Why Harper is never in the Stampede parade

Mitchel Raphael on why Harper is never in the Stampede parade

Photographs by Mitchel Raphael

Security, the royals and the parade

The Canadian tour of Prince William and Kate includes a stop at the Calgary Stampede. One MP said local officials hoped the couple would actually be in the Stampede parade, but that doesn’t look like a possibility because the security costs would be too high with so many tall buildings along the route. Ever since Stephen Harper became PM, Conservatives have been hoping to get him into the parade. But, according to the MP, the security costs for that to happen were estimated a few years ago at $300,000. The Windsors would likely cost a lot more. So instead crowds will see the royal couple do the route in reverse (a 20-minute car trip as opposed to the hours-long parade), ending up at Bow Valley College, where they will officially start the parade.

MacKay knows if you have served

At Party Under the Stars, a fundraiser to help purchase electronic and other recreational equipment for troops in Afghanistan, Defence Minister Peter MacKay told the crowd that whenever anyone sees a member of the Canadian Forces they should go up and thank them. When Capital Diary asked MacKay’s aide if the minister practises what he preaches, the aide confirmed that he did and added that his boss can spot armed forces personnel even when they are out of uniform, by looking for certain bags or signs. One time in Frankfurt’s airport he went up to an out-of-uniform Canadian soldier and thanked him. The shocked soldier asked, “How did you know I was in the military?” MacKay just smiled.

The new MP with butterflies

Rookie NDP MP Annick Papillon brought some flare to the Hill with earrings made out of monarch butterfly wings, an homage to her last name. Papillon won the Quebec City riding, beating Christiane Gagnon, one of the few Bloc MPs who’d been elected in the party’s first campaign of 1993. Papillon’s father was not very supportive of her during the campaign, telling her she had no chance of winning, in part because she was up against Gagnon, also because he was an organizer for the Liberals in the Quebec City region.

Okay, okay, I’ll put the scarf back on

As summer hit Ottawa, MPs looked for ways to keep cool. Conservative MP Deepak Obhrai was seen with his jacket off but still sporting his trademark scarf. He just can’t ditch it, he says: on the rare day he doesn’t wear one, people want to know “Where’s your scarf?”

Fast food and the PMO

One Tory staffer says folks at the PMO are now eating healthier. It’s more about convenience than a lifestyle choice, though. The closest fast food place is a Freshii that recently opened up across from their offices. “You have no choice but to eat healthy if you go there,” says the staffer. “You can’t even buy a Coke. They just have Diet Coke and Coke Zero.”

Ah, the perks of a majority…

After former Conservative MP Chuck Strahl announced he was not going to run in the last election, his son, Mark Strahl, took his place as the candidate and won. When Chuck Strahl was in Ottawa recently to visit his son, he noted that when he was an MP he never had as nice an office as Mark now does. That’s what happens when you don’t stick around for the majority government years.

Bilingual Supremes, Part Deux

Stephen Harper will be appointing several Supreme Court justices in the next few years. That’s why NDP MP Yvon Godin has reintroduced his private member’s bill to have all future Supreme Court justices be bilingual. In the last session, his bill passed the House of Commons and went to the Senate where, the MP said, senators sat on it for a year and “did not even study it.” In the end, the election killed it.

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