Women’s Day chocolate politics and tartan fever - Macleans.ca

Women’s Day chocolate politics and tartan fever

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Mitchel Raphael on Women’s Day chocolate politics and tartan fever
Photograph by Mitchel Raphael

Why Laureen Harper’s big on Capt. Kirk

At the 31st annual Genie Awards, held in Ottawa’s National Arts Centre, cabinet ministers Rona Ambrose, Lisa Raitt and Tony Clement arrived just as workers were vacuuming up popcorn from the pre-awards reception. They were late because of votes in the House. The event was hosted by William Shatner, who, joked Tony Clement, “finally came out of his shell.” Laureen Harper told Capital Diary she is a Shatner and Star Trek fan and has seen all the episodes of the original TV series. And her husband, Stephen Harper, and their daughter Rachel Harper, watched all the episodes together two summers ago. “You can learn about leadership from Capt. Kirk,” noted Mrs. Harper. “He had to make some tough decisions.”

Mitchel Raphael on Women’s Day chocolate politics and tartan fever
Photograph by Mitchel Raphael

After the Genies were over, politicians mixed with filmmakers such as Denis Villeneuve and The Trotsky star Jay Baruchel, who after the show popped by a 24-hour McDonald’s in the rain for a late night snack. Also in the eclectic mix were two past Playboy playmates, Shannon Tweed, a former Miss Ottawa who lives with rock and reality show star Gene Simmons, and Shera Bechard, Miss November 2010, who was promoting her new film Sweet Karma, a drama about human trafficking.

 

Mitchel Raphael on Women’s Day chocolate politics and tartan fever
Photograph by Mitchel Raphael

I don’t want your chocolate

For the past three years, Shelly Glover, parliamentary secretary to the minister of finance, has handed out chocolates on International Women’s Day. The first year she put them on the desks of all the female MPs in the House. When she did it the second time in 2010, many opposition MPs returned them with rude notes, she said. So this year she placed small boxes of chocolates on the House desks of only her fellow Conservative female MPs and discreetly handed some to the women in other parties she considers friends.

Mitchel Raphael on Women’s Day chocolate politics and tartan fever
Photograph by Mitchel Raphael

Our very own tartan

Heritage Minister James Moore has now declared the maple leaf tartan an official symbol of Canada. When reporters jokingly asked whether this was part of the Conservatives’ outreach to “ethnic communities,” Moore turned to National Post columnist John Ivison, who was in the scrum, and teased that the reporter, who is from Scotland, would know if such a strategy would work. Ivison joked that it would take “free booze” to win the Scottish-Canadian votes. Nevertheless, Ivison was spotted the next day on the Hill sporting a tie in the tartan. Moore says that the adoption of the tartan as a national symbol, along with the beaver and maple tree, will allow Canadians who do not already have a family tartan to now have one for events such as Robbie Burns Day. One minister probably won’t be sporting the maple leaf tartan: Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Diane Finley recently created her own tartan. When Moore was asked if he was getting anything made for himself in the plaid, the large MP joked it was “in development” and that it would require “a lot” of fabric. The maple leaf tartan was created by David Weiser in 1964 as part of a lead-up to Canada’s 100th anniversary of Confederation in 1967. Moore wanted it to become a national symbol before Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017. Last December, it was Liberal Sen. Elizabeth Hubley who put forward a bill to have the tartan become an official symbol.

Dear Helena . . .

As part of his preparations for the upcoming budget, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty sent a letter to MPs asking for suggestions and things they might want to see in it. Former Conservative and now Independent MP Helena Guergis says her letter had “Dear Colleague” crossed out at the top and replaced with “Helena.” Guergis says her main suggestion was that the government should provide volunteer firefighters with a bigger tax credit for their services in order to increase the appeal for people to take up such positions.