Mitchel Raphael on Obama key chain mania

And the bright future of the fainting page

Mitchel Raphael on Obama key chain maniaMPs CAN’T WAIT TO RENOVATE

With the budget passed, MPs can get down to . . . renovations! Thanks to the temporary home renovation tax credit, MPs are eager, it seems, to help stimulate the economy. Toronto-area Tory MP Peter Kent has been renovating his heritage house for more than two years but still welcomes the tax break: “On an 1842 house there are always renovations,” he says. Toronto Liberal MP Rob Oliphant, a United Church minister, has drywalling to do but plans to give his tax rebate to the poor. “I was going to renovate anyways. Why would I take that money from the Canadian people?” Jim Flaherty had a long discussion with his wife, Ontario MPP Christine Elliott, on the subject of renovations. The finance minister wanted to do the garage; his wife had plans for the kitchen. Says Flaherty, “She’s going to win, probably.” He jokes that this part of the budget could end up causing family squabbles: “In the end, this may help the family law lawyers.” Calgary Conservative MP Deepak Obhrai has no conflict at home: “I am going to leave it to my lovely wife and most likely she will renovate her kitchen. I just write the cheque. I know my place in my house.” Stephen Harper did note in a speech that “in my experience it works like this: if you own a home and you have a wife, you will probably be doing home renovations in this year.” The comment outraged Halifax NDP MP Megan Leslie, who said in the House that “in this economic crisis, women are more likely looking at affordable housing versus worrying about doing renos to their kitchens.” Leslie also predicted that the Conservatives’ legacy after the 2009 economic crisis will amount to “a bunch of backyard decks.”


Immigration Minister Jason Kenney spoke at the University of Toronto at the first event co-sponsored by the campus’s Jewish student group Hillel and U of T’s Campus Conservatives. His luggage didn’t make it onto his flight, so Kenney sported an open-collar shirt as opposed to his usual suit. “I decided to dress like an Israeli politician,” he said. Kenney arrived with a Starbucks Venti coffee in hand. “I’m a Starbucks Conservative in a Tim Hortons party,” he joked. He then proceeded to deliver a passionate speech on human rights and terrorism. Kenney spoke about his visit in Mumbai, India, to the Nariman House, the ultra Orthodox Jewish centre where six people, including Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg and his six-months-pregnant wife, Rivka Holtzberg, were murdered in a terrorist attack. The immigration minister brought back a rock from the site as a permanent reminder of the atrocity that took place there.


When Barack Obama made a pit stop in Ottawa’s Byward Market, his purchases included a maple leaf key chain from Adnan Ustun’s souvenir booth. Now Ustun has a cardboard cut-out of the U.S. President holding the key chain in his shop. Before the Obama purchase, Ustun says he sold maybe five key chains a day. Now he’s selling 20. If only Obama had bought a made-in-Canada car.


The recent winner of Canada’s Next Great Prime Minister, Calgary native Amy Marlene Robichaud, got her start in federal politics on the floor of the Senate. Literally. The former Senate page fainted during the Tories’ first Throne Speech in 2006 when the Senate chamber heated up due to all the crammed-in bodies, and had to be carried out.


Each year Ontario Grit MP Ruby Dhalla detoxes for a month. All during March she has eaten only vegetarian food and meditates for one hour a day. She’s practising what she preached. Prior to becoming an MP, Dhalla, a chiropractor, owned multidisciplinary health-care clinics.

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