The MP who has to talk about the Senate all summer

Mitchel Raphael on the MP who has to talk about the Senate all summer

Mitchel Raphael

Handy having an orthopaedic surgeon

Ontario Conservative MP Patrick Brown’s annual Hockey Night in Barrie continues to grow. Each year, the charity fundraiser for the Royal Victoria Hospital has MPs and NHL players sharing the ice for a game. This year (the fourth) raised almost $200,000 for the hospital’s cancer care centre. Current and retired NHL players this time included Ryan O’Reilly of the Colorado Avalanche, Bryan Little of the Winnipeg Jets, Luke Pither of the Philadelphia Flyers and Darcy Tucker. Also attending was Conservative MP Kellie Leitch (who beat Helena Guergis in the last election). The rookie MP would have been handy in an emergency: Leitch is an orthopaedic surgeon who has sports- injuries training going back to the days when she worked with the Toronto Argonauts.

Calgary Conservative MP Michelle Rempel (who took former cabinet minister Jim Prentice’s old seat in the last election) arrived at the game to support Brown and her fellow MPs. But when she got drafted as one of the coaches, she quickly rose to the challenge. (Last year, Stephen Harper put in an appearance and coached the same team.) Defence Minister Peter MacKay arrived with all his hockey gear but had to borrow one of Patrick Brown’s sticks. Most of the MPs present agreed that Brown is one the Conservatives’ best players.

The change rooms were filled with water bottles, energy drinks and an inspirational Toronto Maple Leaf mat, featuring a picture of a bikini-clad model on it. Ontario Conservative MP Gord Brown munched on caramel corn before the game. Asked if it was his secret weapon, he quipped, “I’m supporting my corn farmers. Grenville County [in his riding] is just one big cornfield.” Bal Gosal, the minister of state for sport, arrived wearing a Maple Leaf jersey; Patrick Brown told him they had a special Hockey Night in Barrie jersey for him. It was Gosal’s first ice hockey game since becoming sports minister. What he really loves to play is soccer. He says he hasn’t played for five years, though, and that he hopes to get back into it once things resume in Ottawa in September.

Must-attend parties in rural Alberta

Alberta MP Brian Storseth has been hitting a lot farms this summer in his rural riding of Westlock-St. Paul. Many farms, he notes, are celebrating one-hundredth anniversaries. “Last year there were a lot in Manitoba and now they are rolling across Alberta,” notes Storseth. The MP says the farmers get a scroll from the Prime Minister, which he delivers, and a plaque from the provincial government, which his provincial counterpart presents. Many of the farms have original furniture stored away, which they proudly show off at the parties. These events are must-attends for politicians, he says, because in rural Alberta “where else will you find a 200-person event?”

Why Canadians fear Senate change

Nothing says summer like a good debate about Senate reform. This is the task that has been handed to Minister of State for Democratic Reform Tim Uppal, who has been touring the country trying to engage people on changing the upper chamber. One thing Uppal has come across is people’s deep fear that changing the Senate will make it more like the Senate in the United States. The current economic crisis and partisan games over raising the debt ceiling have made Canadians nervous that Senate reform could result in a similar mess. Uppal has assured people that the power of the Canadian Senate would not change. The Tories just want to have nine-year fixed terms (or retirement at 75) and elected senators. The elections, he notes, would be tied to municipal or provincial elections. In some cases there would be senators-in-waiting in order to coordinate upcoming vacancies with election schedules.

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