Mitchel Raphael on who Laureen Harper got Paul Gross to call and dancing Senators

Peter Milliken’s ’luxury’ lodgings, Rona Ambrose hears bad news about her shoes, and Where were all the MPs?

Peter Milliken’s ‘luxury’ lodgings
In the course of reporting on Peter Milliken’s decision to release uncensored documents about transferred Afghan detainees, the National Post’s Don Martin noted that the Speaker’s job “comes with a luxury apartment inside the Centre Block.” Years back, tired of journalists constantly referring to the Centre Block apartment as “luxurious,” Milliken invited some of them in to take a look at the lodgings: it’s basically two large walk-in closets with a cheap single bed. That stopped the journalists for a while—until Martin’s story. Milliken’s fabulous official residence, the Farm at Kingsmere, is of course another story.

Rona Ambrose hears bad news about her shoes
Heritage Minister James Moore’s movie nights are becoming a hot ticket in Ottawa. Last week, he hosted the city’s premiere of Gunless, starring Paul Gross, at the Museum of Civilization. VIPs attending included Laureen Harper, whose sister is a huge Paul Gross fan. Mrs. Harper seized the moment, pulling out her iPhone to call her sister and then passing the phone to Gross. On the fashion front, Mrs. Harper had the fiercest pointed shoes of the night. Rounded-toe shoes, she advised, were “just not sexy.” This was sad news for Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose, who heard the comment and happened to be wearing rounded shoes. Mrs. Harper then tried to clarify she wasn’t referring to shoes like Ambrose’s. The public works minister thought the whole situation was very funny. Before and after the film, there were catered receptions. At the post-party, there were even two huge legs of beef, which meant no long lines for the meat and plenty to go around. In Ottawa, this is considered a major plus. Still, some people missed the traditional movie snacks. Mrs. Harper, for one, said she wished she had licorice for the film. A staffer to Treasury Board President Stockwell Day (whose B.C. riding was one of the locations for Gunless) overheard and ran out to fetch Twizzlers.

Where were all the mps?
The last All-Party Party, organized by NDP MP Peter Stoffer, packed 200 West Block. (The building is scheduled for major maintenance and will be closed for years.) The All-Party Party is an opportunity to show appreciation for all the people who work on the Hill: staffers, bus drivers, security folks and the people who clean the toilets. A member from each party spoke to the crowd to thank them for all the work they had done (Jack Layton was the only leader to do it on behalf of his party), but sadly, there was not a strong presence of MPs at the event. The entertainment included an accordion player, an RCMP band and a rock band. Capital Diary observed that there wasn’t much action on the dance floor . . . well, at least not until 68-year-old Liberal Sen. David Smith and Tory Sen. Nancy Ruth, also 68, started boogying up a storm.

Mayor Judy?
The NDP’s Judy Wasylycia-Leis has resigned her seat and it is expected she will take a run at becoming the next mayor of Winnipeg. If she does, she says the campaign would focus on using her first name because her last name is such a tongue twister. Since everybody already knows her as Judy, she admits she would likely be known as Mayor Judy (like Judge Judy). Wasylycia-Leis took her first run at federal politics in 1993; during that election campaign, CTV called her and said they could not fit her name on the screen and she needed to choose what part they could chop off. Wasylycia-Leis informed them her last name was not up for dissection.

Her new look
Montreal Liberal MP Marlene Jennings recently had eye surgery for a retina condition and has to wear sunglasses in the House to protect her from light. Technically she should be wearing glasses that wrap around her eyes to protect them from all sides. But wraparounds aren’t fashionable, she notes. She’ll be sticking with her stylish shades.