Why Lisa Raitt went shoeless in the House of Commons

A shoeless MP, the Senatrix Martini, and a meeting with Celine Dion
Mitchel Raphael on why Lisa Raitt went shoeless in the House of Commons
Photograph by Mitchel Raphael

Raitt ditches her heels

A snap vote to attempt to delay the Conservatives’ controversial omnibus crime bill saw MPs racing to make it into the House of Commons last week. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney got in seconds after the warning bells stopped. Labour Minister Lisa Raitt whisked in just before him, but she’d had to remove her high-heeled shoes as she bolted down the staircase to make it to the chamber on time.

The Senatrix martini

MPs from all parties packed a reception hosted by Canada’s gay rights group Egale. The event was hosted by Tory Sen. Nancy Ruth. Before she addressed the boisterous crowd, the senator tried to quiet it, shouting, “Shut up!” This prompted Liberal MP Justin Trudeau to quip, “Shut the f–k up usually works better”—referring to what she famously told aid groups who protested against the Prime Minister’s refusal to fund abortions as part of its international maternal health initiative. If they didn’t, the senator suggested, they would face “more backlash” from the Tories. Egale had a juggling barman serving martinis, one called the “Senatrix,” named for Nancy Ruth, and another called the “Naked Whip.” Colourful platters included edible flowers, one of which was tasted by Toronto NDP MP Rathika Sitsabaiesan. One gay Hill staffer, who used to be in the Prime Minister’s Office with Stephen Harper, told Capital Diary of the time the PM congratulated him on his same-sex marriage. Stephen Harper went on to make his dream come true when, on a trip, the Prime Minister surprised the staffer by pulling him aside and allowing him to meet Céline Dion, who he was preparing to greet.

At the reception, Egale told Capital Diary it is working with coroners to track gay suicide deaths. In Saskatchewan, it is involved with the province to train police officers about LGBT issues, and in Newfoundland it is co-operating with the government to provide anti-homophobia resources in classrooms.

Why robocalls aren’t popular in the Arctic

NDP MP Dennis Bevington said in the 2008 election he used robocalls to send messages to voters in his Western Arctic riding. He hasn’t used them since. The problem, he says, was the response from constituents. They kept telling him: “Hey, I tried to say something to you but all you did was keep talking and talking. I couldn’t get a word in.”

The perfect campaign jacket

NDP leadership candidates have been fanning across the country as their March 23-24 convention, and the vote for Jack Layton’s replacement, nears. Few are in Ottawa, but last week Niki Ashton made a short return to the capital, turning heads in a bright orange coat she’s dubbed her “campaign jacket.” Ashton says the coat was strategic because she needed something for outdoor photo-ops in wet and cold weather. She says the coat has been perfect in all of Canada except when she is back in her home riding of Churchill in Manitoba. “Then I need my Canada Goose,” says Ashton.

Trying the robocall scandal dish

At the centre of the robocall scandal is the riding of Guelph, where there happens to be a food joint called Pierre’s Poutine. “Pierre Poutine,” of course, was the name used to set up a robocall account to target the riding. Frank Valeriote, the Liberal MP who represents the riding, says he’s never been there. Indeed, he only recently tried poutine for the first time, at the Royal Oak, an Ottawa pub. All the talk of ?“Pierre Poutine” got him thinking he needed to at least taste the stuff.

Down to floor space

As the hype continues to build for the Calgary Stampede’s 100th anniversary in July, so do the requests by friends to Calgary MP Lee Richardson to crash at his place. “I keep saying yes,” says the Tory MP. The problem is he’s getting set to demolish his house, and during the Stampede he’ll be renting a smaller one. Book now with Richardson for Stampede 2013.