Definitely not just another gala: (Sort of) Liveblogging the annual "Embrace an Orphanage" dinner - Macleans.ca

Definitely not just another gala: (Sort of) Liveblogging the annual “Embrace an Orphanage” dinner

by

ITQ will be liveblogging the festivities at the Museum of Civilization tonight, courtesy of the Children’s Bridge Foundation, so be sure to tune in tonight for full — if sporadic — coverage of what has become one of the hottest unabashedly apolitical events on the Hill fundraising circuit.

The fun starts around 7pm, so check back then!

(Note: Updates will likely be slightly less frequent than your typical ITQ liveblog,what with not wanting to send everyone around me into paranoid fits that I’m posting every word of the pre-dinner chatter onto the internet verbatim, but I’ll do my best to bring y’all the highlights — on and off the official program.)

7:07:54 PM
My apologies, any readers not out gallivanting and/or watching some sort of sporting event; we’re still in cocktail party mode here, which makes me a little leery about yanking out the liveblogging berry and setting upon it, fingers flying. So far, it’s shaping up to be at least a three-and-a-half-star event, what with the presence of Laureen Harper – yes, that’s enough to knock it up a half star at least – as well as various other cabinet ministers. I promise a full report later, but right now, I must socialize.

7:31:21 PM
Alright, we have been forcibly herded to our tables — smilingly and with every courtesy, but relentlessly – and are now awaiting the first speaker of the night, who will – or so I’m told – be CTV’s Rosemary Thompson, who is one of the most irresistable forces behind tonight’s high turnout, as far as Hill personalities.

7:43:02 PM
Okay, so, there’s been this contest on the Hill leading up to this particular event; it’s called Gotta Get Goats, and it involves – well, goats, in both a theoretical and actual sense; specifically, which political party was able to raise the most money selling goats on the Hill.
Ooh, there’s Rosemary Thompson now. I bet she’ll be able to tell us who won the day! Actually, she’s giving a brief introduction to the organization behind tonight’s event – the Children’s Bridge Foundation – and the specific cause for which they’re raising money tonight, which is – actually, a whole bunch of fairly awesome projects in Ethiopia, from buying a water pump for a village to feeding a child lunch for a month.

That’s where the goats come in, by the way. Rosie is teasing out the results, but I’m sure she’ll relent soon, and let us know which party reigns supreme as far as goat-related marketing.

7:53:07 PM
Okay, apparently, it will be Sheila Copps and/or Jay Hill — the honourary co-chairs of this event — who will reveal the winner, not Rosie. Sheila Copps gives a goofily earnest speech about how much fun they’ve all had putting this event together; Jay Hill tells us to read the book by last year’s keynote speaker, Craig Kielberger, and advises all and sundry to “set aside our partisan differences”.

7:58:04 PM
Okay, apparently, the results of the Goat Off will be revealed very soon — way to keep us in suspense! Anyway, Sheila Copps jokes about how there’s a special, last minute alternative — an ass, which costs $1,000, which would be equivalent to at least a dozen goats — and hands the floor back to Rosie, who – wow, this is like a baton relay, anyway, now two representatives from the sponsors – Rogers and GlaxoKlineSmith, to be specific, which I probably should be – have the honour of announcing the parties’ respective standard bearers in the contest: Rodger Cuzner and Mark Eyking for the Liberals, Megan Leslie for the NDP, someone whose name I totally missed for the Bloc, and — was there a Conservative? Honestly, I’m not sure if there was.

Okay, the runners-up were .. the Liberals. The winners? The Conservatives, under Jay Hill, who sold the most goats, so there.

8:07:27 PM
Okay, a dinner break. I’ll report back when it wouldn’t be a shocking breach of etiquette.

8:19:31 PM
I lied. Actually, *I* didn’t so much lie; the program just — proved slightly more complex than predicted. Anyway, the president of Children’s Bridge Foundation, Gayle Carruthers, thanked many of the sponsors — including Rogers, but also a litany of local, national and international organizations — as well as Rosemary Thompson, who is — as noted — a force of nature.

Okay, *now* we’re on a dinner break. Back soon.

8:59:35 PM
Dinner was delicious, you’ll be pleased to know – chicken of a distinctly non-rubbery variety – and we’re now listening to yet another speech, but the time, it is actually the keynote speaker, Glen Pearson, who is telling what turns out to be – despite several alarming twists – a happy ending regarding his daughter, who he brought home from Sudan despite fairly harrowing circumstances.

9:15:23 PM
“These kids” – the three siblings that he and his wife adopted – “survived because of politics”. Not the icky politics, but the ones that work out for the best.

9:18:44 PM
Okay, half the room is in tears as a direct result of this speech — which is a heartwarmer/breaker. He ends by telling the Children’s Bridge Foundation that they are “awesome”, but his main point is that adoption – crisis adoption, really, given the situation in which his children found themselves – is but the first answer, not the ultimate solution. It is compelling — at least, if my table, and every table within eyeshot is any indication — beyond the normal after-dinner address.

9:22:05 PM
The NDP’s Olivia Chow is now on stage, as is Pearson’s daughter, Abuk, and she tells her – and Pearson – that they have a “very special gift”: A set of charms, that, as per Chow, symbolize the future, and she then works in a plug for her bill to ensure that the children of Canadians adopted – or born – abroad will also be Canadian.

9:27:35 PM
And now, the final announcement of the evening — the raffle prizes, which are being announced by Air Canada VP Duncan Dee, who is awarding various free trips, one of which is claimed by a woman in black, who doesn’t identify herself, and honestly, I’m not sure who won the next one, although there was a distinct “whoooo!” from one of the tables at the back of the room.

9:34:50 PM
You know, this would be easier with closed captions — liveblogging the raffle winners, that is. I apologize to y’all, but it’s very difficult to cover an event where the winners are nameless, and flee from the spotlight as soon as they’ve collected their winnings.

Jim Flaherty, on the other hand, is just a fer feet away from me, looking like a man who is entirely copascetic with his unexpected $50 billion deficit.

9:42:38 PM
And – wow, I think this event is actually coming to an end, which seems almost too bad, all things considered. Will you forgive me if I sign off? I hope so, because I’m not sure how much liveblogging material there will be. Tonight, that is — tomorrow, the world, in carefully timestamped chunks. Goodnight, all. If you happen to click over to the Children’s Bridge site, do consider buying a goat — but no pressure. G’night, sleep well, and see you in the morning.