A Senator’s busy retirement
Tory Sen. Linda Frum held a book launch in her home for Anthony Julius’s new book Trials of the Diaspora: A History of Anti-Semitism in England. Julius, a lawyer and professor, famously represented Diana, Princess of Wales in her divorce from Prince Charles. Diana knew Julius because he had helped her sue a newspaper after its photographer invaded her privacy by snapping photos of her working out.
When Diana asked Julius to represent her for her divorce, he had never done that kind of legal work: “This would be my first divorce,” he told her. Diana quickly said, “It will be mine, too,” and said they would figure it out together. Attendees at the book launch included Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and recently retired senator Jerry Grafstein, who is part of a group of investors interested in buying the National Post, Ottawa Citizen and Montreal Gazette, and who will soon launch the Wellington Street Post, an online paper named after the famous street that runs in front of Parliament Hill. The website plans to cover politics from a federal perspective.
Bev Oda’s hair fascinates
Three years ago, Liberal MP Glen Pearson, known for his humanitarian work in Sudan, asked the government for aid for Sudan, and $3 million was approved. The money went to such projects as women’s centres that helped on the educational and micro-enterprise front. When Pearson was in Sudan this year, he took with him pictures of International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda to show the Sudanese the minister who had approved the funds. They were surprised to learn it was a woman who had approved the money, and also that she was not white. But the most fascinating thing for them was Oda’s short blunt haircut. Sudanese women are known for their elaborate hairstyles.
Pearson is currently asking the government to commit $6 million more. He is the CIDA critic but has been criticized by members of his own party for not attacking Oda. He never asks her questions in the House. The Liberals get someone else to go after Oda in question period. Pearson says his style is to work with people to help get aid where it needs to go.
No more ‘in all thy sons command’?
When Parliament returns, Tory Sen. Nancy Ruth plans to get back to her national anthem project. Instead of the words “in all thy sons command,” Ruth sings the more gender-inclusive “thou dost in us command,” which were the original English-language lyrics. The senator has been unable to discover why the lyrics were changed after 1908. Her best guess is that it was to encourage men to join the military around the time of the First World War. If the military reason is correct, notes Ruth, then the lines don’t reflect the fact that in today’s Canadian military women serve and die for their country. The changing of the anthem’s lyrics has been an ongoing project in the Senate. Liberal Sen. Vivienne Poy was working on it when her party was in power. When the Conservatives came in, Poy shared her research with Ruth, who hopes to have her government introduce a bill to change the words. If they don’t, she may introduce the bill herself through the Senate. She only wants to restore those original words of the anthem and not get caught up in a debate about all new lyrics for O Canada, which would be a very “thorny” issue.
May gets in
Last year when Green Leader Elizabeth May requested to be in the pre-budget lock-up for party leaders, she had to go through hoops before Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s people let her in. For the upcoming budget on March 4, May says there was no problem getting the okay. “The power of precedence makes a big difference,” says May. Either that, she quips, or some bureaucrat just saw