on a variety of issues in a bid to show Liberal MPs and senators busy constructively addressing the issues that matter most to Canadians.

The insider said Liberals are also open to continuing unofficial hearings into the treatment of Afghan detainees, provided all opposition parties work together to ensure the hearings don't devolve into "an overtly partisan event."

The all-party committee that had been holding hearings into the detainee issue ceased to exist when Harper prorogued Parliament.

Opposition critics contend Harper prorogued precisely so that he could silence the controversy that's been raging over allegations that prisoners handed over by Canadian soldiers to Afghan authorities were tortured.

Joan Bryden reports for The Canadian Press.

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