The overcoat a former PM’s wife just couldn’t lose

Mitchel Raphael on the overcoat a former PM's wife just couldn't loseThe Senator and the ballet

New Brunswick Sen. Carolyn Stewart Olsen, who served as one of Stephen Harper’s key communications advisers, hosted the Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada at the National Arts Centre. The event was the world premiere of Ghosts of Violence, which tackles the subject of women who have died at the hands of an intimate partner. Stewart Olsen has helped the ballet raise both private and public funding. It was her first experience with arts funding and she said she has found it one of her most rewarding experiences so far as a senator. The new Progressive Conservative premier of New Brunswick, David Alward, attended and confessed it was his first ballet. It was also the first ballet for Jen Heague-Morse of Ottawa, who found it a particularly moving event. When people walked into the theatre they were greeted by life-size wooden cut-outs of women who had been killed. Each had a plaque with information about the victim. One of them was Morse’s mother, Brenda Lee Chillingworth.

Mitchel Raphael on the overcoat a former PM's wife just couldn't loseMedal count: Rae 2, Iggy 1

At last week’s Politics & the Pen gala, Anna Porter took home the $25,000 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for political writing for her book The Ghosts of Europe: Journeys Through Central Europe’s Troubled Past and Uncertain Future. Porter joked that when she saw Laureen Harper wasn’t in attendance she was sure Lawrence Martin must have won for Harperland: The Politics of Control. As is the tradition at the gala, many attendees sported one of two medals indicating whether they were a writer or a politician. Liberal MP Bob Rae, who has penned several books, got to wear both medals. Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, who has written a huge number of books, got only the politician medal; Green Leader Elizabeth May was reduced to “writer.”

Another Joe Clark record smashed

In an effort to correct a historical oversight, the portrait of Canada’s ninth prime minister, Arthur Meighen, was officially hung. The portrait has been up in the Centre Block for decades, but Meighen never got an official dedication ceremony, an oversight discovered by historian Arthur Milnes while he was working on a revised book of Meighen speeches, Unrevised and Unrepented II. In attendance was Joe Clark, who served as PM in 1979 and 1980, but didn’t have his portrait hung until 2008. “Another one of my records broken,” Clark joked. Sen. Michael Meighen told a funny story about how his grandfather wore clothing until it fell apart. One overcoat in particular was in such shambles Meighen’s wife tossed it from a train. She was shocked when it was returned in the mail, courtesy of a railway worker who found it and identified the owner from the name stitched in the lining. Earl Porter, the mayor of Portage la Prairie, Man., Meighen’s hometown, was given a special invite to the ceremony. Porter noted that renovations on Meighen’s house, declared a heritage property about a decade ago, are almost complete.

Mitchel Raphael on the overcoat a former PM's wife just couldn't loseNot impressed with William’s visit

When the PM was asked during question period about the upcoming visit of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, there was much boisterous heckling, as it was clearly an attempt to change the channel on the crisis over Bev Oda and the word “not.” When the PM noted, “I am sure Canadians will be as wildly enthusiastic in their reception of this visit as all members of the House appear to be,” Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe responded with his hands in a frenzy of disgust.

Jack needs to stretch

NDP Leader Jack Layton joins a growing list of MPs with leg and foot injuries—including Stockwell Day and Jean-Pierre Blackburn. What started as a small fracture in his foot from exercising turned into something worse. Layton’s wife, Toronto MP Olivia Chow, says he, like too many men, does not stretch when exercising.