At this year’s Politics & the Pen gala, the Writers’ Trust of Canada awarded the $25,000 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for political writing to James Orbinski for An Imperfect Offering: Humanitarian Action in the Twenty-first Century. Last year, Maxime Bernier arrived at the event with Julie Couillard in a tight gold dress. Times have changed. This year Bernier was spotted walking in with someone a little less flamboyant: fellow Tory MP Ted Menzies, wearing a bow tie and cummerbund in his family’s tartan. One MP quipped that Couillard really should have been invited, noting that she did, in fact, write a book. At this glitzy A-list event filled with writers and politicians, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, Transport Minister John Baird, and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty all spent time greeting the glamorous Stefania Capovilla, who was attending her first Politics & the Pen. Capovilla knows these politicians’ true colours: she’s their hairstylist. She coifs a virtual who’s who list of Ottawa’s political elite thanks to PMO staffer Aaron Campbell, who first visited her while the Conservatives were in opposition and then started recommending her to others. She even cuts Stephen Harper’s hair. The gala’s entertainment was provided by comedian Brent Butt from Corner Gas, who was seated next to Laureen Harper. Butt doesn’t understand why, having had two sitting PMs on the show, he still has to pay taxes. During his routine, the lights kept going on and off. The mystery was solved when it turned out that Mrs. Harper’s RCMP guard was leaning on the light switch in the Fairmont Château Laurier ballroom.
Trudeau can, Ignatieff can’t
On the same night as Politics & the Pen was the annual All-Party Party organized by NDP MP Peter Stoffer. Everyone who works on the Hill, from very underpaid staffers (unless they are unionized NDP workers) to the cleaners and security, was invited. Stoffer had an RCMP band playing and had arranged eclectic door prizes that included an orthopaedic back rest from the Canadian Chiropractic Association, a decorated egg from the South African High Commission, and a plate from the Iranian Embassy. The event raised more than $7,000 for leukemia research. Stoffer got to bed at 2 a.m. and was up again at 6 a.m. “I haven’t had a good sleep since the original Woodstock,” says the Nova Scotia MP. Attending both big events that night was Justin Trudeau, sporting a bow tie he always ties himself. “Wearing a clip-on bow tie is like wearing underwear under a kilt,” quipped Trudeau, who wears a kilt on occasion. Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, on the other hand, who was spotted later at Politics & the Pen wearing a clip-on bow tie, confessed he couldn’t tie one himself if his life depended on it. Perhaps he might want to do what Greg MacEachern (former aide to Belinda Stronach, now with Summa Strategies) does: go to Holt Renfrew and ask them to tie it for you.
I’ll get my own water, thanks
This year’s Senate pages were recently sworn in and are now slowly getting into routines that include fetching water for senators. Well, for most of them. Tory Senate leader Marjory LeBreton says she never asks pages for water. She used to be a staffer on the Hill, and is sympathetic about asking folks to do menial tasks. If she has to speak and has no water, she just looks for a clean full glass at another senator’s empty seat.
‘Slumdog’ meets Calgary
Before boarding a flight from Calgary to Toronto, Environment Minister Jim Prentice’s wife, Karen Prentice, spotted Slumdog Millionaire star Dev Patel among her fellow passengers. When she asked for an autograph, Patel told her he was in Calgary to renew the visa he needed to work on his next film in the U.S and to study a script. Patel said he didn’t leave his hotel room for three days because the city was too cold.