By macleans.ca - Wednesday, October 3, 2012 - 0 Comments
The birth of a universal restroom language
Maclean’s is partnering with the Historica-Dominion Institute to celebrate the return of the Heritage Minutes. Over the next few weeks we’ll be featuring the most memorable Minutes, along with a few illustrious parodies, and a sneak peek of the brand new Minute set to be released on Oct. 15 for the bicentennial of the War of 1812.
Rick Mercer has been a long time viewer of the Heritage Minutes, making parodies of them for the Mercer Report that include riffs on Canada’s bad timing, our passion for fighting over hockey, and notable inventions such as the B52 (the drink, that is), plastic garbage bags—and men and women bathroom signs:
By Rick Mercer - Friday, September 21, 2012 at 11:30 AM - 0 Comments
Ranting is a ‘skill’ the comedian learned from his mother—and he says Canadians don’t do it enough
I didn’t come out of the womb ranting but chances are I heard a few good ones while I was in there.
Indeed, if my instinct to rant comes from anywhere it’s my mother.
One of my earliest life-defining memories as a kid was being dragged against my will to the bank because Mom had a meeting.
I can remember sitting in a chair next to my mother while she had an excruciatingly dull conversation with a banker. I remember wondering what I had done to be forced to sit through this and if it were actually possible to die from boredom. And then everything changed. I will never forget the moment. The banker leaned forward and said, “Now Mrs. Mercer, do you have your husband’s permission to do this? Perhaps we should give him a call.”
By Mitchel Raphael - Sunday, July 1, 2012 at 9:00 PM - 0 Comments
Parade gathers politicians, leadership hopefuls and Mulcair Bears
Politicians were out for Toronto’s annual gay pride parade.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, October 3, 2011 at 7:49 PM - 1 Comment
The Liberals appear set to be reelected in Prince Edward Island with
2122 seats to sixfive for the Progressive Conservatives. Here’s the applicable Rick Mercer skit.
The Northwest Territories also votes today. Results will be presumably posted here once they are available.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, August 12, 2011 at 1:50 PM - 2 Comments
In light of events in British Columbia and Wisconsin, Greg Fingas defends direct democracy initiatives.
The leading example is of course California, whose combination of conflicting citizen initiatives and political gridlock has made it virtually impossible to make reasonable budgetary decisions or carry out any long-term planning. And direct democratic processes shouldn’t serve as the only outlet for citizen involvement between elections. Indeed, both of the above examples could have been avoided if the governments involved had consulted with residents to determine whether their policy choices were even faintly defensible.
But there’s always some risk that a government that believes itself to be four years away from any accountability might push far beyond the limits of reasonable political choice. And some mechanism for citizens to take back our representative authority in case of emergency might work wonders to reduce the danger of overreach in the future.
By Mitchel Raphael - Monday, July 11, 2011 at 9:50 AM - 0 Comments
Politicians with bad hips…
At Toronto’s 31st annual Pride Parade it was all about
Politicians with bad hips
At Toronto’s 31st annual Pride Parade it was all about party leaders in rickshaws. Green Leader Elizabeth May rode in one as she has in every parade since having a hip replaced in 2007. This time, NDP Leader Jack Layton, who still walks with a cane after hip surgery, was pulled in one covered in rainbow flags. His team was prepared for all the people who insist on spraying politicians with huge water guns—a nightmare for anyone with a BlackBerry. At one point Layton’s wife, MP Olivia Chow, took a water cannon shot in the back to protect him. Chow then opened a rainbow umbrella to deflect further H20 assaults from Layton’s left flank; a volunteer opened a huge orange umbrella to protect him on the right. May is waiting to have surgery on her other hip and says after that she will be able to walk in the Pride Parade. The Liberal MP presence was diminished this year. Interim leader Bob Rae and Carolyn Bennett were the only two elected Grit MPs. Rob Oliphant, who was defeated in the last election, was also in attendance. Rae’s wife, Arlene Perly Rae, demonstrated powerful arm strength as she tossed bead necklaces into the crowd. One shot accidentally hit a photographer and she quickly went over and apologized.
‘Screw the cottage’
There was much anger and campy commentary over Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s snub of all Pride festivities. (Ford said he always goes to his cottage for Canada Day weekend and would not be attending Pride.) Former Toronto mayors were well represented. David Miller and Barbara Hall marched and Mel Lastman sent a letter that was read at the Metropolitan Community Church service before the parade began. Ford mockers were out in force. One man dressed as Ford held a sign saying “Screw the cottage.” Many wore Ford masks. “More people wore them on their ass than their face, which sums it up,” noted Fab magazine associate editor Drew Rowsome.
By Mitchel Raphael - Sunday, July 10, 2011 at 10:08 PM - 19 Comments
MPs hit the Toronto Pride Parade. Below, Green leader Elizabeth May (right) with Green…
MPs hit the Toronto Pride Parade. Below, Green leader Elizabeth May (right) with Green volunteer Michael Wall.
NDP leader Jack Layton and his MP wife Olivia Chow.
(Left to right) Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett, Liberal leader Bob Rae and former Liberal MP Rob Oliphant.
By Alex Ballingall - Thursday, June 9, 2011 at 9:25 AM - 12 Comments
Why jokes may be the best way to get young people talking politics
During a medical checkup last summer, Sean Devlin received a curious piece of advice from his doctor: stop reading the newspaper. It seemed the daily news cycle—packed with stories of an impending environmental crisis, economic turmoil and government corruption—was getting him down.
But the 27-year-old comedian and social activist didn’t heed the doctor’s advice. With the ultimate goal of getting more disaffected young people like himself interested in politics, Devlin created Truthfool Communications. The modus operandi of the Vancouver-based online marketing agency is to produce funny skits on the Internet that serve as public awareness campaigns about serious issues. So far, clients include the B.C. Poverty Reduction Coalition and Climate Action Network Canada. During last month’s election, Devlin unveiled shitharperdid.ca, a website detailing—in laughably plain parlance—some of the arguably questionable policies and decisions made by the Conservative government. The site features a stencilled drawing of Prime Minister Stephen Harper smiling and holding a fluffy cat. Emblazoned beside him are one-liners like: “Stephen Harper loves handcuffs, but not, you know, the sexy kind.” And each one links to an actual news story that provides the information and context behind the joke—in this case, a Toronto Star article about the security costs and arrests made during last year’s G20 summit in Toronto.
Devlin claims to be tapping into something particular to his generation: a profound appreciation for humour. “A joke is just a way to open the door,” he says. “We try to use humour to get people’s attention, and then we explore the more serious issues.” The strategy has a long tradition in Canada, reaching back to the 1950s with Don Harron’s antics as Charlie Farquharson. More recently, Canadians have seen political knee-slappers come from the Royal Canadian Air Farce and This Hour Has 22 Minutes. But the current generation has grown up in the midst of an acute rise in the effectiveness of political satire, says Megan Boler, a professor of philosophy and media studies at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. It’s a generation that grew up watching The Mercer Report, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. So, as Boler points out, it shouldn’t be surprising that it was Rick Mercer who issued the call that led to a series of celebratory “vote mobs” during this year’s election campaign.
By Rick Mercer - Thursday, April 28, 2011 at 11:30 AM - 149 Comments
Rick Mercer on what he learned on the campaign trail with the party leaders
Grown men all over North America pay big money for the privilege of riding on a horse, sleeping on the ground and spending 12 hours a day driving cattle down a dusty trail with actual cowboys. For me, going out on the campaign trail, riding on the planes and following the leaders is pretty much the same thing. This wasn’t so much an assignment as it was a trip to a dude ranch. Some men want to strap on leather chaps and breathe in the aroma of cow dung; I want to slap on a press pass and breathe the same air as Harper, Iggy and Jack.
To get a seat on those planes is not an easy proposition. The Conservative party charges media organizations $50,000 for a seat. In return you get fed and watered—after that, all bets are off. There is no guarantee you get to ask a question, just the guarantee you won’t.
My week at the dude ranch started with the big gun: Team Harper. I met up with them in Rivière-du-Loup, Que., rode the bus to Edmundston, N.B., flew to Fredericton, crossed the pond to Conception Bay South, Nfld., back to Sydney, N.S., and then on to the Nation’s Capital.
By Rick Mercer - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 5:30 PM - 79 Comments
MERCER: Unlike some, at least he had the courage to bring the person he was dating to an event at the boss’s house
I am about to be embedded. This week, in the employ of Maclean’s, I will be following in the footsteps of a long line of brave journalists who risked life and limb to get the real story, visiting hot spots and danger zones all over the world without any regard for personal safety. This is the week where I will follow Canada’s leaders around the country on the campaign trail. I will go where I am told, take notes and try my darndest to become co-opted by unlimited glasses of Canadian wine and deli-grade funeral meats. I am, if nothing, a cheap date.
While I admit I am not a journalist, I do play one on TV, so the thought of sitting on an actual campaign plane hobnobbing with Craig Oliver has me very excited. Like Keith Richards, Craig has been around. He has stories.
The actual process of becoming embedded, however, has left me shaken.
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, April 16, 2011 at 4:27 PM - 80 Comments
Stephen Harper said it would be easy to cut $11-billion from the federal budget and claimed Canada for the Conservatives. He and Helena Guergis continued to disagree. Ethnically attired extras were invited to pose with the Prime Minister, while student votes in Guelph were challenged and then redeemed.
Canadian Press obtained the first draft of the Auditor General’s report on the G8-related spending in Tony Clement’s riding. The Conservatives leaked a second draft. John Baird lauded the symbolism of publicly funded toilets. Jack Layton asked for the final report to be released and everyone agreed, except the Auditor General, who decided it had to wait until Parliament returns. Continue…
By Rick Mercer - Friday, April 8, 2011 at 10:38 AM - 96 Comments
RICK MERCER: While Harper looks awkward and Iggy learns low expectations are his friend, lowlier politicians rejoice
Michael Ignatieff’s campaign is a magnificent triumph! Canadians are seeing a side of the man that they did not know existed and they are excited about what they see. This is according to the people who work for Mr. Ignatieff and whose future employment prospects are tied directly to his success or failure.
The joy permeating out of the Liberal camp in week two reminds me of the joy my parents experienced when my final Grade 8 report card came in. Eyes darted past the C’s and B’s, the F in gym, past the multiple “needs improvement,” past the “still owes $60 to the chocolate almond fund,” and finally settled on the most reassuring words any parents could read: “advance to Grade 9.” They could not have been happier. After a year of lowered expectations, it seemed like a miracle. He doesn’t have to go to summer school! Clearly the boy is a genius. Likewise the Liberal refrain: “Iggy is on fire.”
Low expectations are your friend. I learned that lesson in junior high; Ignatieff is just figuring this out now, but it is working for him. So far he has held his own, hasn’t fallen off the podium or wandered down any strange roads pondering in public about “anticipatory hypotheticals.” While this is good news for Liberals, low expectations will only take you so far. It may be a good strategy if you are trying to avoid being grounded, but it’s a hell of a way to become prime minister.
On the Prime Minister’s tour the word is that the Harper campaign is a disaster! The Prime Minister’s photo ops are coming across as stiff and scripted. This according to people who, I am guessing, haven’t watched a Harper campaign before, because this one is no different than his others and oh would you look at that—he keeps getting elected Prime Minister.
Sure, he doesn’t look comfortable sitting at a piano listening to a child serenade him with Lady Gaga’s Born This Way. Can you blame him? Who put that together? “Prime Minister, are you familiar with Ms. Gaga? Good news: turns out she is not a hermaphrodite, that was a wooden phallus she was wearing… anyway she has written a gay anthem and this little girl is going to sing it to you. Some of the lyrics are about transsexuals and drag queens, but she might skip those.”
And putting the Prime Minister on a four-wheel all-terrain vehicle? He doesn’t drive one of those. It’s not fair. That’s almost as ridiculous as putting him on a stage surrounded by guys doing exercises and having him announce that in five years you might get a tax cut if you join a gym, golf club or bathhouse. Oh wait, he did that too.
Personally, I would ditch these awkward staged moments. Harper’s happy place is on stage, talking to the party faithful about all the horrible things that will befall the nation if he is not elected. There he shines and there he connects with Canadians who are sitting at home watching TV and I guess being afraid. Ignatieff, on the other hand, is standing on his stage but has yet to connect. The polls reflect that.
But these men, Iggy and Harper, are the superstars. They are used to seeing their pictures in the newspaper. They are used to the highs and lows of being on the national stage. But there are many races happening in this country, and for those who toil in the backbenches this is their moment.
It’s not very often that you find all members of Parliament and all candidates in agreement, but they agree on this. They view the job of MP as a great public service and they like to remind us it is a noble one. They also agree that campaigns are a tough slog, but it is a sacrifice they are willing to make.
Personally, it’s the families and friends of politicians I feel bad for because God forbid you are related to one, or friends with one, or happened to go to school with one, or even made eye contact with one. They are a needy bunch. It’s like having a drug addict in the family.
They want money from you constantly. And on top of that, they demand your time and energy.
A politician’s hand is always out, especially during, before and after a campaign, and also before the next one.
Imagine if in order to keep your job, every so often you had to call everyone in your family, every friend, your in-laws, everyone in your yearbook and say, “I’m reapplying for my job again, can I have $500? Also, can you take time out of your busy schedule to show up at some long-forgotten Knights of Columbus hall and chant my name over and over again? And when I speak, can you cheer like you are witnessing Martin Luther King recite ‘I have a dream’ even though we both know I don’t have a clue?”
Most of us go through life trying to avoid hitting up our friends and family for money, and while sure, there are times when it may be inevitable, we try to avoid it becoming a habit.
Politicians are that rare breed. This doesn’t bother them. They are missing the dignity chip. A career politician like John Baird has, in his lifetime, asked more strangers for more money than all the squeegee kids in Canada combined. This is a sacrifice he and so many others are willing to make.
So what is it that allows these men and women to swallow their pride and say: yes, I will do this, I will stand for public office? I do not know.
Everywhere they go they have to stare at billboards and posters with their faces emblazoned across them as if they were suddenly transformed into Hollywood stars. They have to do media, sometimes many interviews a day; which, for an MP used to begging to get on local radio, can be exhausting. And then there is the constant barrage of volunteers to be managed, the old and experienced hands who do the heavy lifting mixed in with the young and impressionable keeners—the ones who wear tight T-shirts with your name across the front who never get tired of listening. And yes, there is the chanting and the applause.
Politicians may very well believe in public service, but for the vast majority it is the campaigns they live and die for; it is why they are put on Earth.
It is why, when you hear Stephen Harper saying he wishes there wasn’t an election, that’s like a dog saying he has grown tired of licking himself. It’s not true, not now, not ever.
By Rick Mercer - Monday, April 4, 2011 at 9:35 AM - 156 Comments
RICK MERCER: If the Conservatives want Jack’s prostate to be an election issue, let all the leaders’ health be on the table
Week one of the campaign and I admit I am starting to side with my friends who occasionally question my sanity for following Canadian politics at all, let alone closely. “Why in God’s name would you pay any attention to that bunch of boobs and losers?” they ask. “Boobs and losers,” I say? “These are the best and the brightest that Canada has to offer.” Depression soon kicks in.
Being a political junkie in this country is a bit like being a diehard Leafs fan. Year in and year out you believe you will witness magic; year in and year out you experience the opposite. But yet, you continue to show up, cheer on the team, pay through the nose for a hot dog and it almost always ends in tears.
This election certainly started out with a bang. My prediction that the Liberals would at the last minute run away and hide behind the dumpsters on Parliament Hill, avoiding the vote they triggered, did not come to pass. The government was defeated on a confidence motion because they were in contempt of the Canadian Parliament—a vote that Stephen Harper immediately claimed did not occur. He didn’t argue about the semantics of the vote; he simply denied it happened at all, preferring instead to believe his government was defeated on the budget. There is evidence to the contrary: he was there and it was on TV, but still, as far as he is concerned, it didn’t happen. Some people might consider this inability to understand or admit to what is happening in one’s immediate surroundings systematic of a small stroke or a severe concussion, but in Ottawa it’s just a symptom of spending too much time around people in the PMO.
I like elections. Governments don’t just fall every day, but I understand why some people feel that they do. Three elections in five years is a lot. I have baking soda in the fridge that is older than the Harper government, and I still have Tabasco from the Paul Martin era.
But elections are important. We all know that $300 million is a lot of money—it is a sobering fact that $300 million could be used to purchase 1,000 MRI machines for rural Canada… or six gazebos in Tony Clement’s riding. But this is a democracy and this is the cost of doing business.
According to Stephen Harper, this election is about choices. We can elect a stable, majority Conservative government or a coalition of Liberals, socialists, separatists, criminals and child predators, and not in that particular order.
Michael Ignatieff also says this election is about choice. He says we have a choice between the Red Door and the Blue Door, blissfully unaware that it is not the doors that people are wary of, but the knobs out front.
Jack Layton says there is one choice: make him the next prime minister of Canada. He too may be suffering from a concussion.
That said, once the government fell, both Harper and Ignatieff showed they do things very differently. The choices are stark. Stephen Harper made a terse statement on the situation and refused to take questions. Michael Ignatieff made a terse statement on the situation, then took questions but refused to give answers.
How Michael Ignatieff could orchestrate the defeat of the government and launch himself into a campaign without an answer for the “coalition question” is beyond me. But that was what he did, dodging the question in both official languages. At one point he grabbed his man tits and declared for all to hear, “I am a democrat.” Still, the press was not sated, and he had no other choice but to go home and write a press release that said unequivocally he would not seek to form a coalition with any other political party.
Over at the Harper campaign, the celebration over the disaster that was Ignatieff’s first press conference was short-lived. Turns out Stephen Harper also dilly-dallied with separatist coalitions in the not-so-distant past; and there is proof, not in the form of a forgotten blue dress but in the form of a letter signed by Harper and Gilles Duceppe and sent to then-governor general Adrienne Clarkson.
Personally, I am shocked that Stephen Harper tried to get into bed with Gilles Duceppe. Experimentation of this kind in college is one thing, but at that late in life it probably means you’re hiding a part of yourself that will always be there. Namely a hidden desire to do anything and everything to stay in power.
Jack Layton’s post-vote press conference should have gone well. Jack is born for this type of work. Except instead of talking to Canadians about his version of events, he had to answer personal questions about his health, revealing his prostate-specific antigen numbers. That not being enough, he offered to remove his clothes right there on Parliament Hill to allow journalists to inspect his scars. Nobody took him up on the offer, Rosemary Barton having not been in attendance.
That said, Jack Layton didn’t reveal personal information about his health because the gallery wanted to know, he did it because, earlier that day, Conservatives had fanned out across the country and were practising the dark arts. The whisper campaign about Jack’s health they had been carrying on in the shadows was stepped up a notch.
Conservative Sen. Mike Duffy, who can perhaps kindly be described as the most amoral partisan hack to ever draw a breath, went on radio in Nova Scotia, a province of potential growth for the NDP, and in a hushed tone usually reserved for a palliative care unit told the radio audience that he personally saw Jack on the Hill and “up close it doesn’t look good, Jack doesn’t look good… he is a valiant man for carrying on.”
It takes a certain kind of man to gleefully trade on a man’s battle with cancer, and Mike Duffy is that man. It is why Stephen Harper appointed him to the chamber of sober second thought. Personally, if the Conservatives want Jack’s prostate to be an issue in the campaign, let all the leaders’ health be on the table. Prostate exams for all, weekly if need be, and, perhaps more importantly, let us finally know what medications our leaders are on, or, more importantly, what meds they happen to be off on any given week. Mr. Ignatieff, how is your prostate? Mr. Prime Minister, are you on your meds? Thanks, Senator Duffy.
As I write this, the campaign is in full swing. This time around the Liberals have a plane, chartered from an outfit in Alberta, that looks like everyone else’s plane so nobody is making fun of them. The Conservative plane is chartered from Air Canada so if you’re a journalist that’s the plane to be on. Unlike the Liberal plane, every flight with the Tories gives you Aeroplan travel miles. By the end of the campaign, the journalists will have so many travel miles they will have a card that says super elite on it, just like the one John Baird carries wherever he goes.
Harper’s plane also has the snazziest paint job. It has the words Harper and Canada emblazoned on the side. In an act of humility not seen since the release of James Cameron’s Avatar, Harper has star billing—his name appears above Canada’s and it is the same size and font. Rumour has it his agent demanded this or he refused to perform. Across the tarmac it looks like “Harper is Canada,” and I suppose that is the point.
We will be seeing these planes a lot over the next five weeks, as each leader, their various campaign workers, minions, sycophants and journalists spread out across the country. Like nomadic Bedouin tribes, they will visit every province, region and territory multiple times in an attempt to engage the electorate and not cause a nationwide bedbug epidemic.
There is much discussion in this country about whether this is an unnecessary election. The Prime Minister went so far as to call it a dangerous exercise. There is no such thing. There are many threats to democracy—voting isn’t one of them.
By macleans.ca - Saturday, April 2, 2011 at 3:54 PM - 56 Comments
Comedian offers challenge via Twitter, Ignatieff accepts
Comedian Rick Mercer has offered, via Twitter, to host a 1-on-1 debate between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, with $50,000 going to the charity of each politician’s choice. Ignatieff has accepted the terms of the debate with a tweet saying “I’m in,” and that he would donate the proceeds to the Alzheimer’s Society. Harper has yet to respond to the debate challenge. Mercer mused on Twitter that the debate could be held at Toronto’s Massey Hall. The official debates, held by the broadcast consortium of representatives from CBC/Radio-Canada, CTV, Global and TVA, will be held on April 12 in English and April 14 in French.
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, April 2, 2011 at 9:04 AM - 26 Comments
Ok hell i will rent massey put the camera’s in place and moderate the Harper Iggy smackdown.
Ok i’ll produce a Iggy Harper debate. 50 grand to a charity of their choice. I’ll find a broadcaster or 4.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 1:04 PM - 27 Comments
From Rick Mercer’s latest rant.
Apparently our opinion of politics and the people who practice the art is now so low that no matter what the behaviour, we’re no longer surprised. It’s like going to a family wedding. Why bother getting upset because Uncle Jerry has too much to drink and makes a holy show of himself out on the dance floor?It’s Uncle Jerry, that’s what he does.
By Scott Feschuk - Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
FESCHUK: To join my new political party, attend our convention, in a back booth of The Keg
Turn your gaze to Ottawa these days and it’s never been more apparent that our political system is missing something besides co-operation, talent, direction, basic manners and a mute button for John Baird. It’s missing the Rhinos.
For a time in the ’70s and ’80s, the Rhinoceros Party was an irreverent ﬁxture of national politics—a fringe undertaking that satirized the empty vows and empty suits of Parliament Hill. The Rhino guys were fun. They made you feel you weren’t the only one to notice most politicians were full of it.
The party made outlandish promises to repeal the law of gravity, tow Antarctica to the Arctic—thereby winning us the “Cold War”—and rewrite our national anthem to make it gender-neutral. (What’s that? You say the last one was actually proposed by Stephen Harper? As if.) Changes to election laws ultimately diminished the party’s influence, though some insist they saw the Rhinos’ satiric handiwork as recently as the leadership victory of Stockwell Day.
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, October 21, 2010 at 4:00 PM - 0 Comments
MP dilemma: Rick Mercer or Glee?, Encyclopedic knowledge
MP dilemma: Rick Mercer or Glee?
Heritage minister and Canadian cinema fan James Moore held his fourth movie night for MPs, this time showcasing Incendies by Quebec director Denis Villeneuve. Moore’s fellow MPs are very thankful that he has exposed them to some incredible Canadian films they might otherwise not have seen. Plus, they get to meet stars and directors: Villeneuve himself was on hand for this screening, as was actress Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin. Some MPs get their CanCon via Air Canada, such as NDP Megan Leslie, who appreciates being able to watch homegrown movies while flying. Airline travel has had another kind of impact on the viewing habits of Steven Fletcher, minister of state for democratic reform. He confessed to Capital Diary that while flying over the summer, he watched a lot of Glee. Back on the ground, however, there’s a problem: Glee is on TV at the same time as Rick Mercer’s show. Patriotically, Fletcher says that he opts for Mercer—so long as they are new episodes.
The Canadian Encyclopedia celebrated its 25th year at Ottawa’s Government Conference Centre. Moving online in 1999 has had some unforeseen benefits, notes editor-in-chief James Marsh. He says that while the encyclopedia tries to take the long view, certain political events, like prorogation, require immediate action. “When I went and read our own article on prorogation I thought, ‘I still don’t understand this.’ ” Online, the solution was easy: “We expanded that entry.” Marsh tries to plan ahead, and is currently ensuring the site has lots of info for the upcoming 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. All prime ministers are mentioned in the encyclopedia, as are finance ministers and politicians of lasting influence. The most looked-up article in the encyclopedia? The one on Pierre Trudeau, says Marsh. Montreal rookie MP Justin Trudeau is “in there, but it’s more for being famous than it is for anything else [at this point].” In attendance at the celebration was former Progressive Conservative cabinet minister Flora MacDonald. “I think it’s so important that Canadians celebrate their history and this is one of the ways we do it.” While she was minister of communications in the ’80s, MacDonald provided funding for the encyclopedia.
Firefighters arrive at GG’s first public event
The first official public event for newly installed Governor General David Johnston was the launch of a joint initiative by the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and the National Round Table on the Environment and Economy (NRTEE) to look at the effects of global warming in Canada. Johnston, as it happens, was the founding chair of the NRTEE. The event was held at the Canadian Museum of Nature, where, just as the GG was being introduced, the fire alarm went off and a recorded voice instructed everyone to evacuate the building. At first the GG was taken to a gallery on the third floor, so he was one of the last ones out of the building. British Ambassador Anthony Cary, however, was one of the first out. Once firefighters arrived and confirmed that it had been a false alarm, the event was back on. Johnston took the podium and quipped, “I have been a university president for 26 years and this is the first time I emptied the room even before I spoke. There were many times they emptied while I was speaking.”
Baird happy for Tewksbury
Olympic gold medallist Mark Tewksbury was on the Hill for a reception for Special Olympics Canada. He is currently completing a $200,000 overhaul on his heritage home in Montreal, thanks in part to the government’s home renovation tax credit, he said. Government House leader John Baird piped up, “See, Canada’s economic action plan is working.”