What if the Tories need Helena?
Helena Guergis is running as an “Independent Conservative.” She’s using her old signs for the upcoming election but has removed the Conservative party logo from them and added the word “Independent.” Many have joked with her that if the Conservatives are one short of a majority she could hold the balance of power. If that is indeed the case, she says, she would not return to the party. She notes that as an Independent she is much more aware of every bill that comes through the House for a vote: “Having more Independent MPs is good for democracy.” Guergis has been able to ask the government several questions in the House and offer member’s statements because the other Independent MP, André Arthur, gave her his slots, saying she needed the exposure more than him.
As politicians fan out across the country, many will try to be in two places at once. One politician almost managed it. House leader John Baird‘s look-alike, Jacques Pinet, who works for an insurance company in New Brunswick, is a dead ringer for the man people refer to as the de facto deputy PM. Pinet happened to be on the Hill last week. “I don’t think a week goes by that I don’t have someone ask me [about the resemblance],” says Pinet. On a previous trip, the New Brunswicker was sitting in the House galleries before a vote and a security guard approached him and said, “Mr. Baird, you need to go down and vote.” And once in Toronto, while Pinet was having a meal alone in a restaurant, Liberal Sen. Colin Kenny walked up to the table and joined him, speaking to him as if he were talking to Baird. While Pinet was in the British capital recently, some backpackers first asked if he was Canadian. Then they followed up with, “Are you in politics?” “I’m not John Baird,” he politely told them. Pinet says his encounters with people who mistake him for Baird have all been positive. Liberal MP Dominic LeBlanc, who is a friend of Pinet, jokes that when he is mistaken for Baird and people say, “I voted for you,” he should reply with, “I don’t need your vote.”
Sonny & Cher & Bob & Hedy
In all the election hue and cry last week, Liberal MP Hedy Fry squeezed in a fundraiser to help with the debt she incurred from her leadership run in 2006. It was held at Ottawa’s hot new gay bar, Flamingo. Justin Trudeau sported what he described as a “flamingo pink” dress shirt in honour of the bar’s name, though drag queen and event host Dixie Landers countered that it was really “aggressive salmon.” Lunch with Trudeau raised $300 at the auction. Liberal MP Bob Rae joined Fry on stage and sang the Sonny & Cher duet I Got You, Babe, which was a nice throwback to the 2006 Liberal leadership race: Fry dropped out and went over to Rae’s camp.
The journalists’ mini-revolution
After the opposition leaders rejected the recent budget, Stephen Harper came out to address the media. He was supposed to take four questions. The names of those who got to ask questions had been approved by the PMO and were on the infamous list. But when Harper’s speech was over, journalists, in an act of list revolution, started shouting out questions. Harper took only two of them and then bolted as the Toronto Star’s Tonda MacCharles yelled, “Why won’t you answer more questions?”
Hair to match the budget
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty‘s recent budget fell flat, matching his hair. For the previous budget, Flaherty visited his hairdresser, Stefania Capovilla—who cuts the hair of Stephen Harper and several cabinet ministers—on budget day and showed up with a fresh, sassy blow-dry. This year Flaherty’s wife, Ontario Progressive Conservative MPP Christine Elliott, told her husband he needed to hit the salon the day before, not the day of: hence the flatter look.