It’s that time of year: love is in the air, the shops are adorned with red and pink, and we’re collectively fretting over what to get our significant others for the most vacuous but well-meaning holiday (or, if you’re like me, you’re more concerned with how much chocolate you can feasibly consume in one day before it becomes pathetic). But, just like us, our politicians need a little loving, too. So here’s a handy list of things you might give them, should you run into them on February 14th.
Like Brian Mulroney before him, our current Prime Minister has developed a friendship with the President of the United States, which has the potential to benefit our country and its southern neighbour. And as of early December, the PM and the President announced a new border deal which involves joint government facilities, among other protection enhancements. Since Harper’s been so chummy with Canada’s beard (is the USA still called that?), it seems only fitting to give him a star-spangled mug to sip his Valentine’s Day hot chocolate from.
Michael Ignatieff and Gilles Duceppe:
It’s been a tough year for the former leaders of the Liberal and Bloc parties; after Ignatieff called for a May election, both of their parties were decimated in the fall out, and both men resigned from leadership. However, for their typical Canadian class during the aftermath, they both deserve trophies (with heart stickers, since it is Valentine’s Day). Everyone’s a winner in Canada. Even when you’re a loser.
After a brief honeymoon period following his election in the autumn of 2010, Mayor Ford saw a steady decline in his popularity last year. During 2011 he faced harsh criticism for his proposed budget cuts, specifically those relating to childcare, libraries, arts, and HIV prevention. I’ll bet he’s stressed out with all that decision-making, not to mention his new weight-loss venture with his brother, Doug. It would be worth it to show him a little relaxation: I would take our mayor out to the ballet. (Mostly because I love the ballet.)
I love giving books as gifts, no matter the occasion. Christmases, birthdays, and Valentine’s Days alike are excellent times to give the gift of reading. (I like to think of it as the gift that keeps on giving.) I also adore Rob Ford’s outspoken, oft-hilarious brother Doug Ford (and I’m not even a little ashamed to say it). For the man who always says what’s on his mind, even when he probably shouldn’t, Margaret Atwood’s entire collection is the best gift possible. Hopefully then he’ll know who she is.
The Conservative MP and Foreign Affairs parliamentary secretary got his fair share of attention in late November when his relationship with Toronto-based Xinhua reporter Shi Rong was revealed, and rumors of “sexpionage” ran rampant. Though his emails were merely “flirtatious” in nature, he issued an apology for his actions. If you happen to see him running around his Mississauga-Erindale riding on February 14th, do me a favour and pass along a copy of Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.
On December 29 Defense Minister Peter MacKay (once known as Canada’s most eligible bachelor, and “Canada’s Sexiest Male MP”) wed rights’ activist Nazanin Afshin-Jam, and days later posted their wedding photo on his Facebook page. I don’t know where they registered, but I’m sure they could use some his-and-her towels for the bathroom. Sometimes it’s just nice to be nice.
The spirited Papineau MP emulated his late father near the end of the year when he slipped up in the House of Commons by calling Environment Minister Peter Kent a “piece of sh*t,” and reminded Canada why Question Period is occasionally worth watching. (I, for one, will be tuning in more often, hoping for some drunken sailor-like swearing. That’s just good entertainment.) For Valentine’s Day I’d love to take him out for a dinner date because, come on, the guy is gorgeous.
(This was written for the February 2012 issue of the Ryerson Free Press. All in good fun, of course!)