Mitchel Raphael on a bet, the MP who fixed Scott Brison’s ear, and the seal meat prank

This weeks gossip

Environment Minister Jim Prentice lost a bet to Transport Minister John Baird when the Queen’s Golden Gaels won the Vanier Cup over the University of Calgary Dinos. Baird, a Queen’s alumnus, gave Prentice, who’s from Calgary, his original Queen’s jacket to wear in shame on the Hill. Joked Prentice: “The bet was actually that I could go to John Baird’s closet and wear anything I wanted. That was the best piece.”

After doing an interview on CPAC, Nova Scotia MP Scott Brison got part of an earpiece stuck in his ear. He went to fellow Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett, who is a medical doctor, for help. Bennett used a paper clip to loosen the piece before taking tweezers to remove it. The two sit right beside each other in the House, where Bennett is known for speaking rather loudly. “She spent all this time damaging my ears,” joked Brison, “and now she has saved them.”

Liberal Sen. Jerry Grafstein held a toast-and-roast goodbye party on the Hill to mark his retirement from the Senate in January. Grafstein was appointed by Pierre Trudeau in 1984. In July 2003, he famously co-organized “Toronto Rocks,” with headliners the Rolling Stones, to promote Toronto’s image internationally after the SARS outbreak. Tory Sen. Hugh Segal noted: “The only thing I’d say about Jerry is there is nothing compelling, inspiring or laudatory about [him] that he hasn’t already said about himself. The people who will be the most sad at his departure will be the paper industry, because nobody puts into the order paper longer multi-page motions and bills than Grafstein. When he goes, the order paper will shrink by half.” Grafstein lives in the Toronto riding of Carolyn Bennett. At election time, says the MP, “he’s never satisfied with just one large [Bennett] sign. At least three large signs.” She says it’s a close tie between him and Ken Dryden in terms of whose home offers the perfect sign location, “except Ken only takes one sign.” Grit MP Irwin Cotler noted that Grafstein, who serves as co-chair of the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group, “made a singular contribution to the very important issue of American-Canadian relations. He can walk into any representative’s or senator’s office in the States and they will converse with him in first-name terms and appreciate him there as we appreciate him here.”

A group of seal hunters from Îles de la Madeleine were at a Hill screening of the pro-sealers documentary Phoque: Le Film (The Hidden Faces of the Seal Hunt) for several ambassadors, many from Europe. After the screening, seal meat was served in the room. Down the hall, MPs and senators were gathering for Sen. Jerry Grafstein’s goodbye party, among them Conservative MP Rob Merrifield, who told the very vocal anti-seal-hunt Sen. Mac Harb “there was some great Alberta beef” in the next room. Before Harb could put anything in his mouth he was approached by the head-turning Annie Landry (the sealers’ answer to Pamela Anderson?), who broke the news he was about to eat seal meat. Harb groaned when Landry showed him her hakapik. The senator even offered to buy her hunting licence from her to get her to stop hunting seals (she told him the licence is free). As he left, Harb gathered a few pieces of seal meat in a napkin and said he was going to have them tested for bacteria.

Liberal MP Keith Martin is constantly asked, “Do I have H1N1?” Martin, a doctor, has to tell them he can’t answer the question without a test. He has recently noticed that more people on the Hill are staying home when they are ill, something that used to be seen as weak in politics. “The message has gotten through. You’re not a hero if you are sick and come to work.”

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