By Mitchel Raphael - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - 0 Comments
Why they skipped Poutine Week
There is always something to celebrate in the office of government House leader Peter Van Loan. His staff looks up what is special for each day on Hallmark’s theultimateholidaysite.com as well as thenibble.com, which has a food holiday for every day of the year. For National Croissant Day last month, one staffer had to go to two Tim Hortons outlets to get enough for everyone. For International Pancake Day, Van Loan prefers Estonian pancakes that are closer to crepes. On National Gingerbread Day, Van Loan takes matters into his own hands, whipping up batches himself using a Martha Stewart recipe. Last week was Montreal Poutine Week, but the office chose to not observe that one. “We stand in solidarity with the St. Albert cheese factory,” quipped one staffer. The factory, which is just southeast of Ottawa and a major supplier of poutine’s essential ingredient, cheese curds, burned down as poutine festivities got underway.
Ron Paul vs. RuPaul
Calgary Tory MP Michelle Rempel, a rising star in question period, was recently asked by a journalist what she thought of former congressman and Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul coming to Ottawa as part of the Manning Centre for Building Democracy’s conference in March. Rempel diplomatically said she respects “a diversity of opinions.” The truth is that Rempel prefers RuPaul over Ron Paul. She is a huge fan of the reality TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race, which has drag queens compete to become America’s next drag superstar. She watched last year’s season, which included contestants Jiggly Caliente, Madame LaQueer and Sharon Needles. The new season began on Jan. 28, but because she has only basic cable in Ottawa, Rempel asked her sister to record the show so she can catch up.
By Mitchel Raphael - Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 7:00 PM - 0 Comments
Some MP hotspots
While MPs can plug their laptops into an Internet connection at…
Some MP hotspots
While MPs can plug their laptops into an Internet connection at their House of Commons desks, there is no WiFi so they employ a patchwork of solutions. NDP MP Glenn Thibeault uses his BlackBerry to create a WiFi hotspot so he can use his iPad. Labour Minister Lisa Raitt keeps her speeches and all her question period notes on an iPad with 3G capabilities. Heritage Minister James Moore uses his iPhone to create a WiFi hotspot; he still uses paper for QP. Tech-savvy Tony Clement, president of the Treasury Board, does a paperless QP with his iPad. When his Treasury Board meets, they all work off iPads specially outfitted for security. Security is the big WiFi holdup for MPs. Heather Bradley, director of communications in Speaker Andrew Scheer’s office, notes: “There is a project, in the very early stages, to securely introduce WiFi technology within key areas where MPs conduct business on the Hill. There is no specific timeline available at the moment.” Perhaps one day the rest of the Hill can catch up to that vanguard of cutting-edge technology—the Senate. Currently the only WiFi on the Hill is in the Red Chamber.
Why the Peace Tower went white
Last week the Peace Tower went white for a day. “It’s very rare,” says Marjory LeBreton, leader of the government in the Senate, who has been on the Hill since the ’60s when she worked with John Diefenbaker. She said that because the parts of the Peace Tower exposed to the outside are not heated, an extreme shift in temperature can turn the stone white. Last week’s jump from freezing to 11.6˚ C set everything in motion. Continue…
By Mitchel Raphael - Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 11:22 PM - 0 Comments
MPs and Senators celebrated Chinese New Year at the Government Conference Centre in Ottawa….
MPs and Senators celebrated Chinese New Year at the Government Conference Centre in Ottawa. The event was put on by the Chinese New Year Celebration Committee. The Year of the Snake celebration saw Liberal Sen. Mac Harb was dressed as the God of Fortune.
By Mitchel Raphael - Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 10:15 PM - 0 Comments
MPs helped packed the ballroom of the Fairmont Château Laurier for a reception put…
MPs helped packed the ballroom of the Fairmont Château Laurier for a reception put on by the Dairy Farmers of Canada.
By Mitchel Raphael - Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 12:00 PM - 0 Comments
Pat Martin puts on his beaver hat for Idle No More, while Olivia Chow will be looking more serious after partial facial paralysis.
Pat Martin revisits the beaver?
Idle No More protesters greeted MPs for their first day back on the Hill for 2013. When NDP MP Pat Martin went out to support the protesters he put on his beaver fur hat, which he bought 20 years ago in the Yukon. He said it is not often that he gets to wear it. No word on whether the hat was a quiet reference to the infamous time he said in the House, when attacking the Conservatives for dismantling the Canadian Wheat Board, “The Canadian beaver will bite off its own testicles when it is threatened and offer them up to its tormentors.”
Why Chow is not smiling
Toronto NDP MP Olivia Chow has recovered slightly from a viral infection that left part of her face paralyzed. She can now close her left eye with some effort, something she was unable to do before. She still needs to use drops to keep it from drying out. She also has to massage the left side of her face and do blowing exercises as part of the healing process. She quipped that she will be looking more serious for a while because the partial paralysis is mostly visible when she smiles. Why it’s fun in the whip’s office Calgary Tory MP Michelle Rempel has spilled a Conservative secret. During House duty on the first day back, she popped into the office of chief government whip Gordon O’Connor, where she says there is always a stash of chocolates. She managed to score a few individually wrapped Turtles. Continue…
By Mitchel Raphael - Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 10:16 PM - 0 Comments
Mitchel Raphael takes in the Speaker’s second annual celebration of the Scottish bard
Speaker Andrew Scheer hosted his second a Robbie Burns dinner on Wednesday evening on Parliament Hill.
By Mitchel Raphael - Tuesday, January 29, 2013 at 5:00 AM - 0 Comments
‘This is a moment in history when change arrives,’ AFN chief Shawn Atleo said. ‘You are the change we’ve been waiting for.’
Hundreds of Idle No More protesters gathered on Parliament Hill on Monday to welcome MPs back to the start of the 2013 session.
“This is a moment in history when change arrives,” AFN chief Shawn Atleo told the crowd. “You are the change that we’ve been waiting for.”
By Mitchel Raphael - Saturday, January 26, 2013 at 10:38 PM - 0 Comments
The big Wynne! Kathleen Wynne wins the Ontario Liberal leadership race in Toronto. Teachers…
The big Wynne! Kathleen Wynne wins the Ontario Liberal leadership race in Toronto. Teachers and others protest outside (including an eagle).
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 11:00 AM - 0 Comments
Niki Ashton’s riding and Martha Hall Findlay’s new hair
Liberal leadership fatigue syndrome?
With a federal Liberal leadership campaign happening at the same time as the Ontario Liberal leadership, some Liberals are worried about leadership fatigue syndrome setting in and the fact they would be going to the same troughs to raise funds. Federal Liberal leadership contender Martha Hall Findlay says she has encountered many people who have been inundated by robocalls asking for donations to the provincial leadership campaigns. However, Hall Findlay says all these campaigns are overall a good thing, because “you have a whole lot of people and a whole lot of engaged Liberals.”
She has decided to go for shorter hair for this leadership campaign, with the help of Ernesto Domanico at Salon Solis in Toronto. She says she has not had short hair in over 25 years and had a bit of a complex about it. Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau has also opted for shorter hair, prompting this from Hall Findlay: “I think he has gone shorter than I have.”
Former Liberal MP Gerard Kennedy, who ran in the 2006 federal Liberal leadership race, is currently running in the Ontario provincial race. A twist is that this time around Kennedy is being praised for his French, compared to all the other candidates. In 2006 he was often attacked for his poor French. He says his decision not to run again federally was because he wanted to be close to his children, who both go to French school in Toronto. He says being home with his 10-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter is what has helped improve his French. Continue…
By Mitchel Raphael - Friday, January 11, 2013 at 1:22 PM - 0 Comments
Elizabeth May recalls going 17 days without food
On Dec 11, Theresa Spence began her hunger strike with only water, medicinal tea and fish broth as sustenance. Many opposition MPs spent time with the Attawapiskat chief to offer support. Some have had ﬁrst-hand experience with hunger strikes and fasts.
In 2001, Green leader Elizabeth May, then executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada, went on a 17-day hunger strike. She was demanding the Liberal government relocate families living near the Sydney Tar Ponds toxic waste site in Cape Breton. Once health minister Allan Rock agreed to meet her demands, she ate a strawberry. Her choice of what to eat first came from a friend who said it was a First Nations tradition. Continue…
By Mitchel Raphael - Friday, January 4, 2013 at 1:59 PM - 0 Comments
Sitting MPs include a cage fighter, a Karate sensei and a Canadian Forces nurse
As Parliament wound down for 2012 it literally almost came to blows between Government House leader Peter Van Loan (known as PVL on the Hill) and two Opposition members: NDP House leader Nathan Cullen and NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair. PVL was upset at Cullen because the NDP attempted to use procedure to delay the budget and force another vote on the bill. PVL came over and told Cullen to never try that again. This is far cry from when Cullen and Van Loan started working together as House leaders and PVL made him a cake to welcome him into his new position. (Van Loan is known to dabble in Martha Stewart recipes).
If tensions continue to boil over once Parliament resumes, and things get physical again, it’s opportune to consider the fighting strengths of all the official national parties. If it comes to a fight on the floor of the House of Commons, here then are the politicians to watch: Continue…
By Mitchel Raphael - Friday, December 14, 2012 at 10:44 AM - 0 Comments
Mitchel Raphael on the minister’s favourtie musical and wine issues at the Liberal party
What Raitt expects under the tree
On Dec. 25 expect to find Labour Minister Lisa Raitt in the movie theatre watching Les Misérables. She is a huge fan, having seen the musical twice in London and twice in Toronto. The song I Dreamed a Dream, she confessed, makes her cry every time—but only in the context of the play. That means no tears were shed for Susan Boyle, the underdog who sang it famously on Britain’s Got Talent. Raitt has told her partner Bruce Wood that advance Les Misérables movie tickets “better be under the Christmas tree.”
Someone is posing
It was a rare moment of cross-partisanship on the Hill, with politicians from opposite sides coming together for a photo op. But there’s no shared version of events as to how that photo came about. Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau told Capital Diary that Tory MP Eve Adams was hosting a group of visitors, including one from her home city of Mississauga, Ont., and asked him if he would pose for a picture with them. They went to the House foyer for better lighting. Adams, however, says it was Trudeau who asked her group if they wanted a picture, though she did join in for the snap. Trudeau says opposition MPs asking him to pose with people, even constituents, “happens all the time.”
By Mitchel Raphael - Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 9:59 PM - 0 Comments
The Fairmont Château Laurier held their annual holiday party with everything from sushi to…
The Fairmont Château Laurier held their annual holiday party with everything from sushi to plum pudding.
By Mitchel Raphael - Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 11:54 PM - 0 Comments
Mitchel Raphael celebrates the season with the Opposition
The NDP held their annual holiday party in the Hall of Honour. Great lighting, booze bars, an oyster bar and food stations were spread over the Hall and and adjoining meeting rooms. It was one of the best parties held on the Hill.
By Mitchel Raphael - Monday, December 10, 2012 at 11:35 AM - 0 Comments
Mitchel Raphael on which MP had the winning Colonel Sanders moustache
Lanny McDonald, Tom Selleck and the NDP
The NDP held a facial-hair contest at their watering hole Brixton’s to mark the end of Movember, the month-long campaign that uses moustaches to promote awareness of prostate cancer. NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair and MP Olivia Chow were the judges. The first category was the Jack Layton moustache. With so many young people in the NDP, Chow quipped that many were “early Layton moustaches.” In the end, the winner was Nova Scotia MP Robert Chisholm for his older version of the Layton ’stache. Most intimidating moustache, named after Calgary Flames Lanny McDonald, was a draw between MPs Fin Donnelly and Jean Rousseau. NDP staffer François Soucy took home the honour of raising the most money for prostate cancer and was given a DVD set of Magnum, P.I., starring moustache icon Tom Selleck. The “Mo’ sister” award went to MP Alexandrine Latendresse. Mulcair decided to create a new category on the spot, “The best Colonel Sanders,” which went to MP Malcolm Allen’s white whiskers. Mulcair didn’t opt for a moustache for Movember. He has had his beard since he was 18. He only shaved it all off once when he and his wife, Catherine Mulcair, went in costume for a performance of Grease—no one recognized him without a beard and wearing a leather biker jacket. Another time he shaved off everything but a moustache and again people did not recognize him. His wife said he needs to just keep the beard.
Damn those McDonald’s smoothies
Joan Crockatt, the Conservative candidate who won the recent Calgary Centre by-election, was on the Hill last week for some orientation. She says that, as a former journalist, she is aware of some of the pitfalls of being a new politician, including the endless receptions where one can pack on the pounds. Toward the end of the campaign, she said, “I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t losing weight door-knocking.” Then she realized the problem. During the by-election, she developed an addiction to McDonald’s smoothies—pomegranate, in particular. Continue…
By Mitchel Raphael - Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at 10:02 PM - 0 Comments
Photos by Mitchel Raphael
Liberals gathered at the Westin Hotel for their annual holiday party. Northern Ontario MP Bruce Hyer, who quit the NDP to sit as an Independent, was the date of Liberal leadership candidate and MP Joyce Murray.
By Mitchel Raphael - Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at 12:55 PM - 0 Comments
House leader Peter Van Loan with a basket of candy. WIll leave the captions…
House leader Peter Van Loan with a basket of candy. WIll leave the captions to the readers :)
By Mitchel Raphael - Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at 12:21 PM - 0 Comments
Yesterday leaders attending the Assembly of First Nations annual meeting took their their battle…
Yesterday leaders attending the Assembly of First Nations annual meeting took their their battle to the Hill. They protested against the budget bill being voted on that night and then had a spontaneous face-to-face meeting with Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver after they were led into the House of Commons foyer by NDP MP Charlie Angus. Northern Ontario MP Angus said he asked Oliver to meet some of the chiefs and the minister obliged. Some chiefs tried to force their way into the House but were met by security.
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, November 29, 2012 at 12:17 AM - 0 Comments
Nestlé Canada held a special reception at The Westin Ottawa for MPs and folks…
Nestlé Canada held a special reception at The Westin Ottawa for MPs and folks on the Hill. The night highlighted some of their products. “You make Häagen-Dazs” was a popular line when people found out Nestlé Canada had the rights to produce it in this country.
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, November 29, 2012 at 12:02 AM - 0 Comments
My Babysitter’s a Vampire won this year’s Shaw Rocket Prize of $50,000. The award …
My Babysitter’s a Vampire won this year’s Shaw Rocket Prize of $50,000. The award recognizes the best in Canadian kids’ programming. On hand to help with the presentation at the Fairmont Château Laurier was Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, Diane Finley.
By Mitchel Raphael - Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 9:50 PM - 0 Comments
A photo gallery by Mitchel Raphael
MPs and Hill staff gathered at the Government Conference Centre for the annual All-Party Party — an opportunity for MPs to thank those who sweep their floors and carry their binders.