Inside Politics

Chris Rands Bio

Chris Rands

Chris Rands has been a member of the Parliamentary bureau since 2001. He started at Toronto's AM Radio giant CFRB before moving to CBC's National Radio News in 1996. Chris has worked in Toronto, Moncton, Sudbury, Regina, Washington and St John's. Every time Chris walks up to the Peace Tower, he wants to throw his hat in the air like Mary Tyler Moore.

UPDATED It's December: Cue the MP Christmas cards!

 Advent is upon us.

The children in my house are delighting in their daily chocolate fix, as we move through the 24 days before Christmas.

And on the political front, journalists, political staff and most importantly party supporters are waiting expectantly by their mailboxes.

Yes indeed, it's political Christmas card season.

Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, it's off to work we go

We're waiting for the "Liberal Express" bus to carry Leader Michael Ignatieff to the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill. It's warm and sunny, one of the better September days Ottawa has to offer.

Andrea McCrady, the Dominion Carillonneur who plays the tower bells some 200 days a year, is serenading us with several songs. She started with O Canada and then "Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, it's off to work we go."

Quite appropriate for what feels like the first day of school here on the Hill.

You can't change where you were born

 Prime Minister Stephen Harper poses for a photo at his 30th high school reunion in Etobicoke, Ont., Sept. 27, 2008. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

That was in evidence this morning in Ottawa, when Government House Leader John Baird said "Toronto Elites" are behind the opposition's support for the federal long-gun registry.

Baird also called Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff and NDP Leader Jack Layton "The two Toronto leaders."

Its an interesting choice of language -- one that the Conservatives hope will drive more support to their party.

Say "Toronto" to the rest of the country and almost instantly you see the distaste on people's faces. It's a place many Canadians love to hate, or at least make fun of.

The Conservatives themselves haven't held a seat in the city of Toronto since 1993, so it's an easy target.

The trouble is Stephen Harper was born and raised in Toronto -- specifically, Leaside for his early years, and then Etobicoke. He even attended his high school reunion in the middle of the 2008 election campaign.

So, while Jack Layton was born in Montreal and Michael Ignatieff was born in Toronto, Stephen Harper is the first prime minister to hail from Toronto.

How many photos can an email inbox take?

Diligent readers may recall previous blogs about the Prime Minister's Office's propensity to email journalists photos of the PM meeting and greeting people. The photos arrive in our in boxes almost every day, sometimes several times a day. Many of these photographs are taken when the media were not present, which leads journalistic minds to question their validity and their use.

Well now its International Trade Minister Peter Van Loan's turn.

The BMW of photo ops

This morning, a group of young men in suits began unloading the trunk of a BMW outside the Confederation Building.

In the trunk were 46,000 signatures on white 8-by-11 paper, calling for the end of prisoners getting old age security.

Kevin Gaudet, the federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation,
presented the petitions to Human Resources Minister Diane Finley on the front steps.

BMWs have a certain cachet of new wealth and privilege in Canada, even though the one used this morning was an elderly 3 Series built in the 1990s.
Can you imagine what the Canadian Taxpayers Federation would say if an opposition party or non-governmental organization used a BMW in their photo-op?

Reps for the cause

The corridors of Parliament Hill are awash in blue ties this afternoon as MPs show their support for prostate cancer.

NDP Leader Jack Layton is undergoing treatment for prostate cancer and MPs are showing their support.

Members are no stranger to sporting bits of ribbon on their lapels in support of many causes, but this is the first time that I can remember that MPs have changed their ties.

As Caucus ended this afternoon many came out wearing them.

Liberal MP Justin Trudeau tied his under his white shirt, in what appeared to be akin to an Ascot.

Conservative Senator Carolyn Stewart Olsen sported hers in a loose knot and carried a second in her hand.

Stewart Olsen said she was wearing the tie in " of Jack Layton who is fighting this disease that affects so many men."

It can be strange how politicians can switch from being fiercely partisan, to all being on the same team.

One person whose chose not to sport the blue tie was Michael Ignatieff who stuck with his salmon toned stripes.

Now for people who are particular about their ties, these are light and medium blue rep stripe, bend dexter.

The label says they are 100 per cent silk and made in Canada.

Comfort 2017

Here we are in Montreal at the Liberals' conference of thinking about the future.

While the hotel complex dates from the 1970s with floor upon floor of cell-signal blocking concrete, one truly modern part of this conference can be found just outside the Grand Salon.

In the room where all the speeches are taking place, the men's room is something to behold. There's a couch and a full length mirror!

Now I've heard that in many places, women enjoy couches and mirrors when they hear the call of nature. Could this mean that in 2017 -- the year this conference is about thinking and planning for -- there is equality of the sexes?

Liberal geography

The Liberal Party is holding an ideas conference this weekend in Montreal. The party is hoping the conference will come up with ideas that will help craft its next election platform.

It's been a tough road for the party in Quebec in recent years. The sponsorship scandal caused the party to lose most of its seats outside of Montreal and Gatineau.

Well, it's interesting to note that Justice John Gomery held his hearings into sponsorship in Montreal at the Guy Favreau building, just across the street from the hotel complex where the Liberals are holding their conference.

The hotel faces out towards Place des Arts, the Guy Favreau Complex is tucked in behind the hotel complex.
So many ways to interpret the symbolism.

A scarf of Olympic proportions

Prince Edward-Hastings MP Daryl Kramp walked out of the Conservative caucus meeting Friday morning carrying a big red box.
It turns out that folks in his riding, specifically around the area of Tweed, got together to knit for the Olympics.
He was so thrilled at his constituents' work, he brought the scarf, all 316 feet (or 96.31 metres) of it, to show the Prime Minister and his caucus colleagues.

P&P's Political Books of the Year

Power & Politics host Evan Solomon loves everything about books.

He writes them, he's hosted a TV show about them and even frequently courts danger by walking while reading.

So to mark the holiday Season and the closing of another year, Evan convened the Power & Politics book panel.

Political authors Senator Hugh Segal and Lawrence Martin joined Evan to talk about the best political books of the year.

You can watch their discussion here.