Why you won’t see NDP MPs on Porter (unless they’re very, very careful)
MPs from all parties packed the Hill Times’ 20th anniversary bash held at Library and Archives Canada. One of the sponsors was Porter Airlines, which offered two free tickets in a raffle. As Transport Minister John Baird picked the winner from a pile of business cards, NDP MP Olivia Chow bolted to the other side of the room out of sight. Chow is firmly opposed to Toronto’s City Centre Airport, which is where Porter flies from. She has insisted fellow NDP MPs not use the airline even if they have meetings in downtown Toronto (the airport’s close proximity, 10 minutes to most key downtown locations after a ferry ride, can save hours of travel time and airport-limo fees). According to Porter president Robert Deluce, who was at the Hill Times bash, NDP patriarch Ed Broadbent has flown Porter. (Does Olivia know?) Also at the party was Vancouver Liberal MP Joyce Murray, who spoke proudly of her rapper son Baba Brinkman winning a prestigious award for his show The Rap Guide to Evolution at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Montreal MP Justin Trudeau showed off his cream-coloured Fluevog shoes. Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt wore killer short boots with huge heels. Raitt, who is quite tall, says she likes wearing high heels around short men. Apparently Quebec Premier Jean Charest’s people weren’t happy when she was towering over him at another event.
I have to sit where?
When Stephen Harper’s latest batch of appointed senators were sworn in, Diane Finley, minister of human resources and social development, had to sit behind a metal bar near the Senate entrance to watch her husband, Doug Finley, take his place in the upper chamber. Unlike the family members of the other new senators, she was not allowed in the galleries. Tradition dictates MPs are allowed only behind that bar: it’s where they stand to hear the Speech from the Throne. She thought an exception could be made because this is the first time (she was told by Senate staff) a cabinet minister has had her spouse appointed to the Senate, but no such luck. Finley did get a special chair to sit on, behind the bar, though.
Green Leader Elizabeth May is settling into the riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands, where she will run against Gary Lunn, minister of state for sport. She’s renting a house in Sidney, B.C., and still trying to sell her Ottawa home. Her house in Nova Scotia, where she ran in the last election against Peter MacKay, is being rented to a friend whose own place burned down. Friends drove her Prius from Halifax to B.C. and May’s daughter Victoria Cate took their dog Spunky with her to university in Halifax. The many islands in the riding mean May is taking a lot of ferries and there is talk she will get a boat to campaign with. May, who says she has significant sailing experience, notes she will not be travelling much outside the riding in the next election, except for the leaders’ debates—if she is allowed to take part in the next ones.
And then there were eight
Bloc MP Réal Ménard recently resigned to run for mayor of the Montreal borough of Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve. Ménard, Canada’s second openly gay MP (after Svend Robinson), was one of the original Bloc MPs elected in the wave of 1993. This now leaves only eight original Bloc MPs: six from the 1993 wave, including Francine Lalonde and Christiane Gagnon; Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe, elected before 1993; and Louis Plamondon, the longest-serving member in the House, a Tory who switched to the Bloc. In a farewell address, Ménard noted, “I leave this House knowing that I have friends in all the parties. It has been a pleasure to serve democracy and the people of Hochelaga.”