Tips on proper body language and a beard debate

Mitchel Raphael on proper body language and a beard debate

Colin Perkel/CP

Suzanne Somers influences ministers

Labour Minister Lisa Raitt looked at one of her shrinking colleagues and asked how they were shedding the pounds. The secret? Suzanne Somers’ diet plan. Raitt is now in full swing doing the core parts of the diet, which include eating fruit on an empty stomach and being careful about how she combines her vegetables, proteins, fats and carbohydrates. She’s been on the diet for two weeks and is down 10 lb.

Dude, where’s my polling station?

“Robocalls” trended on Twitter under the hashtag #robocallmovies. Some of the top spoofs included: Honey, I Shrunk the Electorate, Snow White and the Seven Calls, Pollstergeist, Lord of the Rings, Callsablanca and Dude, Where’s My Polling Station?

Olivia won’t point fingers

Toronto NDP MP Olivia Chow has remained neutral in the NDP leadership race. As Jack Layton’s widow, she is widely seen as a party unifier, so taking sides in the race is a no-no. Still, she has been watching all the candidates throughout the leadership race and is keeping an eye on their body language. One thing to avoid in debates, she says, is pointing. It is okay to make a fist when making a point, but a finger should never pop out. She says she’s seen some pointing by some of the candidates, and she’s happy to sit down with whomever wins and give them the body-language lessons she and her late husband learned throughout their long political careers.

Snowflakes and the Queen

Senate Speaker Noël Kinsella held a special reception last week for Canada’s new parliamentary poet laureate, Fred Wah. Wah was officially appointed to the two-year position on Dec. 20. He was asked if he could write something to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. He unveiled his poem “The Snowflake Age” at the reception. When he first walked through the Senate door of Centre Block, Hill staff pointed out the new stained-glass window that depicts Elizabeth II wearing a snowflake crown. The coincidence between his poem and the window delighted him. On Feb. 21, Kinsella, along with House Speaker Andrew Scheer, met with the Queen at Buckingham Palace where the sovereign said to Kinsella, “I understand the window has been installed. I hear it is quite spectacular.” Kinsella and Scheer presented the Queen with two congratulatory books for her Diamond Jubilee, a red one signed by senators and a green one signed by MPs.

The poet laureate reception also brought out former Liberal senator Jerry Grafstein. It was his private member’s bill that established the parliamentary poet laureate in 2001 and enshrined it in the Parliament of Canada Act. It took him four years to do it. Britain has had a poet laureate for more than 340 years; the United States has had one for over 70. Since retiring, Grafstein launched the Wellington Street Post, an online news magazine named after the Ottawa street that runs in front of Parliament Hill. Grafstein says he is in the process of launching several new online papers including the Penn Ave. Post for Washington, the Holly Post for Los Angeles, the New Westminster Post for Britain and the City of David Post for the Middle East.

Can you be PM with a beard?

A few NDP MPs are wondering whether leadership candidate Thomas Mulcair can be prime ministerial material with a beard. When the late Jack Layton became leader, there was a debate whether he should shave off his moustache. When one MP mentioned this to Capital Diary in the House foyer it didn’t take long to find two prime ministers’ portraits on nearby walls where the subject had a beard: Alexander Mackenzie (1873-1878) and Mackenzie Bowell (1894–1896). If Mulcair wins, he will be the second current leader with a beard. Seatless Bloc Québécois Leader Daniel Paillé also sports one.