Mitchel Raphael on Lisa Raitt’s tips for women

And the night they took back D’Arcy’s

090416_sleepover1A ‘pyjama’ party
Wear comfy clothes, Lisa Raitt told the dozen female Tory staffers she invited to her place for a casual night of finding out what it’s like to be a cabinet minister. The event was the “closest thing to a pyjama party,” quipped the natural resources minister, who offered the other women tips such as, “Be prepared—know your files,” “Do not trash other women—it reflects poorly on you, not them,” and “Wear high heels.” Pizza was served along with martinis—the rims of the martini glasses were dipped in candies such as Pop Rocks and sugary Fun Dip. Ahead of the event, Raitt started spreading a rumour that Defence Minister Peter MacKay would be coming since he lives in the same building. She later told MacKay what she’d done. “When should I drop by?” he asked. He had to play hockey that night but popped in before the game and was reportedly extremely bashful. One staffer was so touched by the party and the opportunity to talk to a minister that she proclaimed Raitt “my second-favourite minister now.” Her first-favourite, the staffer said, was still Peter MacKay. Raitt smiled and said she understood.

090416_geniesWho brought who to the Genies
The glamorous Genie awards came to Ottawa for the first time. The host of the 29th annual awards, held at the Aviation Museum, was Dave Foley of Kids in the Hall fame. He was assured by actress Sarah Polley that there was no pressure on him: “The bar has not been set very high,” she joked. Ottawa Conservative MP Royal Galipeau brought his photographer son Paul Galipeau, and Toronto Liberal MP Martha Hall Findlay brought her aspiring-actor son Patrick Findlay. The only other MPs in attendance were Ottawa NDP MP Paul Dewar and heritage critics Pablo Rodriguez (Liberal) and Carole Lavallée (Bloc). Marco Pecota, who was nominated for best animated short (The Facts in the Case of Mister Hallow), brought his son Nico Pecota, the most stylish guy at the event. Pecota senior runs Rue Morgue, a horror culture company housed in a converted Toronto funeral home that had Liberal MP Gerard Kennedy’s election campaign office next door for several weeks. The Kennedy Liberals were great neighbours, says Pecota, except that they left a pile of sign stakes outside his office with a note saying they were free for the taking. Pecota said it took a week to get rid of them. Perhaps it was a slow week for killing vampires.

090416_darcysThis is our pub!
A Liberal group called “The League of Former Hill Staff­ers,” which includes Belinda Stron­ach’s former aide Greg MacEachern, organized a “take back D’Arcy McGee’s night.” D’Arcy’s is the Ottawa pub that in the days of Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin was packed with (mostly Liberal) politicos on Wednesday nights. But then the Tories took over the government. For a while Wednesday nights were mixed: cabinet ministers such as Monte Solberg (who did not run in the last election), Peter MacKay and Vic Toews could be found chatting over brewskies with staff and MPs from other parties. But the Liberals got tired of seeing so many Conservatives; the Conservatives got tired of the food and moved on to better appetizers at the Métropolitain Brasserie & Restaurant, and Wednesdays at D’Arcy’s died. The “take back” event packed the place with Liberal staffers and Liberal MPs including Rodger Cuzner, Mark Eyking and Justin Trudeau. Said former Chrétien-era cabinet minister Don Boudria at the event: “First we bring back the fun days, then the glory days.”

‘Slumdog’ wannabe
Ontario Liberal MP Ruby Dhalla got into a bit of a tizzy when she tried to block DVD sales of a Bollywood-style film she was in before becoming an MP. She claims the promotion photos of her were doctored, and not her body. But Dhalla isn’t closing the door on her acting career. She told Capital Diary she keeps her ACTRA card valid because “you never know when the director of Slumdog Millionaire might call.”

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.