What’s Elsie Wayne doing up there?
Former prime minister Brian Mulroney’s big bash in the ballroom of Montreal’s Sheraton Hotel marked the 25th anniversary of his 1984 victory, the first of his back-to-back majorities. Caroline Mulroney introduced her father. When a guest asked how it was decided which child would do the introduction, Ben Mulroney said that his mother, Mila Mulroney, chose and that was that. Brian Mulroney spoke in front of a huge Canadian flag; his image was projected on giant screens that made the red behind him look like NDP orange. The former PM took the time to thank Laureen Harper for attending. She stood and blew him a kiss with both hands. (Stephen Harper sent video greetings.) Mrs. Harper was seated in the VIP section next to Transport Minister John Baird, who was beside the former PM’s brother Gary Mulroney. In 1984, Baird was a volunteer messenger at the national Progressive Conservative headquarters and helped deliver mail. “My cubicle was across from [now Senate leader] Marjory LeBreton’s,” he said. The event was packed with Conservatives, including Environment Minister Jim Prentice, who did some advance grunt work for Mulroney back in 1984. Pierre Poilievre was only five years old in 1984. “I remember my father sat me down in front of the television to watch the debate,” says the Tory Ottawa MP. “I told that story to Ed Broadbent [who was in the debate] and Ed said, ‘I must have done a pretty poor job if you turned out to be a Conservative.’ ” Tory Senator Hugh Segal recalled how important that debate was for the Mulroney landslide. According to him, the days of interesting leader debates on TV are over. Now they are “tedious, boring,” he says. “Anyone with a life would turn it off.” Segal still talks to Mulroney, who calls Segal “Hugh.” The senator calls Mulroney “Prime Minister.” Mulroney cabinet minister Barbara McDougall, who was also at the bash, noted, “I called him prime minister for a long, long time [after].” Now she calls him “Brian.” “We were having lunch one day and it just kinda slipped out.” Finance Minister Jim Flaherty brought his son Galen Flaherty, who just started at McGill University and made it onto the football team. Maxime Bernier was with his father, Gilles Bernier, who served as an MP under Mulroney. MPs who received some of Mulroney’s famous phone calls were also there. Rona Ambrose said that when she was environment minister and just about to go into the House to introduce the Clean Air Act, she got a call from Mulroney, who was in London at the time. During their conversation, he recounted his struggles with the acid rain treaty. When he became the leader of the Canadian Alliance, Stockwell Day said Mulroney called and they shared a meal at which the former PM said if he ever needed help to call him. Former Progressive Conservative MP Elsie Wayne (she and Jean Charest, now the Quebec premier, were the only PCs elected after the Tories hit near-extinction in 1993) got tired of standing early in the evening. The 77-year-old boldly went for a seat in the VIP section. This left no room for Mila Mulroney. Another chair was quickly added. When Mulroney’s speech ended and his entire family joined him on stage, Wayne just sauntered up along with them.
Did the PM really just say that?
An NDP MP notes that when Stephen Harper says the word “election” in French it sounds almost as if he’s saying “erection.” With all the recent talk of an election, the word gets used a lot in the House. The first week back the PM came “as close as he has ever gotten to saying érection,” says the NDPer. This time even the translators in the House were chuckling. When the slip happened in reference to why a fall “election” was a bad thing, one Bloc MP was overheard quipping: “Hey, there’s no such thing as a bad erection.”