Baird on the Crown jewels
The star of the 2012 Press Gallery Dinner was Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird. In a mock awards ceremony, Baird was given the Rule Britannia Award for combining resources between Canadian and British diplomatic missions. He beat out Peter MacKay for bringing back the word “royal” to the Navy and Air Force. In a satirical acceptance speech, Baird said he considered other mergers, like combining the CBC with the BBC, but when the BBC was told they would have to take Power and Politics host Evan Solomon “they told us to f–k off.” He joked that there was talk of a display of the Crown jewels in Ottawa but “unfortunately Prince Harry was not available.”
Tory Sen. Patrick Brazeau received the Bad Sport Award for being famously beaten by Justin Trudeau in the boxing ring. Brazeau said all the Liberals should be thanking him “because if I had won, Justin Trudeau would have never run for the Liberal leadership race.” Trudeau was absent from this year’s dinner. One of his leadership organizers noted: “There are no votes here.” Another dinner regular, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, was also absent. One of his staffers noted: “There are no votes here.” Kenney was busy getting a diversity award at the MidWeek South Asian Awards of Excellence in Toronto.
Tory MP John Williamson sported a black velvet jacket, which he says he wears only on Halloween and at Press Gallery dinners. He bought the jacket 20 years ago at a Ralph Lauren outlet sale. Tory Sen. Nancy Ruth wore a head-turning sparkling necklace of flowers. “I could have sold my necklace 20 times,” she said of the reaction to her jewellery all night.
The gallery dinner was hosted by La Presse’s Joël-Denis Bellavance and CTV’s Daniele Hamamdjian, who asked attendees to tweet as to who they felt was the politician most like Christian Grey, the protagonist from erotic bestseller 50 Shades of Grey. The winner was Justin Trudeau. Accepting the award on his behalf was interim Liberal leader Bob Rae who was presented with a pair of handcuffs. His wife, Arlene Perly Rae, later kept them safe in her purse.
Speaker’s child-friendly Halloween
Speaker Andrew Scheer held his second annual “Hilloween” party in the Speaker’s dining room. Hilloween used to be organized by the “confectionery caucus”—MPs who have confectionery manufacturers in their ridings—with candy companies providing buckets of treats. It was felt there was too much lobbying with that format and Scheer, who has four kids, wanted to make the event more child-friendly. He co-hosted it with Tory MP Scott Reid and Assistant Deputy Speaker Barry Devolin. With their kids’ help, the deputy speaker’s wife, Ursula Devolin, made all the cakes, including one in the shape of a skull and another as the Cataraqui Cemetery where Sir John A. Macdonald is buried. Barry Devolin took it upon himself to make the first cut into the creative cakes to be sure nobody would be shy about eating the treats. Meanwhile over at Stornoway, Thomas Mulcair was reaching out to the West on Halloween. The NDP leader sported a cowboy hat and sheriff badge as he handed out treat bags to kids. A drink table included jugs of vampire blood and green goblin juice.
NDP MP ‘Shark’ Fin Donnelly
As NDP MP Fin Donnelly waited his turn to record a Remembrance Day message in the Centre Block’s Hall of Honour, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird approached. Donnelly let Baird go ahead of him. The NDP MP is hoping Baird will support his private member’s bill, which would ban the import of illegally harvested shark fins to Canada. Baird has taken to calling the MP “Shark Fin” Donnelly and said, “What are the chances that someone bringing a bill to ban shark fins is called Fin?”