By Mitchel Raphael - Wednesday, January 30, 2013 - 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 Aaron Wherry - Friday, March 30, 2012 at 1:35 PM - 0 Comments
Hansard officially records Bev Oda’s response yesterday to a question from Liberal MP Mark Eyking as follows.
Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to making sure its international assistance is making a difference for those in developing countries. That is why we are focused on targeting the countries we work in. This is not about organizations. This is about getting more kids in school, more mothers to health clinics, more nutrition, more healthy infants at birth, more text books and more qualified teachers. This is getting results and making a difference.
What she actually said is this (emphasis mine).
Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to making sure its international assistance is making a difference for those in developing countries. That’s why we are focused on targeting the countries we work in. This is not about organizations. This is about getting more kids in school, more mothers to health clinics, more nutritious, uh, infants being born, more text books, more qualified teachers. Mr. Speaker, this is getting results and making a difference.
By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, February 26, 2012 at 11:55 AM - 0 Comments
The NDP says Elmwood-Transcona was targeted by robocalls misdirecting voters.
According to the NDP, the party’s campaign manager in Elmwood-Transcona has informed them of more than half a dozen complaints received in Jim Maloway’s campaign office on election day from voters who said someone phoned them and said their polling station location had changed.
Elmwood-Transcona, a longtime NDP-held riding, saw Conservative Lawrence Toet upset Maloway, the incumbent MP, by 300 votes. Maloway said the margin was so close the so-called robocalls may have played a role. Maloway said he did not know about the calls until contacted by the Free Press on Friday.
Meanwhile, Liberal MP Mark Eyking confirms complaints in Sydney-Victoria.
See previously: How many ridings?
By Mitchel Raphael - Monday, December 5, 2011 at 9:40 AM - 2 Comments
The goat Bev Oda left behind…
Attendees at World Vision Canada’s reception at the
The goat Bev Oda left behind
Attendees at World Vision Canada’s reception at the Fairmont Château Laurier included Liberal MP Mark Eyking and his wife, Pam Eyking, who have sponsored an 11-year-old boy named Claude, in Rwanda, through the organization for 10 years. They’ve sent him many things over that time, including a shirt six years ago that he still wears. Another long-wearing item of clothing was the brown Ultrasuede jacket from the ’80s that Mark Eyking wore to the reception. The MP is one of seven brothers and jokes they had one suit they kept passing around. Bev Oda, minister of international co-operation, spoke passionately about World Vision’s work. She recalled a visit to Tanzania where she was given a goat as a thank-you present. She told her staffer to get going on the paperwork needed to get the goat home to Canada—letting the staffer sweat it out for 30 minutes before saying she was kidding. The goat stayed in Tanzania.
Abercrombie and Iran
When Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak was in Ottawa, he had meetings with Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird. The ministers discussed the hot topic of Iran, while Israeli security personnel asked Hill interns if there was an Abercrombie & Fitch in Ottawa. There is not.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, October 6, 2011 at 11:59 AM - 32 Comments
The CBC finds a couple of defeated Conservative candidates doing the work of MPs.
One of them, Cecil Clarke, ran for the Conservatives in Nova Scotia’s Sydney-Victoria riding, losing to Liberal Mark Eyking by fewer than 1,000 votes. Now he’s a federally paid consultant, travelling the province meeting with businesses and individuals. He’ll get $135,000 a year for three years.
“There’s a whole host of issues that have to be dealt with …,” Clarke told CBC News. “I would say, you know, that I’ve had a very positive relationship with the government of Canada.” Clarke’s task of listening to people and letting them know what the federal government has to offer sounds a lot to Eyking what an MP should be doing.
“We hear about puppet governments,” said Eyking. “Now we’re going to have a puppet MP.”
By Mitchel Raphael - Monday, October 3, 2011 at 9:50 AM - 5 Comments
The case of the two Louises
Green Leader Elizabeth May…’s cane is now
The case of the two Louises
Green Leader Elizabeth May’s cane is now worth $10,000. The price tag was set at the Ritz-Carlton in Toronto at the annual gala put on by Egale, Canada’s gay advocacy group. During the fundraising portion of the night, comedian Elvira Kurt spontaneously shouted, “Let’s auction Elizabeth May’s cane,” which seemed to come as a surprise to May. She appeared hesitant, and slightly worried about how she would get around, but then she said she would do it—for $10,000. Within minutes, Toronto-Dominion Bank president Ed Clark announced he would purchase the cane. In the end, he let May keep it. Now, next to her car, it is the most valuable thing May owns.
That same night the 2011 Egale Canada Leadership Award went to former Supreme Court justice Louise Arbour. Egale noted that part of the reason she was selected was that she was one of the first United Nations high commissioners for human rights to speak openly about LGBT rights. Arbour was unable to attend and asked recently retired Supreme Court justice Louise Charron to accept the award on her behalf. Arbour joked that Charron should just pretend to be her. In her speech, Charron observed that this was not so far-fetched because throughout their careers she and Arbour have been mistaken for each other. She noted both are Franco-Canadians with the same first name and they both entered the justice system around the same time when women on the bench were still rare.
At the event, politicians mixed with business people, activists and burlesque dancers. The reception before the dinner featured a brass dancing pole. The gala was co-chaired by Tory Sen. Nancy Ruth. Other Conservatives in attendance were Sen. Salma Ataullahjan, Sen. Linda Frum and Toronto MP Bernard Trottier, the man who beat former Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff in Etobicoke-Lakeshore. Interim leader Bob Rae was the only federal Liberal in attendance. When he was onstage with Elizabeth May and interim NDP leader Nycole Turmel, he put his arm around May and joked, “This is the first merger. Every threesome starts with a twosome.”
By Mitchel Raphael - Monday, September 26, 2011 at 9:50 AM - 0 Comments
Jack Layton’s chair to go to his family…
MPs arriving back on the Hill
Jack Layton’s chair to go to his family
MPs arriving back on the Hill for the first day of Parliament were greeted by black coffins covered in cut-out, pastel-coloured butterflies on which were written the names of murdered and missing Aboriginal women. It was part of an awareness campaign coordinated by Walk4Justice. That morning, there were tributes for Jack Layton, and his green House of Commons chair was left empty for the day. NDP MP Peter Stoffer says his caucus is buying the chair Layton sat in for $950 and presenting to the late leader’s family. MPs wore orange ribbons in honour of Layton, though at question period it was mostly NDP, Liberal and Bloc parliamentarians wearing them. That included both interim Liberal leader Bob Rae and interim Bloc leader Louis Plamondon. On the Hill for the tribute was former NDP leader Alexa McDonough. The day before, she had helped with the orientation sessions for new MPs from all parties, covering issues ranging from office management to how to avoid temptations like the endless supply of booze at Hill functions. Question period started with interim NDP leader Nycole Turmel reading her questions from her papers, which lessened the impact. She was followed by NDP finance critic Peggy Nash, whose voice boomed out. “I’m used to speaking at rallies,” quipped Nash, who is seen as a strong potential NDP leader candidate.
MPs call it splits
Liberal MPs Mark Eyking and Rodger Cuzner were both elected in 2000 and until Parliament resumed on Monday they were also roommates. “It’s a messy breakup,” jokes Cuzner. “Eyking wants visitation rights for the clock radio.” In reality, two of Eyking’s sons have moved to the capital. One sells real estate and the other is at university. That means Eyking’s wife is in the capital more often too. Cuzner jokes he was “tripping over” Eykings at their place. So he moved out and is now living with his nephew.
By Mitchel Raphael - Monday, May 23, 2011 at 9:35 AM - 33 Comments
The final humiliation: a cash bar…
Last week the Liberals gathered the night before
The final humiliation: a cash bar
Last week the Liberals gathered the night before what would be their final caucus meeting with both defeated and elected MPs. One Liberal staffer called the party a “wake”; a Hill security guard predicted it would end early because it was a cash bar. Surviving Toronto Liberal MP Kirsty Duncan arrived with a bandaged hand that will need surgery. “I fell on Wednesday and the government fell on the Friday,” she says. Five weeks campaigning didn’t help: “Even when you break your hand,” said Duncan, “people still want to shake it.” Some days ended with Duncan in excruciating pain. Defeated MP Marlene Jennings arrived with a white cane, announcing that she is now officially vision-impaired. The one person who spoke at the party was surviving MP Ralph Goodale, but no one seemed to be listening; former Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff left before Goodale spoke. The Liberals’ only two rookie MPs were there: Sean Casey from Charlottetown and Ted Hsu from Kingston, Ont., which was previously represented by Speaker Peter Milliken. Hsu’s win was a surprise for the Conservatives, who for years said that once Milliken retired they would easily win the riding.
By Mitchel Raphael - Tuesday, February 8, 2011 at 8:30 AM - 7 Comments
Speaker Peter Milliken’s held his 10th annual Robbie Burns dinner. Below, Defense Minister Peter…
Speaker Peter Milliken’s held his 10th annual Robbie Burns dinner. Below, Defense Minister Peter Mackay (left) and NDP MP Pat Martin bring in the haggis.
Ontario Conservative MP Ed Holder
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, October 14, 2010 at 10:00 AM - 0 Comments
Cotler wants to see more of this Tory trend, The business side of prostitution
Cotler wants to see more of this Tory trend
Some Conservatives are upset over one aspect of David Johnston’s appointment as the new Governor General: Stephen Harper gets no credit for his non-partisan appointments. One cabinet minister says some in the party have pushed Harper to make partisan appointments, especially with key ambassador posts, but almost without exception, the PM refuses. His first Supreme Court judge appointee, Marshall Rothstein, was picked from a list drawn up by the previous Liberal government. When asked about the new GG, former justice minister and Liberal MP Irwin Cotler says, “I can’t think of a better choice. I would like to see more [such] appointments. If that could be the emerging trend, I would be very happy.”
The business side of prostitution
Soon after Ontario Superior Court Justice Susan Himel struck down key prostitution laws as unconstitutional, the Conservative government appealed the ruling while the Green party “welcomed” the decision. But all the national parties are divided on this issue. All have members, including cabinet ministers, who are fine with decriminalization, and members who aren’t. The Liberals have get-tough-on-johns Judy Sgro doing the talk shows, but Liberal MP Martha Hall Findlay says, “I would much rather see [prostitution] regulated for the safety of the individuals involved. I don’t support the criminalization of the activities around it: I think it is an attempt to band-aid the issue. Treat it like a business so you can regulate employee rights, health and safety, zoning. Municipalities can pass laws, just like when people don’t want a bar in their area. I would take the moral judgment piece out. Police could crack down on those who abuse these women if we treated it like a business.”
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, June 24, 2010 at 9:20 AM - 2 Comments
Too bad about the protesters’ cake, Her bodyguard money gone, and Could Ottawa get any smaller?
Too bad about the protesters’ cake
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff’s annual garden party for the media had its own special “water feature”: a child’s swimming pool was decorated to create that Muskoka-like feeling. Liberal strategist Kevin Bosch said he learned from the Conservatives that if you want to get the media out you have to have a “fake lake.” Capital Diary asked several TV journalists to stand in front of the backdrop for a photo; all politely declined. Ignatieff’s version of a “fake lake” included fake ducks and a mini remote-controlled boat, all of which cost around $80, thanks to some strategic shopping at Wal-Mart. The party was a sit-down dinner of pasta and meatballs, as opposed to the usual food stations. Steve Paikin of TVO’s The Agenda seemed mortified when the band, armed with an accordion, sang Happy Birthday to him. Outside Stornoway, two groups of protesters arrived. The first were NDP supporters upset at how the Liberals helped the Conservatives pass their fifth budget bill by having several of their members absent for the vote. Unfortunately, an ice cream cake with Sesame Street’s The Count on it melted in one of the demonstrators’ hands, making the message written on it difficult to read. Then there were the anti-seal-hunt protesters who joined in with some of the NDP chants. When Capital Diary pointed out to the seal protesters that the NDP officially supports the hunt, the protesting NDPers claimed not everyone in the party is behind that position.
Her bodyguard money gone
When Liberal MP Irwin Cotler was in Geneva speaking at a conference to mark the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, he met Dr. Massouda Jalal on a panel. Jalal was the sole female presidential candidate during Afghanistan’s 2004 election and spoke out about the conditions for women in her country. Cotler was so impressed with her talk he invited her to Ottawa where she spoke to MPs. She pointed out that many of Afghanistan’s TV and radio stations are in the hands of warlords who use the media to suppress women’s rights. Jalal says most people in her country believe what the media tell them so she is advocating for a women’s TV station to combat the misogynist attacks. When she was in cabinet, she said, she expected a minister who had lived in the U.S. for 20 years would be progressive on women’s rights. Instead, he told her the reason he had come back to Afghanistan was: “In America I don’t have control over my wife and daughter.” Jalal was shocked. Amnesty International gave her some funds, which she used to hire bodyguards. But the money has dried up and she is now without protection. Cotler is hoping Canada can help her remain a voice for women in Afghanistan.
Could Ottawa get any smaller?
MPs whose homes are far away from Ottawa tend to get excited when their children move to the capital. Cape Breton Liberal MP Mark Eyking is delighted his son Josh Eyking is starting work as a real estate agent in the city. He is with Keller Williams Ottawa Realty, the same firm where Transport Minister John Baird’s mother Marianne Anderson works.
Supreme Court Justice Rosalie Abella recently spoke at the Yeshiva University Toronto convocation and dinner. Noting the controversy around a private member’s bill that any newly appointed Supreme Court judges must be bilingual, she said she wanted to say a few words in another language. She proceeded with remarks in Yiddish, much to the delight and laughter of the predominantly Jewish crowd.
They also have a real lake
The term “fake lake” is getting under the skins of some Tories. But one joke going around is that they in fact have a “real” lake too: Edmonton MP Mike Lake.
Photographs by Mitchel Raphael
By Mitchel Raphael - Tuesday, June 1, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 24 Comments
Past and current MPs came out for the hanging of Jean Chrétien’s official portrait…
Past and current MPs came out for the hanging of Jean Chrétien’s official portrait painted by artist Christan Nicholson. Below, Chrétien with the portrait.
Former Liberal MP Martin Cauchon (left) with Liberal MP Denis Coderre.
Aline Chrétien (left) and Laureen Harper.
By Mitchel Raphael - Tuesday, April 13, 2010 at 10:20 AM - 9 Comments
All parties were united by wearing blue to show their support for NDP leader…
All parties were united by wearing blue to show their support for NDP leader Jack Layton in his battle with prostate cancer. The men were given ties and the women were given scarves by Prostate Cancer Canada. Below, Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose.
Liberal MP Justin Trudeau.
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, April 8, 2010 at 7:38 PM - 2 Comments
The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association were on the Hill and held a beef
The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association were on the Hill and held a beef
reception which had 200 West Block packed. Beef gets MPs and staffers
every time. Below, Liberal MP Mark Eyking.
Liberal MP Justin Trudeau.
By Mitchel Raphael - Friday, April 2, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 19 Comments
What were the organizers of the Ann Coulter event thinking?
The cancellation of controversial conservative commentator Ann Coulter’s Ottawa talk seemed to Capital Diary to be due less to protesters and more to incompetent organizers. Those in charge of the event kept allowing people into the foyer of the lecture hall until occupants were in danger of being crushed. The two sets of doors that opened into that foyer became difficult to open with all the bodies pushing through, creating a serious safety hazard. (At one point the fire alarm was pulled.) Ottawa police officers, who are certainly used to dealing with large crowds, seasoned protesters and dignitaries (like Barack Obama) rolling through town, were on hand but decided to allow the crowd to grow as more and more people from the long line outside pushed in. Ten minutes before the event was to start, two organizers started to slowly check off names from an email list and let people in. It soon became obvious many of the hundreds of people in line who had been waiting for hours would not get in, yet organizers chose not to inform them, fuelling anger in the crowd. “Will we even get in?” people started shouting. Fifteen to 20 minutes after the first people had been let in, entry to the hall was stopped (even though lots of VIPs continued to get in through side doors). Around 8 p.m., with the hall about half full, the event was cancelled. Coulter was to have been introduced by Ezra Levant, who has had his own freedom of speech battles after he published the infamous Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in the Western Standard. But Levant notes that, compared to him, Coulter is in the big leagues when it comes to free speech. “She’s been pied,” he said. “When you look at who has been pied, it’s really big shots—premiers like Ralph Klein, Gail Shea, the ﬁsheries minister.” Could Levant have a case of pie envy? “When you’ve been pied,” he said, “you know you’ve reached a certain level.” Hoping to catch Coulter speak was her former editor. Doug Pepper, now president and publisher of McClelland & Stewart in Toronto, used to edit Coulter when he was working in New York. He happened to have business that day in Ottawa. “She took editing very well,” noted Pepper, who along with Levant ended up meeting Coulter for a bite to eat at the Fairmont Château Laurier where she was staying.
Harper’s house just happens to be in his jurisdiction
The Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs recently visited Ottawa. The association’s president, Bruce Burrell, says one of the top issues his group is lobbying for is a tax credit for volunteer firefighters. But the politicians “are not listening,” he said. Burrell is also Calgary’s fire chief. Stephen Harper’s home is in his jurisdiction.
The MP who has a beef with South Korea
The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association herded onto the Hill and held a big beef reception in 200 West Block. Liberal MP Mark Eyking says one of the issues he wants to have resolved for the group is trade barriers with South Korea. He suggested putting a few Canadian cows on the front lawn of the South Korean ambassador’s home. Noted the Cape Breton MP, “It worked when the Brazilians did it to us.”
For five years, Tory Sen. Nancy Ruth has been asking for throw pillows for the deep couches by the entrance to the Senate. And now they’ve arrived. But the new ones “are not that comfortable,” the senator said. Why the long delay? Ruth says she was told for years that if pillows were put on the couches, “they’d get stolen.” To which she replied, “What? Right in front of security?”
By Mitchel Raphael - Friday, March 19, 2010 at 11:06 AM - 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 - Thursday, February 18, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 7 Comments
And the medal for best staffer goes to…
A wet PM Stephen Harper waited for almost an hour in the cold rain—without an umbrella—to congratulate moguls skier Jennifer Heil, who won Canada’s ﬁrst Olympic medal at the Vancouver 2010 games. The PM could have waited inside, but chose to remain outdoors. He was with his daughter, Rachel Harper, and in a tender moment explained to her that Heil had done the best she could and won silver. When Heil won a gold medal in Turin in 2006, she came to Ottawa and got to meet Harper in his office. On Saturday night, the PM hugged Heil and said, “I got to see where you work today.” Watching the skiing events for eight hours in the rain was Minister of Public Works Rona Ambrose, who brought her mother, Colleen Chapchuk, as her Olympic date.
Chapchuk bought them both matching official Olympic mitts, scarves, and toques. Heil is from Spruce Grove, Alta., which is in Ambrose’s riding. Ambrose is also taking her mother to other events. “She loves figure skating. This is her birthday and Christmas present.” Ambrose scored best-daughter-ever points when she brought her mom to Michaëlle Jean’s reception for heads of state; among the guests were U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden and Princess Anne. But the guest everyone wanted photos with was California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. When he arrived, there was an empty seat next to Ambrose’s mom and he plunked himself down beside her.
And the medal for best staffer goes to…
Heritage Minister James Moore accompanied the Olympic torch in B.C. as it went through his riding of Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam. Accompanying the minister was his director of communications, Deirdra McCracken. But there was no room in the official torch vehicle (especially with the sponsorship Coca-Cola girls), so she had to run seven kilometres to keep up. “It was a good thing I chose to wear running shoes and not heels that day,” quipped McCracken. At the opening ceremonies, Moore, whose portfolio includes the Olympics, heard a man behind him shout, “Good job!” He turned around and saw that the fellow, who was holding a beer, was Jean Chrétien.
NEW ARRIVAL AT 24 Sussex
Laureen Harper finally got the igloo she’s been wanting at 24 Sussex with the help of David Serkoak, who teaches Inuit culture at the Nunavut Sivuniksavut training program in Ottawa. He was recommended to her by Inuit leader Mary Simon. Mrs. Harper and a few of her friends were the igloo-building assistants; it took the team about four hours to complete the project. The snow was icy and difficult to carve: “We were going to do something bigger but the snow wasn’t right,” said Mrs. Harper. They used a saw and a knife that Serkoak made himself to carve out the blocks. “David was amazing with his knife, and once he was finished he was entombed in his creation and he dug from the inside and we dug from the outside and we created a door at the bottom,” noted Mrs. Harper. The plan now is to furnish the igloo with seal and caribou skins along with a dog sleigh. While building the igloo, Serkoak told the team stories about surviving in the North. His family spent their winters in an igloo until 1961. Farley Mowat wrote about the area he is from, which is west of Hudson Bay, in his book People of the Deer.
By Mitchel Raphael - Friday, January 29, 2010 at 11:56 AM - 8 Comments
Folks from all parties packed the Hill Helps Haiti fundraiser organized by the government…
Folks from all parties packed the Hill Helps Haiti fundraiser organized by the government relations firm Summa Strategies. The event raised over $32,000. Below, Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq (left) and Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Gail Shea.
Liberal MP Martha Hall Findlay.
Green leader Elizabeth May.
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, October 22, 2009 at 11:40 AM - 6 Comments
And the family who had ‘Harper’ for dinner
Intern love story
Each year several interns from Ukraine arrive on Parliament Hill to help out MPs and learn how the Canadian government works. This year, NDP MP Peter Stoffer was begged by the new arrivals to retell the story of a previous intern, about whom Stoffer wrote a poem entitled The Corruption of Yuriy. Stoffer, three-time winner of Maclean’s Most Congenial Parliamentarian of the Year award, is one of the most likeable MPs on the Hill. The famous intern, Yuriy Obriza, would arrive in the office at 7 every morning, stiffly do his work and leave at 4 p.m. Stoffer could never get him to loosen up or go to any social functions until the interns’ final night when he took the group out for a goodbye party. He could see Obriza was interested in another intern, Oleksandra Khaybullina, but wasn’t doing anything about it. When Stoffer asked why, Obriza said he liked the girl, but that she lived on the other side of Ukraine and he was afraid to talk to her. “Yuriy, if you don’t go over there now and kiss her,” Stoffer said, “I will.” Obriza froze. So Stoffer went over and asked permission to kiss her. She agreed and he proceeded with a passionate Gone With the Wind style embrace. “That’s how it’s done,” the MP told Obriza. The young intern ﬁnally got up the courage to approach Khaybullina. Within minutes they were having a great time. The next day Obriza rolled into the office late (at noon!) for his last day. Today, Stoffer has a photograph of Obriza and Khaybullina in his office. It’s from their wedding. Continue…
By Mitchel Raphael - Monday, October 19, 2009 at 4:50 PM - 3 Comments
The Canadian Pork Council held a special reception at the Sheraton hotel. Below, Liberal…
The Canadian Pork Council held a special reception at the Sheraton hotel. Below, Liberal MP Mark Eyking.
Eyking with some of the pork being served.