Capital Diary: It’s (garden) party time

Mitchel Raphael on the parties and their end-of-sitting parties

Mitchel Raphael on garden parties and a new boxing challenge

Photograph by Mitchel Raphael

How Mulcair impressed the media

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair held his first in a series of garden parties at Stornoway, an annual custom also held at 24 Sussex and the Farm at Kingsmere, which is the official residence of the Speaker of the House of Commons. When it was the media’s turn at Stornoway, the ground under a huge tent was still mushy from rain and a party earlier in the week. Mulcair’s wife, Catherine Pinhas, helped host the event and indicated she doesn’t enjoy having her picture taken. She said she will pose for future holiday cards when duty calls. NDP staff said she will have to get over that aversion if their leader plans to become the next prime minister of Canada.

CBC host Evan Solomon arrived a bit late to the party and missed the buffet, which included white chocolate mousse branded with the NDP logo. He was left to nibble on a cheese platter and finished the last of the New Brunswick oysters at the oyster bar. Talk turned to the Twitter hashtag of Solomon’s show Power and Politics, which is #PnP. PnP is also the acronym used on gay hookup sites for “party and play,” which means searching for sex and drugs. One attendee at the party who follows the hashtag quipped that it made for an interesting Twitter feed. Solomon joked that must be why his ratings are up.
As the party wound down around 10 p.m., Mulcair told the waiters to go around and let everyone know it was last call. This impressed much of the media since such announcements are rarely made at parties at the official residences.

Not voting with your minister

NDP MP Randall Garrison’s private member’s bill, C-279, which aims to include “gender identity” and “gender expression” as prohibited grounds for discrimination in the Human Rights Act, passed second reading by a vote of 150 to 132. With a majority government the bill needed Conservative support to survive. Fifteen Tories voted in favour. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty supported it. His wife, Ontario Progressive Conservative MPP Christine Elliott, co-sponsored a similar bill in Ontario, which just passed on June 13. Labour Minister Lisa Raitt supported the bill this time, as well as when it was first introduced, drawing her the support of a trans woman who volunteered on her campaign in the last election. Conservative MP Shelly Glover was such an ardent supporter that she sent a letter to her party colleagues asking them to support the bill. As a Winnipeg police officer, she worked with transgendered sex-trade workers and said she could not return home to face the trans people she worked with if she did not support it. Conservative MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay of B.C. also supported the bill, even though she is the parliamentary secretary to Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, who voted against the bill. She says she dealt with several cases involving transgendered Canadians when she was a member of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. She told Nicholson how she would be voting. Findlay said he accepted that it would be a free vote, as Prime Minister Stephen Harper had promised.

Kenney challenges Trudeau

A special reception was held on the Hill to mark Philippine Independence Day. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney addressed the crowd and quipped that a boxing match should be arranged between Liberal MP Justin Trudeau—who recently beat Conservative Sen. Patrick Brazeau in a charity boxing match—and extremely popular Philippine boxer and congressman Manny Pacquiao. Kenney quipped that, in the Philippines, there is “God, the Virgin Mary and then Manny Pacquiao.” Kenney said if Trudeau took the challenge against Pacquiao, a world champion, then he would get into the ring with Liberal MP Denis Coderre. Trudeau declined the challenge.

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