Mitchel Raphael on politicians and drugs, plus the metalhead MP

A Tory’s take on the drug war, The MP who wears Pierre Berton’s bow ties, and Metalhead MP loves Ottawa

Mitchel Raphael on politicians and drugs, plus the metalhead MPA Tory’s take on the drug war
NDP MP Libby Davies spearheaded, and MPs from all parties co-hosted, what was billed as an Expert Panel on Drug Policy Reform. All panellists agreed the war on drugs has been a huge disaster and a waste of money. Portuguese Ambassador Pedro Moitinho de Almeida spoke of his country’s success with decriminalizing drugs. Conservative MP and host Scott Reid noted that Prohibition killed his great-grandfather, who drank alcohol that was distilled improperly. Reid also remarked on the similar effects cocaine and caffeine have on the brain, yet with caffeine we “developed commercial products, regulations and a free environment.” Reid confessed he’s never taken illegal drugs or even smoked tobacco. (He does, however, host an annual beer tasting party, one of the most popular events on the Hill.) He declared he was “perplexed” by “hypocrites who used cocaine themselves, like Barack Obama, and then [allow] someone else to go to prison for life” for doing the same thing. Reid’s guest Pierre Lemieux, an economist with the Université du Québec en Outaouais, stressed that casualties of the drug war include civil liberties: the state now has licence to invade citizens’ privacy. This, Lemieux said in his speech, is inconsistent with a free society. He added that as governments continue to go bankrupt, the time may be ripe to end the wasteful war on drugs. This meeting took place as the Conservatives push on with Bill S-10, which toughens drug sentencing rules.

The MP who wears Pierre Berton’s bow ties
A while back, on United Nations Day, Liberal MP Glen Pearson gave a speech in the House on peacekeeping. He sported a bow tie in honour of peacekeeping pioneer Lester B. Pearson, and did his best to impersonate the former prime minister. Harris Berton—yes, grandson of Pierre Berton—works in Pearson’s office and thought his boss looked good in a bow tie. So, recently, he arranged for the Berton family to give the MP from London, Ont., a special gift: a bunch of his late grandfather’s signature bow ties. “Now I have to learn how to tie one,” said Pearson.

Mitchel Raphael on politicians and drugs, plus the metalhead MPMetalhead MP loves Ottawa
Glenn Thibeault is a heavy metal devotee, and the NDP MP for Sudbury, Ont., says one perk of being in Ottawa is the chance to go to big-name concerts. Since entering Parliament in the last election, he’s managed to catch some of his favourite acts, including Nine Inch Nails and Metallica. He also saw Ozzy Osbourne for the ninth time when the rock star recently passed through the capital. Thibeault confessed he has watched several episodes of Ozzy’s reality show The Osbournes, but had to stop “because his rock star image was being ruined for me.”

How one MP hangs on to his belongings
Liberal MP Rodger Cuzner has advice on avoiding petty thieves. “Buy the ugliest umbrella,” notes the MP from Cape Breton-Canso, N.S., who says his own, purchased at the Bay, has never been swiped, though he forgets it on a regular basis. He applies the same thinking to his clothes. And, he adds, “There has never been a purge of my wardrobe”—reflecting, no doubt, on the brouhaha over Natural Resources Minister Christian Paradis’s cashmere coat, stolen while he attended a riding association fundraiser in Montreal.

Mitchel Raphael on politicians and drugs, plus the metalhead MPWhy Gail Shea cracked up
As Gail Shea, minister of fisheries and oceans, was about to speak at the Hotel Gander in Gander, Nfld., she looked down and burst out laughing. The stepstool behind the podium had Liberal MP Scott Simms’s name on it. Literally. Like Shea, the MP is vertically challenged. Simms says he often speaks at the hotel because it’s the largest in his riding—so often that hotel staff felt compelled to label the stepstool.

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