By Mitchel Raphael - Tuesday, November 27, 2012 - 0 Comments
Scene and be seen around Parliament
The five events that matter most to Ottawa’s power brokers:
Politics and the Pen
Press Gallery Dinner
Each press gallery member is allowed to bring a limited number of guests, and MPs jockey for an invite. It’s also a chance for MPs to redeem themselves for past mistakes through self-mockery.
National Arts Centre Gala
Laureen Harper chairs this arts/corporate/political elite event, which raises funds for young artists. Sarah McLachlan and Chinese pianist Lang Lang have performed, as has Laureen’s other half, on piano.
Minister Moore’s Movie Night
Held in various museums, galleries and at the NAC, MPs line up to have their photos taken with the stars at Heritage Minister James Moore’s movie and music nights, highlighting the best in Canadian culture.
Held in a 262-seat theatre, this fundraiser to help young cancer patients learn about fertility options has become one of Ottawa’s hottest intimate tickets. Rick Mercer hosts; Jann Arden’s performed twice.
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, November 22, 2012 at 12:59 AM - 0 Comments
Photo gallery from a party of parties at the Château Laurier
MPs, senators and the media gathered in the Adam Room of the The Fairmont Château Laurier for the 6th annual Parliamentarians of the Year awards ceremony.
Green Leader Elizabeth May was named Parliamentarian of the Year. Follow this link to a complete list of results.
By Mitchel Raphael - Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 10:32 PM - 0 Comments
The Royal Canadian Geographical Society held their 2012 Fellows Dinner in Ottawa at the…
The Royal Canadian Geographical Society held their 2012 Fellows Dinner in Ottawa at the Museum of Civilization. Dan Aykroyd and his wife Donna Dixon-Aykroyd were inducted into the College of Fellows.
By Mitchel Raphael - Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 6:50 AM - 0 Comments
Mitchel Raphael on Baird’s Crown jewels and Rae’s bondage moment
Baird on the Crown jewels
The star of the 2012 Press Gallery Dinner was Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird. In a mock awards ceremony, Baird was given the Rule Britannia Award for combining resources between Canadian and British diplomatic missions. He beat out Peter MacKay for bringing back the word “royal” to the Navy and Air Force. In a satirical acceptance speech, Baird said he considered other mergers, like combining the CBC with the BBC, but when the BBC was told they would have to take Power and Politics host Evan Solomon “they told us to f–k off.” He joked that there was talk of a display of the Crown jewels in Ottawa but “unfortunately Prince Harry was not available.”
Tory Sen. Patrick Brazeau received the Bad Sport Award for being famously beaten by Justin Trudeau in the boxing ring. Brazeau said all the Liberals should be thanking him “because if I had won, Justin Trudeau would have never run for the Liberal leadership race.” Trudeau was absent from this year’s dinner. One of his leadership organizers noted: “There are no votes here.” Another dinner regular, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, was also absent. One of his staffers noted: “There are no votes here.” Kenney was busy getting a diversity award at the MidWeek South Asian Awards of Excellence in Toronto.
Tory MP John Williamson sported a black velvet jacket, which he says he wears only on Halloween and at Press Gallery dinners. He bought the jacket 20 years ago at a Ralph Lauren outlet sale. Tory Sen. Nancy Ruth wore a head-turning sparkling necklace of flowers. “I could have sold my necklace 20 times,” she said of the reaction to her jewellery all night.
The gallery dinner was hosted by La Presse’s Joël-Denis Bellavance and CTV’s Daniele Hamamdjian, who asked attendees to tweet as to who they felt was the politician most like Christian Grey, the protagonist from erotic bestseller 50 Shades of Grey. The winner was Justin Trudeau. Accepting the award on his behalf was interim Liberal leader Bob Rae who was presented with a pair of handcuffs. His wife, Arlene Perly Rae, later kept them safe in her purse.
Speaker’s child-friendly Halloween
Speaker Andrew Scheer held his second annual “Hilloween” party in the Speaker’s dining room. Hilloween used to be organized by the “confectionery caucus”—MPs who have confectionery manufacturers in their ridings—with candy companies providing buckets of treats. It was felt there was too much lobbying with that format and Scheer, who has four kids, wanted to make the event more child-friendly. He co-hosted it with Tory MP Scott Reid and Assistant Deputy Speaker Barry Devolin. With their kids’ help, the deputy speaker’s wife, Ursula Devolin, made all the cakes, including one in the shape of a skull and another as the Cataraqui Cemetery where Sir John A. Macdonald is buried. Barry Devolin took it upon himself to make the first cut into the creative cakes to be sure nobody would be shy about eating the treats. Meanwhile over at Stornoway, Thomas Mulcair was reaching out to the West on Halloween. The NDP leader sported a cowboy hat and sheriff badge as he handed out treat bags to kids. A drink table included jugs of vampire blood and green goblin juice.
NDP MP ‘Shark’ Fin Donnelly
As NDP MP Fin Donnelly waited his turn to record a Remembrance Day message in the Centre Block’s Hall of Honour, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird approached. Donnelly let Baird go ahead of him. The NDP MP is hoping Baird will support his private member’s bill, which would ban the import of illegally harvested shark fins to Canada. Baird has taken to calling the MP “Shark Fin” Donnelly and said, “What are the chances that someone bringing a bill to ban shark fins is called Fin?”
By Mitchel Raphael - Sunday, November 11, 2012 at 11:34 AM - 0 Comments
World War Two veteran Lloyd Swick… was on the Hill last month talking to
World War Two veteran Lloyd Swick was on the Hill last month talking to MPs about his monument to animals who served in war. Swick’s Animals in War Dedication Project was inspired when he saw the Animals in War Memorial in London. He asked himself, “Why does Canada not have a similar memorial?” From horses who moved field guns in World War One to the glow worms kept in bottles and used in dark trenches, Swick wanted the non-human contribution to wars remembered. The project costs $160, 000 and Swick is still looking for donations. David Clendining is the sculptor who made the monument. He has been sculpting since the ’70s and his work is all over Ottawa’s Confederation Boulevard. The animal war memorial consists of three parts. One section honours horses, another mules and the third dogs. Clendining notes the mules were based on photos. For the horses, he said he went out to places near his home in Ottawa. But “the dog is 90% my old German Shepard, Lucky.” The making of the monument has taken Clendining nearly one and a half years and went through three versions. Footprints of the three animals depicted have been placed on the ground leading up to the memorial. Laureen Harper is the project’s honourary patron and NDP MP Peter Stoffer has been a big supporter. It was at a Remembrance Day service in 2009 that Swick turned to Stoffer, not knowing he was an MP, and mentioned the importance of honouring war animals. Stoffer agreed and told him the National Capital Commission was holding hearings for commemorations and suggested Swick pitch his idea. The memorial was officially unveiled in Ottawa on Nov. 3.
By Mitchel Raphael - Tuesday, November 6, 2012 at 11:06 PM - 0 Comments
The U.S. Embassy held an election party at the Château Laurier. Obama-Biden and Romney-Ryan…
The U.S. Embassy held an election party at the Château Laurier. Obama-Biden and Romney-Ryan buttons were given out. Attendees could also have their pic taken with Barack Obama and/or Mitt Romney cutouts.
By Mitchel Raphael - Monday, November 5, 2012 at 8:43 PM - 0 Comments
A tribute dinner was held to honour Conservative Senator Doug Finley at the War…
A tribute dinner was held to honour Conservative Senator Doug Finley at the War Museum. Proceeds went to the Scottish Society of Ottawa.
By Mitchel Raphael - Monday, November 5, 2012 at 8:25 PM - 0 Comments
Jer’s Vision, Canada’s Youth Diversity Initiative, held a special reception on the Hill for…
Jer’s Vision, Canada’s Youth Diversity Initiative, held a special reception on the Hill for parliamentarians to raise awareness about bullying and diversity. Pink cupcakes were served.
By Mitchel Raphael - Monday, November 5, 2012 at 8:11 PM - 0 Comments
Mexico’s Ambassador Francisco Barrio Terrazas presented the Decoration of the Mexican Order of the…
Mexico’s Ambassador Francisco Barrio Terrazas presented the Decoration of the Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle to former Speaker Peter Milliken. It is the highest award a non-Mexican can receive. Milliken was lauded for helping to build relations between Canada and Mexico during his time as Speaker.
By Mitchel Raphael - Monday, November 5, 2012 at 5:01 AM - 0 Comments
A star-studded photo gallery by Mitchel Raphael
The 2012 Press Gallery Dinner was a night of glamour and mock awards.
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, November 1, 2012 at 8:05 AM - 0 Comments
NDP MPs, staffers and friends gathered for Halloween at the NDP watering hole Brixton’s….
NDP MPs, staffers and friends gathered for Halloween at the NDP watering hole Brixton’s. Outfits included Mitt Romney’s “binders full of women,” Bev Oda sipping $16 OJ (albeit from a plastic container) and NDP MP Niki Ashton as Big Bird.
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, November 1, 2012 at 6:30 AM - 0 Comments
Speaker Andrew Scheer hosted his second annual Hilloween party for MPs, staffers and all…
Speaker Andrew Scheer hosted his second annual Hilloween party for MPs, staffers and all their children.
By Mitchel Raphael - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 at 8:33 PM - 0 Comments
Hill staffers and some MPs got into the Halloween spirit today on the Hill. …
Hill staffers and some MPs got into the Halloween spirit today on the Hill. Green Leader Elizabeth May wore a witch hat into the House. She was told is was okay as long as she wasn’t being recognized.
By Mitchel Raphael - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 at 8:18 PM - 0 Comments
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair celebrated his first Halloween in Stornoway, the official residence of…
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair celebrated his first Halloween in Stornoway, the official residence of the Leader of the Opposition. Kids form the neighbourhood popped by for treats as did several NDP MPs and the their children. Mulcair was dressed as sheriff. A nod to Alberta or just being tough on crime?
By Mitchel Raphael - Monday, October 29, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
NDP MP Niki Ashton told Capital Diary her grey coat has had loads of…
NDP MP Niki Ashton told Capital Diary her grey coat has had loads of people asking whether she is an American Civil War soldier or is she getting ready to be in a production of The Nutcracker?
By Mitchel Raphael - Sunday, October 28, 2012 at 10:05 PM - 0 Comments
The Travers Debates were held recently at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. It…
The Travers Debates were held recently at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. It was a fundraiser for the R. James Travers Foreign Corresponding Fellowship named after Toronto Star columnist Jim Travers, who died in 2011.
By Mitchel Raphael - Sunday, October 28, 2012 at 8:49 PM - 0 Comments
The Grey Cup was recently brought on the Hill and into the House of…
By Mitchel Raphael - Tuesday, October 23, 2012 at 12:25 PM - 0 Comments
Plus: Rona Ambrose, Irshad Manji and Sen. Linda Frum
Since the beginning of this session of Parliament, Liberal leadership hopeful Justin Trudeau’s seatmate in the House has been Kirsty Duncan. Duncan has a Ph.D. in geography, is considered one of the world’s leading experts on pandemics and served on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group that won the 2007 Nobel Prize with former U.S. vice-president Al Gore. What did Duncan and Trudeau do between votes or when they had extra time in the House? Trudeau would bring drafting paper. Says Duncan: “He taught me how to do these 3D engineering puzzles. I had never done them before.” She says Trudeau is always interested in the latest technology and often suggests books on science to her. “He’s a voracious reader,” says Duncan. Once she brought him to a Hindu mandir where they also had a museum: “He was able to go from exhibit to exhibit, whether it was about the history of pi or deities, he could comment on everything.”
Ambrose’s girl power
Status of Women Minister Rona Ambrose was recently at the United Nations to help celebrate the first International Day of the Girl. Plan International and Plan Canada, two development charities, had been fighting to have the day recognized for years, but it was only after much arm-twisting by Ambrose, who got involved with the campaign a year ago, that the UN adopted Oct. 11 as the special day. Ambrose says Turkey was a key ally bringing Muslim countries on board. Peru helped negotiate with South American countries. Many international landmarks, including the Egyptian pyramids and the CN Tower, were lit up in pink that day. Ambrose was presented with an award at the UN, which she dedicated to Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year-old girl recently shot by the Taliban because of her fight for girls’ education rights.
The most moving moment for Ambrose was reconnecting with a young girl from rural Cameroon named Fabiola. When Ambrose met her a year ago, Fabiola had been fighting against forced marriages in her village. The girl’s plight, along with those of other girls grappling with harsh issues like honour crimes, sex-selective abortion and child trafficking, inspired the minister to get involved. Says the Minister: “They are just teenagers and these are the issues that happen in their communities.”
Suspicious email to Frum
Tory Sen. Linda Frum recently helped host a talk by Irshad Manji about her experiences in Indonesia for her new book Allah, Liberty and Love: The Courage to Reconcile Faith and Freedom. Manji, a well-known advocate for progressive and moderate Islam, spoke to the Canada-Indonesia Parliamentary Friendship Group. She discussed troubling changes she’s seen take place in Indonesia. In May, she was attacked by extremists there during a book event; a human shield of Muslim women hid and protected her. What Manji didn’t discuss was Frum’s assistance after that attack. Frum had received a strange message from Manji’s email account asking the senator to answer questions about Manji and send them to the Canadian embassy in Jakarta. Feeling suspicious, Frum called Manji, who told her about the attack and that she’d lost her passport. Frum arranged to get her a new passport immediately.
The two women have known each other for eight years, having met at an event Frum hosted with her brother David for the author Christopher Hitchens. Frum’s daughter also interviewed Manji last year at the Bishop Strachan School boarding school for girls in Toronto. When asked if her daughter was going to continue in the Frum tradition of journalism, the senator said there is no set path yet. Her daughter is currently studying ethics at the University of Toronto.
By Mitchel Raphael - Wednesday, October 17, 2012 at 11:00 AM - 0 Comments
Tory Senator Linda Frum recently helped host for a talk on the Hill by…
Tory Senator Linda Frum recently helped host for a talk on the Hill by Irshad Manji about her experiences in Indonesia while touring with her new book Allah, Liberty and Love: The Courage to Reconcile Faith and Freedom. Manji, a well-known advocate for progressive and moderate Islam, spoke to the Canada-Indonesia Parliamentary Friendship Group.
By Mitchel Raphael - Wednesday, October 17, 2012 at 11:00 AM - 0 Comments
Cooking with Laureen
The Canadian Gas Association held their second annual Now We’re Cooking…
Cooking with Laureen
The Canadian Gas Association held their second annual Now We’re Cooking with Gas reception at the National Arts Centre. The first course was steak tartare—which some joked seemed odd at an event that was all about “cooking” with gas. It was then pointed out that the tempura bits added to the raw steak were indeed cooked over gas. Laureen Harper passed on the first dish, noting she does not eat any raw meat, including sushi. Harper also told Capital Diary that she will not wear fur “unless the whole animal is used.” So she said she would wear seal fur and wears leather “because they use the whole cow.” The next course was a vegetarian dish. When NAC’s executive chef Michael Blackie asked if there were any vegetarians in the crowd, he was shocked when the room was silent, noting that he has never had that happen before. At the event, the Canadian Gas Association presented a cheque for Algonquin College’s hospitality and tourism program in honour of the NAC’s late executive chef Kurt Waldele. Harper shared her fond memories of Waldele and said she has yet to meet an Ottawa chef who did not at one point work with the culinary legend. Cooking with gas is something familiar to Harper: “In Alberta that’s all we use . . . and campfires,” she said.
An otherworldly achievement
Speaker Andrew Scheer hosted a special reception on the Hill for astronaut Chris Hadfield, who heads back to space in December and will take command of the International Space Station in March. He will be the first Canadian to do so. Labour Minister Lisa Raitt presented Hadfield with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal. Hadfield is from Raitt’s Ontario riding of Halton, where his parents still live and are active in the community. Raitt says she saw the astronaut’s father, Roger Hadfield, at last year’s Milton Steam-Era festival, where he had built from scratch a First World War Hucks starter that was used to help start up airplanes. It is now in the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum. She says that the astronaut is one of the biggest celebrities in her riding.
Hungry for a cause
When a group of climate change activists organized a 12-day hunger strike on the Hill, Green Leader Elizabeth May only consumed fluids for four days, to show her solidarity for the cause. Her secret? Lemon-lime Gatorade. “I needed to replace my electrolytes,” she explains. May noted that she does not only go on hunger strikes against Conservatives. In 2001, she was on a 17-day hunger strike while the Liberals were in power. She was protesting the Sydney tar ponds in Cape Breton.
By Mitchel Raphael - Tuesday, October 16, 2012 at 10:56 PM - 0 Comments
The Canadian Gas Association held their second annual Now We’re Cooking with Gas reception…
The Canadian Gas Association held their second annual Now We’re Cooking with Gas reception at the National Arts Centre.
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 1:42 PM - 0 Comments
Newfoundland Liberal MP Scott Simms never misses an opportunity to promote his province’s proud…
Newfoundland Liberal MP Scott Simms never misses an opportunity to promote his province’s proud puffin heritage. When he found out a Liberal staffer likes to collect all things puffin, he got the staffer a T-shirt that says “Angry Puffin” from the Auk Island Winery in Twillingate. The winery produces his favourite wine: The Funky Puffin.
By Mitchel Raphael - Monday, October 1, 2012 at 5:02 PM - 0 Comments
After visiting Cape Breton this summer, Labour Minister Lisa Raitt fell in love the…
After visiting Cape Breton this summer, Labour Minister Lisa Raitt fell in love the song “We Are An Island” by Kyle Mischiek and featuring Trax Cordero and Taylor Burton. She has been playing it for people on the Hill on her iPad.