Bev Oda’s ‘rough time’ and the PM’s racy songs

Mitchel Raphael  on Bev Oda’s ‘rough time’ and the PM’s racy songs

Photographs by Mitchel Raphael

You have to love those seniors

Bev Oda has three campaign offices in her large Ontario riding of Durham. The one in Port Perry is right across from the only McDonald’s in town. As one volunteer noted, everyone in town sees it because it is right by the drive-through. It’s almost as good a location as the one Oda had during the last campaign when her office was right across from the liquor store.

Port Perry recently had a Tartan Day parade, which Oda marched in. She wore an RCMP tartan she picked up at the Wee Tartan Shop, a store in town that specializes in British goods. The owner of the shop, Stewart Bennett, is the person who organized the parade; he’s also often the person who sings the national anthem at Oda’s fundraisers. While looking around in the shop before the festivities, Oda spotted a DVD trivia game for the British TV show Coronation Street and considered picking one up for the Prime Minister because, she says, he’s a big fan of the show. The store also sells pickled garlic, which Oda buys as gifts for people, though she herself isn’t a big fan of it. She often gets Defence Minister Peter MacKay Nova Scotia scarves from the shop “because he keeps losing them.”

Like most MPs, during the election, Oda’s duties as minister of international co-operation are curtailed, with the exception of dealing with international catastrophes such as earthquakes or hurricanes. On the campaign trail, people are clearly aware of the big “not” scandal. (Says one Oda supporter: “This a seniors’ community so they have nothing to do but read.”) But no one ever says anything directly to the minister. It’s more along the lines of: “You’ve had a rough time, eh?” Maybe that’s because everyone is also well aware of all the things Oda has brought to the riding, including fixing up the waterfront in Port Perry.

While campaigning at an event put on by Durham Farm Connections, Oda spent time with the farmer working the alpaca section. When Oda inquired about the animals for her own farmland, she was told she would have to get at least two because they are herd animals. “Do they spit?” she asked. She was assured they could be trained.

There aren’t many visible minorities in the riding. Oda, who is Japanese Canadian, lives in the town of Orono where she counts “the people who run the Chinese restaurant and the guy at the convenience store” and herself as the “multicultural centre.”

‘Dirty Picture’ in Ajax

Stephen Harper has attempted to run a risk-free campaign, but his soundtrack is a little out there. First there was the photo op with 10-year-old Maria Aragon singing Lady Gaga’s gay-bi-transgendered anthem Born This Way. Then, during a rally in Ajax, Ont., one of the songs pumping up the room before Harper came in was Taio Cruz and Ke$ha’s Dirty Picture club anthem, which includes the lyrics: “So take a dirty picture for me / Take a dirty picture / Just take a dirty picture.”

When the lights went out for May

Just as Green Leader Elizabeth May was about to launch her party’s platform at the Centre for Social Innovation in Toronto, the TV crews’ lights went out. “Thanks for observing Earth Minute,” joked May, not missing a beat as people went to check the breaker switch. She then filled time by talking about her very first press conference, when she was four and was used as a “prop” by her activist mother.

They all scream for…

It’s not often hundreds of people flock to an MP. But Toronto NDP candidate Olivia Chow recently had them eating out of her hand. She was helping give out free mini ice cream cones to promote the Big Chill, an ice cream parlour in the city’s hip Little Italy. Too bad she couldn’t have any herself. Chow happens to be lactose intolerant so settled for mango sherbet, “the colour of the NDP,” the MP astutely added.

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