Mitchel Raphael on a House full of crybabies and Bob Rae’s briefcase

Nathan Cullen brings his kids to work on the Hill
Mitchel Raphael
Mitchel Raphael

Kids in the House

NDP House Leader Nathan Cullen recently moved his wife Diana Cullen and two-year-old sons Isaac and Elliot to Ottawa from British Columbia. The twins have enjoyed playing in their dad’s Centre Block office. They like his White House snow globe and wooden chess set, particularly the “horsies,” which the twins enjoy whacking on their father’s head. Another joy the twins discovered are the loud echoes in Centre Block corridors when they yell. Cullen’s wife brought the boys to their first question period. Just as Stephen Harper was about to answer NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair’s question about the role of Canadian troops in Afghanistan, one of the twins began to cry. Diana Cullen tried to take the crying child out but was first met with a locked door. Eventually she found a way out. Speaker Andrew Scheer called order. The PM was once again given the floor. Harper quipped of the crying: “Mr. Speaker, I have heard much worse noise here from adults.”

Political baggage

At the recent Travers Debates held at the National Arts Centre, Tory Sen. Nancy Ruth was spotted with a purple Gucci backpack. Since getting an iPad, the senator says she needed a bag that made it easier to carry all her stuff. She bought the backpack a decade ago but never used it until now. One problem she encountered was the dye of the lining was running and leaving purple on her hands and all over the place. She decided to tear out the lining and the problems disappeared. Another repurposer of bags is interim Liberal leader Bob Rae. He carries a very beaten-up briefcase, which dates back to his articling days. Rae notes that the briefcase has been repaired five times. Tory Sen. Hugh Segal moderated the event, named after the late Toronto Star journalist Jim Travers. The senator noted that with the resignation of Ontario Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty, perhaps Rae should think about running as provincial Liberal leader and consider the slogan “Love is better the second time around.”

The dog behind an Ottawa memorial

Second World War veteran Lloyd Swick was on the Hill recently, talking to MPs about his monument to animals who served in war. The memorial consists of a series of plaques, plus a life-sized statue of a dog, honouring the animals who helped during wartime. David Clendining is the sculptor behind the monument. Clendining says the mules were based on photos, the horses from observing animals near his home in Ottawa, but “the dog is 90 per cent my old German shepherd, Lucky.” Laureen Harper is the project’s honorary patron, and NDP MP Peter Stoffer has been a big supporter. The memorial will be unveiled in Ottawa on Nov. 3.