Mitchel Raphael on a hockey-mad MP, a bike breakdown and the power of Celine Dion

Mitchel Raphael on a hockey-mad MP and a bike breakdown

Deb Ransom

MP plays hockey every week

Ontario Conservative MP Patrick Brown’s fifth annual Hockey Night in Barrie raised more than $225,000 for the Simcoe Muskoka Regional Cancer Centre. Both teams included a mix of MPs, current and former NHL players, and celebrities such as Alan Thicke, who just joined the second season of MuchMusic’s The L.A. Complex. The parliamentarians who played included Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Alberta Tory MP Blaine Calkins, who had to tighten his hockey pants significantly after trimming 45 lb. from his 245-lb. frame. Also on the ice was Ontario Conservative MP Gord Brown, who plays hockey all year round. “If I go five days without playing hockey, that is extraordinary,” he says. When the House is sitting, MPs get together twice a week to play, and the games can attract as many as 20 players, including some staffers. When Gord is in his riding, he plays with the Gananoque Old Sticks, although he has also organized hockey games on the road, even on a trip to India. At the Barrie event, he presented a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal to hockey legend Doug Gilmour. Mississauga, Ont., Conservative MP Stella Ambler presented the medal to hockey commentator Don Cherry, “as your member of Parliament and a hockey mom.”

From poker Monday to juice-box Tuesday

NDP House leader Nathan Cullen has decided to bring his wife and two-year-old boys, Isaac and Elliot, to the capital, where they will rent a house. They have been living in Smithers, B.C., population 6,000, for 10 years. (He jokes that the town was around long before The Simpsons character Waylon Smithers, but sadly the cartoon is now the first hit when you google “Smithers.”) Right now, Cullen is lucky if he sees his kids two days out of 14 because he has so many duties in Ottawa. He plans to create a kids’ zone in his office, which may mean that his Monday-night poker games—which attracted NDP staffers after long gruelling days on the Hill—will become “juice-box Tuesdays” once the twins arrive.

Dewar’s bike breakdown

NDP MP Paul Dewar was flying to Kazakhstan for a conference on nuclear disarmament on the same day as the Ottawa Pride parade, but rather than miss it, he decided to squeeze in an appearance—on his bicycle. The problem occurred near the end of the parade, when his fender got tangled up in the bike’s wheel and, as he struggled to straighten it out, the parade began to back up. Onlookers rushed to the scene as a gap widened, though eventually he pulled his bike to the side so the parade could continue.

Power of Céline

David Couturier, an aide to Conservative Senator Claude Carignan, just came back from a dream vacation in Las Vegas. A huge fan of Céline Dion, he first met the Quebec chanteuse after a Montreal concert when none other than Prime Minister Stephen Harper introduced them. The power of her song was so strong that Couturier, who has cerebral palsy and can only stand with difficulty, reported standing on his own during the Canadian show. In Vegas, he was back for more, with tickets to two shows. From his front-row seat, he shook hands with his idol and was so close that, as she sang My Heart Will Go On, he was in her spotlight.

Mulcair’s photo ops

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair is trying to get used to the poll factor, where increasing support for the NDP is related to how many people want a picture taken with a potential prime minister. This means getting from point A to B can take a lot more time. At a recent memorial for the late Jack Layton in Toronto, Mulcair was asked repeatedly to pose for pictures. One man gave Ontario NDP MP Malcolm Allen his iPhone and, as Allen tried to work it, Mulcair quipped: “Give it to someone younger.”

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