Constituents get a surprise call
A handful of high-profile Conservatives, including John Baird, Lawrence Cannon, James Moore and Lisa Raitt, ensured that Bill C-389, which adds gender identity and gender expression to the Canadian Human Rights Act, passed last week. The bill, introduced by NDP MP Bill Siksay, is now at the Senate. For Raitt it was personal: the labour minister has a transgendered cousin. She also quips that without transgendered women she wouldn’t be able to find shoes. The minister wears size 11. MPs received mixed messages over the issue. NDP MP Peter Stoffer said he got the same the-sky-is-falling response as when he voted for same-sex marriage. Long-time heterosexual couples, he said, called him in a panic, claiming the institution of marriage would be destroyed. Stoffer asked them at the time how their families were doing and whether they had children and grandchildren. Several years later Stoffer made a point of calling them back to ask how their families were and if the passing of the same-sex marriage bill had had any adverse affects. After recovering from the shock of the call, all admitted their marriages were still going strong.
The ‘Badger’ has left the building
Last week was Toronto Star reporter Richard Brennan’s last day on the Hill. Four years ago he was elected president of the press gallery because of his reputation for verbally pummelling politicians. (His nickname was “Badger.”) He told Capital Diary that when it came to access, covering Ottawa was like the Third World and things have only gotten worse. Brennan says the irony in Stephen Harper’s lack of media availability is that the PM is really good when he does engage journalists. Brennan was frustrated that cabinet meeting times were not made available, as had been done before, which further cut media off from information on the country’s decision makers. Based on his previous experience as a reporter covering Ontario politics, he says don’t expect to see any additional access if another party takes power: “Once you lose these things you never get them back.”
Harper as a Chippendales dancer
A YouTube video apparently had Stephen Harper in stitches during a Conservative caucus meeting. House leader John Baird shared “Stephen Harper’s five years in power party,” in which the heads of the PM and cabinet ministers Baird, Jason Kenney, Vic Toews and Stockwell Day are superimposed on the bodies of Chippendales dancers. Baird says he doesn’t know who made the video. Toews joked that it’s his real body. In reality, the only person whose body would come close to a Chippendales dancer is the über-fit Day, who runs marathons.
Tony Clement rocks!
Industry Minister Tony Clement has at least two dozen rock T-shirts. Last week he wore a Rush shirt, complete with skull, for the Conservatives’ five-year anniversary party at the Hard Rock Cafe. The night before, he sported the Foo Fighters for his 50th birthday party. He is currently learning guitar through computer programs and YouTube videos, using a hand-me-down instrument from one of his sons. He’s hoping to get a new guitar for his birthday.
The appointment of Don Meredith and Larry Smith has given the Conservatives a majority in the Senate. Senate leader Marjory LeBreton, 60, says this is the second time the Conservatives have had a majority since she was old enough to remember. When asked if the PM would consider making some non-Conservative Senate appointments as Liberal PM Paul Martin did when he appointed Conservatives Nancy Ruth and Hugh Segal, LeBreton says that when the Liberals drop to below 20, as had happened to her party’s senators, she “may” bring it up.