As Parliament wound down for 2012 it literally almost came to blows between Government House leader Peter Van Loan (known as PVL on the Hill) and two Opposition members: NDP House leader Nathan Cullen and NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair. PVL was upset at Cullen because the NDP attempted to use procedure to delay the budget and force another vote on the bill. PVL came over and told Cullen to never try that again. This is far cry from when Cullen and Van Loan started working together as House leaders and PVL made him a cake to welcome him into his new position. (Van Loan is known to dabble in Martha Stewart recipes).
If tensions continue to boil over once Parliament resumes, and things get physical again, it’s opportune to consider the fighting strengths of all the official national parties. If it comes to a fight on the floor of the House of Commons, here then are the politicians to watch:
On the Conservative side is cage fighter Ryan Leef. The Yukon MP is a mixed martial arts fighter who has been inside the Armageddon Fighting Championship’s octagon. Dan Albas, the Conservative who replaced Stockwell Day in the B.C. riding of Okanagan-Coquihalla, worked as a mixed martial arts instructor. His martial arts studio was called Kick City Martial Arts.
On the Liberal fighting side, leadership candidate Justin Trudeau still holds the title for best physical scrapper after he famously defeated black belt Conservative Sen. Patrick Brazeau in a charity boxing match. Newfoundland MP Scott Simms told Capital Diary he has “some” boxing experience. The petite MP, who often makes fun of his lack of height, confesses he would not be an ideal first wave fighter.
On the NDP side is a mixed bag of fighters. Quebec MP Mathieu Ravignat (who beat former foreign affairs minister Lawrence Cannon in the last election) is a sensei at the Wakefield Traditional Karate Association as well as a member of the Ottawa Medieval Sword Guild which, according to their website, is “a company of men-at-arms specializing in 14th-century combat, dedicated to the restoration of traditional Western martial arts.” Quebec MP Christine Moore served in the Canadian Forces and was an emergency room and intensive care nurse. Quebec MP Jean-François Larose is a former prison guard. Ontario MP Glenn Thibeault holds a brown belt in balintawak, a form of Filipino martial arts. B.C. MP Jinny Sims has a black belt in judo and is a fencer. During a debate about citizens’ arrests, she told the House: “I have a black belt in judo. I have taught judo and have accidentally hurt a person very close to me because he insisted that I show him how it is done. He did not have the sense to fall when I asked him to fall.”
The NDP’s secret weapon is Alex Atamanenko, a 67-year-old MP representing the B.C. riding of Southern Interior. He is lean and grey bearded, but Atamanenko was an officer in the Canadian Forces who has a fourth degree black belt. He currently sits in the last row of the House on the opposition side. NDP deputy leader Libby Davies sits next to Mulcair. When Capital Diary asked if she should perhaps move her seat to allow one of the martial arts MPs from her caucus to sit beside their leader, Davies quipped, “Hey, I’m from East Van!”