CAPITAL DIARY

MITCHEL RAPHAEL ON THE BEST MPS IN CANADA, BELINDA'S $2-MILLION CHAIR, IGNATIEFF'S BIG WORDS,BAIRIS ART COLLECTION AND ROCKIN' RONA

December 10 2007
CAPITAL DIARY

MITCHEL RAPHAEL ON THE BEST MPS IN CANADA, BELINDA'S $2-MILLION CHAIR, IGNATIEFF'S BIG WORDS,BAIRIS ART COLLECTION AND ROCKIN' RONA

December 10 2007

MITCHEL RAPHAEL ON THE BEST MPS IN CANADA, BELINDA'S $2-MILLION CHAIR, IGNATIEFF'S BIG WORDS,BAIRIS ART COLLECTION AND ROCKIN' RONA

CAPITAL DIARY

AN AWARD FOR THE MP WHO KNOWS ALL

Last week the NDP caucus had to delay its special pre-election planning meeting because so many of its members had to get to Maclean’s Parliamentarian of the Year party. The NDP practically swept the awards, taking home four of the six honours. The Liberals won two; the Conservatives and the Bloc were shut out. Guests in attendance included British High Commissioner Anthony Cary and CTV’s Rosemary Thompson, who brought along her newly adopted baby Jasmine Boulet. Charlie Angus, MP for Timmins-James Bay, won for Best Constituency Representative and never did make it to the delayed NDP caucus meeting. “You think I’m going to a caucus meeting after that?” he said. “I held a ‘caucus meeting’ at Brixton’s [British Pub].” NDP MP Joe Comartin (Windsor-Tecumseh) got the award for Most Knowledgeable MP. Did he think, given the NDP’s dominance at the awards, Macleans might be moving too far to the left? “It wasn’t [Maclean’s] who made the choices,” he noted, “it was members of Parliament.” Edmonton Tory MP Mike Lake quipped, “It’s nice to see the Liberals actually vote for something,” referring to the Grits’ recent

trend of abstaining in the House. Liberal MP Paul Szabo (Mississauga South) won Hardest Working MP for the second year in a row. Another repeat winner was Nova Scotia NDP MP Peter Stoffer for Most Congenial. Stoffer was unable to accept his award in person because he was out of town (confirmation the affable MP was really not in Ottawa came later when he wasn’t at his favourite MP watering hole D’Arcy McGee’s). A beaming Jack Layton accepted Stoffer’s award for him. Ruby Dhalla accepted Michael Ignatieff s award for Best Orator. That same day, attacking the Conservatives over Ontario not getting its fair share of new Commons seats, Iggy had said, “Mr. Speaker, the premier of Ontario was protesting a gross piece of political gerrymandering that will harm the citizens of Ontario.” When

the Conservatives responded with laughter and “ho, ho, ho,” some Liberals called out, “Get a dictionary.”

The big winner of the night was NDP MP and deputy speaker Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg-Transcona). Blaikie took home the award for Best Overall MP. There was congratulations from all the parties for Blaikie, who is currently the longest-serving MP in the House. He will not be running in the next election. Treasury Board President Vic Toews and Tory MP Steven Fletcher made a special point of rushing to the ceremony at the Fairmont Château Laurier ballroom to congratulate their fellow Manitoban when they heard the news. Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and Canadian Identityjason Kenney told Capital Diary that Blaikie “is the last living vestige of the social gospel tradition. The NDP

has gone downtown Toronto and Bill is definitely not a downtown Toronto kinda guy. He is a man of the House. He respects the institution quite apart from partisan politics.” In his acceptance speech, Blaikie said he remembered years ago “coming across an old Maclean’s magazine in an antique store. And they had an article about Parliament and how terrible it was and how they needed to throw the bums out and get in a bunch of gentlemen and people who could be civil. This was written in the 1960s. So there is no golden age of Parliament ... I think Parliament is a great institution in spite of itself. It’s a substitute for civil war. In other places people fight each other. Here we only seem to fight each other. But at the end of the day, we have a respect for the rule of law, democracy and what the people ultimately choose.”

m IN CANADA, BELINDA’S S2-MILLI0N S ART COLLECTION AND ROCKIN’ RONA

FILLING IN TIME BETWEEN INQUIRIES

The Churchill Society for the Advancement of Parliamentary Democracy honoured former Ontario Liberal MPP Sean Conway at its 24th annual dinner, held at Toronto’s Four Seasons Hotel. Conservative Senator Hugh Segal was the keynote speaker. Segal made some interesting remarks about Canada and the world, but also displayed a lively sense of humour about the nation’s capital. “It’s a great joy to work in Ottawa on your behalf these days, where, as you know, we have elections, budgets, Throne Speeches—just to fill in the time between inquiries. History may well say, to paraphrase Mr. Churchill, that over the last five years and perhaps the next two, ‘Never have so many asked

PARLIAMENTARIAN of the year Bill Blaikie (far left) with Jack Layton; Liberal MP Ruby Dhalla accepts the award for Michael Ignatieff (Best Orator); Maclean’s publisher and editor-in-chief Kenneth Whyte presents Paul Szabo with an award for Hardest Working MP; Charlie Angus (striped tie) holding his award for Best Constituency Representative with Joe Comartin (Most Knowledgeable MP)

so much about so little.’ ” Segal

was appointed to the Senate by former PM Paul Martin. He recalls telling Martin, “You know, prime minister, if you are going to let me sit as a Conservative and work daily for the defeat of your administration, then I am overwhelmed and I am speechless.’ ” Martin, said Segal, responded with, “I hope you stay that way for the rest of your career.”

THE NON-DANCING ENVIRO MINISTER

At an opening for artist Marie Finkelstein at Ottawa’s Carmel Art Gallery, Environment Minister John Baird admired one work that looked like an homage to recycling. But in the end he didn’t add it to his personal art collection. Baird told Capital Diary he has 10 original works in his home: all painted by his grandmother. Baird will soon be in Bali for the United Nation’s Climate Change Conference, where a different kind of painting awaits him. Genevieve Gilbert andjefif Beyer, members of the Canadian Youth Delegation, a project of the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition, say their group will offer their faces as blank canvases

for delegates to paint their answer to the question “What do you want the face of post-2012 Kyoto to look like?” The group will also give out climate change survival kits that include water wings for those rising sea levels. Last year at the same conference in Nairobi, the Canadian Youth Delegation managed to get thenenvironment minister Rona Ambrose to do their “Ooooh, it’s hot in here” climate change dance with song lyrics that included “too much carbon in the atmosphere.” (Search “Rockin’ Rona” on YouTube to see the results.) The group may try to get Baird to do the moves. Good luck with that. The environment minister has already notified Capital Diary that “I don’t dance.”

AN EERIE MOMENT FOR BELINDA

Liberal women’s caucus chair Belinda Stronach recently raised a million dollars, half the funds needed for the creation of the Belinda Stronach Chair in Breast Cancer Reconstructive Surgery at the Toronto General and Western Hospital Foundation. Fundraising for the second million is going well and will include a contribution by Stronach. The MP

was approached to establish the new chair by CTV medical contributor Dr. Marla Shapiro, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004. Stronach says the approach was strange, almost eerie for her, because Sharpiro “had no idea [I had been diagnosed with breast cancer].” Adds Stronach, “It was before I had the second operation. It wasn’t public at all.” Stronach says she had a lumpectomy that was not successful, then a mastectomy and breast reconstruction in the U.S. Stronach says the impetus for helping set up the chair was the limited number of physicians in Canada who can do breast reconstruction, something she says many women do not know is available. She wants the information out there. “It’s an important part of the healing process to have this option,” she says. M

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

The Maclean's Parliamentarian of the Year party was sponsored by TD Bank Financial Group, Pfizer Canada, Canada’s Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (Rx&D), the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, and CTVglobemedla.