CAPITAL DIARY

MITCHEL RAPHAEL ON WHICH DEBATERS WE FROSTY TO ELIZABETH MAY, THE MOTHER WHO WON’T VOTE FOR HER MP DAUGHTER, WHY RAHIM CAN’T SEE LENA, AND WHAT OLIVIA WOULD CHANGE AT 24 SUSSEX

October 20 2008
CAPITAL DIARY

MITCHEL RAPHAEL ON WHICH DEBATERS WE FROSTY TO ELIZABETH MAY, THE MOTHER WHO WON’T VOTE FOR HER MP DAUGHTER, WHY RAHIM CAN’T SEE LENA, AND WHAT OLIVIA WOULD CHANGE AT 24 SUSSEX

October 20 2008

MITCHEL RAPHAEL ON WHICH DEBATERS WE FROSTY TO ELIZABETH MAY, THE MOTHER WHO WON’T VOTE FOR HER MP DAUGHTER, WHY RAHIM CAN’T SEE LENA, AND WHAT OLIVIA WOULD CHANGE AT 24 SUSSEX

CAPITAL DIARY

AT LEAST THE DEBATERS AGREED ON ONE THING

The tension before the second night of the leaders’ debates was “much worse” than on the first night, noted the Green party’s Elizabeth May. On the first night, party leaders were ushered into the studio two minutes before the French debate went live. That was too close for comfort, so for the English debate the leaders had to wait around the table for 10 minutes, listening to a “pretentious imperial Roman theme song playing over and over that drove us all nuts,” recalled May. She quipped to the other leaders, “I guess this is something we can agree on: we all hate this music.” Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe was the nicest to May and told her “good job in French” at the end of the first debate. There was “a certain frostiness from Jack Layton and Stephen Flarper,” says May. “Stéphane Dion, I think, was worried to be too nice because of all the accusations I was there to help him.” May bought her green French debate outfit a while ago in Amsterdam and sported it when she met Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and when she became an Officer of the Order of Canada. May joked that since Shania Twain was at the same ceremony, “I can’t wear it again when I see her.” Leaders had to arrive at the National Arts Centre for the debate at a very specific time. “I was glad we were in a Prius because we had to round the block a couple of times to have our appropriate spot in the lineup for getting out at the red carpet,” says the Green leader, who flew to Toronto between debates to be on The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos. A car was on standby in case of airline trouble.

TORIES AND TOGAS

When Edmonton MP James Rajotte introduced Jason Ken-

ney at a fundraiser, he called the Calgary MP “a pit bull without lipstick.” Kenney and Rajotte have been roommates in Ottawa for some time, but after three years in the works, Kenney’s condo should now be finished. Rajotte will be getting a new roomie, Ontario Tory MP Dean Del Mastro, who, notes Kenney, “snores more than I do.” After Rajotte’s fundraiser, the two met up with Edmonton MP Rahim Jaffer at the Keg steak house in his riding, where, coincidentally, a toga party was in progress. Jaffer’s campaign seems like a lot of fun. His office used to be a huge bingo hall and hair salon—his posters are taped to windows frosted with “Ladies’ & Men’s Hairstyling” and “Massage.”

Sadly, Jaffer will not get to see his fiancée, fellow Tory MP Helena Guergis, for the entire campaign. They were to marry in the middle of October, but now plan to have the nuptials in January. Jaffer can’t leave his riding as he had hoped because he is in a tight race with NDP candidate and well-known environmentalist Linda Duncan, who doubled the NDP’s vote in the last election and replaced the Liberals for second place. While campaigning in a trailer park, Duncan clashed with a Jaffer canvasser who took verbal shots at her over what would happen to his handgun collection under the NDP.

RONA MISSES HER HORSE SLIVER

Conservative minister Rona Ambrose recently attended the annual Harvest Festival at the Pioneer Museum in Stony Plain, Alta. The festival was in the rural part of her riding and the horses brought back memories for Ambrose. “I had to give my horse Sliver away when I was elected in 2004,” she says. “He was going

crazy because no one was riding him. I love the smell of horses. And once you’ve been a rider you love the smell of the tack.” At the lunch, which included turkey and squash topped with marshmallows, there was talk of the next Liberal leader at one of the tables. Stony Plain Mayor Ken Lemke said that while he disagreed with Bob Rae’s policies, he thinks Rae has charisma: he impressed the mayor when

he went skinny-dipping with Rick Mercer.

NDP MP DOES HER OWN SIGNS

NDP MP Libby Davies’s Vancouver riding includes the Downtown Eastside, where the safe heroin injection health facility InSite is located. Outside its doors Davies is greeted like a patron saint by folks who look like the walking dead. Meanwhile, in

other parts of the riding, some folks have no idea who she is. Davies was asked at a few doors if she was Don Davies’s wife. Don Davies is a first-time NDP candidate in the neighbouring riding. Libby Davies has been the MP in her riding since 1997, and in a relationship with her partner, Kim Elliott, for nine years. Davies says she has been short on volunteers this election because people seem to think her seat is

safe and are working on tight NDP/Tory B.C. races. She goes out with no staff and often puts the lawn signs up herself. Well, just the small ones, she says.

BLOCKED ON HER DAUGHTER’S PARTY

Bloc Québécois MP Nicole Demers is one hip grandmother. Her 15-year-old grandson Alexy Charest made her ring tone a song by Sir Pathétik, a rapper

who sings about Quebec independence. Demers’s mother, Jano Demers, also thinks her daughter is great. After Demers, 58, first won her riding in 2004, the elder Demers put a campaign sign in the window of her Cadillac with a note reading, “This is my daughter.” But her mom didn’t vote for Demers and has no plans to support the Bloc. “She’s 80 years old,” says Demers of her non-separatist mother. “She’s not going to change her mind.” Nevertheless, Demers has been feeling great about this campaign. She quit smoking 2V2 months before the election was called and in early October got a breast prosthesis. Demers had a mastectomy eight years ago after being diagnosed with breast cancer. As an MP, she has opposed potentially dangerous breast implants, and refused one herself, but is excited by the new wardrobe choices that the prosthesis will allow.

TINY DOUGHNUTS HISTORY IF JACK LAYTON IS PM

If NDP Leader Jack Layton’s dream of replacing Stephen Harper comes true, his wife, Toronto MP Olivia Chow, says there’ll be some changes at 24 Sussex. When Laureen Harper hosted the annual garden parties, the food included hamburgers, Cheezies, and mini-doughnuts fried on the spot with powdered sugar. “Too much trans fat,” snaps Chow, who says she will serve healthy fare for kids such as carrots cut into bunny shapes and fruit skewers. These ideas and others have been developed by Chow after consultation with food experts like chef Anne Yarymowich at the Art Gallery of Ontario, who has experience making food fun for kids, and celebrity chef Susur Lee. Chow has been pushing for a national

children’s nutrition program. The MP also recently took sartorial shots at the PM at Toronto’s all-night Nuit Blanche art festival by stuffing a blue sweater with what she considers nasty Conservative policies. She was playing up her husband’s dart at Harper during the leaders’ debate, “Where’s your platform? Under the sweater?”

BUT WHERE IS JUSTIN TRUDEAU?

Former Liberal leadership contender Gerard Kennedy is in a tough Toronto battle with NDP incumbent Peggy Nash. The campaign offices are near each other, and right beside Kennedy’s is the Rue Morgue House of Horrors, which Kennedy jokes “is the Conservative office. We like everyone close.” The folks at the horror house, which shows movies and produces a magazine and radio shows, says neither Nash nor Kennedy has set foot in the place. It used to be a funeral home and a morgue before that. While Kennedy was recently door-knocking, one person, rather strangely, asked him, “Where is Justin Trudeau?” This was a good opener for Kennedy, who noted, “Justin supported me when I ran for the leadership.” When another man went on about hating Stéphane Dion as leader, Kennedy was mum about the fact his support helped Dion to victory.

TORY PIT BULL WOUNDED

PM deputy chief of staff and top strategist Patrick Muttart’s male pit bull has been recovering in the Conservative war room after he was attacked by Muttart’s female Labrador retriever. The Lab, sadly, had to be put down after the violent attack. M

ON THE WEB: For more Ottawa outtakes or to contact Mitchel Raphael, visit macleans.ca/ mitchelraphael