Why Laureen Harper might need a professional lobbyist

Mitchel Raphael on why Laureen might need a professional lobbyist

Photograph by Mitchel Raphael

For the second year, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami presented A Taste of the Arctic, this time in  the Great Hall of the National Gallery of Canada. While there were long lineups for the muskox, halibut and shrimp stations, the one featuring seal meat was less popular. Evan Solomon, host of CBC’s Power & Politics, claimed the seal meat was delicious, if hard to taste because of the heavy sauce. ITK president Mary Simon arrived with her leg in a cast. (Ottawa is plagued with leg injuries: not only is Treasury Board President Stockwell Day in a cast, Veterans Affairs Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn injured his leg in a snowmobile accident.)

The keynote speaker for Taste of the Arctic was former governor general Michaëlle Jean, now a UNESCO special envoy to Haiti. This was Jean’s first official event since stepping down as GG. Jean, who has bought a house in Ottawa, is happy she was able to stay there for work as it allows her daughter to continue at her school and keep her same friends. Also in attendance was Nick Javor of Tim Hortons, who noted that the company recently opened three kiosks (offering a limited menu) in Nunavut.

Mitchel Raphael on why Laureen might need a professional lobbyist

Photograph by Mitchel Raphael

The entertainment included Inuk singer Elisapie Isaac. During Isaac’s set, which closed the evening, Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq starting rocking out on the dance floor and got people moving. Laureen Harper was so impressed with the singer she quipped she was going to “lobby” Heritage Minister James Moore to have Isaac perform for Canada Day on Parliament Hill. Mrs. Harper joked she might have to hire a professional lobbyist because last year she tried to recommend a band she saw in a bar but nothing happened.

How can I be cool if…

Last week, Liberal MP Massimo Pacetti received his new BlackBerry Torch, the latest handheld device to offer both a keypad and touch-screen option. Pacetti was told by the Commons telecommunications department he was the first MP to get the Torch, which made him feel pretty hip—until he was also told senators had been getting Torches since the end of 2010.

Liberal conspiracy theory

There was much grumbling by Liberals on the Hill when news hit that Rocco Rossi, the former national director of the Liberal party who helped recruit Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff into federal politics, was going to run provincially for Tim Hudak’s Progressive Conservatives in Ontario. At the same time, federal Liberals say quietly that should the Ontario Liberals be defeated before the next federal election it would bode well for them because Ontario would be looking to balance provincial and federal power. Was Rossi’s move all part of some secret plan?

Mitchel Raphael on why Laureen might need a professional lobbyist

Photograph by Mitchel Raphael

In the last election, Liberal MP Justin Trudeau took the riding of Papineau from Bloc MP Vivian Barbot. With election fever in the air, Barbot, who still works on the Hill  for her party, says she plans to go for round two against Trudeau, but only if there’s an election before she turns 70 on July 7.

Harper’s card to Helena

Officials in the PMO say that when they told Stephen Harper that Helena Guergis and Rahim Jaffer had a baby, the PM instructed his staff to send a card, which they did, sometime in December. (A recent item in Capital Diary had Jaffer reporting he did not get any congratulatory message from the PM.) Jaffer explains that when he and Helena collected items, including flowers from Green party Leader Elizabeth May from Guergis’s Hill office on Jan. 18 (the day Capital Diary went to press), there was no card from the PM, but that one arrived a few days later. It was much appreciated, he says. Apparently there are no hard feelings: his wife, he notes, has put out signals she would be willing to come back to the Conservative party if the PM invited her.

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