Let me in, PM!
After the first question period of the new session of Parliament, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff did a round of TV interviews in the foyer sporting a red-striped tie, no jacket and the sleeves of his white shirt rolled up. “Image consultants,” quipped NDP Leader Jack Layton, who was doing a similar round of TV interviews in a dark suit and purple tie. Government House leader John Baird went over to Iggy in the foyer and congratulated him on choosing David McGuinty as the Liberal House leader. Baird noted that since House leaders are supposed to enforce decorum, and that he and McGuinty were the worst shout-out offenders, heckling in the House should now be down by 50 per cent. Taking over the position of top Tory heckler the first day back was LaVar Payne, the MP for Medicine Hat, who wore a white shirt with an odd thick pink stripe on the collar that continued down the front. There were other interesting fashion choices. Halifax NDP MP Megan Leslie sported a piece of a teacup that had been turned into a necklace. It was made by Halifax artist Amy Belanger. “It’s my tea party movement,” joked Leslie. “It’s a recycling movement. And it’s reversible. Now that’s eco-fashion.” The first day had its kinks as well. Security said several of the Hill staff forgot to get new passes to allow them into the lobbies of the House. Among the more prominent of those without valid passes was the PM’s director of communications, Dimitri Soudas. He filled out a special note card which was given to a page to give to Stephen Harper to get him inside.
Morning shocker for Toronto MPs
Many Toronto MPs woke up in shock this week when they saw in their morning papers that mayoral candidate Rob Ford was handsomely in the lead to become Toronto’s next mayor after the October municipal election. As a city councillor, Ford was known for controversial comments about gays as well as cyclists who, he said, have only themselves to blame when they get hit because roads were made for cars. He was also once quoted as saying that “to even think about having a homeless shelter in their ward” would be an “insult” to his suburban constituents. Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett said she is “appalled” at the idea of Ford becoming mayor. She says she got emails from people telling her that her photo was on Ford’s website with a note explaining that she was someone he likes. Some people misinterpreted that as an endorsement, so she asked for the photo to be removed. Says Bennett: “I am working hard for [former Ontario cabinet minister] George Smitherman and that’s the mayor we need.” Smitherman is currently a distant second in the mayoral race. Liberal MP Judy Sgro was also upset: “We can’t have Rob Ford run the city.” Liberal MP Rob Oliphant notes: “I don’t think Rob [Ford] has a chance of winning.” Oliphant feels the poll did not represent ethnic communities, who are a large component of his own Toronto riding. He predicts ethnic communities will rally behind Smitherman: “They are going to say, ‘Rob Ford is not good enough for Toronto.’ He’s not the kind of Rob they need.” Liberal MP Kirsty Duncan has not declared her support for any mayoral candidate and is keeping mum on Ford for now. Ford’s ward overlaps her Toronto riding. One Conservative minister said his party would never let Ford run for them because he is too out there.
Montreal Liberal MP Justin Trudeau says he hated having NDPer Thomas Mulcair as his MP, so he recently sold his house and now lives in Liberal MP Irwin Cotler’s riding. He made sure Liberals bought his old house so that in the next election the riding did not lose any more Liberal votes. Former Liberal cabinet minister Martin Cauchon is hoping to beat Mulcair in the next election.