Mitchel Raphael on why Michael Ignatieff got his own ’fake lake’

Too bad about the protesters’ cake, Her bodyguard money gone, and Could Ottawa get any smaller?

Too bad about the protesters’ cake
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff’s annual garden party for the media had its own special “water feature”: a child’s swimming pool was decorated to create that Muskoka-like feeling. Liberal strategist Kevin Bosch said he learned from the Conservatives that if you want to get the media out you have to have a “fake lake.” Capital Diary asked several TV journalists to stand in front of the backdrop for a photo; all politely declined. Ignatieff’s version of a “fake lake” included fake ducks and a mini remote-controlled boat, all of which cost around $80, thanks to some strategic shopping at Wal-Mart. The party was a sit-down dinner of pasta and meatballs, as opposed to the usual food stations. Steve Paikin of TVO’s The Agenda seemed mortified when the band, armed with an accordion, sang Happy Birthday to him. Outside Stornoway, two groups of protesters arrived. The first were NDP supporters upset at how the Liberals helped the Conservatives pass their fifth budget bill by having several of their members absent for the vote. Unfortunately, an ice cream cake with Sesame Street’s The Count on it melted in one of the demonstrators’ hands, making the message written on it difficult to read. Then there were the anti-seal-hunt protesters who joined in with some of the NDP chants. When Capital Diary pointed out to the seal protesters that the NDP officially supports the hunt, the protesting NDPers claimed not everyone in the party is behind that position.

Her bodyguard money gone
When Liberal MP Irwin Cotler was in Geneva speaking at a conference to mark the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, he met Dr. Massouda Jalal on a panel. Jalal was the sole female presidential candidate during Afghanistan’s 2004 election and spoke out about the conditions for women in her country. Cotler was so impressed with her talk he invited her to Ottawa where she spoke to MPs. She pointed out that many of Afghanistan’s TV and radio stations are in the hands of warlords who use the media to suppress women’s rights. Jalal says most people in her country believe what the media tell them so she is advocating for a women’s TV station to combat the misogynist attacks. When she was in cabinet, she said, she expected a minister who had lived in the U.S. for 20 years would be progressive on women’s rights. Instead, he told her the reason he had come back to Afghanistan was: “In America I don’t have control over my wife and daughter.” Jalal was shocked. Amnesty International gave her some funds, which she used to hire bodyguards. But the money has dried up and she is now without protection. Cotler is hoping Canada can help her remain a voice for women in Afghanistan.

Could Ottawa get any smaller?
MPs whose homes are far away from Ottawa tend to get excited when their children move to the capital. Cape Breton Liberal MP Mark Eyking is delighted his son Josh Eyking is starting work as a real estate agent in the city. He is with Keller Williams Ottawa Realty, the same firm where Transport Minister John Baird’s mother Marianne Anderson works.

Bilingual judges
Supreme Court Justice Rosalie Abella recently spoke at the Yeshiva University Toronto convocation and dinner. Noting the controversy around a private member’s bill that any newly appointed Supreme Court judges must be bilingual, she said she wanted to say a few words in another language. She proceeded with remarks in Yiddish, much to the delight and laughter of the predominantly Jewish crowd.

They also have a real lake
The term “fake lake” is getting under the skins of some Tories. But one joke going around is that they in fact have a “real” lake too: Edmonton MP Mike Lake.

Photographs by Mitchel Raphael