Bow if they bow
Japan’s Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko arrived in Ottawa last week and were greeted at the airport by International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda and Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon. Oda, the first Japanese-Canadian ever elected as an MP, joked to Cannon before the royals’ plane landed that in ancient times no one’s head could be higher than the emperor’s, “so you better lean down.” Oda said Canadian officials explained that the protocol with the Japanese royals was to take your cue from them. Bow if they bow or shake their hand if they extend it. Oda noted the rain stopped just as the emperor and empress got off the plane and did not start again until they were in their car. Both royals spoke English but at times the emperor would turn to the empress for the right English word. Oda speaks a little Japanese and understands most of it from having her Japanese-speaking grandparents living with her while growing up. At a special reception for the royal couple on Tuesday, the minister was allowed to bring a guest. She chose her 86-year-old mother Kaye Oda as her date.
Gay and grey
Among a sea of sequins, gay glitter and rainbows, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff marched in the Toronto Pride parade sporting a thin grey sweater and brown slacks. Folks in Iggy’s office said the neutral colours were intentional in order to have him stand out in the colourful celebration. One gay Liberal, upset at the sartorial snub, noted Iggy should “at least put some beads on.” That same Grit also noted another Pride fashion faux pas: Gerard Kennedy has been “wearing the same red shirt to the Pride parade for the last four years. And I have the pictures to prove it.” Earlier in the day, Toronto Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett attended the morning Metropolitan Community Church Pride service. She noted the rain stopped briefly just as the collection plate was being passed around. Bennett told Rev. Brent Hawkes, “Hey, you better pass that around again.” Later, just as the parade began at 2 p.m., the rain literally stopped as the “Dykes on Bikes” revved their motorcycles to begin the marching. Bob Rae had brought with him what seemed like the hugest umbrella there. Toronto NDP MP Olivia Chow said her husband Jack Layton’s rainbow umbrella was bigger. When comedian Rick Mercer, who was sipping drinks in one of the Pride beer gardens, heard about the umbrella showdown, he quipped, “What kind of man even carries an umbrella?”
Bob Rae’s drag name
At Pride Toronto’s Gala & Awards ceremony, former Toronto NDP candidate El-Farouk Khaki (who went up against Bob Rae in the last election) was one of five recipients of the community awards. Philanthropist Salah Bachir took home the lifetime achievement award. At the gala, held at Toronto’s historic and restored Carlu event venue, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty mingled with drag queens. Xtra.ca reporter Michael Pihach asked Bob Rae what he would choose as his drag name. Last year the same reporter asked Rae if he would do drag and the MP said, “Why not?” Drag names offered to Rae were Mae Rae, Bobbi Forapples or Bobbi Ivories. The Toronto MP chose Bobbi Ivories because he loves playing the piano.
CPAC has style
At least one organization on the Hill finished the recent session off in style. CPAC got some nice-looking steel and brown chairs. After question period, CPAC, CTV and CBC all set up chairs in the House foyer for interview purposes. Before, CPAC plunked MPs on stools that were uncomfortable and hard to sit on. Liberal House leader Ralph Goodale said the new chairs were a pleasure to use. While CTV has the most comfortable chairs in the foyer, with high backs, they are the ugliest. CBC’s are the most uncomfortable, according to a few informal chats with MPs.