Mitchel Raphael on the great sausage caper and a present for parliamentary geeks

This weeks gossip

After all that, he’s not sharing
Kenzie Potter, director of parliamentary affairs in government House leader Jay Hill’s office, desperately needed to get her hands on some Stawnichy sausages. They’re made in Mundare, Alta., 75 km east of Edmonton. She wanted to surprise her father, Dale Potter, a former Edmonton Eskimo who, in his 12-year career, helped the team win six Grey Cups. Her father, now living in Ottawa, hadn’t had a Stawnichy sausage in years and was craving them. She thought it would be the ideal birthday present and asked Labour Minister Rona Ambrose, who’s from Edmonton, for help. Ambrose wasn’t going to be in Edmonton but agreed to do what she could. She tried to have the sausages sent by mail but the shop said it couldn’t do that. Could they freeze the sausages, Ambrose asked, and she would have someone pick them up and fly them to Ottawa. For that, she was told, she would need special permission from the manager: Stawnichy rarely freezes its sausages for fear it will affect the taste. She got the special permission, but then she needed to find someone to bring the sausages back. She started asking her fellow Edmonton MP colleagues. Mike Lake wasn’t sure he had room in his freezer to store them but MP Brent Rathgeber came to the rescue. Ambrose’s assistant’s husband picked up the sausages, gave them to his wife, who went and hung the bag on Rathgeber’s mailbox. The MP took them to the Edmonton airport, where they caught the attention of the security people when they went through the scanners. “We’ll have to look at your sausage,” he was told. (Apparently sausages have been used for transporting contraband.) After arriving safely in Ottawa, the sausages were presented to Kenzie Potter at the Conservatives’ question period prep. She took them over to the Senate, where her mother, Jan Potter, is the mace bearer. When Dale Potter got his present, he yelled with joy: “Where did you get this?” That was rapidly followed by: “I am not sharing these with anyone.”

Olympic crash pads
The parliamentary tourism caucus held a special reception as part of a themed afternoon of “Promoting Regional Tourism: Canada’s 2010 Winter Olympics & Paralympic Games.” At the gathering, Taleeb Noormohamed, VANOC’s vice-president of partnerships, said the city is short on hotel rooms, although he feels some places are holding rooms to rent at the last minute. But a few B.C. MPs told Capital Diary they still have space. Conservative Alice Wong has two rooms free; so does NDPer Libby Davies. Liberal Joyce Murray has set aside one room for Jeanne Dion, daughter of Stéphane Dion, but still has a room free and an apartment in the house she just renovated. Liberal Ujjal Dosanjh can’t help, though: his house is being renovated during the Olympics.

Hot Hill Xmas gift
For parliamentary procedure geeks, “it’s the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition,” quipped Liberal whip Rodger Cuzner at the launch of the second edition of House of Commons Procedure and Practice. New highlights include a section on warrants. “The last time [a Speaker] issued a warrant, they rode horses,” says Audrey O’Brien, the House clerk who co-edited the 1,400-plus-page book. She also says there is a revised section on Speakers dealing with tie votes, which Peter Milliken has done several times. Each MP received two copies of the book, which sells for $198.95 at the parliamentary gift shop, just in time for Christmas.

The next GG?
Mary Simon, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, kicked off the organization’s launch of “2010: Year of the Inuit” on the Hill. One powerful Conservative insider told Capital Diary that Simon, a former ambassador and champion of the Arctic, would be an ideal choice as governor general since Michaëlle Jean is technically in her final year of office.

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