Mitchel Raphael on the cabinet minister who loves Elvis

And Ping-Pong at the Harpers’

Unfortunately Rahim Jaffer was busy that dayUnfortunately Rahim Jaffer was busy that day
Helena Guergis, minister of state for the status of women, has been a regular at the annual Collingwood Elvis Festival in her Ontario riding. For three years, she says, the Elvis impersonators she rode with in the opening parade coincidentally all went on to become champions in various categories later in the festival. This year, though, she rode with a past winner, Gino Monopoli. The first album Guergis ever bought was one of Elvis’s. When she was young, Teddy Bear was her favourite Elvis song. “As I got older it was Devil in Disguise,” she says. Guergis now owns a huge collection of Elvis cassettes—her uncle gave them to her after he put the music onto disks for himself. Guergis says she wanted her husband, former MP Rahim Jaffer, to come to the festival and dress up: “I tried to get him to be the brown Elvis in this year’s parade.” She says if Jaffer will do it next year, she’ll go as Priscilla Presley. Jaffer, who lost in the last election, decided not to run again. The new Conservative candidate in his Edmonton riding will be Ryan Hastman, who used to be an aide to Stockwell Day.

Martin Luther King IIIGandhi, Chavez and Trudeau gather
Members of the Gen II Global Peace Initiative held their second formal meeting in Toronto. The group is made up of activists who are the children or grandchildren of peacemakers and human rights leaders. The Toronto meeting included Martin Luther King III, the son of Martin Luther King Jr., Christine Chavez-Delgado, granddaughter of labour icon Cesar Chavez, and Montreal MP Justin Trudeau. Christine Chavez-DelgadoAfter the group’s first meeting in London in 2007, Trudeau says he has kept in touch with Dalia Rabin-Pelosoff, daughter of the assassinated Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin, and Nadim Gemayel, son of the assassinated Lebanese president-elect Bashir Gemayel. Rabin and Gemayel did not make it to Toronto, but Trudeau did meet for the first time Tushar Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi. Trudeau says while his name can be a blessing and challenge in Canada, Gandhi has an international reputation to live up to. He says the two discussed the situation in Sri Lanka. (Trudeau has a large Sri Lankan community in his Papineau riding.) Unfortunately Rahim Jaffer was busy that dayGen II is still trying to build itself up. “We are all working with the legacies our ancestors left us,” notes Trudeau. “What we are trying to see is if there is a collective power. These are people who have worked hard to live up to the responsibility of the names they have been given.” Immigration Minister Jason Kenney addressed the group and welcomed them on behalf of the Canadian government. He also managed to add a little sparkle to the proceedings: just before entering the room, he opened a gift from a friend who had used gold glittery wrapping paper. The glitter clung to Kenney’s suit and was so fine it floated onto the garments of a few Gen IIers.

Cover up pleaseCover up please
Labour Minister Rona Ambrose’s brother Morley Chapchuk held a rooftop party to raise money for the Edmonton’s Women’s Shelter, a cause dear to his sister’s heart. Ambrose always asks function organizers who offer her a charity honorarium to donate the money to the shelter. The party raised $1,200 with the help of $3 margaritas. Most guests were shirtless and in bikinis until Ambrose’s mother, Colleen Chapchuk, brought out her camera and made them all cover up for pictures.

The holidays at 24 Sussex
When Pierre Trudeau was prime minister he installed an indoor pool at 24 Sussex. Recently, the Harpers have added a Ping-Pong table which has been put to good use since this summer has not exactly favoured lots of outdoor activities.

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