By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, May 28, 2009 - 0 Comments
Why the Ruby Dhalla story is not big in the Philippines, and how Bob Rae beat Ignatieff in the Parliamentarians of the Year awards
Gilles Duceppe’s short-lived acting career
At the third annual Maclean’s Parliamentarians of the Year awards gala, Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe was runner-up for most knowledgeable MP and best orator. He found the latter recognition “funny, because in Quebec they are saying I am not that good an orator. But here, I am very good.” Duceppe comes from a family passionate about theatre and film. When asked if this had influenced his oratorical skills, he noted: “I was not a good actor at all. I can’t play a role. I did only once for a Christmas play [in Grade 6 at his Catholic school]. The nuns had me play Saint Joseph, the husband of the Virgin Mary, which is the most awful role for a man to play—the husband of a virgin!” The awards gala was hosted by Maclean’s columnist Paul Wells and Le Devoir columnist and L’actualité magazine contributor Manon Cornellier. Speaker Peter Milliken did the toast. Bob Rae won for best orator but could not attend—in his place he sent Toronto Grit MP Kirsty Duncan to fetch his award. (In 2007, when Michael Ignatieff won for best orator, he sent Ruby Dhalla on his behalf.) Toronto Liberal MP Rob Oliphant, who voted for Rae as best orator, said the reason Rae beat Ignatieff this year was that as leader “Michael doesn’t have as much time in the House. Bob gets more floor time.” Ontario NDP MP Joe Comartin won, for the second year in a row, the award for most knowledgeable MP. He said he can now place the extremely heavy awards in his Windsor, Ont., office because he just replaced his flimsy desk with a more solid one. For the third year in a row Nova Scotia NDP Peter Stoffer won most collegial. In second place was Liberal whip Rodger Cuzner, who noted: “I guess I’ve got to drink a little more [to beat Stoffer].” Cuzner said he wasn’t surprised that fellow Grit Paul Szabo once again won for hardest-working MP. Szabo sends new MPs a three-page letter filled with things they need to watch out for. “He wants to see everyone succeed,” says Cuzner. Halifax NDP MP Megan One of the highlights for her was seeing Garneau at the Canada Aviation Museum. “I really wanted to get my picture taken with him but I was too shy,” recalls Leslie. “So I took a picture of him by himself and it’s in my photo album still.” Twenty years later at the awards gala, Capital Diary snapped the first picture of Leslie and Garneau together. The NDP continued to dominate the awards for the third year, which had leader Jack Layton beaming all night. He noted the most knowledgeable MP, Joe Comartin, is his party’s justice critic and that the best rookie MP is their deputy justice critic. Layton also had kind words for the winner of best overall MP, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney: “He’s always a guy you can approach. I’ve always had a good relationship with Jason. He’s straight up. What you see is what you get.”
Another chip off the old Bloc
The Bloc’s Paul Crête also did well in Maclean’s Parliamentarians of the Year poll. He placed third for most collegial MP and fourth for hardest-working. Crête has been an MP for nearly 16 years and was part of the wave of separatists elected when the party ran in its first federal election in 1993. It was a well-timed tribute to the MP, who will be leaving federal politics to run for the Parti Québécois, in a yet-to-be-announced Quebec by-election in the riding now vacant thanks to the resignation of ADQ leader Mario Dumont.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 6:18 PM - 15 Comments
The Scene. For awhile before Question Period, the front row seat between Tony Clement and Lawrence Cannon, normally occupied by the Finance Minister, remained unfilled. No doubt, Jim Flaherty might’ve been forgiven for staying home. The weather outside was frightful, rainy and cold. And the mood inside was foul, accusatory and scornful.
But with minutes to spare before the Speaker called for oral questions, Mr. Flaherty arrived. And for the next 45 minutes he was treated to a fine show. A dramatically staged tale about a $16-billion rounding error. A harrowing story in which he was both the central character and principal villain.
First to take the stage was Michael Ignatieff.
“Mr. Speaker, in September the government said there would be no recession. In October, no deficits,” he said, rising up a bit on his toes with each point, nearly singing his disappointment. “In November it promised a surplus, but in January it brought down a $34 billion deficit. Yesterday it ballooned to $50 billion, all this in a breathtaking six months, and still the money has not gotten out the door. This is incompetence on a historic scale.”
Then, finally, a question.
“How can the Prime Minister or any other Canadian,” he said, “still have confidence in the Minister of Finance?”
So challenged, Stephen Harper did the honourable thing. He bragged about the great deal he was getting from his bank. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 6:22 PM - 26 Comments
“Mr. Speaker,” he began, “a third of a million Canadians have lost their jobs under the Conservative government.”
“You’re next Ralph,” chirped Conservative Jeff Watson from the further reaches of the government side.
“Tens of thousands cannot get the employment insurance they paid for, because Conservatives insist on eligibility rules designed for the beginning of a boom,” Goodale continued undaunted. “But the boom has gone bust. The C.D. Howe Institute, the Conference Board, the TD Bank—these are not socialist organizations—and they all say the Conservatives are wrong on EI. Why will the Prime Minister not help all of the jobless workers who are suffering through his recession regardless of where they live?”
“Oh Ralph,” moaned a Conservative at Goodale’s assigning our current predicament to our current Prime Minister.
Unfortunately, Mr. Harper was not present. And though normally that would’ve been the cue for Diane Finley, the Human Resources Minister, to stand and dismiss the Liberal complaint, this time the government sent up Tony Clement. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, May 8, 2009 at 12:27 PM - 9 Comments
The following statement from Liberal whip Rodger Cuzner was greeted with a standing ovation from both Liberals and Conservatives yesterday.
Mr. Speaker, the air around the city of Hamilton is charged with excitement today in anticipation of the return of the great one. Relax, my Conservative friends, I do not mean Sheila Copps, rather the great one himself, Wayne Gretzky. In a move that is driven by his great passion for hockey and his deep belief in the potential of southern Ontario, Jim Balsillie is once again trying to bring the NHL to its senses and a team to the region. Now, being a lifelong Toronto Maple Leafs fan, I really understand the jokes that are coming, such as, if southern Ontario gets an NHL team, then Toronto will want one, too. I think the potential of regional rivalries in a battle of Ontario with a third combatant is great stuff. I appreciate the league’s valiant attempt to grow a fan base in the Arizona desert, but the experiment has been scorched. It is time the NHL recognized the huge potential that exists in southern Ontario and the opportunity to bring into its fold one of this country’s most progressive and successful entrepreneurs in Jim Balsillie. I really hope that this transaction is allowed to go forward.
The other thing we can all agree on? That our Olympic athletes should be wrapped at all times in seal skin.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, April 29, 2009 at 5:36 PM - 7 Comments
The Scene. Ralph Goodale stood to applause and chants of his first name, a garish tie hanging from his neck. With Michael Ignatieff away, it was the Liberal house leader’s privilege to lead the official opposition’s interrogation of the government side.
Goodale is, in various ways, the epitome of a parliamentarian, or at least the living embodiment of the sort of politician many must imagine when they think of this place. First elected in 1974, three months shy of his 25th birthday, he was defeated in 1979, 1980 and 1988, only to return in 1993. Reelected another five times, his service now stands at some 7,445 days. He’s held seven ministerial portfolios and, for the past two years, possessed the title of house leader for Her Majesty’s opposition. He is a blustery, partisan, fast-talking Prairie boy from Wascana, a frequent heckler well-schooled in the ways and means of legislation and procedure and equipped by now with a long memory for otherwise forgotten votes and policies.
But if Mr. Ignatieff operates here with a scalpel, Mr. Goodale tends to prefer a sledgehammer. And so the absence of the former and prominence of the latter surely made what followed foreseeable and ultimately familiar. Continue…
By Mitchel Raphael - Tuesday, April 14, 2009 at 10:46 AM - 23 Comments
A Liberal group called “The League of Former Hill Staffers” recently organized a “take…
A Liberal group called “The League of Former Hill Staffers” recently organized a “take back D’arcy McGee’s night.” Darcy’s is the Ottawa pub that was once packed with politicos on Wednesday nights. When the Conservatives first took power, the crowd was mixed for a while. Then the Liberals bailed and the Conservative presence fizzled. The “Take Back” was packed. (Left to right) Cape Breton MP Mark Eyking, Montreal MP Justin Trudeau and Liberal Party Whip Rodger Cuzner.
La Presse reporter Hugo De Grandpré (left) and Quebec Liberal MP Alexandra Mendès.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, March 25, 2009 at 6:20 PM - 8 Comments
Liberal whip Rodger Cuzner’s member statement before QP today.
Mr. Speaker, we read in today’s news that Conservatives have finally come up with a plan to address poverty. The Conservative senators have a truly novel plan. They suggest that we simply shoot all the Canadian geese that are becoming a nuisance at their summer homes, and feed them to the poor. Given that this is a Conservative plan, I am surprised they have not suggested to raffle off handguns, let them shoot, and then let the poor people have the geese.
We all know that Tory times are tough times, but where will it stop, squirrel burgers, pigeon McNuggets, gopher burritos, maybe beaver tails made from real beaver tails?
It may surprise Conservatives to learn that the Canada goose is recognized internationally as a national symbol of our country; it is not an anti-poverty plan. It is high time the Conservatives came up with a real plan to address poverty and unemployment during this recession.
Stop the silly goose games. The Conservatives have to get their ducks in a row and stop goosing Canada’s poor.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, October 14, 2008 at 10:01 PM - 0 Comments
For the Liberals…
Re-elected: Scott Brison, Todd Russell, Scott Simms, Gerry Byrne, Rodger Cuzner, Lawrence MacAulay, Dominic LeBlanc, Mark Eyking, Geoff Regan, JC D’Amours, Shawn Murphy, Brian Murphy
Out: Charles Hubbard, Robert Thibault, Paul Zed
New: Judy Foote, Scott Andrews.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, July 3, 2008 at 8:06 PM - 0 Comments
Not that anyone’s currently around to hold a vote. Nor that there could be a vote—or at least one that could matter. But for those of you keeping score at home, here’s a breakdown of those MPs who’ve spoken publicly about the appointment of Dr. Morgentaler. Continue…