Labour Minister Lisa Raitt and her partner, Bruce Wood, got to pet a small Siberian tiger at this year’s Dragon Ball in Toronto. The mega gala, which celebrated the Year of the Tiger, raises money for the Yee Hong Centre for Geriatric Care. Raitt couldn’t wait to tell her kids about the tiger because they are now a cat family: they have two twin orange felines, Mojo and Saffi. Raitt was a dog person until Laureen Harper convinced her that cats were the way to go. Because they need less attention they are ideal pets for a busy politician.
Also in attendance at the Dragon Ball was NDP Leader Jack Layton, who had just announced the day before that he has prostate cancer, and his wife, MP Olivia Chow. Layton was in a grey traditional Chinese outfit that he wore on his wedding day. Chow was in a vintage purple dress she picked up in Toronto’s Kensington market for $29. Chow says her mother, Ho Sze Chow, is working on traditional Chinese treatments to supplement Layton’s medical treatments, adding, “The Eastern diet is good for prostate cancer because it is light on meat and is mostly vegetarian and fish.” Olivia says her mother is “making lots of brews and getting a lot of advice from her friends in Chinatown.” Layton, who is a coffee drinker, is also getting a lot more green tea from Ho Sze Chow. He was told tea is better than coffee for cancer patients, prompting Chow’s mom to say “I told you so” to her son-in-law. After his cancer announcement, Layton received kind words from Stephen Harper, Gilles Duceppe, and Michael Ignatieff, in that order.
his new face
HIS NEW FACE
Tears of joy flowed at the Vietnamese ambassador’s residence as dignitaries such as Laureen Harper gathered to say goodbye to Son Pham. The boy had a growth the size of a football on his face, but with the help of the Children’s Bridge Foundation, which raised $500,000 for his treatment, the orphan was brought to Canada from Vietnam and eventually had 26 medical procedures in Boston over two years to remove the growth. Air Canada covered the cost of his flights. Son will need more surgeries down the road, but the 12-year-old can breathe and talk easier. Vietnamese ambassador Nguyen Duc Hung noted that Son can now play soccer and even golf.
KIDS IN THE HOUSE
During the summer, folks taking Hill tours get to walk onto the floor of the Commons. During the January winter break, though, tours are not allowed in. Even with prorogation and a House that will be empty until March, the tours are not allowed inside unless a sitting MP or past MP gets special permission from the sergeant-at-arms, Kevin Vickers. One security guard says the carpets are a mess after the summer tours, so perhaps that is why they are avoiding letting the public in during prorogation. Former Liberal MP Jean Augustine was recently on the Hill and got the okay to bring students inside. The kids were shown the Prime Minister’s and Michael Ignatieff’s front-bench seats. Accompanying the group was Toronto Liberal MP Kirsty Duncan, who noted that as a new MP she sits in the back. Would the students prefer sitting in the back or the front, she asked. “The back!” they shouted in unison.
CLOSE CALL FOR ODA
Before the Haitian disaster, Minister of International Co-operation Bev Oda was booked to fly to Haiti and Bolivia. Initially, she was going to go to Haiti first and then Bolivia. The order of the trips got switched, which was fortunate for her because had it not, she would have been in Haiti during the earthquake. She was booked into the Hotel Montana, a popular place for diplomats. It was destroyed in the quake.