Mitchel Raphael on a Rahim Jaffer joke

And why Nova Scotian Bill Casey is so popular

Good sport Maxime Bernier

At the suggestion of Capital Diary, this year’s Parliamentary Press Gallery Dinner was a different kind of night. Traditionally, party leaders have given funny speeches, but this dinner became a mock awards ceremony with lots of MPs and journalists taking to the stage (in part because fewer and fewer leaders were offering to speak at the event). Rick Mercer talked about all the gay staffers who work for Tory ministers “except Lisa Raitt. How do I know? Just look at her hair.” Other highlights included former foreign affairs minister and very good sport Maxime Bernier comically looking for his notes on stage. He found them and did not have to call Julie Couillard. Also, Scott Brison had some great lines: “I’ve put a lot of work into my speech,” said the Nova Scotia Liberal MP. “In fact, I even got together with former colleague Rahim Jaffer to do a few lines.”

How to get elected in Nova Scotia without spending a dime

The recent announcement of a by-election in Nova Scotia has all eyes in that province on one man: Bill Casey. Casey was the Tory MP who voted against the Conservative budget over the Atlantic accord and then sat as an Independent. He resigned this year, triggering the by-election in his old riding. He is now a Nova Scotia hero: any candidate that received his blessing would sail to victory. According to NDP MP Megan Leslie, “You wouldn’t have to run a campaign if Bill endorsed you.” Casey now works for the Nova Scotia government representing the province’s interests in Ottawa, so he has to appear neutral, but politicians at all levels of government in the province are keen to score even a photo with him.

Happy Birthday from Justin

During question period Justin Trudeau can often be spotted signing all sorts of things. (Most MPs do this, including the PM, who has been spotted signing photos of himself.) One day Trudeau had a huge stack of cards on his desk. Every Liberal supporter in his Montreal riding, he explains, gets a personalized birthday card. Recently, Trudeau popped by the seventh annual Champions of Mental Health awards at the Fairmont Château Laurier ballroom. His mother, Margaret Trudeau, got an award for being open about having bipolar disorder. Also on the awards list was Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Gen. Walter Natynczyk, chief of defence staff, for their work launching the Canadian Forces mental health campaign, “Be the Difference.” MacKay noted that the number of health care officials hired under his watch has increased significantly. Meanwhile, on the military mission front, Natynczyk told Capital Diary that he just wrapped up the mission in Bosnia a few weeks ago. He noted that when it comes to wars, politicians like to sprint, while the military run marathons.

His daughter and Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin’s memoir, Going Rogue: An American Life, will be out soon. So which NDP MP has a photo homage of Palin in his office? Peter Stoffer’s daughter, Amber Ocean Stoffer, once dressed up as the former Republican vice-presidential nominee, and the Nova Scotia MP keeps the snap in a prominent frame in his Hill office. She is called Amber Ocean, says Stoffer, because she was conceived on a cruise ship and the sunsets were a stunning amber colour. Stoffer has another daughter named Jasmin Aurora Stoffer; she was born in the Yukon during an aurora borealis.

What the Senator wore

Sen. Nancy Ruth showed up to the weekly Conservative caucus meeting with a T-shirt under her blazer that read: “I may be wrong, but I doubt it.” She showed it to a few MPs, but made sure not to flash the Prime Minister.