NATIONAL

MR. CONGENIALITY

Cathy Gulli December 4 2006
NATIONAL

MR. CONGENIALITY

Cathy Gulli December 4 2006

MR. CONGENIALITY

NATIONAL

MP Peter Stoffer never calls anyone a liar, especially in the House of Commons. Rather, he’ll say: “Mr. Speaker, what just came out of that member’s mouth originated from the south end of a northbound cow,” or, “If truth were an island, it would be uninhabited.” “I never get nasty,” he explains from his Sackville-Eastem Shore riding in Nova Scotia. “I completely avoid that and move on to what my constituents want me to talk about.” Other parliamentarians agree: Stoffer, 50, was voted the most collegial MP, and the one best representing his constituents.

Those 87,000 constituents—spread across 16 trailer parks, a military air base and a fast-growing suburban region—want their NDP MP talking about a muesli of issues: “From student loans to immigration to ‘my neighbour’s cat is eating my tulip bulbs’ to donation requests for hockey teams to Kyoto,” he says. Veteran’s affairs, autism and Canada’s role in Afghanistan are closest to his heart. He rises as early as 5 a.m., and some days works until 11 p.m. Stoffer—who doesn’t use a computer—makes up to 40 calls a day to every Canadian who contacts him or has appeared in the local newspapers. “The Internet is cold,” he says. “If you’ve got a problem, let’s talk.”

But first, Stoffer insists that anyone who comes to his Ottawa office has a game of darts. “If one lands in the red bull, you win an allegedly fabulous prize! But most importantly,” he laughs, “your name will go on the Peter Stoffer Wall of Fame!” His three other walls are adorned with various kitsch, including 2,500 lapel pins, 2,000 buttons and 600 ball caps. “I used to live in the Yukon territory, and everybody hung their hats on the wall,” he says.

Stoffer’s biggest claim to fame, though, is as founder of the annual All-Party Party, a celebration for MPs, senators and all 3,000 Hill staff—including postal workers, cleaners and drivers—that now doubles as a charity fundraiser. It began as a cramped, impromptu social in his office in 1997, his first year in politics. “I got elected by the slimmest margin,” he recalls. “They keep sending me back.” Party on.

Cathy Gulli