The conservatives’ Martha Stewart

Mitchel Raphael on the conservatives’ Martha Stewart

Photography by Mitchel Raphael

MP reads carefully in House

The annual All-Party Party was held at the Government Conference Centre this year since the usual venue, the West Block, is closed for renovations and asbestos removal. The event—which thanks all who work on the Hill, from staffers to cleaners to Hill security guards—was started years ago by NDP MP Peter Stoffer. This year it was taken over by Liberal Sen. Jim Munson and Liberal MP Mauril Bélanger. The entertainment lineup had guitar-strumming NDP MP Andrew Cash who, in the early ’80s, founded the Toronto punk band L’Étranger with fellow NDP MP Charlie Angus. Also performing was the band Marabou, made up of local university students including Claude Munson, the senator’s son. The senator confessed that the music genes did not come from his side of the family because “I failed the triangle in Grade 3.” The handful of MPs who showed up to support the men and women who serve them on the Hill were late because of extended voting time around Bill C-10, the controversial Conservative omnibus crime bill that Green Leader Elizabeth May and other NDPs challenged with a series of amendments. Liberal MP Mark Eyking tried to pass the time during all the votes by reading The Help, a book he bought his mother for Christmas and happened to have on him that night. He was careful not to break the spine so it would be new when he gave it to her.

Why Van Loan should give up his day job

Government House leader Peter Van Loan has embarked on an unusual seasonal sideline. Last week for a meeting of party whips and House leaders, the Ontario Conservative baked a cake and gingerbread cookies. While it isn’t usual to bring treats to such meetings, he says he has a 2½-year-old child now and wanted to make some quality treats. So he decided to test them first on his fellow MPs. NDP party whip Chris Charlton said the cake was “lovely,” and NDP House leader Joe Comartin said the cake was “really good.” Comartin did, however, question whether the icing on the cake was homemade. Many at the meeting said Van Loan should “give up his day job” and bake full-time. The gingerbread men were delicious—moist with a perfect balance of sweetness. When asked about his secret recipe, Van Loan admitted that a friend from Nova Scotia had sent it to him and that it was actually a Martha Stewart recipe.

Why she tore up her party membership

Equal Voice, an organization dedicated to getting more women elected, and Famous 5 Ottawa, which celebrates the Famous Five and other women’s achievements, held a reception for Globe and Mail columnist Jane Taber, who is leaving Ottawa for Halifax to become the paper’s new head of the Atlantic bureau. Taber was honoured for her work helping women in politics. She was presented with a book about Nellie McClung, one of the Famous Five who launched the “Persons Case.” The MPs who showed up at the party were all men. The first to arrive were Conservative MPs Dean Del Mastro and James Rajotte. Taber confessed that she once held a membership to a political party. She joined the Progressive Conservative party to help Flora MacDonald when she sought the PC leadership in 1976. Taber says that after she became a journalist, she tore up her membership card.

The Imelda Marcos of scarves

Deepak Obhrai, parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs, always wears a scarf around his neck. His trademark is so well-known that scarves are the gift that people consistently give him. Often he gets them from around the world. He says he now has more scarves than ties. His vast selection means he has a scarf to match all of his suits. He recently switched from silk to wool as winter arrived in Ottawa.

Looking for more?

Get the best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.