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 Aaron Wherry - Sunday, September 11, 2011 at 4:18 PM - 0 Comments
The speaking notes for John Baird’s remarks at the National Arts Centre memorial ceremony this morning.
Ladies and gentlemen, honoured guests, friends and colleagues: Those beautiful notes we just heard hang heavy with memories of that terrible morning 10 years ago.
On this solemn anniversary we remember and honour all those who lost their lives or a loved one. Nearly 3,000 people died that day – including 24 Canadians – in senseless acts of terror. Many left behind still grieve for the loved ones taken from them. Today, we stand with them in solemn solidarity. Sadly, the terrorist threat is still with us. Still very real.
By Michael Petrou - Friday, May 27, 2011 at 12:26 PM - 16 Comments
The National Arts Centre in Ottawa is hosting a “cultural day” put on by a front for the Iranian embassy in Canada.
“Iran Culture” is run out of the Iranian embassy on Metcalfe Street in Ottawa and is described on its website as the “cultural consulate” of the Islamic Republic. Its phone number, however, is different than that of the embassy, and there is no street address listed on the cultural centre’s website.
The centre’s website says a “cultural day” under the banner, “Iran, Land of Glory,” will be held in the National Arts Centre’s Panorama Room on June 4, from 12 to 8 p.m. The room has been rented out privately, meaning it is not a formal NAC event and the NAC is not selling tickets. The NAC receives half of its funding from the federal government. Continue…
By Mitchel Raphael - Tuesday, March 8, 2011 at 9:19 AM - 8 Comments
A giant Genie award worked its way on Parliament Hill as part of the…
A giant Genie award worked its way on Parliament Hill as part of the buildup to the 31st Annual Genie Awards which happen in Ottawa at the National Arts Centre on Thursday, March 10th. Below, Heritage Minister James Moore.
Liberal MP Rob Oliphant.
By Mitchel Raphael - Tuesday, March 1, 2011 at 8:58 PM - 0 Comments
New Brunswick Conservative Senator Carolyn Stewart Olsen hosted the Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada…
New Brunswick Conservative Senator Carolyn Stewart Olsen hosted the Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada at the National Arts Centre. The event was the world premier of the company’s Ghosts of Violence, a work that tackles the subject of women who have died at the hands of an intimate partner. Below is Stewart Olsen with Moncton Mayor George LeBlanc.
Liberal MPs Michelle Simson (left) and Anita Neville.
(L to R) New Brunswick Premier David Alward, Carolyn Stewart Olsen and Public Works and Status of Women Minister Rona Ambrose.
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, December 2, 2010 at 2:00 PM - 9 Comments
Justin Trudeau’s $1,600 lunch, What worries Peter MacKay’s date, Why Harper can’t grow a moustache
Justin Trudeau’s $1,600 lunch
The fourth annual What a Girl Wants fundraiser for the Canadian Liver Foundation featured local firefighters peeling off their uniforms, and a performance by drag queen Dixie Landers, who lip-synched to Bette Midler’s cover of Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy. The performer wore bright pink stilettos and received a compliment from none other than Laureen Harper, who told Ms. Landers, “I love your shoes.” Hollywood glamour was the dinner’s theme, and each table in the Fairmont Château Laurier ballroom was named after a silver screen icon. Mrs. Harper sat at the Marilyn Monroe table along with Justin Trudeau and one of the evening’s organizers, Annette Martin of the Canadian Liver Foundation (and wife of National Post columnist Don Martin). One table over sat Liberal MP Hedy Fry, sporting a Marilyn Monroe purse and matching shoes. Labour Minister Lisa Raitt showed off a small pink glittery purse she picked up at Wal-Mart for $5. Among the items auctioned off that night: lunch with Trudeau. When Capital Diary asked Mrs. Harper if she planned to bid, she quipped, “I just had dinner with him.” The Liberal MP fretted, tongue-in-cheek, that his new moustache—grown to support the Movember prostate cancer awareness campaign—might have a negative impact on bidding. So Trudeau took to the catwalk, loosening his tie, which raised appreciative cheers—and $1,600 for the charity. Liberal MP Kirsty Duncan bid $500 and won a Sex in the City jewellery cuff worn by Kim Cattrall’s character Samantha Jones. Duncan plans to donate the piece to another liver charity in honour of a Grade 9 student she mentored in her senior year of high school. They formed a close bond, but the younger student subsequently died of liver disease.
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, November 18, 2010 at 1:40 PM - 1 Comment
Look which journalist scored an interview with Mrs. Harper, Potash is a laughing matter—but only off the record
Look which journalist scored an interview with Mrs. Harper
Heritage Minister James Moore held his most recent movie night at the National Arts Centre, screening Barney’s Version, a film based on the Mordecai Richler novel. Moore’s goal for these nights is to introduce Canadian films to MPs and a “few” others. Well, more than 1,400 people attended this one, including producer Robert Lantos, Mordecai Richler’s wife Florence Richler and several of the film’s stars, including Canadian hunk Scott Speedman. Speedman’s silver-screen break was playing a vampire-werewolf hybrid in the first two Underworld ﬁlms, alongside Kate Beckinsale. Laureen Harper made Jayne Watson’s night by asking the CEO of the NAC Foundation to show Speedman to the washroom. Watson happily obliged. Mrs. Harper’s date was Labour Minister Lisa Raitt—who was unaware of the honour until she was escorted onto the red carpet to join Mrs. Harper (who is traditionally accompanied by House leader John Baird when Stephen Harper can’t make it). It seemed like Raitt’s lucky night all around when she scored the seat next to Speedman’s to watch the film—although she then had to move over to accommodate an NAC bigwig. When Mrs. Harper, who rarely does interviews, walked the red carpet, she did speak to a few reporters—including eTalk’s Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau, wife of Justin Trudeau. President of the Treasury Board Stockwell Day “snuck” some Twizzlers in for Mrs. Harper; on Moore’s movie nights, treats are verboten. There is, however, a VIP reception beforehand and, afterwards, a general reception with food inspired by the film—on this night, smoked salmon, bagels and battered chicken in honour of the film’s Jewish characters. A papier mâché bust of Richler graced the lobby. The artist, Susan Longmire, used pages from Barney’s Version to create the work. Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff and his wife, Zsuzsanna Zsohar, each gave the film two thumbs up. In fact, Iggy came back specially from Montreal for it. This was his first Moore movie night. There was talk the PM might also attend for the first time, but it was not to be.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, August 27, 2010 at 12:43 PM - 0 Comments
In the wake of Stephen Harper dancing, CTV and the Star consider the larger meaning and wider ramifications. CTV links this week’s vaguely rhythmic movement with Mr. Harper’s not-quite-in-tune singing ten months ago to suggest some sort of trend.
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, November 5, 2009 at 11:20 AM - 0 Comments
And who flirted with Rosemary Thompson
To Martha, from Stephen
After Toronto Liberal MP Martha Hall Findlay made a fuss about “partisan” images of the Prime Minister all over government websites, the pictures suddenly disappeared. Later, in the House, wanting to make a point of the Conservatives suddenly trying to mask the blatant advertising, she asked why “someone” had “removed dozens of photos of the Prime Minister from the website for the economic action plan.” The response came from Transport Minister John Baird: “While the Liberal party is trolling the Internet looking for pictures of the Prime Minister, it is this Conservative government that is working hard to create jobs to inspire more hope.” The next day Baird came over to Hall Findlay with a signed picture of Stephen Harper. The PM had inscribed it: “To Martha, I heard you’re looking for a photo!” Continue…
By Scott Feschuk - Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 10:00 AM - 5 Comments
One small step for Stephen Harper, one giant leap for the political strategist in us all
Enjoyable though it was, Stephen Harper’s performance of a Beatles song at a ritzy Ottawa gala may wind up being a moment we come to regret. It raised the stakes to the point that all future political photo ops will require, at minimum, a pair of hip-hugging satin trousers and a “surprise” appearance during Tango Night on So You Think You Can Dance. Be warned: even as you read these words, Jack Layton is grooming his chest hair and thinking, “Right foot back, left foot pass—and then I rip open my sequined blouse.”
The “humanization” of Stephen Harper has been almost a decade in the making, and frankly it’s a relief to finally see some progress. There have been so many failures along the way—when he hired that lady to pick out his ties, when he sent his kids off to school with a firm handshake, when he publicly devoured the flesh of the weak (I’m paraphrasing). No matter how many times he pretended to write a book about hockey, he just couldn’t connect with the common man. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 12:32 PM - 73 Comments
Our Rachel Mendleson consults the experts on Stephen Harper’s Starr-turn. Former Rheostatic Dave Bidini proves suspicious.
Harper was good, that much is sure. But was he too good? Though the experts agree it was Harper on vocals and keys, Dave Bidini, a founding member of The Rheostatics, wondered whether the performance was in fact pre-recorded. Bidini, says he knows “how difficult it is to sing, to have proper mic technique with a four-piece band, let alone a 17-piece orchestra.” But when Harper plays, says Bidini, “You can hear every word. Every note is in key. The fidelity of the performance seems remarkably, bizarrely good. It just raises my suspicion about whether it was live.”
Mr. Bidini offers similar analysis to FFWD weekly in Edmonton. But before you ask why Mr. Bidini hates Canada so much, keep in mind that he has not only written, but indeed published, three books about hockey.
By Rachel Mendleson - Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 10:30 AM - 22 Comments
Stephen Harper may not want to quit his day job. But that doesn’t mean he couldn’t.
Though Stephen Harper has on several occasions made reference to his weakness for karaoke, during almost four years in office, he’d never approached a microphone in public to do much more than speak. And while he often cited his piano playing skills as evidence of a love of the arts, few had actually seen him tickle the ivories. All that changed on Saturday when the prime minister strutted out on stage during a gala at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.
As he took his place at the piano and readied himself to play with world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma, no one, it seems, knew quite what to expect. After all, immovably hairsprayed tresses aren’t generally the mark of a classic rock front man. But by the time he’d finished the first verse of the Beatles’s “With a Little Help from My Friends,” it became apparent that Harper’s got talent. “He had decent tone, a clean voice,” says Zack Werner, the mercurial Canadian Idol judge known for his brutal honesty. “More than anything, it was like watching a little boy with a really pure love of the song. His love for the piece of music was actually rather infectious.” Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, October 5, 2009 at 6:45 PM - 33 Comments
The Scene. We are—as a people, as a political class, as a town quite bored with itself—easily impressed. So it is that the Prime Minister’s overt display this weekend of something approaching personality is being roundly hailed as something approaching significance. Mr. Harper played the piano and sang. In public. And such is the state of things that, were you to judge only the reaction, you might assume he’d personally negotiated the surrender of the Taliban, or at least convinced Gary Bettman to move a hockey team to Hamilton.
By those same standards, similar huzzahs are almost certainly due to the leader of the opposition, who, let the record show, stood in the House this day and asked a question that was almost not entirely rhetorical.
This was, mere months ago, his trademark: an insistence that Question Period be something other than an exchange of slanders. Alas, since returning this fall, with a new mandate of opposition to justify, he’s been less reason and inquiry and more piss and vinegar. Take, for instance, the first of his questions on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of last week. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, October 5, 2009 at 12:16 PM - 16 Comments
Dan Gardner dissents.
So apparently the cold and ruthless android who is the prime minister of Canada is actually human: We know this because he very successfully pulled off a carefully engineered PR stunt Saturday night at the NAC.
Or at least, pundits seem to think the latter fact proves the former. Me, I’m not so sure
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, October 5, 2009 at 9:05 AM - 2 Comments
The Telegraph’s Damian Thompson takes note.
Hat tip, our new jazz blogger Sebastian Scotney, who asks me: “How many British MPs would you have to boil to get one ounce of musical talent?” Hmm. An ounce is about right in this case, but my guess is that it won’t lose Stephen Harper any votes. Nice to see a Conservative with musical ambitions…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, October 5, 2009 at 1:33 AM - 52 Comments
The Citizen’s Richard Todd reviews the NAC gala.
Intermission had to wait just a bit longer when a rock group called Herring Bone came on stage. They were joined by Ma, who seems to be up for just about anything, and—are you ready for this?—the Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, who played the piano and sang, both unobtrusively. They all put together a spirited rendition of the Beatles’ song, A Little Help from my Friends.
By Jaime Weinman - Thursday, September 10, 2009 at 12:20 PM - 1 Comment
Ottawa’s National Arts Centre Orchestra is bucking recessionary thinking and going big
Most orchestras are downsizing in times like these, but the National Arts Centre Orchestra is upsizing. The Ottawa orchestra is sometimes classified as a chamber group, and specializes in smaller-scale pieces like the works of Mozart. But now the NACO is programming a lot of music that will require it to pay a bunch of extra musicians. To celebrate the NACO’s 40th anniversary, music director Pinchas Zukerman will lead Gustav Mahler’s first symphony (Titan), a piece the orchestra has never performed before—most likely because it’s usually done with 100 musicians, and the NACO has about 50. Another concert will feature the equally big Don Juan by Mahler’s contemporary Richard Strauss. Most ambitiously, the NACO has scheduled Mahler’s eighth symphony, called Symphony of a Thousand because it needs a huge orchestra and three choruses; it will literally require a second orchestra (Quebec’s Orchestre Métropolitain). Unlike most of his predecessors, Zukerman has been trying to move the orchestra’s repertoire into grandiose 19th-century music. Daphne Burt, manager of artistic planning for the orchestra, says that its future “is linked to careful and systematic programming of larger works.” It’s an interesting strategy for a small-scale era: think big.
Burt says that each piece will require a different number of extra musicians, depending on the music and what the conductors want. For the early Mahler symphony, Zukerman will beef up the string section with 10 new string players, selecting them from a pool of musicians they use “for replacing anyone who is ill, injured, or on family leave.” But they’ll still have a smaller orchestra than these pieces demand, and not all observers feel that such music is right for the orchestra or its conductors. Critic Vivek H. Dehejia wrote an article for the NAC website in which he was positive about some of the NACO’s past attempts at Mahler, but told Maclean’s that when Zukerman led a big-orchestra symphony by Anton Bruckner a couple of seasons ago, it was “an unmitigated disaster.” Continue…
By Mitchel Raphael - Tuesday, May 5, 2009 at 9:45 PM - 0 Comments
Dozens of Ottawa’s chefs paid their respects at the funeral of Kurt Waldele, 61,…
Dozens of Ottawa’s chefs paid their respects at the funeral of Kurt Waldele, 61, who passed away from lymphatic cancer. Most had worked with him at some point during his more than 30 years as executive chef at the National Arts Centre.
By Mitchel Raphael - Wednesday, April 29, 2009 at 10:01 AM - 23 Comments
The National Arts Centre launched their B.C. Scene festival, which highlights the province’s arts….
The National Arts Centre launched their B.C. Scene festival, which highlights the province’s arts.
Several giant cardboard boxes were set up where people went inside for a performance. Here Stockwell Day, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, challenges Death to a game of chess.
This actor’s performance piece included invited people to join her in bed and pretend to be her husband—and then she proceeded to get mad at them.