‘Judge, referee and kindergarten teacher’
Former Speaker Peter Milliken had his official portrait unveiled last week. Milliken is the longest-serving Speaker in Canadian history, sitting in the chair from 2001 to 2011. At the unveiling, Government House leader Peter Van Loan referred to Milliken as a “judge, referee and kindergarten teacher all at once.” NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair said the ultimate testament to his “fair-handedness” was the fact that Milliken, who ran as a Liberal, was still elected Speaker when the Conservatives took power. Liberal interim leader Bob Rae noted Milliken is likely the only Canadian whose biography says he “began reading Hansard in his teens. I had no idea he had such a deprived childhood. Many of us were accused of hiding other things under our mattresses.” The portrait was painted by Prescott, Ont.-based artist Paul Wyse, who has painted portraits of musicians such as Billy Joel and Jim Cuddy. Wyse is originally from Maine. He came to Canada 15 years ago to get his Ph.D. in music at the University of Montreal. He is now a permanent resident of Canada and says he will become a citizen at the end of the year. Wyse left music a while back to focus on his art. Milliken was the first portrait he has done of a politician. The painting shows the former Speaker with his hands on a desk. One hand is open and the other is a fist. Behind Milliken are books containing Hansards.
MP’s mom listened to Beatles in graveyard
Hundreds of people came to Parliament Hill to celebrate the 20th World Falun Dafa Day, in support of the spiritual practice also known as Falun Gong. Among the MPs and senators at the gathering was Conservative MP Rob Anders, a vocal critic of China’s politics. Anders keeps a Tibetan flag outside his office and recently added one for South Vietnam. In high school he went to see a concert by Tibetan monks and was horrified by what he read in pamphlets about the Chinese occupation of Tibet. His mother grew up in Communist Poland and was forced to make pro-May Day posters in art class at school. She and others would sneak to graveyards to listen to the Beatles on free radio because the police left graveyards alone. Anders’s great-grandmother was shot by the Bolsheviks during the Russian Revolution and the family lost all their property. Anders says he has tried to visit the Chinese mainland, but his requests so far have been denied. He says his own government would not take him on a government mission “because I would probably cause a loss of face.”
Bakers on the Hill
Last Tuesday, the Monarchist League of Canada held a special reception on the Hill to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The spectacular cake was made by baking duo Doree Kovalio and Andrea McCaffrey, who run Sweet Tooth Baking. The top had an edible crown; Rice Krispies covered in white chocolate were used for pearls. The duo’s bakery is actually a side project in addition to their day jobs. Kovalio is a civil servant while McCaffrey works for Liberal Sen. Frank Mahovlich. People on the Hill often ask them to make them special cakes for weddings. This one took them 25 hours.
NDP or Dutch?
On a rainy day last week, Liberal MP Mark Eyking sported an orange umbrella eliciting “wrong colour” comments from his fellow Liberals and “nice” from NDPers. “It’s not NDP, it’s Dutch,” explained Eyking, who is descended from Dutch immigrants. In fact, the Dutch ambassador gave him the umbrella. Eyking recently hosted Justin Trudeau in his Cape Breton riding. Trudeau saw Eyking’s farm, watched a calf being born and ate pan-fried halibut cheeks. “It’s the best part of the fish that everyone throws away,” says Eyking. When asked if Trudeau was touring the area to test the waters for a leadership run, Eyking just smiled and went into the House of Commons.