By Mitchel Raphael - Monday, November 5, 2012 - 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 - 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 - 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 - Monday, July 16, 2012 at 12:35 PM - 0 Comments
Tory Sen. Salma Ataullahjan held a one of the better receptions on the Hill…
Tory Sen. Salma Ataullahjan held a one of the better receptions on the Hill in honour of the Canada Pakistan Parliamentary Association.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, May 18, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
In response to the Heritage Minister’s criticism of the Canadian Science and Technology Museum, Senator Nancy Ruth questions James Moore’s judgment. Peter Julian mocks. Ottawa Citizen columnist Peter Simpson considers.
In a CBC panel, Dean Del Mastro, the Prime Minister’s parliamentary secretary, questioned the parameters of science and compared the exhibit to what might be found in an adult video store.
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, March 22, 2012 at 9:10 AM - 0 Comments
Egale, Canada’s national lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) human rights organization, held a…
Egale, Canada’s national lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) human rights organization, held a special all-party reception in the Hill hosted by Tory Senator Nancy Ruth.
By Mitchel Raphael - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 at 11:49 AM - 0 Comments
A shoeless MP, the Senatrix Martini, and a meeting with Celine Dion
Raitt ditches her heels
A snap vote to attempt to delay the Conservatives’ controversial omnibus crime bill saw MPs racing to make it into the House of Commons last week. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney got in seconds after the warning bells stopped. Labour Minister Lisa Raitt whisked in just before him, but she’d had to remove her high-heeled shoes as she bolted down the staircase to make it to the chamber on time.
The Senatrix martini
MPs from all parties packed a reception hosted by Canada’s gay rights group Egale. The event was hosted by Tory Sen. Nancy Ruth. Before she addressed the boisterous crowd, the senator tried to quiet it, shouting, “Shut up!” This prompted Liberal MP Justin Trudeau to quip, “Shut the f–k up usually works better”—referring to what she famously told aid groups who protested against the Prime Minister’s refusal to fund abortions as part of its international maternal health initiative. If they didn’t, the senator suggested, they would face “more backlash” from the Tories. Egale had a juggling barman serving martinis, one called the “Senatrix,” named for Nancy Ruth, and another called the “Naked Whip.” Colourful platters included edible flowers, one of which was tasted by Toronto NDP MP Rathika Sitsabaiesan. One gay Hill staffer, who used to be in the Prime Minister’s Office with Stephen Harper, told Capital Diary of the time the PM congratulated him on his same-sex marriage. Stephen Harper went on to make his dream come true when, on a trip, the Prime Minister surprised the staffer by pulling him aside and allowing him to meet Céline Dion, who he was preparing to greet.
At the reception, Egale told Capital Diary it is working with coroners to track gay suicide deaths. In Saskatchewan, it is involved with the province to train police officers about LGBT issues, and in Newfoundland it is co-operating with the government to provide anti-homophobia resources in classrooms.
Why robocalls aren’t popular in the Arctic
NDP MP Dennis Bevington said in the 2008 election he used robocalls to send messages to voters in his Western Arctic riding. He hasn’t used them since. The problem, he says, was the response from constituents. They kept telling him: “Hey, I tried to say something to you but all you did was keep talking and talking. I couldn’t get a word in.”
The perfect campaign jacket
NDP leadership candidates have been fanning across the country as their March 23-24 convention, and the vote for Jack Layton’s replacement, nears. Few are in Ottawa, but last week Niki Ashton made a short return to the capital, turning heads in a bright orange coat she’s dubbed her “campaign jacket.” Ashton says the coat was strategic because she needed something for outdoor photo-ops in wet and cold weather. She says the coat has been perfect in all of Canada except when she is back in her home riding of Churchill in Manitoba. “Then I need my Canada Goose,” says Ashton.
Trying the robocall scandal dish
At the centre of the robocall scandal is the riding of Guelph, where there happens to be a food joint called Pierre’s Poutine. “Pierre Poutine,” of course, was the name used to set up a robocall account to target the riding. Frank Valeriote, the Liberal MP who represents the riding, says he’s never been there. Indeed, he only recently tried poutine for the first time, at the Royal Oak, an Ottawa pub. All the talk of “Pierre Poutine” got him thinking he needed to at least taste the stuff.
Down to floor space
As the hype continues to build for the Calgary Stampede’s 100th anniversary in July, so do the requests by friends to Calgary MP Lee Richardson to crash at his place. “I keep saying yes,” says the Tory MP. The problem is he’s getting set to demolish his house, and during the Stampede he’ll be renting a smaller one. Book now with Richardson for Stampede 2013.
By Mitchel Raphael - Monday, February 13, 2012 at 10:20 AM - 0 Comments
Will Trudeau go blue?
Things are heating up between Liberal MP Justin Trudeau…,
Will Trudeau go blue?
Things are heating up between Liberal MP Justin Trudeau, 40, and Conservative Sen. Patrick Brazeau, 37. The two are set to go at it in the ring on March 31 in a charity boxing match for Fight for the Cure. Trudeau trained as a boxer years ago and is currently working out in the ring and watching Tae Bo videos. Brazeau holds a second-degree black belt in karate. The fight will be for real. “If I break my nose, then I break my nose,” says Trudeau. The Liberal MP’s wife, Sophie Grégoire, has also helped her husband prepare for the showdown by purchasing Trudeau a robe with his name on the back. But Trudeau is not sure he can wear it. Says the MP, “The robe is blue and I’m fighting from the Liberal red corner!”
Minister skirts issue on transgendered
Much drama last week over the issue of transgendered people needing to match the sex on their identification when travelling by air. Gay Liberal MP Scott Brison could not resist a few one-liners. “I thought airport security was already a drag.” On how Transport Minister Denis Lebel handled himself in question period, Brison quipped, “The minister skirted the issue.” More seriously, Calgary Conservative MP Lee Richardson said such security issues could be solved if people, for example, “just matched their iris identiﬁcation” within an enhanced security system.
Conservative advice for Occupiers
Alumni from Nova Scotia’s Mount Saint Vincent University gathered on the Hill for a reception. The event was hosted by Nova Scotia Liberal Sen. Jane Cordy, NDP MP Megan Leslie, who represents Halifax, and Conservative Sen. Nancy Ruth, who established Nancy’s Chair in Women’s Studies at the Mount in the ’80s when the government at the time offered to create four women’s studies chairs across the country as long as the university matched the funding. Nancy Ruth stepped up and donated the $500,000 needed. She has an honorary degree from the Mount and last fall joined Sheila Fraser when the former auditor general received her honorary degree. At the time the senator spoke to a class of students who were supposed to hear a lecture about women and politics, but the students were more interested in asking her questions about the Occupy movement. “What do you do when the police come and pick you up?” asked one person. She told the students to find out who was on their police services board and added this advice: “Never protest alone, always work with other networks.” At the Hill reception, Liberal MP Geoff Regan asked that the attendees be told he had to leave before the speeches because he was on House duty. This prompted NDP MP Peter Stoffer to quip: “I’m on House duty but I’m not going.”
By Mitchel Raphael - Friday, November 25, 2011 at 3:11 PM - 0 Comments
Maclean’s 5th annual Parliamentarians of the Year Awards ceremony at the Fairmont Château Laurier. …
Maclean’s 5th annual Parliamentarians of the Year Awards ceremony at the Fairmont Château Laurier. See winners here.
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 5, 2011 at 11:05 AM - 1 Comment
‘I’ll call you’
At this year’s Toronto Pride parade on July 3, Rev. Brent …
‘I’ll call you’
At this year’s Toronto Pride parade on July 3, Rev. Brent Hawkes’s Metropolitan Community Church contingent was several groups ahead of the NDP. His group got to the end of the route and then Hawkes waited to watch the rest of the parade. When Jack Layton, who was being pulled in a rickshaw, spotted him, he gave him the sign for “I’ll call you.” The two met soon afterwards. It turned out Layton wanted to plan for the possibility of his death and asked Hawkes to officiate at his funeral. The gay pastor, who helped lead the crusade for same-sex marriage in Canada, was humbled. “You can get the head of the United Church. You could get a bishop,” Hawkes told Layton. The NDP leader insisted he wanted Hawkes. It would be a strong political statement. Hawkes notes that his friend “wasn’t afraid to embrace the edges of our community.” Layton, after all, is the politician who once had towels printed up promoting one of his early municipal campaigns; they were handed out in gay bathhouses.
She sang it at their wedding
Jack Layton died on Aug. 22 at 4:45 a.m. At 6:30 a.m. that day, former Parachute Club singer Lorraine Segato got the call requesting she perform her famous ’80s song Rise Up at the funeral. It was the song she had sung at Layton and Olivia Chow’s wedding in 1988. “They were both really partying with us on Queen Street in the early eighties,” recalls Segato. In 2004 at the Juno Awards in Edmonton, Segato arranged for Layton to meet the performers backstage. “He partied with us until three in the morning.” A few weeks later, Layton would be in full election mode.
By Mitchel Raphael - Monday, March 7, 2011 at 3:30 PM - 2 Comments
Does Bev Oda know?
These have been rough times for International Co-operation Minister Bev …
Does Bev Oda know?
These have been rough times for International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda. Just before the scandal surrounding the addition of the word “not” into her department’s funding recommendations blew up, she had eye surgery, resulting in her having to wear sunglasses most of the time in the House. It’s also meant the notes she refers to have to be supersized, a feature not lost on some Liberals who sit in the gallery above Oda and who told Capital Diary they can read what the notes say.
Svend Robinson rumours
With the announcement that NDP MP Bill Siksay would not be running in the next election, there were whispers on the Hill that Svend Robinson, the man who held the seat before him, might make a comeback. Siksay was Robinson’s aide for many years and ran after Robinson bowed out of politics. Robinson did try a comeback in the 2006 election, going up against Hedy Fry, but lost to the Teflon Liberal who has had big name after big name try to defeat her. Robinson was recently on the Hill meeting with MPs who are on the HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis (HAT) parliamentary caucus founded by Liberal MP Ruby Dhalla. Robinson told Capital Diary there is no chance he will run. He likes his job with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which involves working with elected officials all over the world to secure funding. Robinson notes that the Harper government increased funding to the Global Fund last year by 20 per cent and he is happy to give credit where it is due: “The buck stops at [the PM's] desk. Good for Stephen.”
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 8:45 AM - 0 Comments
The gay rights group Egale held their second annual gala at Toronto’s Royal York…
The gay rights group Egale held their second annual gala at Toronto’s Royal York Hotel. The gala honoured TD bank CEO Ed Clark with a leadership award. The night raised money for the programs to battle homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools. Below, Tory Senator Nancy Ruth (left) and singer Carole Pope.
CBC anchor Andrew Nichols (left) and Salah Bachir.
Senator Linda Frum (right) and her husband Howard Sokolowski.
Former New Zealand MP Georgina Beyer (left) and NDP leader Jack Layton.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, June 2, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 9 Comments
Sen. Nancy Ruth’s plain speaking has landed her in trouble, and won her some surprising fans
Two weeks after advising aid groups concerned with the government’s opposition to funding abortion abroad to “shut the f–k up,” Sen. Nancy Ruth is on the phone attempting to explain her expletive. “Looking back at it, I made a mistake,” she says. “I should never have said it. In any form of language. Groups need to talk when they need to talk.”
Which is not to say she doesn’t still worry that reopening the abortion debate, in any fashion, might only lead to new limits in Canada. That strategically, as was her intended point, it might not make sense to pursue such a fight—especially if, as she imagines, abortion will end up being covered, one way or another, in a G8 plan for maternal health.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, May 28, 2010 at 2:09 PM - 53 Comments
In this week’s print edition there is a short profile under this byline of Senator Nancy Ruth, the last paragraph of which contains a surprise twist.
Four weeks ago, as is well-documented, Ms. Ruth advised a gathering of aid groups to “shut the f— up” about Canada’s funding of access to safe abortion overseas (in this week’s Maclean’s, you’ll see she admits saying so was a mistake, even if she stands by the concern she was intending to convey). Those comments drew an official rebuke from the Liberal side. But, in a subsequent letter to Liberal critic Anita Neville, the panel that participated in that day’s discussion actually defended Ms. Ruth, as follows. Continue…
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 11:20 AM - 3 Comments
Ultimate Fighting champion hits the Hill, Why can’t mps get her name right? and Who really wants to be a senator?
Ultimate Fighting champion hits the Hill
MPs from all parties joined a long lineup on the Hill to pay homage to Ultimate Fighting Championship champ and Quebec native Georges St-Pierre. Among those in line were Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe, who got an autograph for his grandson, and Liberal MP Justin Trudeau, who said he used to train in the same boxing gym as St-Pierre. MP Glenn Thibeault is a big UFC fan and also the NDP’s sports critic. Ironically, he has requested a royal commission to examine violence in sports. But the MP stresses that the difference between the UFC and, say, hockey, is that the premise of the UFC is “structured” fighting as opposed to what he calls “gratuitous” violence. St-Pierre was invited to the Hill by Heritage Minister James Moore, who calls the UFC champ “a great Canadian.” (Moore owns the UFC video game and plans to get the new edition when it hits stores.) The minister hopes that Ontario will follow the lead of British Columbia, Quebec, Alberta and other provinces where the fights are allowed. Moore had hoped to have St-Pierre recognized by Speaker Peter Milliken after question period, but then found out that also sitting in the Speaker’s gallery that day was Bogdan Borusewicz, Poland’s speaker of the Senate, and Vice-Admiral Dean McFadden, head of the Canadian navy, who was there to commemorate the centennial of the Canadian navy. Moore decided not to ask the Speaker to recognize St-Pierre so as not to upstage the other dignitaries present. That message apparently didn’t get through to some Tories who were visibly disappointed when St-Pierre wasn’t recognized. Treasury Board president and UFC fan Stockwell Day, for one, looked upset and let out a loud “aw.’” Transport Minister John Baird shouted out to St-Pierre: “I would have recognized you.”
By Mitchel Raphael - Wednesday, May 12, 2010 at 9:15 AM - 7 Comments
The final All-Party Party organized by NDP MP Peter Stoffer packed 200 West Block….
The final All-Party Party organized by NDP MP Peter Stoffer packed 200 West Block. The building is scheduled for major maintenance and will be closed for years. Below, Liberal Senator David Smith (left) and Tory Senator Nancy Ruth take to the dance floor.
Liberal MP Siobhan Coady.
By Mitchel Raphael - Tuesday, May 11, 2010 at 10:25 PM - 0 Comments
Liberal Senator Bill Rompkey (below) held a book launch on the Hill for St….
Liberal Senator Bill Rompkey (below) held a book launch on the Hill for St. John’s and the Battle of the Atlantic, which he edited.
Tory Senator Nancy Ruth.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 6, 2010 at 1:38 PM - 58 Comments
Senator Elaine McCoy considers Senator Nancy Ruth’s four-letter word.
How galling it must be for one of Canada’s most outspoken feminists to come to the conclusion that the best way forward is to “shut the f*** up“. Senator Nancy Ruth (ON) has never in her life shied away from a fight. When women stormed the barricades in 1981 to insist on including gender equality in the new Charter of Rights and Freedoms, for example, she was right there. Ever since then, she’s dedicated herself to supporting women, and even maintains a website called Section15.ca which helps keep the Charter success alive. Now, thirty years later, she’s reduced to advocating silence for fear of escalating backlash against women’s rights.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, May 5, 2010 at 6:20 PM - 44 Comments
The Scene. The Prime Minister’s empty chair did not seem likely to answer, but Michael Ignatieff went ahead anyway and wondered whether Mr. Harper might commit to restoring the funding of 11 women’s groups whose cuts came a day after a Conservative senator profanely advised an audience of aggrieved advocates to mind their p’s and q’s.
John Baird stood in Mr. Harper’s place to claim both facts and platitudes. ”Mr. Speaker, let me be very clear,” he said, “this government is giving a record amount of funding to support women’s groups. We do have one big criteria, we want less talk and more action.”
The House was left to judge the applicability of this. Mr. Ignatieff was not satisfied and rose again to expand on his exposition.
“Mr. Speaker, when women’s groups speak out, they get their funding cut,” he reviewed. “When public servants like Richard Colvin testify, they get smeared. When independent watchdogs try to do their job, they get fired. When Parliament asks tough questions, the Conservatives shut the Parliament down. When will the Conservative Party and the government stop intimidating their critics and start listening to them?”
There was much whining and yapping from the government side. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, May 4, 2010 at 6:54 PM - 263 Comments
The Scene. Bob Rae watched the Speaker for his cue and then, when called upon, checked his tie and stood to face the government side.
“Mr. Speaker, I am going to have to try to find the words to ask this question,” he began. “Yesterday, Senator Ruth gave perhaps the pithiest, sharpest description one can imagine of Conservative political policy that we have all heard in a long time.”
This was perhaps not quite a compliment.
“Her advice to groups that are criticizing the government or that have an issue with the government or might want to raise the issue was, I am not going to quote entirely, quite simply,” he continued, turning to the Speaker with a somewhat apologetic look on his face, “Shut the ‘F’ up.”
You can for yourself imagine what the “F” here represents. We at this demure publication do not make a habit of printing the word, so I can only tell you that it begins with an F and that after that come three letters I can only represent with dashes.
“This is what has come to the current government,” Mr. Rae lamented. “This is a culture of intimidation that has now been established by the Conservative Party: If someone has a disagreement with the government, just shut the F up.”
Here then came the polite and proper and restrained Transport Minister John Baird to respond. “Mr. Speaker,” he reported, “obviously that type of language is completely unacceptable.”
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, May 3, 2010 at 4:02 PM - 116 Comments
Last week, Jim Abbott was quite insistent that “no one” wanted to debate the issue. Today, Conservative Senator Nancy Ruth told aid groups to “shut the f— up.” Glen Pearson, meanwhile, lends a firsthand perspective to the debate we’re not advised to partake in.
This is what makes all the hoopla circling around CIDA’s decision not to fund groups that undertake abortion procedures so maddening. Maintaining a pro-life decision in Africa often results in the death of expectant mothers. I have listened to the debates and realize that both sides have their legitimate arguments. The problem is that Bakhita died because we argued so vociferously that we eventually forgot her. She perished because we live in a political world in Canada that plays more to our party base and retail politics than it does to a woman dying in her family home after great personal suffering and loss.
There is something remarkably unheroic about this. A government suddenly decides after 25 years of international practice that it won’t fund a group that could have helped Bakhita. Yet at the same time, it doesn’t possess the courage to live its morality at home in Canada because to do so could result in an election loss. All the fervent pro-lifers in the governing party practice their ethics on a poor woman far away in Africa, yet refuse to stake such a claim at home because in the end it never is about Bakhita but about power. Their pro-life stance ultimately led to death.
By Mitchel Raphael - Friday, April 30, 2010 at 3:47 PM - 18 Comments
The Conservatives’ Law Enforcement Officers Caucus held a special reception for the Canadian Police…
The Conservatives’ Law Enforcement Officers Caucus held a special reception for the Canadian Police Association while they were in town. Below is caucus chair Shelly Glover.
Senator Nancy Ruth with the boys in blue.
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 Andrew Coyne - Monday, March 15, 2010 at 6:00 AM - 187 Comments
ANDREW COYNE: No wonder nothing gets done in Ottawa. Everyone is scared.
This Parliament began, a little more than a year ago, with a short-lived attempt at forming a coalition government. In its place has emerged something much more enduring: a coalition non-government. The government pretends to govern, and the opposition pretends to oppose it, and both sides seem quite content with their appointed roles. Because everyone’s too afraid to do anything else. Fear is the order of the day in today’s Parliament, and it has paralyzed the place.
I had thought, and written, that the return of Parliament, after all the controversy over prorogation, would see “a ferocious battle of narratives” between a government determined to use the dual occasion of the Throne Speech and budget to shift the agenda on to its preferred ground of the economy, and an opposition equally determined to keep the heat on the government over its handling of the Afghan detainees file, and its refusal to hand over the documents Parliament had demanded in this regard.
Boy, was I wrong. When the proposal to change the wording of O Canada first excited controversy, conspiracy theorists saw it as an attempt to distract public attention from the rest of the government’s agenda. There are several flaws with this theory, but chief among them is the notion that there exists some sort of “agenda” to be distracted from. It’s difficult to say, of course: Throne Speeches are notoriously enigmatic documents. But what had appeared at first blush to be signs of a revival of economic conservatism has not survived closer scrutiny.