How the Tory MP surprised the Rabbi

Mitchel Rahpael on how the Tory MP surprised the rabbi

Mitchel Raphael/Maclean's

Following #redchamber

Who says the Senate is out of touch? It recently announced a Twitter account, so “Canadians can learn about what is happening at the Senate—when it happens,” according to a release. The Senate can be followed at @SenateCA. The hashtag is #SenCA. “Twitter is a step in the right direction,” says Alberta Liberal Sen. Grant Mitchell. Admittedly, the Senate has skipped a few technological trends. Mitchell has been trying to get TV cameras in the Senate, just like in the House of Commons. A few years ago Conservative senators Hugh Segal and Tommy Banks had a motion to set up cameras in the upper house, but that fizzled. Mitchell said the price tag would be around $2 million. However, he has proposed the Senate do webcasting, which would cost $120,000 to set up and another $33,000 a year to maintain. “We owe it to Canadians, in the spirit of transparency,” says Mitchell. “Plus, they would see the quality of the speeches, the dignity with which we debate. We are not as partisan as the House and there is not as much tension.” For now, however, it looks like dignified tweets will have to do.

Suits Jason Kenney just fine

There is no turning back for Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. He continues to lose weight through diet and exercise. He has gone down so many suit sizes that even some of his smaller suits are too big. He recently got rid of his larger ones, to ensure that he never goes back to his larger size, otherwise he will have to fork out a huge amount to re-supersize his wardrobe.

We’re all Jewish here

The Jewish holiday of Sukkot saw Rabbi Chaim Mendelsohn of the Canadian Federation of Chabad Lubavitch set up a sukkah (a temporary dwelling to symbolize what the Jews used when they wandered the desert) in the East Block courtyard. As the rabbi said the blessings he used the Hebrew word HaShem, which translates as “the name” instead of saying the actual name of God, when it came to non-Jews saying the prayers. When Conservative MP Chris Warkentin, a blond-haired, blue-eyed evangelical Christian representing rural Alberta, was told this, he said that his great-great-grandmother on his mother’s side was Jewish. According to Jewish law, which is based on maternal bloodline, that makes Warkentin Jewish. Rabbi Mendelsohn hauled the MP back to the sukkah to repeat the prayers using God’s real name.

Hairdresser likes NDP leadership race

The NDP leadership race has been good for Paul Dewar’s hairdresser. The Ottawa MP traditionally went the route of letting his hair grow long and then cutting it. Now it’s being kept short. Dewar says it’s for practical reasons because he is on the go and travelling even more, so the short ’do is easier to manage.

Restaurant talk with Harper

The Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CFRA) was on the Hill talking to MPs about a national restaurant strategy. One of the key issues for the group is taxes and credit card fees. More people, says the CFRA, are paying with plastic and the credit card companies get fees from the total amount on the transaction, including the tip. Some of the members met briefly with Stephen Harper. The CRFA’s CEO, Garth Whyte, said the PM was interested in how things are going on the economic front, since people’s behaviour in restaurants is a good indicator. Said Whyte: “We are like the canaries in the mines,” noting that McDonald’s is expanding while independents continue to struggle.

Seduced by water bottles

Sustainable Development Technology Canada held a reception for MPs at the Fairmont Château Laurier. One reason cited by several parliamentarians for coming: the invitations included cool foldable metallic water bottles.

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