Coming soon? This is your pilot, Ruby Dhalla, speaking.
Liberal MP Ruby Dhalla was in riding lockdown this summer. She left only twice: for the Liberal caucus meeting in Sudbury, and for French lessons in France. This summer, to mark her fifth year as an elected official, she was raising money for the Ethno-Cultural Canadian Women’s Organization or ECCO (the final O is the symbol for woman). The group’s goal is combatting domestic violence in ethnic communities. Dhalla is also studying to be a pilot; so far, she has only been in simulators, though. Toronto’s Pearson International Airport is on the border of her riding. She often gives herself extra time when flying out of there because security people, many of whom are constituents, stop her to ask about things like immigration problems when she leaves for Ottawa on Mondays. But for the first Monday that the House returned, Dhalla had a downtown Toronto meeting and flew Porter Airlines from the Toronto island airport. Her reading for the first week back was Niall Ferguson’s The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World. Over the summer she read Barack Obama’s books and The Tao of Detox: The Natural Way to Purify Your Body for Health and Longevity.
It’s the much-coveted spot
Conservative backbench MP Brad Trost seems to be out of the doghouse. Several Tory MPs were miffed at Trost after he told a website, “The tourism funding money that went to the gay pride parade in Toronto was not government policy, was not supported by—I think it’s safe to say—by a large majority of the MPs. This was a very isolated decision.” He also alluded to a demotion for Diane Ablonczy, the minister responsible for allocating the funding. But on the first day Parliament resumed, Trost gave the last member’s statement before question period. This is a much-coveted spot since by that time most of the media and other MPs have reached their seats and may actually pay attention to it. NDP House leader Libby Davies says the Conservatives tend to use the last member’s statement simply to rattle Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff. The personal attacks, she says, result in the Liberal caucus rising and extending their applause for their leader. Davies feels that the applause is going on so long it is cutting into question period and lowering the NDP’s chances of getting in an extra question at the end. She has complained to Speaker Peter Milliken.
Big man, big studio
CBC’s Evan Solomon got a warm welcome in the House foyer as MPs returned to the Hill. Solomon will host a two-hour show replacing Don Newman’s Politics. It will focus, he says, on “politics, power and people” and will start mid October. Solomon is getting a new studio, bigger than Newman’s. The six-foot-five host prompted many MPs to comment, “I didn’t know he was so tall.” No name has been announced for the new show but it will have “. . . with Evan Solomon” in it. Meanwhile, over in the CTV corner of the foyer, Power Play with Tom Clark has new lights that do not give off heat. That means MPs sweating in Tom Clark’s chairs can no longer blame the equipment.
Dion seeks space
Much chatter over the summer that former Grit leader Stéphane Dion wouldn’t be seeking another term. On the first day back Dion told Capital Diary he plans to run. He’s even been trying to find a campaign office but it’s been tough. That’s because, he says, upcoming municipal elections in Montreal mean the good spots are already taken.
Her new flip
Michael Ignatieff’s wife, Zsuzsanna Zsohar, has a hot new hairstyle with a bit more flip to it. It looks as if she’s getting ready to move into 24 Sussex since her coif resembles Laureen Harper’s, albeit a slightly darker version.