By Mitchel Raphael - Friday, March 19, 2010 - 5 Comments
The Girl Guides of Canada were on the Hill celebrating their 100th anniversary by…
The Girl Guides of Canada were on the Hill celebrating their 100th anniversary by handing out cookies to MPs and then holding a reception in 200 West Block. Below, Liberal MPs Mark Eyking (right) and Denis Coderre sample the goods.
Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe.
By Mitchel Raphael - Friday, February 12, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 3 Comments
Layton gets more wear out of his wedding day outfit
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.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 3, 2009 at 6:46 PM - 90 Comments
The Scene. The Prime Minister’s chair, as an inanimate object, was unlikely to answer. But Michael Ignatieff insisted on asking anyway.
“Mr. Speaker, today we learn from the Auditor General that, for its entire time in office, the government has failed to develop any national emergency preparedness plan. That includes planning for epidemics and pandemics like H1N1. Does that not begin to explain why the government’s response to this crisis has been so slow and confused?” he wondered aloud. ”We have heard from the Minister of Health. When will we begin to hear from the Prime Minister? When will he stand up, take responsibility for the government’s mistakes and correct the situation?”
The Prime Minister was otherwise engaged with escorting the Prince and Camilla around rural Newfoundland. John Baird, Mr. Harper’s de facto deputy, was away as well, while the Health Minister was in Vancouver. No worries though, because this seemed to be a question about emergency preparedness and that is distinctly the purview of the Public Safety Minister and that minister, the typically unshy Peter Van Loan, was most certainly in his seat.
And yet, here came Tony Clement, the Minister of Industry and master flailler of arms.
“Mr. Speaker, let me dwell in the realm of facts,” Mr. Clement boldly offered. “The fact of the matter is that there have been six million doses of H1N1 vaccine that have already been delivered to the provinces and territories.
“That’s what you said yesterday!” lamented a Liberal.
“We currently have more H1N1 vaccine per capita than any other country in the world,” Mr. Clement reviewed. “The vaccine is being distributed as quickly as it is being produced and there will be sufficient H1N1 vaccine available in Canada for everyone who in fact needs or wants to be immunized.”
“Merry Christmas!” chirped a Liberal, yesterday’s points and counterpoints now sufficiently covered. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 12:47 PM - 20 Comments
The Sun’s Peter Zimonjic relates a surreal moment from last week.
Normally after question period MPs step out to one of three microphones in the foyer of the House of Commons. A camera is set up there to record them and journalists stand on either side to ask questions. The event is called a scrum because reporters shoot questions at the MPs on topics of interest in an area wired for sound and pictures.
But yesterday Liberal MPs, Carolyn Bennett and Kirsty Duncan stepped up to a microphone, stood in front of the cameras, and without a journalist in sight began talking as though they had just been asked a question. This went on for several minutes, as the two MPs appeared to be fighting over the microphone to make statements. And when they were finished Bennett even appeared to wave to a journalist — that wasn’t there — before walking off camera…
Other reporters stood around in amazement and when the MPs left one seasoned veteran of the press gallery came over to ask if he really saw what we all just saw.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, October 6, 2009 at 10:18 AM - 19 Comments
Four Liberals (Dhalla, Wrzesnewskyj, Silva and Wilfert) get advisory roles for various regions of the world, four new critic portfolios are created and various spots in the shadow cabinet are distributed as follows:
Navdeep Bains – Small Business and Tourism
Siobhan Coady – Treasury Board
Bonnie Crombie – Crown Corporations
Ujjal Dosanjh – National Defense
Kirsty Duncan – Public Health
Marlene Jennings – Government Ethics and Democratic Reform
Derek Lee – National Revenue
Joyce Murray – Amateur Sport and Vancouver Olympics
Robert Oliphant – Veterans Affairs
Justin Trudeau – Youth and Multiculturalism
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, July 27, 2009 at 1:08 PM - 21 Comments
A few interesting reads from the weekend: Susan Delacourt looks at new research into the electability of women in Canada, Alice Funke adds her own analysis, and Linda Silver Dranoff reviews Canada’s Unfinished Democracy. From the latter.
She points out that this “women+power=discomfort” equation makes people focus on the contests that women lose and extrapolate from that, that women are losers. Many do run in ridings they have no chance of winning, or for parties that have no chance of governing.
The examples she provides are persuasive, including Agnes MacPhail, Thérèse Casgrain, Kim Campbell and Belinda Stronach, but the one that resonated with me was Flora MacDonald. In 1976, she was considered a shoo-in for the Progressive Conservative leadership; members of her party had promised her enough votes to assure a win. But when they went into the voting booths, they didn’t vote for her. Has Bashevkin provided the explanation about 30 years later? Were MacDonald’s supporters just plain uncomfortable with a woman in power? It would seem so.
One other way of looking at this: what precisely is the model for female political leadership in Canada? Who would you tell a 25-year-old women thinking of getting into politics to model herself after? Continue…
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, June 18, 2009 at 1:18 AM - 12 Comments
Quebec Liberal staffers held “Soir des plaines sur la Colline,” a summer bash in…
Quebec Liberal staffers held “Soir des plaines sur la Colline,” a summer bash in the East Block courtyard. Below are Quebec Liberal MPs Marlene Jennings (left) and Alexandra Mendes.
Montreal Liberal MP Irwin Cotler.
Montreal Liberal MP Justin Trudeau.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, June 4, 2009 at 1:05 PM - 20 Comments
This is quite possibly the national television debut of Lisa Raitt and a fine example of her kind of political brilliance.
In the span of a few minutes she links her candidacy to the advancement of women, lauds a former leader of the NDP, dodges a question about the number of female candidates running for the Conservative party, uses a hostage situation in Regina to promote her party’s crime policies, asserts her status as a mother, pledges her love of community, invokes the family, employs the phrase “Canadian fabric,” laments the toxicity of discourse on the Internet, references her children half a dozen times, gets in a parting shot at her Liberal rival and thoroughly outclasses the Nobel-winning environmentalist on the other side of the split screen.
Full clip after the jump. Continue…
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 1:40 PM - 0 Comments
Why the Ruby Dhalla story is not big in the Philippines, and how Bob Rae beat Ignatieff in the Parliamentarians of the Year awards
Gilles Duceppe’s short-lived acting career
At the third annual Maclean’s Parliamentarians of the Year awards gala, Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe was runner-up for most knowledgeable MP and best orator. He found the latter recognition “funny, because in Quebec they are saying I am not that good an orator. But here, I am very good.” Duceppe comes from a family passionate about theatre and film. When asked if this had influenced his oratorical skills, he noted: “I was not a good actor at all. I can’t play a role. I did only once for a Christmas play [in Grade 6 at his Catholic school]. The nuns had me play Saint Joseph, the husband of the Virgin Mary, which is the most awful role for a man to play—the husband of a virgin!” The awards gala was hosted by Maclean’s columnist Paul Wells and Le Devoir columnist and L’actualité magazine contributor Manon Cornellier. Speaker Peter Milliken did the toast. Bob Rae won for best orator but could not attend—in his place he sent Toronto Grit MP Kirsty Duncan to fetch his award. (In 2007, when Michael Ignatieff won for best orator, he sent Ruby Dhalla on his behalf.) Toronto Liberal MP Rob Oliphant, who voted for Rae as best orator, said the reason Rae beat Ignatieff this year was that as leader “Michael doesn’t have as much time in the House. Bob gets more floor time.” Ontario NDP MP Joe Comartin won, for the second year in a row, the award for most knowledgeable MP. He said he can now place the extremely heavy awards in his Windsor, Ont., office because he just replaced his flimsy desk with a more solid one. For the third year in a row Nova Scotia NDP Peter Stoffer won most collegial. In second place was Liberal whip Rodger Cuzner, who noted: “I guess I’ve got to drink a little more [to beat Stoffer].” Cuzner said he wasn’t surprised that fellow Grit Paul Szabo once again won for hardest-working MP. Szabo sends new MPs a three-page letter filled with things they need to watch out for. “He wants to see everyone succeed,” says Cuzner. Halifax NDP MP Megan One of the highlights for her was seeing Garneau at the Canada Aviation Museum. “I really wanted to get my picture taken with him but I was too shy,” recalls Leslie. “So I took a picture of him by himself and it’s in my photo album still.” Twenty years later at the awards gala, Capital Diary snapped the first picture of Leslie and Garneau together. The NDP continued to dominate the awards for the third year, which had leader Jack Layton beaming all night. He noted the most knowledgeable MP, Joe Comartin, is his party’s justice critic and that the best rookie MP is their deputy justice critic. Layton also had kind words for the winner of best overall MP, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney: “He’s always a guy you can approach. I’ve always had a good relationship with Jason. He’s straight up. What you see is what you get.”
Another chip off the old Bloc
The Bloc’s Paul Crête also did well in Maclean’s Parliamentarians of the Year poll. He placed third for most collegial MP and fourth for hardest-working. Crête has been an MP for nearly 16 years and was part of the wave of separatists elected when the party ran in its first federal election in 1993. It was a well-timed tribute to the MP, who will be leaving federal politics to run for the Parti Québécois, in a yet-to-be-announced Quebec by-election in the riding now vacant thanks to the resignation of ADQ leader Mario Dumont.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 7:17 PM - 20 Comments
The Scene. The Prime Minister and Industry Minister were elsewhere and the latter’s parliamentary secretary had been given a rather short script from which to read so it eventually fell to John Baird to explain the government’s purchase today of a rather troubled automobile manufacturer. Only the Transport Minister didn’t want to talk about what he could do to put Ralph Goodale in a new PT Cruiser, he wanted to talk ominously about what Michael Ignatieff may or may not do if or when he becomes prime minister.
“Boooring! Boooring!” sang a voice from the Liberal side as Baird dutifully repeated a series of lines the Conservatives have been singing for two weeks now.
Switching from faux outrage, the minister next attempted to assuage his audience with comedy. “Mr. Speaker, the one remarkable thing that has happened over the last four or five months is that the Prime Minister has put aside partisan politics,” Baird quipped, the Liberal side loudly recognizing his joke with hearty laughter.
Then it was Jim Flaherty’s turn, the Finance Minister rising to scowl and stew and sigh, grimace and growl and grumble, swatting and swiping as he mocked the Liberal house leader and wondered aloud why the Liberal finance critic wasn’t driving a domestic.
And then, climactically, it was Jack Layton who stood and wondered dramatically about the generous incentives allegedly afforded managers of the Canadian Pension Plan. ”Are you,” he asked, poignantly, “kidding me?”
It is by such standards that Leona Aglukkaq has emerged as something of a star this week. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, April 27, 2009 at 7:10 PM - 31 Comments
The Scene. Shortly before 2 o’clock, in the midst of the capital’s first truly sweltering afternoon this year, a man in a dark suit and plastic animal mask—depicting a sheep, it seems—stood outside the Centre Block entrance reserved for Members of Parliament, handing out copies of former MP Garth Turner’s new book. Said book, as the animal mask was apparently intended to relate, is entitled Sheeple, a term apparently applied to people who often take on the characteristics—curly white hair covering most of the body, fondness for grazing, tendency to do as told—of sheep.
This was conceivably done to make some point. Or poke fun. Or sell a few books. Or some combination thereof. And, for sure, there should be nothing to prohibit anyone from making points, poking fun, or selling books about all that is obvious and absurd and obviously absurd about this place.
But then, in fairness, so much has changed in the six months or so since Mr. Turner was unceremoniously voted out of office. For one, the party to which he was most recently a member has found a new leader, this one fluent in all sorts of English verbs and tenses. For another, that leader has insisted on Question Period being something other than an opportunity to try and convict one’s rivals of various moral crimes.
Today’s session, for instance and as coincidence would have it, began with several fine and reasoned exchanges of inquiry and information. For perhaps a full half hour—with a man in a suit and an animal mask sweating away outside—the proceedings were both graceful and informative, genteel and respectful.
Oh, and boring. Dreadfully, dreadfully boring. Continue…
By Mitchel Raphael - Monday, February 2, 2009 at 7:37 PM - 3 Comments
The Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) held a special reception for MPs in the…
The Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) held a special reception for MPs in the Quebec room at the Fairmont Château Laurier. Below are Louis Alexandre Lanthier (from Justin Trudeau’s office), Tommy Desfossés, Speaker Peter Milliken and Liberal MP Rob Oliphant.
Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett and Milliken.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, August 25, 2008 at 5:10 PM - 0 Comments
For one, women seem to like Stephane Dion. Granted, this is a conclusion based on nothing more than anecdotal evidence, and relatively little of it at that. But pretty much without fail, wherever Dion was last week, women were the most likely to express their support.
On the one hand, this might very well be a problem for a Conservative party whose leader has a well-documented problem with the female vote. On the other, there’s what one gushing woman said about the Liberal Green Shift shortly after Dion left her store.
“I think it’s good in purpose,” wine store staffer Susana Serralde said after meeting Dion and putting him on the phone with one of her friends, with whom he did chat about the key Liberal policy.
“But I just don’t think it’s going to be embraced by a large percentage of people because we are a car society, unfortunately.”
This is not the first time I’ve heard the “I like him, but I’m not sure anyone else will” lament. Its internal contradiction is rather obvious. But then Dion supporters are probably to be forgiven if they feel entirely alone in this world. Continue…
By Lianne George - Friday, August 22, 2008 at 3:09 PM - 0 Comments
Rule number one: when you’re the battle-weary leader of the Opposition, and an election…
Rule number one: when you’re the battle-weary leader of the Opposition, and an election could be imminent, don’t introduce your new star female candidate, an esteemed scientist, by pointing out that she’s hot. It is sure to come back to haunt you.
Today, during a media scrum, a reporter took up the matter of Stéphane Dion’s earlier comment about Dr. Kirsty Duncan, the 41-year-old University of Toronto professor who will run for the Liberals in Etobicoke North in the next election.
The following transcript of the exchange was provided by Maclean’s Aaron Wherry, long-time Skirts reader, first time contributor:
Reporter: Mr. Dion, earlier during your speech, when you were introducing Dr. Kirsty Duncan, you made a remark about her. ‘I prefer the face of science today than the face of the old Einstein, that’s my own taste.’ That could be construed as a sexist remark…
Dion: Oh, come on (laughing). I’m surprised at your question.
Reporter: … and did you mean any offense?
Dion: No, I think to the contrary. I don’t understand your question, sorry.
Reporter: Well, the question is, for someone in politics to compliment someone on their looks, some people consider that to be inappropriate.
Dion: I’m pleased that a young lady is one of the eminent scientists that help us to fight climate change and decided to be part of this fight as the candidate for the Liberal party at the next election. Do you have a problem with that?
Reporter: No, I’m just asking. It’s a reasonable question.
Dion: Well, I ask you a reasonable question as well.
Reasonable questions all around. To give Dion the benefit of the doubt, his comment was surely intended as a harmless compliment. He’s been accused of choosing his words poorly before. But as a politician, he should know better. It’s pretty widely understood that when you point out how hot a lady scientist is, implicit is the assumption that her hotness comes as a surprise because, well, she understands science. Continue…