Mitchel Raphael on what MPs plan for the holidays and Rob Ford's scary habit

Had a few? This MP will drive you home, Iggy plummets in the puppet polls

Mitchel Raphael on what MPs plan for the holidays and Rob Ford's scary habitHad a few? This MP will drive you home
As the House wound down for the holidays, Bloc MP Meili Faille could be seen sporting a pin of a reindeer with an oversized red nose, to promote Quebec’s Opération Nez Rouge drive-home service. During the holidays, people who become too intoxicated to drive can call the service, which sends a volunteer to collect the tipsy person and another volunteer to drive the partier’s car home. One of those volunteer drivers is Faille, who has given a few days of her time to the cause for several years now. These days, she drives a Dodge Grand Caravan, so she can convey up to five revellers at a time.

Mitchel Raphael on what MPs plan for the holidays and Rob Ford's scary habitIggy plummets in the puppet polls
Ottawa-based textile artist Gabe Thirlwall is known for her handmade finger puppets of prominent MPs. Recently, she has expanded her collection, adding puppets of some less conspicuous politicians. There’s a Megan Leslie puppet, for instance, and the NDP MP for Halifax even received a free one. Thirlwall says she has a strict policy on freebies: only if a politician is “not a douche” does he or she qualify. (The fact that Leslie recently gave Thirlwall a lift to a mutual friend’s wedding no doubt counted in her favour.) The artist has also introduced historical figures like Brian Mulroney, Jean Chrétien, Sir John A. Macdonald, and Tommy Douglas, “but they don’t get a free one because they are old or dead.” At the recent One of a Kind craft show in Toronto, an 11-day affair, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff bombed, sales-wise. Even the Stéphane Dion puppet sold better. Stephen Harper and Jack Layton sales were so brisk that Thirlwall had to make more puppets every night. Now she says she needs to create a Tony Clement puppet because people have been demanding one, and telling her they follow the industry minister on Twitter. The puppets are available at

What Layton feared most about Rob Ford
NDP Leader Jack Layton attended Toronto’s inaugural city council meeting this month to see his son in action. Mike Layton was elected as a new city councillor in the last election, which also swept conservative Rob Ford into the mayor’s office. Ford’s friend, hockey commentator Don Cherry, noted at the council meeting with typical reserve that Ford’s “going to be the greatest mayor this city has ever seen, as far as I’m concerned, and put that in your pipe, you left-wing kooks.” Layton senior used to sit with Ford back in the day when both were Toronto city councillors, and even managed to get him onside for a few initiatives. Layton’s secret? Talking football, which led to a bond of sorts. But one thing about his seatmate still scared Jack Layton. When Ford spoke, he often gesticulated wildly, and it was necessary to be on guard to avoid accidental hits.

Mitchel Raphael on what MPs plan for the holidays and Rob Ford's scary habitHow WikiLeaks helped Irwin Cotler
For some time now, Montreal Liberal MP Irwin Cotler has been pushing his colleagues to accept a proposal to help contain Iran using “legal remedies.” Cotler felt the proposal, which tackles human-rights abuses, terrorism and nuclear threats, would be a tough sell. But then, courtesy of WikiLeaks, the world learned what many Arab countries are really thinking about Iran: bombs away! Cotler said his proposal all of a sudden looked “modest” and was passed unanimously by the foreign affairs committee.

Candid camera holiday greetings
Justin Trudeau shaved off his Movember moustache for prostate cancer awareness, but it lives on in his MP holiday video. However, you won’t see Trudeau’s blooper: he wished viewers a happy holiday on behalf of himself and his “stache.” He meant to say “staff,” and did so in the retake.

Mitchel Raphael on what MPs plan for the holidays and Rob Ford's scary habitAnd then there were two . . .
Former Tory cabinet minister Jim Prentice was back on the Hill for an official farewell party recently. His wife, Karen Prentice, joked that this was the first time her husband had been unemployed. Actually, Prentice—once touted as a potential successor to Stephen Harper—resigned from cabinet in November and will start his new job as a vice-chairman at CIBC in January. Tory MPs say there are now two folks giving speeches around the country hoping to demonstrate they are leadership material: Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Maxime Bernier. Over the holidays, though, Bernier plans to take a break in his riding, and for Christmas will enjoy a family tradition with his kids—an old-fashioned sleigh ride. An avid skier, he will also likely be spotted on the slopes of Mont Tremblant.

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