Mitchel Raphael on the cabinet minister who’s lost 30 pounds

And May’s train holiday

Jack LaytonNewfoundland MP has ‘rescued a few people’
The 191-year-old Royal St. John’s Regatta is held the first Wednesday in August—or, if the weather’s not right, the first good day after that. The regatta committee assesses conditions in the early morning and then, if it’s good for the boats, declares a holiday for the city. “You should have the right to have a holiday on a good weather day,” says Newfoundland NDP MP Jack Harris. Harris has been going to the Royal St. John’s Regatta for more than 50 years. He usually plays a game or two of crown and anchor, though not this year. His big win in the past was “a couple of bucks.” He recalls that many years ago, kids would walk around the regatta carrying buckets of water with an egg cup at the bottom. A person would double their money if they landed a coin in the egg cup. Harris himself never landed a coin in the cup. “You were pretty much saying goodbye to your dime,” jokes the MP. This year, Harris was joined by NDP Leader Jack Layton. It was Layton’s first time at the regatta and as he and Harris walked the grounds the phrase “pair of Jacks” was heard a few times. Siobhan CoadyLayton was made an honorary member of the regatta committee and presented with a baseball cap. On that same committee is Liberal MP Siobhan Coady. A member since 1992, she has also been a judge at the regatta and in the ’80s was an active rower. She never tipped a boat, “but I’ve rescued a few people,” says Coady. She’s also known as a “treat” lady because she always gives out crabs or shrimps.

Elizabeth MayHas anybody got a riding they could give to Elizabeth May?
Last month Green Party Leader Elizabeth May had her first weekend off since the start of 2009. That weekend was part of her five-day summer vacation, spent entirely on a train from Vancouver to Nova Scotia. Her leisure reading included The End of Energy Obesity: Breaking Today’s Energy Addiction for a Prosperous and Secure Tomorrow by Peter Tertzakian and Keith Hollihan, and P.D. James’s mystery novel The Private Patient. May loves mystery books: “They are diverting and make you not think much about reality.” She also read Wayson Choy’s Not Yet and met the author at one of her favourite events, the Read by the Sea Festival in River John, N.S. May has been spending much of the summer looking for a new riding to run in. She says Michael Ignatieff made it clear there will be no leader courtesies offered to her (his predecessor, Stéphane Dion, did not run a candidate against May in Central Nova). The Green leader was thinking of running in former Tory, now Independent MP Bill Casey’s riding since he has resigned, but she feels a general election will be called before that by-election. May’s daughter, Victoria Cate, will attend the University of King’s College in Halifax this September, which will make it difficult for the Green leader to see her unless she picks another East Coast riding. But the priority for the Green party, she says, is for her to find a riding she can win.

John BairdThere are fewer and fewer things for John Baird to eat
Expect to see even less of John Baird when Parliament resumes. The transport minister has lost about 30 pounds by eliminating carbs from his diet. Baird is also a vegetarian, which means fewer and fewer supermarket aisles in which to spot him.

Laureen HarperLaureen’s big hike
Last summer, Laureen Harper hiked across Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland. It took her four days. This year she is hiking with friends and crossing the Continental Divide between Alberta and British Columbia. She predicts she can do it in three and a half days.