Those people on the Hill sure like free food
The Canadian Pork Council held a BBQ on the Hill (free pulled pork sandwiches!) to publicize the safety of their product in the midst of swine flu panic. It was the longest lineup Capital Diary had ever seen for a Hill reception. The final 30 people did not even get meat—some of them grabbed buns to soak up the leftover liquid in the serving pan. New Democrat Peter Stoffer was one of the few MPs who waited his turn in the endless line, even when organizers tried to pull him to the front for preferential treatment. The line went slower when cabinet ministers like Gerry Ritz (Agriculture) and Jean-Pierre Blackburn (National Revenue) took over from staff to do the serving. Everyone from Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq to Grit Leader Michael Ignatieff was chomping down. Conservative MP Shelly Glover noted she loves ham. “My kids live off of it,” says the mother of five, who was elected in the last election. (She is on leave from the Winnipeg Police Service, where she used to investigate crack houses and went undercover as a sex-trade worker.) Quipped deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer at the BBQ: “This is the good kind of pork on Parliament Hill.”
Who knew Justin had a tattoo?
Last year, Nova Scotia Grit Mike Savage was the lone MP to take up the Canadian Paraplegic Association’s challenge to spend a day in a wheelchair. This year, several politicians participated, including Conservative MP Dona Cadman and senators such as Olympic skiing gold medallist Nancy Greene Raine. They experienced first-hand the challenges of being in a wheelchair—travelling over carpets or hitting inaccessible committee rooms on the Hill. The day ended with wheelchair races. When Justin Trudeau took on his Toronto Liberal colleague Martha Hall Findlay, he suggested she remove her jacket. When she did and it was revealed she was sleeveless underneath, Trudeau, who was already without a jacket and tie, stripped down to his sleeveless undershirt. (A few people were surprised to see a small tattoo of the earth on his upper left arm.) He won for fastest male MP, but beat Hall Findlay only by a slim margin. It should be noted, however, that Hall Findlay had a “wardrobe malfunction.” Her bra straps slipped off her shoulders and she had to pause to push them back up.
Why Mike Duffy buys two copies of the same book
There was an Ottawa launch for Ezra Levant’s new book Shakedown: How Our Government is Undermining Democracy in the Name of Human Rights. Levant is the journalist and Conservative activist called before the Alberta human rights commission after he published the controversial Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in the Western Standard. In a packed room at the Delta hotel, Levant emphasized the bipartisan nature of the event. It was sponsored by Conservative MP Rick Dykstra and Liberal MP Keith Martin. Many Tories attended; some Liberal MPs, including Paul Szabo, were there. Before his humorous introduction to guest speaker Mark Steyn, Levant made sure to show guests he was wearing Liberal party cufflinks. “I am a little embarrassed,” Steyn joked when he got to the podium, “at being introduced as a right-wing bastard after Ezra has successfully passed himself off as this bipartisan moderate centrist.” Mike Duffy bought two copies of the book. “One is for my wife,” noted the Conservative senator, “so we can read together in bed.”
That Oliphant guy is everywhere
The Oliphant inquiry into the Brian Mulroney/Karlheinz Schreiber epic is making one Liberal MP look good. Back in his Toronto riding, Rob Oliphant (who is not related to Justice Jeffrey Oliphant) keeps hearing his constituents tell him how busy he must be in Ottawa.