Mitchel Raphael on the defiant fisheries minister and Helena Guergis’s bull’s eye shot

This weeks gossip from capital hill

Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq with Gail Shea with Liberal button The Liberals are working and have the buttons to prove it
Monday, Jan. 25, would have been the first day the House sat in 2010 had Stephen Harper not prorogued Parliament. Keen to make a point, Liberals decided to hold round-table discussions on the Hill this week on a variety of topics and wore bilingual buttons saying “Liberals are working.” Folks from all parties, though, came out in force on Monday night for the Hill Helps Haiti fundraiser organized by the government relations firm Summa Strategies. The event raised more than $32,000. Among the notable guests was Fisheries Minister Gail Shea, despite having had a cream pie thrown in her face that morning by an anti-seal-hunt protester. On her lapel, the tough Shea proudly sported a sealskin ribbon in support of the hunt. NDP attendees included B.C. MP Nathan Cullen, who found out over the break that he and his wife are expecting twins, and Winnipeg’s Judy Wasylycia-Leis, who is considering running for mayor in Winnipeg. For their part, underpaid Hill staffers were happy to finally have an event with food. Prorogation has meant many Hill receptions have been cancelled for February.

MP hypnotized
Fog in Toronto on what would have been the first day back on the Hill meant some Liberal and NDP MPs were late arriving for their caucus meetings and other planned events. Several were coming to Ottawa from Toronto after being on CBC’s Test the Nation the night before. At one point during the show, Vancouver Liberal MP Hedy Fry offered to be hypnotized by Toronto hypnotherapist Donald Currie. Fry, who is a medical doctor, has been trained in hypnotherapy and says she’s used it on some pregnant women who wanted to deliver without pain medication and for minor surgical procedures. In the end, Fry opted not to be hypnotized, so Toronto Liberal MP Martha Hall Findlay volunteered. The hypnosis was supposed to make Hall Findlay more relaxed for the next round of questioning, but the MP says she just fell asleep. When she came out of hypnosis, Justin Trudeau thought he’d take advantage of the situation and asked Hall Findlay to cluck like a chicken. It didn’t work.

at the prorogation rallyProrogation and a perogy
Across the country this past weekend, thousands of people attended rallies organized by Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament. The Toronto protest included Liberal MP Rob Oliphant, NDP MP Olivia Chow, a giant perogy, and two Spartan warriors. Andrew Young and Scott Joly, dressed in nothing but capes and loincloths, said they’d put beige makeup on their exposed bodies because they knew they’d go white in the frigid temperatures.

ELENA GUERGIS at the Barrie Gun ClubGuergis and guns
Prorogation means all government bills on the Order Paper die. But private members’ bills stay active. This is good news for Helena Guergis, minister of state for the status of women. She is happy her colleague Candice Hoeppner’s private member’s bill to end Canada’s long-gun registry is still going ahead. Guergis grew up with guns; when she was young, her father, Karam Guergis, would take her hunting for deer and caribou. Guergis was recently at the Barrie Gun Club, where she was treated like a hero by gun owners. Guergis managed to hit the bull’s eye with a rifle and used some handguns for the first time. People at the club say the end of the long-gun registry is a good first step toward establishing a more sensible gun policy. Guergis says dealing with gun owners whose firearm possession licences expire is a big issue in her large rural Ontario riding. Members of the Barrie Gun Club complained about myriad problems with the system, including not getting their renewal notices for their possession licences on time. Guergis did say that while she has no problem with shooting gophers, she could never bring herself to shoot a large animal.