Party leaders let loose with barbs, profanity at Press Gallery dinner
'It's OK, the bad man's gone away,' interim Conservative Party Leader Rona Ambrose says of former PM
It was a night of laughs, some trash talk, and even a mic drop. Federal party leaders had a chance to break bread with the journalists who cover them every day during this year's Parliamentary Press Gallery dinner.
The tone for the Parliamentary Press Gallery dinner on Saturday — honouring 150 years of the gallery — was set early, when Parliament Hill hero-turned-diplomat Kevin Vickers made an appearance at the podium as the hosts tried to corral the approximate 600 guests into their seats.
"I hope everybody that's standing realizes what happened to the last guy that pissed me off," Vickers said, referring to his tackling of an Irish protester at a ceremony commemorating British war dead in Dublin last month.
The Prime Minister was more judicious with his choice of words.
For the first time in more than a decade, the Prime Minister speaks at the Press Gallery dinner. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/gala150?src=hash">#gala150</a> <a href="https://t.co/m91MNQcWcD">pic.twitter.com/m91MNQcWcD</a>—@CBCKatie
"I won't be swearing tonight because my mom is here," he said to the crowd at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que.
"Now how about a round of applause for Kim Cattrall," he said, referring to a mix-up on the American news program 60 Minutes, which, while referencing Margaret Trudeau in its recent profile of the PM, showed an old photo of his father with the Sex and the City actress.
Interim Opposition Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose and NDP Leader Tom Mulcair all spoke at the dinner.
Sophie Grégoire Trudeau takes dig at haters
None missed an opportunity for digs at themselves, each other and the reporters they gathered to celebrate.
And neither did Trudeau's wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau.
In reference to recent coverage that she needs more staff, she called four members of Trudeau's inner circle to the stage at the Museum of History and had them unveil a yoga mat.
She then balanced herself on her arms, legs up in the air in side crow pose, telling her husband that was how it was done — a dig at a photo of him doing a similar move that's been widely circulated online.
The pair embraced, the PM grasping his wife's rear — a pose they held long enough to make sure everyone noticed.
There were no elbows, but there were backhands.
"I've got more mistakes than [former defence minister] Jason Kenney has deleted tweets," the PM said. "Like that time I said I admired China."
Trudeau also commented on his "bromance" with the outgoing U.S. president.
"I'm a little sad that President Obama will be leaving public office soon," he said. "I have to admit, I'll miss his leadership and his good advice. I will not miss the wedgies."
Ambrose: 'The bad man's gone'
The opposition also had their turn.
Another leader whose departure was noted — former prime minister Stephen Harper.
Ambrose, currently leading the Tories, made several jokes at his expense, noting his aversion to the press.
Harper never attended the dinner while serving as prime minister.
She brought a message from him, who told her to "tell all of you to go to hell."
"I really believe in my heart that the former prime minister was misunderstood," Ambrose said. "Stephen Harper loved humanity, it was just people that he couldn't stand."
And she wasn't done throwing shade on her ex-boss, floating some possible new party slogans:
"The Conservative Party of Canada -- It's OK, the bad man's gone away," and "The Conservative Party of Canada -- 30 per cent fewer nuts."
"I do want to say something in Stephen Harper's defence," Ambrose added. "Bob Rae, keep your fingers where I can see them."
That was a reference to last weekend's Liberal convention in Winnipeg, when the former interim Liberal leader and audience member stuck two fingers in his mouth in a gagging motion, while listening to Trudeau's praise of Harper.
Mulcair holds nothing back
But no one was more relaxed than NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, who has already said he would retire from politics as soon as his party chooses a new leader.
"Unlike every other person here tonight, I give zero f--ks" he said.
After a speech laden with hits at pollsters, various media outlets and himself he drew to a close.
"I have a lot more here but I was just informed in Edmonton that I have to go," he said.
He called the NDP's poor showing in the October election a "gigantic orange shitstorm" before dropping the mic with "Mulcair out."
Mark Critch of This Hour Has 22 Minutes showed up with a band dubbed the Super Delegates. And when it came time to take a jab at the prime minister and his promise to usher in a new era of "sunny ways" in government, Critch said it with music.
He sang a quirky cover of the Lighthouse tune Sunny Days, subbing in the words "sunny ways ... ain't no more Harper in the PMO. You can't wipe the smile off Marc Garneau."
With files from The Canadian Press