Heard @ Hy's ...

Send your tips and sightings in confidence, no point keeping them to yourself ...
Best sighting/month gets special Bourque Swag gift pack ...

--

Wednesday, February 8

Tories set to unleash new attack ad ?
Gustave walks back to the banquette, a spring in his step as he bubble gums his tongue excitedly.

"I've got it", he barks.

"You've got what, mon frere", asks his partner-in-brine, both modest Tory insiders, both slightly on the toasted side of things this late afternoon.

Gustave slides into his seat, suavely nodding a discreet greeting to the sexy Senatorial aide seated nearby.

"Well ?"

Gustave savors the moment for just a bit longer, satisfyingly nibbling at the last prawn on his brochette as he reaches out to decant a final ounce or two of Pinot.

"Well ?"

Again with the dramatic pause as Gustave sips at his Pinot, the master of suspense.

"I've got it", he finally utters, "the next Conservative ad campaign's tagline will be "HARPER: STRONG LEADERSHIP IN CHALLENGING TIMES"

"Is that an attack on the weak NDP Opposition", asks his impatient luncheon pal, admittedly one quite comfortable with a simple bowl of consomee and the roast beef trolley back at the Albany Club in Toronto.

"Bob Rae"

"We're bypassing the NDP ?"

Gustave shrugs. "Sign of the times", he digresses, reaching as he does to pop a crunchy shrimp tail into his mouth.

--

Thursday, Oct 21

This Paradis thing is snowballing
The thin tall guy with the '70's era beard is raking through it with his left hand as he sips a couple fingers of Famous Grouse on ice.

Next to him, buddies for life, his short portly pal, the craziest wisp of a moustache you've ever seen. If it weren't for the shoulder pads under his GL Miles suit, you wouldn't know he had any shoulders to speak of.

"Holy moly", utters Short and Portly, as he burps through a slurp of Cinzano, no less. "Isn't that Greg MacEachern over there ?"

Stunned by the irrelevance, Thin and Tall shrugs in disinterest.

"So anyway, this Paradis thing is snowballing", whispers Short and Portly, "I hear he may be gone from the Cabinet by the end of the month. So much has yet to come to light. Ya, he's screwed up with the cocktail donations and the construction deals. Forget the $9 million in Parliament Hill renovations. What I want to know is what was going on where Harper and his Quebec goons thought it ok to direct the better part of $1 Billion in untendered government building deals to a couple of interesting Quebec developers. What's been left unsaid so far deserves to be said."

Thin and Tall, a model of believing in the best of intentions from everyone around him, shrugs in, admittedly, feigned disinterest. But he wonders aloud, "has anyone asked Lawrence Cannon ? Isn't he close with Camille Villeneuve ?"

Lunging at a thread of actual interest, Short and Portly carries on, slurping the bottom of his glass of Cinzano.

"What I find fascinating is that fresh from his Public Works debacle, Paradis is now at Natural Resources, just in time to preside over the Potash file !"

Thin and Tall chokes on his blended scotch. "Paradis is on the potash file ?"

"Uh-huh", nods Short and Portly, "Paradis is Harper's go-to guy on all these intriguing files."

"But where is Bruce Winchester on all of this ?"

"Bruce who ?", shrugs Short and Portly.

"Bruce is Paradis' grey matter", whisper's Thin and Tall, "his brain, his oxygen, the power behind his throne, the 'MAN' !".

"Bruce is the 'MAN' ?"

"Paradis, the big tub of goo, can't tie his shoe without Bruce telling him how to do it"

"You're kidding !"

"Maybe", winks Thin and Tall as he motions to the bartender for another double.

--

Friday, August 6

Who will replace Harper ?
The fat guy with the mullet, an unlikely Singapore Sling slurper, is swizzling his swizzle stick and waiting for a slow-to-show pal. A consummate insider, he knows where the bodies are buried, his tentacles run deep in the Party. He has more favours owed than 75% of his fellow members.

The short guy with the perm piled 4 inches high finally saunters in like he owns the joint. He claims he's close to the King of Bling, not that that carries much weight.

"Steve's stinking up the joint", utters Perm, straight to the point, as he motions to Mike the bartender for a deep shot of top-shelf tequila.

Mullet shakes his head. "The guy has an uncanny knack of blowing things when you least expect him to. He's his own worst enemy".

"At some point you have to wonder whether or not we've gotten everything we can out of this leader. He's jamming the gears, his dogs don't hunt ... he's stinking up the joint'.

"You mentioned that already", offers Mullet, not so generously.

"I'm just saying ..." Perm is describing what a lot of Tory insiders are whispering under their breaths these days.

"Are you trying to foment a mutiny ?" Mullet is trying to be nonchalant, but he's interested in the topic. His years on the Hill have made him ambitious.

"I'm just saying ..."

"You mentioned that already ... listen, Harper has a stranglehold on the party."

"So did Chretien," offers Perm hopefully.

"That's true, I'll admit that." Mullet rubs his chin, slurps his Sling, pops a maraschino in his mouth and chews it slowly, pondering the concept.

"If not Steve, then who ?" Mullet is open to the concept.

"Easy-peasy. Try these names out. Now don't get me wrong, some are stalking horses, some are cannon-fodder, maybe one's the successor.

"C'mon genius, spit 'em out." Mullet knows the names already. He just wants to hear them come out of Perm's mouth.

"Well, for starters, Tony Clement. He'll run for it. Guaranteed. He's even said to have a secret game plan in the works", says Perm, satisfied to get the ball rolling on the speculation.

Mullet nods knowingly. After all, Tony's an eternal optimist, a good guy despite the census cock-up foisted on him by Steve and Dimitri the Jedi Knight. Besides, he's run for leadership before.

"Mad Max is also chomping at the bit. He's the Dauphin in Quebec and he'll be the Francophone candidate."

Mullet nods knowingly again. Bernier's been positioning himself for months. It's unlikely he wouldn't run if given the chance. Cannon might be the other Francophone, but he's more bombast than substance, a figure of Harper's firmament, not a stand-alone kind of guy, not even worth mentioning as a serious candidate.

"Diane Finley. Ya, there are other female potentials, but she's got the brains and the moxy. And her hubby's no slouch in the organizing department."

Mullet nods again, but is doubtful on that one. Sometimes good organizers know when to hold them and when to fold them. That wasn't the case with Kim Campbell's folks way back when, but that was a different era, one that Mullet hasn't yet forgotten.

"Jim Flaherty might be tempted, he's one of those perennials". Perm says.

Mullet, you guessed it, nods knowingly again. Flaherty is also an eternal optimist with boundless energy. But, well, who knows, the mind boggles.

"Jim Prentice still has ambitions, but he's a bit of a beige if you know what I mean. No buzz, no colour".

Mullet nods, slurps up the last of his Singapore Sling, starts nibbling an orange slice down to the rind. Not much to add about Prentice. He is who he is. Might be a good caretaker opposition leader, hard to imagine as inspiration to a nation.

"What about Burt ?" Mullet throws one into the hopper.

"Stockwell ? He's another with oodles of ambition and energy. Gosh, good question", admits Perm.

Mullet nods, shrugs, eyes the bar, debates whether or not to have another Sling.

"Van Loan and Moore, even Monte Solberg or Patrick Brown would be fun to see in the mix just to add variety to the contest."

Mullet nods, but finds this quattro a bit far-fetched as serious candidates, particularly Solberg who lately sees himself as some kind of young fogey 'eminence grise' of the party, waxing lyrical in print under Tory Kory's tutelage over at the Sun.

"Peter MacKay is the most logical candidate. His people tell me his time will come."

Mullet nods yet again. MacKay lost out on the merger. He's youthful, zesty, and hard not to like. The broads love him too, a sizeable stash of votes that continue to elude the incumbent. He'd be the one to watch.

"Well, anyway, I'm just saying ..." Perm is out of names, motions for the bill, lays down some cash, and follows Mullet towards the door.

"Hey, grab me some Hy's matches on our way out, would ya ?"

"Why do you want those, you don't even smoke", asks Mullet

"Ya, but they look cool in my office when I have meetings."

"Ah, madness to your method."

--

Thursday, June 17

Riffing off Harper, Peladeau, Kory, Soudas, and Rick Mercer

Lucky Lou was there, so was Happy Harry. The two of them swizzling Manhattans, nibbling bar munchies, and waiting for apetizers of cheese toat, ahi tuna, and dry ribs.

"The boondoggle is sucking up a lot of oxygen", burped Lou

Harry furrowed a brow.

"PMO's locked into a horror show going into the summits", added Lou.

Harry swizzled his swill, puckered up, slurped a mouthful, started nervously munching an ice cube.

"What does this mean to Tony's leadership hopes ?" A word or two, finally, from Harry.

Lou shook his head, shrugged his shoulders.

"He's probably a hero in his riding, but other caucus members are jealous and frustrated. So, I'd say not good, but what the f*ck do I know."

The two pondered the imponderables as their apetizers arrived.

Harry pulled at a dry rib and hungrily worked it to the bone. Lou, a bit more reserved, forked a slice of ahi and slowly chewed it.

"Guess we can expect the brown envelopes to start flying", shrugged Harry.

The two of them got busy with the cheese bread as one of the Hill's better know byliners pulled up for a tankard of ale, possibly snooping for nuggets of knowledge while waiting for the hops.

Lou signalled for another round and was not disappointed by the bar-keep's fast response. The scribe finally moved off and the conversation resumed.

"What about Peladeau's Tory-TV gambit, what's the deal with that ?". Harry was never short for questions.

"Maybe the PMO's lobbying the CRTC on behalf of Kory's pet project," muttered Lou, as he took his turn at the dry rub ribs, a delicious preamble to anyone's meal.

"For the Tier One status ?"

"It would make the world of difference to any upstart, no doubt".

"And what about the rumour that Rick Mercer, of all people, would join Tory-TV ?"

"Not going to happen, he turned Kory down", whispered Lou.

"Ok, didn't know that. And where's Dimitri on all this, by the way ?" Harry, always a fount of curiosity.

"Still dodging the bailiff, I think. He's in the CBC witness protection program and only appears on TV with Evan."

The two shared a chuckle, shook their heads.

"Steve's boondoggle's going to haunt us for months to come", admitted Lou.

Another byliner saddled up, nodded to the two, and settled in for the duration. So, that was that for the idle chat.

--

Wednesday, September 23

Enchanted Forest or Cherry Beach ?
Ulcer walked in and propped himself up on a stool at the bar and rubbed his belly. He looked pale, was a bit gassy, his skin a bit clammy.

"Makers Mark", belched our stomach ache, "neat".

Service was impeccable as usual. The libation arrived pronto. Ulcer gulped it, nodded for a second.

God's gift to punk music walked in, her pink hair tint a shock to the local suits. She parked her rump next to Ulcer, who nodded a greeting.

"You drinking ?" Ulcer was being polite, he was in no mood to stretch the conversation.

"You springing ?" Punk asked hopefully.

Ulcer shrugged, nodded to the bartender, who advanced with the Makers Mark, and poured.

"The Iggy ads", she whispered, "I think they were taped at Cherry Beach in Toronto."

"Who gives a rats ass", shrugged Ulcer.

"It's a state secret", Punk whispered like it was a state secret.

"Like I said, who gives a rat's ass", repeated Ulcer, shrugging.

"Well. Cherry Beach is not a forest, it's beachfront."

"Uh-huh."

It's infamous. Check out Wikipedia"

"Have another drink", shrugged Ulcer.

"I could be wrong, but I hear the ads were shot by Kinsella and Deacey. Scripted by Iggy."

"So Iggy, the great international auteur, reduced to writing his own ad ?"

Punk shrugged.

"Kinsella's great with a handheld. I loved his first-person homage outside the chinese food eatery. His guppy monologues are the stuff of legend. He's a natural behind the camera, a brilliant raconteur, a genius of the lens. But DEACEY, the former Imperial Tobacco lobbyist ? What's Iggy doing hanging around a tobacco lobbyist ?

Punk shrugged.

***

Saturday, June 20

Of Inkstains and such ...
She looked dishevelled but she wasn't. It was a studied look, a put-on, a physical posit.

Her handbag at hand, an amalgam of notebooks, pens, wallet, lipstick silos, Blackberry, keys, gum, chocolate bar, a chunk of beef jerky, and, well, not much else.

She had heard of Hy's, of course. Burke.Com, damn the typos !

She had wanted to see it for herself as soon as she had been posted to Ottawa months ago. Since then, it had become her regular haunt.

She needed a drink, it had been a hectic week. And boy, what a week !

She ordered a Cosmo, damn the price, she'd expense it somehow.

She looked around the room. A few familiar faces in familiar booths. A few surprising pairings, too.

The Cosmo arrived, she sipped it. Cold, smooth. A late-week libation to liberate the senses.

A second sip, a third, and then a fourth ... life was good.

Soon, she signalled for another.

It had been that kind of week in Ottawa

***

Wednesday, May 6

Iggy at the trough ...
The pork-bellied west-ender leaned into his sausage-straight east-end friend and opined:

"Michael Ignatieff decided he was too important today to wait in the line to 'put pork on his fork'."

The sausage-straight east-ender flapped his jowls from left to right and right to left.

"'Don't worry, I won't eat any pork," he said", said the pork-bellied west-ender as he described how Iggy 'jumped the queue of hundreds snaking its way toward the East Block courtyard, waving a dismissive hand toward the multitudes -- and stunning the guys putting on the BBQ."

The sausage-straight east-ender flapped his jowls a bit more as his pork-bellied west-end friend continued,

"So then an aide quickly stepped in to correct Mr. Ignatieff, "You will eat pork.". Mr Ignatieff took his cue, sputtering, "I like pork, I mean, I eat pork...please eat some pork...," he trailed off and he and his entourage plowed forward, leaving dozens of gawkers wondering about the manners of the famous Count; not to mention his commitment to Canadian farmers."

The sausage-straight east-ender flapped his jowls a final time, then studied the menu as a waiter approached.

"I'll have the prawn cocktail to start and the grilled free-range chicken with a side of creamed corn for the main."

The pork-bellied west-ender nodded approvingly and said,

"Excellent, I'll have the same ... oh, and can you give me another Maker's Mark on ice ?".

***

Monday, September 29

But, what about Herb ?
A quiet lunchtime at Ottawa's top steakporium. But, such as it was, nuggets of insight were traded over bowls of piping hot split pea soup with ham and leafy plates of caesar or spinach salad.

Notables notabling the decorum included a sprinkling of the city's top lobbyists, Canada's top internet newshound, even a few familiar TV faces .

But it was over by the bar that some of the finer variables were exchanged over victuals. Two people in particular, let's call them Pat and Matt for the sake of alliteration, stoked what will become the flames of a political revolution.

"Pat," said Matt.

"Matt," replied Pat.

"Do you believe the polls ?"

"Which ones ?"

"Pick one, they're a dime a dozen," said Matt, in case you are keeping track of who said what.

"It's looking lopsided, regardless of which one," noted Pat.

"Precisely", said Matt as he zeroe'd in with precision on his nibbly nuggett of caustic gossip.

"Well ... ?" Pat sipped his beer, the same variety Don Newman was sipping nearby.

"Herb has left the building", Matt dead-panned.

"Herb?" Pat choked on his wake of intake.

Matt nodded.

"What do you mean Metcalfe has left the building ?"

"He's no longer working the campaign", Matt whispered. "It's all hush-hush, but he's fed up and he's quit the campaign."

Pat looked over towards Newman to see if he had heard anything.

"At least that's what I'm being told by someone who knows someone who should know", shrugged Matt.

"Jeeziz H ...", hissed Pat, "he was an absolutely key component of Team Dion, where does that leave us now ?"

"Knee deep in homemade pickle brine, I'm afraid".

"So, what do we do now ?"

"Pat, there's only one thing I can think of at this time ... and I need enough to submerge at least three olives."

With that, Pat slumped in his seat, dejected, while Matt signalled to the bartender for his second three-finger three-olive Grey Goose martini. After all, party membership does have its priviledges.

***

Wednesday, August 27

Suppose Dion Pulls A Fast One
"I want the cheese toast, the escargot, a dozen fresh oysters, and the sauteed garlic shrimp ... you cool with that ?" Joe Hungry, a Liberal poohbah known to most, shifts his eyes from the waiter to his dinner-mate and back and forth once or twice more. The waiter nods, the dinner mate nods too.

"I want a deep frickin martini too. 2 olives, spritz it with vermouth. Get him one too."

The waiter nods, looks to the dinner-mate, he nods too.

"We'll split the munchies, ok," more of a statement from Joe Hungry than a question to his dinner-mate.

The dinner-mate nods.

"Ok", whispers Joe Hungry as he leans in a bit towards Dinner-mate, "so this is what's being considered'.

Dinner-mate nods, scans the room from the corner of his eye, recognizes a few of the usual suspects, dismisses them immediately.

"Ok, so promise, my name stays out of it."

Dinner-mate nods.

"Ok, so suppose Harper crosses Sussex Drive, knocks on the GG's front door."

Dinner-mate nods.

"GG answers, ushers Harper in, the two have a chat. Harper says he can't take it any more, it's time to pull the plug on this government and to call the election."

Dinner-mate nods. Nothing new here, the whole country has been contemplating this scenario for the past several days with increasing boredom.

"So, here's where it gets interesting ..."

Dinner-mate nods, and just then the martinis arrive, big monster glasses of the glistening alcohol, olives at the ready.

"What about the cheese bread', asks Joe Hungry.

The waiter nods, disappears.

Joe Hungry and Dinner-mate indulge in a few deep sips from their pitcher-like containers of martini.

"Ok, anyway, so suppose the GG says, Steve, let me think about this, I'll get back to you."

Dinner-mate nods, takes another hit from his martini bowl.

"Steve is dumb-founded, he nods, retreats, walks back across 24 Sussex to contemplate what the heck is going on in the GG's mind."

Dinner-mate nods, the cheese bread arrives, and the two chit-chatters each grab a slice of bread and begin chewing. Crumbs fall onto clothing, fingers oil themselves up in butter, lips stain with the pleasure of a well-toasted slab of Hy's finest.

The oysters arrive, on the half-shell, sidecars of horseradish, cocktail sauce, and lemon wedges at the ready. Joe Hungry nods to the shellfish and the two take a moment to indulge in several oysters each, some garnished up for Christmas, others bare as a beach full of nudists.

"Ok", says Joe Hungry, "so anyway, Steve heads home. Meanwhile, the GG picks up her iPhone and calls Dion over at Stornoway".

Dinner-mate, surprised, nods.

"Dion, tying flies in the attic, answers his portable phone, and the GG tells him what just went down with Harper. She asks him if he thinks he can form a government."

Dinner-mate, captivated, nods.

"Dion harrumphs he's ready to go to an election and is highly confident of winning a decisive majority. "No, you dummy", responds the GG, I am asking if you think you can form a government now. Can you pull together enough MPs to form a government."

Dinner-mate is frozen in silence, listening intently, no nod at all.

"So Dion drops the phone, picks it up, asks the GG to repeat what she just said, which she does, now for the 3rd time. Dion listens, nods, and says he'll get back to her asap."

Dinner-mate gulps down 2/3 of his Martini, including two olives, all in one swoop.

Joe Hungry leans back, pats his stomach, lifts his martini glass, sniffs it, sips it, puts it back on the table, satisfied with the shock value he has just delivered to his dinner-mate.

"I'll bet you're anxious to know what happens next', whispers Joe Hungry.

Dinner-mate nods, just as the escargot and sauteed garlic shrimp arrive.

Joe Hungry, a look of self-satisfaction on his face, nods to the waiter for two more martinis.

"Man, we're going to be stinking of garlic tomorrow, you know that don't you", says Joe Hungry, "at least it will mask the vodka".

Dinner-mate nods, helps himself to a garlic shrimp, followed by an escargot, which he delicately places on the corner of a slice of cheese bread. It falls off onto his lap before he gets the bread to his mouth. He looks around the room to see if anyone noticed. Nobody did. He picks up the runaway escargot with his fingers, places it back onto the bread, wolfs it down.

"So, anyway", continues Joe Hungry, "Dion, apoplectic, starts calling his inner-circle. You know the kind, wagon masters, communicators, even market researchers. But he's getting busy signals, voice mails, and what have you. This goes on for a couple hours and it's driving him crazy."

Dinner-mate nods.

'Finally, Dion starts connecting with his kingpins. He drops the bombshell, tells each person to think about a couple things. First, Duceppe is in no hurry to go to an election. Polls say he'll be decimated, it's the last thing he needs. Next, Layton is between a rock and a hard place. Polls are no kinder to his party and it's likely he'll be kicked out as leader after the next election. Add to that the fact the Liberal Party is threadbare, with no visible means to fund a federal election campaign, absolutely none. Even the Party President, what's his name. has been out mooching for donations in a direct mail campaign this week".

Dinner-mate nods knowingly.

"So, the way Dion sees it", adds Joe Hungry, "he thinks he can convince Layton to form a coalition government with him and he thinks he can get Duceppe's gang to go along with the charade for as long as it takes for the BQ to swing back up in the polls in Quebec. You won't see the BQ in a government, but they'll be a benevolent Opposition, for a while at least."

Dinner-mate nods apprehensively.

"So, anyway, Dion tells his brainiacs to think about it and to call him back asap".

Dinner-mate nods, grabs the inbound martini just as it touches down on the table, swigs back 2/3rds of it, including two olives, all in one swoop.

"So, that's one scenario being kicked around. And remember, the current GG was appointed by a Liberal Government. That, plus the fact she's not too pleased to have to sit out the Paralympics in Beijing.

Dinner-mate nods. Honestly, there's not much he can add at this point, he's 2/3rds pickled and not quite sure of what he just heard ... at Hy's ...

***

Wednesday, June 25

Meanwhile, after the Cabinet shuffle ...
The two government relations types floated into the early afternoon crowd at Hy's on a cloud of chutzpah, this, just an hour or so after big-schwinging Ministers and their lesser-mortals were shuffled a couple miles away at Government House, the kind of shindig that previously attracted biker chicks and bubble-headed inbound Foreign Affairs Ministers.

Passers-by anecdotally noted their swagger, the kind that comes and goes with each passing swearing-in ceremony, despite the breathless janetaberishian hoopla, press-released false-truisms, and suddenly-self-important vapidness that goes with each event.

The two politicos decided to treat themselves, so to speak, to a swell lunch. Out came the plastic as they bellied up to the bar, oblivious of their immediate surroundings, which included the dull-as-doornails Hill-lifer print scribe, a serial adulterer, and that shadowy cloak-and-dagger type who made it her habit to lounge the bar to harvest intelligence, such as it was at this point in the day.

"Grey Goose, straight up, 3 olives, make it a little dirty," barked the one with the preppy Harry Rosen striped tie.

"Me too," said the other, the one with just about the ugliest tie in the city, a hideous carnival act that was likely remaindered from Zellers years ago.

"Well, that takes care of Fortier", noted PinStripe, as the other one nodded, "he can barely get elected as it is and now the PM will have him on a plane to God-knows where every week, just about killing any chance he will have to ingratiate himself with the electorate in Vaudreuil."

"But he's raised almost half a million dollars for his campaign in Vaudreuil !"

"And don't you find that a little strange, a little too coincidental ?"

"What do I know about fundraising ?"

"Amen to that, the best part is he'll have to resign from the Senate before he runs for Parliament, which means once he loses in the election he'll be out of Harper's hair for good", said the other one, as they both laughed, raised their martini glasses, chinked, and toasted to their good fortune.

"Strange stuff with that guy, either way", said preppy, "that's for sure".

"A legend in his own mind", added the other one, kicking the dog while it is down.

"Well, good riddance, eh ?"

"U bet, but Im just wondering what happens now to all the files he was, er, personally working on. Some of them must have been big ticket items, don't you think ?"

"What do I know, maybe the new guy Paradis will be his puppet ?"

"Naw, what I hear is Fortier and his cabal have been flushed from the system."

"But what about Paradis ?"

"Paradis is Harper. Period. He's 34 years old, for Christ sakes, what the hell does he know about Public Works and multi-million dollar contracts ?"

"Ah, ok, I get it, but where does that leave us, then ?"

"In the catbird seat, my friend, in the catbird seat", as he smiled a cheshire cat grin, emptied his martini, and signalled the bartender for another round.

"What about Emerson and Moore, any thoughts ?"

"Emerson has a problem at Foreign Affairs. He'll be great on the world stage, but a lot of good it will do him to be sipping champagne on the cocktail circuit in Prague, Monaco, Paris, Hong Kong, and Sydney. The electorate back in Vancouver-Kingsway are chomping at the bit to kick his butt for turncoating from the Libs to the Tories after the last election. I suspect he won't run again, regardless of what public posturing he's doing now. He's dead man walking.

"And Moore ?"

"His star's rising. He's straight-laced, unassuming, self-deprecating, smart as a whip, and patiently ambitious. He may well be the first Prime Minister from British Columbia since John Turner a quarter century ago. Depends how he plays his cards. But he's young, media-savvy, and smart enough to know that a fawning press clipping in the newspaper is not the end-game, no matter what Dandy Don and Larry Martin, Susan Delacourt, Chantal Hebert, and Jeffrey Simpson would have you believe. As long as Moore keeps pics of his bikini-clad galpal to himself."

The two nodded their heads knowingly, then dipped their beaks into fresh shimmering pools of martini.

***

Wednesday, November 21

What's up with Don Newman ?
"Ok, fat man, buy me a shot if you can't ID this guy", utters the pear-shaped taunt as he gulps back half a glass of chardonnay, "Tonight on the brrrroowwwwwwwwaaaawwwd-cast !"

"Hah, easy, Don Newman !", snorts the world's skinniest 70 inch adult as he sips at his bloody mary.

"Yep. Too easy ?"

"He's become a caricature of himself. Puffed up in his striped shirts and $215 Moores suits."

"What's wrong with Moores suits, I have a couple".

"I do too, that's not the point, did you see the way Newman handled his interview with Obray and Bob Ray today ? Poor Obray, the guy barely finished a sentence, let alone his thought, before Newman walked all over him with his next question. Pitiful."

"I saw that, Obray didn't seem too upset."

"He's a good sport, that's all. If it were me, or I was Obray's PR flack, I would have been furious."

"Don Newman is must see TV."

"No he's not, he's has-been TV."

"No, he's not".

"Yes, he is."

"No, he's not".

"Yes, he is."

"No, he's not".

"Yes, he is."

"No, he's not".

"Yes, he is."

"No, he's not".

"Yes, he is."

"Ok, ok, whatever. Who tha hell cares."

"Ya, well, ok, now you have a point."

***

Sunday, November 18

A Day in the Senate
A couple of the usual suspects are working a double order of long dry ribs and sucking foam off their tall glasses of domestic beer. The one with a dab of Hy's own BBQ sauce on his chin launches into a digression, lazily waving a bone held between index finger and thumb to make dubious-at-best points as he speaks.

"Did you know we have a Senator called Joe Day ?"

"Who's that", asks his pal, "a new goalie ?"

"No, I mean in the Senate. Joe Day."

"Joe Day ?"

"Joe Day"

"Who's that ?"

"Beats me, but I was flipping channels yesterday and there he was on TV"

"Joe Day was on TV ?"

"Yup"

"So what ?"

"Nutin, just mentioning what I saw."

"Why is Joe Day in the Senate ?"

"Beats me, I checked on Bourque, he's got a link to all Senators, and this guy was appointed by Chretien back in 2001."

"So he's been in the Senate for 6 years and nobody's ever heard of him ?"

"That's nutin, he's due to retire in 2020."

"In 2020 ? Holy shit, what's his claim to fame to be in the Senate for 2 decades ?"

"Near as I can figure he ran and lost in a bunch of elections back in the '70s & '80's."

"Nice."

"That and now he's on just about every parliamentary junket committee known to man."

"Junket committee ?"

"Yeah, the Canada-China Legislative Association, the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association, the Canada-France Inter-Parliamentary Association, the Canada-Japan Inter-Parliamentary Group, the Canada-UK Inter-Parliamentary Association, the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group, the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the AssemblĀŽe parlementaire de la francophonie, the Canada-Germany Friendship Group , the Canada-Israel Friendship Group, the Canada-Italy Friendship Group, and my personal favourite, the Canada-Mongolia Friendship Group."

"Mongolia ?"

"Yup."

"Join the Senate, see the world, cripes, I can't see this guy voting for an elected Senate. Or its abolition, for that matter."

"Hey, for all we know Junket Joe's the hardest working fella in the Senate."

"Who knew ?"

"Well, that's kind of my point. Who knew."

"Where's he from ?"

"New Brunswick."

"New Brunswick ?"

"Hey, I wonder if he's playing stalking horse for Frank McKenna these days."

"Dunno, maybe."

"That might be interesting."

"Maybe."

***

Wednesday, November 7

Belinda redux ...
A remarkable late afternoon vision on a day when MPs were back in their ridings and the minions were out schmoozing away the hours.

Snivelling Steve, the superciliously snooty adjunct to a marginally vaunted Opposition Party MP, affecting a pose by the bar in his Armani double-breaster, awaiting the arrival of his pal, a man of means who was loafing through a season on the Hill, intent on making contacts where contacts are made.

Then, there he was, Debonnair Dave, Gucci'd-up in a pleasant cravatte-loafer combo matched to a crisp new Hugo Boss single-breaster and cuff'd Paul Stuart shirt, floating across the room, a pleasant whiff of Eau Sauvage trailing on his breeze.

Kir Royal for them both. Oysters on the half-shell for the hell of it. Life was grand in the nation's Capital on a cold autumn day. And so the mice would play.

"I am hearing things", laughed Steve, not a care in the world.

"Pray tell, my good man", eyebrowed Date, as he worked the room with his eyes.

"Totally confidential, promise me your lips are sealed".

"C'mon, out with it, I've been here long enough to know that when you want a rumour spread, you swear someone to secrecy. Sheesh," sneered Dave.

"I have it on good authority", teased Steve.

"You have what on good authority ?"

"Belinda".

"What about Belinda ?"

"I'm hearing things", laughed Steve.

"What, are you on re-wind ?"

"Ok, ok,", Steve dropped the volume, tucked in his chin, closed in on Dave, "a friend of a friend who knows a friend of a friend. She may be reconsidering her abandonment of politics".

"Rubbish!"

"Maybe, but the next round of leadership opportunity may not be that far off, as you know, the wannabes and neverwillbes are organizing, and I'm hearing she still has the fire to be Leader. A lot of us will want to jump on the bandwagon early."

"Interesting", whistled Dave, "but I saw what's his name the other day and he never mentioned a thing. What gives ?"

"It could all be b.s., who knows, but I'm looking into it. Besides, I heard it when a bunch of us were shooting shots of Cabo Wabo Tuesday night."

"Where was that ?"

"Just off Elgin. Half-dozen of us. A bottle of Cabo, a Colonnade pizza, it was gossip central."

"So what does a shot of Cabo and a slice of pizza have to do with Belinda ?"

"These were people who might know if they knew."

"Rubbish, idle speculation".

"Maybe ... maybe not," sniveled Steve.

"She'd be a breath of fresh air, I'd quit Iggy's team to work for her."

"Tell me about it, a lot of people want her to stay and run for the job. Apparently she's getting heat to make up her mind."

"Are you serious ?"

"Maybe ... maybe not."

***

Monday, November 5

Paging Don Newman ...

"Tonight on the brou-waaad-cast .... the brooaaaahhhdcast .... brah-dcast ..."

"What the hell are you doing ?" asked the double-chin'd fella in the paisley ascot.

"Hah!", chuckled his pencil-kneck'd buddy sporting a burgundy bow-tie, "I'm practicing my Don Newman ... how does it sound ?"

"Ridiculous", scoffed Ascot as he leaned into the bartender, "Grey Goose, deep, neat, with a sidecar of olives".

"I'll have another one", added Bow-tie, as he wagged his empty Crown Royal tumbler , "and can you bring us some cheese bread, please ?"

The bartender nodded and went about his work as the natty neckwear aficionados resumed their conversation, such as it was.

"Well, so what was on tonight's, ah, broudcast ?"

"Brooowwwwahhhhd-cast, my friend, that's how it's pronounced."

"Whatever, what I'm getting at is what was on the show tonight ?"

"I just caught a bit of it. Newman was lob-balling his way around an interview with the new CBC President."

"Oh ya ? Who's that ?", asked Ascot, feigning interest, just as the bartender served up their drinks. Ascot greedily grabbed his, raised it to his lips, and in one quick motion gulped down two-thirds of its contents. He chased it with an olive, pausing briefly to furiously chew it down to a fine tapenade, before washing it away with what was left of his drink. An unappetizing fleck of pimento managed to find its way to the outer right corner of his mouth, perched precariously for the duration.

"Hubert Lacroix, a Montreal lawyer. Works at the same firm as Dick Pound, the Olympics guy. Stikeman."

"Interesting", shrugged Ascot, as he motioned for the bartender to bring him another drink, "what's his claim to fame, one of Fortier's buddies ?"

"Seems nice enough. He's a rainmaker for Telemedia and Transcontinental, he's on the board of Zarlink, a semiconductor company, he's Chairman of SKF Pulp Fund, used to be on the board of Michelin Canada, and beyond that he told Newman tonight he gets his news online. I think Newman's heart skipped a beat on that one. He also said he's a huge Habs fan and would like to see more Habs games on the CBC."

"I wonder what all this mean for the CBC," mused Ascot.

"You could always email him", shrugged Bow Tie, "but he's a corporate mover and shaker. Maybe he was picked to spearhead the CBC's privatization ..."

By then Ascot wasn't listening, he'd spotted that Deputy-Minister he'd been trying to button-hole for a month across the room and was on the move ...

***

Monday, October 29

Marissen's missus ...
Pinstripe and Tweed sat opposite each other at lunch, both ruminating the weekend's news about a family feud that has foundered MP Blair Wilson's admittedly tippy canoe out on the left coast.

"You could see it coming", offered Tweed as he scarfed up his cheese toast.

"You mean, his business stuff," countered Pinstripe.

"No, no", cajoled Tweed, "darker forces are at work here".

Pinstripe nodded for more as he slurped back an oyster rockefeller, the kind served baked with spinach and hollandaise sauce, a dreamy trip down the tastebuds loaded for bear with calories.

"Ok, well this is all nudge nudge wink wink stuff, but follow my train here. First, Wilson's in-law torches him, then Dion dumps him from his shadow cabinet and from caucus, and now I'm hearing that a couple of the ladies want the Liberal nomination in that riding.

"What's the scuttlebutt ?"

"How about Judy Tiyabji, ex-BC lib leader Gordon Wilson's femme fatale ..."

"I heard that too, but apparently she told someone on Facebook not a chance".

"Well ... how about Christy Clark, BC's former deputy-Premier, Vancouver mayoralty candidate, mom, yak-radio host, and Dion wagonmaster Mark Marissen's wife."

"No shit !!!

"Well, that's the rumour mill, anyway. I also hear that if Marissen can throw the Hail Mary long-bomb of his political life and somehow ensconse Dion into 24 Sussex, he'll be named to the Senate.

"That would explain the 'Senator Marissen" cracks ... but why didn't he get Paul Martin to name him when he had the chance ?"

"Let's just say Martin left a lot of unfinished business ..."

"You're dropping a lot of names today", egged Pinstripe.

"Somebody's got to", shrugged Tweed.

Just then, the main course arrived (chicken hash for Tweed, wild salmon for Pinstripe) and their conversation digressed into a locker room tumult about one of the prettier female lobbyists in Ottawa.

***

Sunday, April 22

Enough to raise an eyebrow ...
"It's probably nothing", said the hangdog as he nursed his bar brand vodka, neat.

His fellow libationalist raised an eyebrow, barely, but enough to elicit further insight.

"You know who was here the other day. The guy who's close to Dion. Some say too close."

His fellow libationalist raised an eyebrow, barely, again.

"Ya, that guy. He was deep in chit-chat with what's his name who's knee-deep in Green"

His fellow libationalist raised that eyebrow, barely, again.

"You know who I mean, don't you ?"

His fellow libationalist raised the eyebrow, barely, one more time.

"I thought so, let me tell you what I heard. I was only a couple feet away, they didn't know me from a hole in the wall."

His fellow libationalist raised the eyebrow, barely, followed by a paranoid darting of the eyes, hoping nobody nearby was listening.

"Let me boil it down for you", notioned the hangdog, "there are some within Dion's grey matter and some within May's green matter who are cooking up a plot to merge the two parties."

His fellow libationalist raised an eyebrow, noticably.

"A plot to merge the two parties, I said". Or so he said.

His fellow libationalist raised that eyebrow yet again.

"The way it would work is that the Greens would fold into the Liberals and vow to support Dion as Leader with May as his Deputy-Leader, thus cementing Team Dion at the top and ensuring priority to the Green Agenda under a Liberal banner. They think virtually all Green Party support across Canada would step in line and vote Liberal, thus putting the Dion-May tandem into government with a majority."

His fellow libationalist raised an eyebrow, barely, choked on his cud, then nodded.

"They think it's a brilliant end run around the gang backing the other leadership contenders, the sh*t disturbers who are always badmouthing the status quo, biding their time, waiting for Dion to get flushed away right after the election."

His fellow libationalist raised an eyebrow, furrowed his brow, drained his glass.

"For Dion, it's a game of survival, his people are desperate. For May, it's a potent policy move, she's like a chess master, she's playing the little feller like a puppet. Between her and Suzuki, they've got him razamatazzed. There is more, but that's enough right now to raise an eyebrow, don't you think ?"

His fellow libationalist raised the eyebrow a final time, reached for his Blackberry, and signalled the bartender for another round.

***

Saturday, March 10, '07

A slow day in Ottawa
So the red-bearded Newfoundlander is elbow-deep into a plate of oysters on the half-shell. His munchies-mate, a short gangly Liberal best left to the backrooms of policy and skullduggery, is gnawing on a gnarly branch of cheesebread. Both of them so immersed in animated conversation that they don't notice the decibel of their words, nor the curious ears nearby.

"He's a walking dead", says gangly.

"Right", retorts red-beard, a couple of fingers rummaging through the chin carpet, fishing for oyster bits.

"Everyone wants him to fail. One election and he'll be gone. And the world will be OUR oyster.."

"Uh-huh, and I suppose your pony's going to have a head start ?"

"Everyone's chomping at the bit for another leadership bid. We'll do the bare minimum. But that's it. Citoyen's going to wear this one."

"Why don't we all pitch in and help him win ? Isn't winning what it's all about ?"

"Forget that, don't you understand ? We don't want him to win. Nobody does. Get it ?"

"Fuck ya. By the way, where is Citoyen ?"

"Beats me, who gives a fig."

"Point taken."

***

Thursday, September 28

Belinda, Belinda, Belinda ...
The end of the week is at hand and late into a Thursday evening in the nation's Capital, a man who has eaten at Hy's for three days straight is unloading to a buddy from out of town at the bar. The two are slurping back bourbon, top shelf, neat for the regular, on the rocks for the visitor.

"Well, what's the news around town about the billion dollar budget cut ?" asks the out-of-towner.

"Forget that" snorts the regular, "sure it's great news, but everyone's talking about Tie and Belinda. Here the government is cutting back and the reporters can't think about anything else to do but ask about love lives !"

"She has guts that Belinda" admits the out-of-towner, pausing to suck on an ice cube.

"I'll say", nods the regular, "I mean she walked through the media every day, no back door exits, nothing but front and center. She was even up on her feet a couple times in QP this week too. Heck I even saw her in a private room here last night with a large group of female Liberal MPs. And did you notice today that every question from the Libs was from a female MP ?"

"Smart, it shows Bill Graham is smart- rooking the NDP at what used to be their own game, aimed at regaining swing votes that went NDP."

"Uh-huh, all the Cons had this week was Mrs PM at the NAC gala with her "other man" Baird."

"Ouch !"

"When you're hot, you're hot, bub ... and Belinda's hot !"

--

Tuesday, May 16

What's his name & what's her name
What's his name ponders the menu as he waits for what's her name, perennially late. He knows the offerings by heart and generally orders the same meal every time. Steak and salad, nothing fancy. But today he's allowing himself to be tempted. Oysters, perhaps. He signals his waiter, points to the item, asks for two dozen on the half-shell. With a side of horseradish, sliced lemons, a dollop of cocktail sauce. Happy with his selection, he beaks at his Pouilly-Fume, checks his Rolex Daytona, scans the crowd seated nearby.

Just then, she arrives bearing cleavage and a waft of perfume. Sultry, sexy, satisfyingly seductive. He pretends not to notice, disarming her obvious weaponry.

"You're late," he snaps.

"Relax", she shrugs, "who do you think you are, Goldy Hyder ?"

He chuckles, relaxes, offers himself another sip of wine. "It's gone to his head, hasn't it ?"

She rolls her eyes, quickly adjusts her bra, signals for him to pour her the wine.

"I've ordered oysters, good ?"

"Yum !"

"Ok, what have you got ?" He's all business today.

"Fraser's report has everyone running for cover", she offers.

"A one-day wonder, who gives a fig. Besides, how often can you kick at the Liberals, they're dead right now, right ?"

The oysters arrive, the wine glasses are topped up, the yakking stops, the eating begins. She uses her fingers and slurps from the shell. He's more fastidious, decorating each oyster with a bit of this and a bit of that. The horseradish, a squeeze of lemon, some cocktail sauce, even a crank of the pepper mill.

"I see Tim Powers is one of the top guys to know in Ottawa. One of the 50 big ones."

"A kahoona, eh ? Wow ! Who decided that ?", she asks as she slurps back an oyster.

"Some magazine, I forget which one, but his picture is on the cover."

"Hey, is that Duncan Dee over there ?" She's waving an empty shell in the direction of the steak pit.

"The guy eating the rack of lamb ? Did you know he speaks Albanian ?"

"No kidding !"

"Any truth to the rumour that the RCMP HQ move may be kayboshed ?" He's fishing, the building needs a massive retrofit, and his client is hoping for some sub-contract work.

"It's looking iffy right now, John Baird's in a squeeze over this one, he's buddies with the owners, and folks around him wish the headache would simply go away."

"A $650 million headache, get out the Motrin !"

"You said it !" She leans in for one more oyster.

"Here's the wildest rumour du jour. Ezra Levant next Ambassador to Israel."

"What ??" She practically screams it.

"Shhhhh !!! The boss thinks he's owed one for stepping aside in the by-election way back when."

"Wow !"

--

Monday, April 10

Bobby's Juice
The tomato juice arrives just right. A thick cut of lemon wedged onto the rim, a few drops of Tabasco puckering the flavour, and a dozen or so particles of pepper dusting the surface. Now, the newly-minted ministerial aide draws a deep sip, swallows, and nods approvingly to his waiter, a tall gangly chap of nondescript origin.

Just then, a passing whim passes him from left to right. God love him, it's Bob Rae, the man himself, all chuckles and yuks, and lo and behold, the once-premier of all that is Ontario, much to his predecessor David Peterson's chagrin, saunters right up to that irascible Paul Martin doge, none other than Michael Robinson, so ubiquitous is he to the inner trappings of Hy's Ottawa emporium, that he can orate from memory just about every iteration of decadent dessert that has graced the menu since he first walked into the place back in the days when Paul Martin merely daydreamed of his Prime Ministership.

Tomato juice ogles the scene, cursing himself for having forgotten to recharge his dead Blackberry before leaving for the office this morning.

Worse, Juice can see Rae's lips moving, but try as he might, he can't hear a thing, except for the odd gutteral chuckle emanating from the Doge's throat.

Later, as Juice relates the story to a dozen or so workmates, he guesses that the Doge remains at loose ends in this leadership race and that Bob Rae still has a long way to go before he can claim to be anything but a wannabe.

--

Friday, November 25

Peter Sophie & The Birdman
"Shrimp cocktail for me, smoked salmon for her", says the guy in the grey flannel suit as he surveys the menu, preferring to order his lunch mate's meal without bothering to consult her. "Two Filets a la Hy's", he adds, "medium rare, and two healthy glasses of Burgundy".

The waiter nods, scribbles, and departs.

"You're pretty sure of yourself", she giggles.

"I'm a master of the universe".

"You're pretty sure about me".

After last night, I think I know you pretty well.

She blushes, giggles, and caresses his chin.

"You heard the latest cupid news ?"

"Tell me ! Tell me !"

"Well", he starts, "you know that Peter has a new flame".

"I can imagine he's played the field".

"Right now, he's smitten with Sophie Desmarais, Paul's daughter."

"Nice", she wonders, "imagine Christmas around the giant Desmarais Christmas tree, all decorated with trinkets from Tiffany's, and all those packages under it from Holt's, Harry Winston, Hermes, Chanel, and Harrod's. Peter and Andre and Paul and Sophie and ..."

"And Jean Chretien's daughter France", he adds.

"Cozy!"

"Mila had a hand in the match-making".

"Ya gotta love it!"

"La gomme de Montreal, they call it."

"So is Sophie going to do stump speeches for Peter out in the Nova Scotian hinterland ?"

"Dunno".

"By the way, did you see Charles Bird was on the Hill this week ?"

"I missed that", he shugs, as the waiter appears with two glasses of vino. He takes a long pull on his, while she sips bird-like from hers. They both nod in satisfaction.

"Tell me about Bird," he asks.

"Charles is a lobbyist for BellGlobeMedia, they own this and that, including the Globe & Mail and CTV, you know that. Well, he was up on the Hill speaking to the Ontario Liberal Caucus, giving them advice."

"Charles was giving advice to the Liberals ? Why ?"

"He's the Liberals' Ontario Campaign Chair."

"The CTV and Globe & Mail's lobbyist is the Liberal campaign chair ? Now that's cozy !"

"Indeed".

"Has Mike Duffy reported on that little gem ?"

"Dunno, I don't watch him, but Greenspon's paper managed to mention it innocuously near the bottom of a story the other day."

They both chuckle knowingly, chink glasses, then he gulps a big one down, she slowly takes another bird-like sip, and the shrimp and salmon apetizers arrive on cue.

***

Monday, November 21

A Legion's comeuppance
It's a Monday lunchtime and the guy with his eye on the cornish game hen chuckles as he sips his merlot.

"I hear the Legion has been turned down for permission to make Canadian Armed Forces ensigns for parades and to hang in Legion halls."

"You're kidding", says the military lobbyist, a regular at NDHQ.

"The way I hear it, the Legion asked DND for permission after it had thousands of flags made (Ed: see "Legion's Butt Doth Protest H@H). DND didn't want to lose control of the flags or allow them to be carried by people who are not in the forces."

"Hah", opined the lobbyist as he nibbled on his second slice of cheese bread.

"When a Legion heavyweight complained to NDHQ, he was reminded of the heavy-handed treatment the Legion gave Bourque over the use of the poppy."

"What goes around comes around," huffed the lobbyist, as he buttered his last bit of cheese bread and washed it down with a good strong sip of Stolichnaya.

--

Chow Chow Chow
Barely two tables away, a robust tweed-wearer sits down at one of the worst tables in the joint, but he doesn't care because he's hungry and he thinks he's got the world by the tail.

"Did you speak with Brad Lavigne ?", asks his lunchmate, a small bookish chap who'se wispy goatee suggests a cerebral bent unchallenged by muscular initiatives.

"Forgot to call him", admits the tweed-wearer, " emailed him, but it bounced back. He's got some kind of weird spam filter. Two-thirds of my emails to him bounce back. So I'll buttonhole him later".

Goatee chuckles as the two examine the lunch menu,

"I'm going to have the 22 ounce Porterhouse and a baked potato", notes the tweed-wearer.

"Gorgonzola filet mignon for me", adds the wispy goatee.

The waiter approaches, they order, and then hunker down to chit and chat.

"What do you hear ?"

"Well", notes goatee, "Olivia Chow's fundraiser dinner was a hit. She had Toronto mayor David Miller, June Callwood, Michelle Landsberg, Dr. Joseph Wong, even Avi Lewis."

"Why the big to-do, is she running for Parliament ?"

"20 years of public service in Toronto, complete with 4-course meal, plus entertainment and special guests! Tickets were $128 a pop, $1,280 for an ordinary table, and $2,280 for a "Patron Table".

"Two thousand two hundred and eighty dollars ?" sputters the burly tweedy fella.

"Yup".

"Jeeziz Eich Keerist"

"Yup".

"Where the hell is the money going ?"

"Well, all proceeds are going to the Trinity-Spadina NDP Riding".

"A-hah !"

"Relax, a tax receipt is being issued for a portion of the ticket price".

"But I don't get it. A 4-course dinner to honour 20 years of municipal service and the proceeds go to the federal NDP ? What the hell's that all about ?"

"Don't forget that Olivia is married to Jack Layton".

"Ahhhh", sighs Tweedy, just as his jumbo porterhouse arrives at the table.

--

Wednesday, June 8

Mackay's People Making Their Move ?
The Nova Scotian arrives for his daily hops. "Keith's, please", he utters to the bartender, before turning to his Newfoundlander pal, the one well-known to some, an enigma to others. "I'm buying", he offers, "a shot of Screech, big fella ?"

"I bumped into Norquay", says the Newfoundlander, batting aside the hard stuff offer, nodding for a second glass of Keith's. "The mood in the bunker is abysmal, the fingers are beginning to point."

"At whom ?"

"Well, Norquay's playing dumb, and you know Jim Armour's going to the Canadian Medical Association and Mike Storeshaw is going to try his luck with Bluesky Strategy, but everyone I've spoken to is wondering who'll be the fall guy, it may be Tom Flanagan."

"Tom ? I thought he was untouchable, Harper's hard drive !"

"Well, Harper's not going to take the blame, is he ..."

"The beers arrive, the Newfoundlander sips his sparingly, the Nova Scotian sucks his back like he's breathing oxygen."

"Have you heard that a Harper Goon Squad is calling a "Belinda organizer list" from 2004 and asking the question, "do you plan to continue your involvement in the Conservative Party?"

"I don't blame them, hey, if Entwistle is willing to drink the Liberal Kool Aid, who knows how pliable the rest of her team is."

"More and more people are wondering how we can win an election with Harper at the helm. Many inside the party, including a number of E.D.A. presidents, are talking about pushing him out before the end of the summer in the hopes that Peter MacKay would be acclaimed as the new leader without having to go through a divisive leadership race. Given that there are no obvious alternatives in the wings, this solution is seen as being not too far fetched. The hesitation at this point is to make sure that nobody else will step in. That is what they are checking. Nobody believes that Bernard Lord can get out of New Brunswick at this time so the MacKay fans in the party believe it is now or never."

"Lord has a history of dithering when it comes to the BIG decision."

"Also, as in the "dump Joe" caper, there is group trying to gather riding President's signatures on a letter inviting Harper to leave without bloodshed. I feel this approach won't work with him, however, and that he will just dig his heels in further. "

"I tend to agree, Harper's in come hell or high water ... until he is deposed."

--

Saturday, June 4

Of Scribes, Diplomats, & Politicos ...
An ice cold ale on a blistering hot late afternoon in the nation's Capital and two old pals in town for a national scribblers schmoozer are sipping and whispering.

"Well, I struck out again this year, no award nominations," notes the columnist.

"Does it matter one way or the other ?", asks the beat reporter.

"Nada," shrugs the columnist, "here's to us", he adds, hoisting his suds and dipping his beak into it.

After the obligatory nod to the bartender for a refil, columnist continues the chat.

"Did you hear that Toronto banker John Webster may be in line for a diplomatic appointment ? Ambassador to Morocco".

"Ambassador ? Morocco ? What the hell for ?"

"Likely just another hare-brained rumor, but he's a Martinite, and he's not returning phone calls."

The beat reporter shakes his head, scans the room, reaches for his Blackberry, and reads an inbound missive.

"Hey, I just got an email from what's his name. He's over at the bar at the Chateau Laurier. He just spotted Kirk LaPointe, he's having a chat with the Howard Hughes of the Internet."

"Really ? I knew that's where the action would be tonight."

Nearby, a couple of local politicos (one red/one blue) belly up to the bar and begin discussing fed/prov/local Ottawa politics, the pending summer BBQ season, and who will be making the rounds. Consensus is on local Mayoral candidates -- 2006 election is November 13th -- they will be out in full force.

Red starts it off. "I hear Bob Chiarelli wants more. He's had 3 years as RMOC chair, 6 at as top dog at city hall, he's on a roll."

"Why does he want to run again", wonders Blue, "the guy is 62 or something like that? What about the rumour he may get the NCC Chair appointment ?"

"Tough call. Beaudry's had it forever, he acts like he owns the job."

"True, but don't complain, remember he was a Mulroney appointment. That was eons ago, it's like he's the appointee that time forgot."

"Ha ! Besides, Chiarelli works out four mornings a week, is in the shape of a 40 year old and loves being the Mayor. He's got all kinds of people to call on, guys like former Martin comms guy Brian Guest, strategist Brendan McGuinty (David and Dalton's younger brother), and a team of fundraisers, campaigners, sign crews, ethnic community contacts that he simply adds water and stirs and they're ready to go. Finally, he's been ramping up the O-Train process through city hall for a big ribbon cutting for June 2006 ... the mother of all photo ops. As much as local Tories and some Chretien-era grits don't like him, he's still the guy to beat."

"What about the big bailiff who ran against him last time, Brian Kilrea. With Pat MacAdam managing his campaign, he got 38% of the vote in 2003, pretty respectable".

"You mean his nephew Terry Kilrea ... he rode a wave of rural anger and anglophone language anxiety. He won't get this again. I also hear that his website (www.kilreaformayor.ca) may be challenged by one or two sitting councillors as soon as 2006 rolls around as a blatant violation of the Municipal Elections Act."

"So that leaves the undertaker Brian McGarry and former city councillor Alex Munter as the only viable options".

"Yes. Rumour has it McGarry has been quietly working community events -- albeit at a leisurely pace -- and frustrating Chiarelli who keeps bumping into him. The hearse-king is also taking four hours of intensive French each week and he's now on an exercise regime to loose his flab."

"But what about his cancer scare in late 2005?"

"Yeah he was pretty public about it but apparently they caught the prostate stuff early enough, he opted for the full surgery gig and is doing very well. Good news too, he's got a young wife and six-year-old daughter at home. So he's raring to go with a campaign team that is meeting every two weeks on average to review his tour strategy, brief him on policy and build the org chart. And he just got back from a quiet week in Edmonton and Calgary where his local lawyer and bank backers here lined him up in one-on-one meetings with local transit, engineering, and finance staffers and eco dev types in both of those cities ... apparently he has some really good Calgary info to drop into his platform along with cool smart growth plans -- to get the lefties on side -- in 2006."

"You sound like you've signed on for the duration ... did you drink the kool aid ?"

"Not so quick, my man, for starters, McGarry's been out of elected life, school board and the old regional council, for almost a decade ... that's a lifetime ... essentially, he's fishing in the same pond as Kilrea. He needs to get people who are tired with Chiarelli, along with the city's Tory community if he wants to defeat Bob."

"Sounds impossible."

"An Everest climb with a bum leg would be easier."

"Okay so what about the Professor, Alex Munter?"

"Well Alex is the wildcard in all of this. The local papers keep speculating about a non-aggression pact between Chiarelli and Munter but I'm not so sure. Munter outpolled Chiarelli and doubled McGarry and Kilrea combined in a Sun poll a few months back. He's policy-savvy, bilingual, well spoken, and always in the public eye either at events, with his newspaper column or his ongoing advocacy for Canadians for Equal Marriage."

"So you're saying he's not likely to win the anti-gay crowd ?"

"All I'm saying is it's going to be quite an interesting summer."

Both politicos drop down their platinum cards to pick up the drinks.

--

Saturday, May 14

It's getting late on a soggy Saturday night, the well-heeled local weeknight regulars replaced by well-heeled visiting weekenders in town for the tulips.

Except in one booth, where a couple of politicos are scarfing back thick juicy steaks, washed down by one of the most expensive bottles of burgundy in the house.

"Whatever happened to David Gourlay ?", asks the one with the Mike Nesmith sideburns.

"The Tobin sidekick ?", replies the chunky one with the man-boobs, "Jeeziz, beats me, haven't heard his name in years."

Sideburns grunts, spits out some gristle, swigs his plonk.

"Remember some of the others ? Michel Chartrand, Mark Marrissen, Greg Fergus, Jamie Heath, Kristine Haselsteiner."

"Man, those names bring back memories ... Chartrand went on to become a Liberal youth thingie, after that I lost track of him. Marrissen's a west-coast Paul Martin spearchucker ..."

"I just got a fundraising spam from him the other day", interjects Sideburns.

Man-boobs nods, "I got one too."

"Fergus went on to bigger and better ... and Kristine was a hottie, wasn't she ?"

"A great organizer too, I hear she's married with children now, living out in the 'burbs".

Sideburns shakes his head. "I see politics in her future, she's the real thing".

Man-boobs nods again, "She'll be a huge catch for Parliament one day ... And Heath's still in Jack Layton's inner-circle, isn't he."

"Amazing, isn't it ? What a group !"

"What about the rumour that Jamie wants to run in Ottawa-Centre ? Somebody said Layton may run there and leave the Toronto riding for his wife, any insight ?"

"He's in, count on it", replies Sideburns, "and I can also confirm that Sheila Copps has no intention of running in the next election. She's sitting it out. After that, anything's possible.

"You mean she might run again ?"

"Some people see her as the future of Liberalism in Canada".

"And you're sure she won't be running ? I hear Beth Phinney's out, and that leaves her riding open ..."

"Nada, Copps out."

--

Tuesday, May 10

Cocktail Hour ...
Joe Gossip walks in, thirsty as a fish. A moment later, his pal, Molson Deguire, joins him at the bar. The two exchange how-de-doos, order beers, and settle in for a chat. "What was it like on the Hill ?", asks Joe, as he hoovers the foam off his ale.

"Stephen Harper's showboating for a confidence vote," says Molson, his thick lips sucking back most of his glass of beer in one motion.

"Quixotic", shrugs Joe.

It's a hot day in Ottawa.

"Did I tell you who was eating here last week when I was here for lunch with what's his name from what's her name's office ?"

"Who ?", asks Molson

"Jean Chretien was lunching with Bruce Hartley, his former EA ... and Don Newman's buddy Tim Powers was nearby chewing the fat with Rod Love".

"Rod Love ?"

"He's angling for some action now that Tom Flanagan's going to be on tour with Harper. He's so hungry for power, he's afraid to let Harper out of his sight. Afraid the guy will say the wrong thing at the wrong time".

"Jeeziz ..."

"What else is new ..."

Molson grunts.

"I hear ol' Gougou had a poo-poo when he saw Bourque's headline about him last week ... he's the real mystery man in all this Adscam stuff."

"But doesn't he have John Parisella running interference for him all over the map at BCP ?"

"Parisella knows how the dots are connected in Quebec ...", Joe skips a beat as he spots a well-known TV face belly up to the bar and order his first Cosmopolitan.

"I've got a tidbit for you," offers Molson, as he guzzles the balance of his beer, at once signaling the bartender for another round.

"Lay it on me, badboy"

"Remember all that nonsense about golf balls with Prime Ministerial logos ? How about this. Bernard Roy, the hey-big-spender Gomery lawyer, he attended a Paul Martin golf tournament fundraiser at the Hermitage Club"

"Hah!", chortles Joe Gossip.

"Old news, actually, the tourney was back in 1994 ... but here's something fresh, I'm told Roy faxed a letter of apology to Warren Kinsella via his lawyer Clayton Ruby to band-aid over the way he was maligned during recent Gomery witness grillings ..."

"Really?"

"Or so I hear ..."

--

Tuesday, April 19

Who will run ?
The haggard-looking man with the Samsonites under his eyes limps his way into the eatery and turns promptly into the bar. He looks like he's got the weight of the world on his shoulders and he's about to buckle. He signals the bartender and horks "Jim Beam, make it a double". It's been one of those days for this man recognized by many for his peripheral involvement in Adscam.

The drink is poured, he gulps half of it, closes his eyes, catches his breath, coughs. He swivels to his left, then swivels to his right, nodding casually to a casual acquaintance he'd clearly like to avoid. Too late, Mr. Friendly's moving in for a chat.

"Ya heard about the Pope ?"

Adscam nods with a slight smirk, then sighs. He hates small talk with small minds.

"Ya think we're heading for an election ?"

Adscam shrugs. "Who knows."

"Ya saw Harper announcing he's got Lawrence Cannon to run in the Pontiac ?"

Adscam sips his bourbon. "Bourassa era Liberal. Good catch, but people have short memories".

"Ya heard about Peter Kent, the TV meat puppet ? He's being wooed, going to run for the Conservatives."

"Is he wooable ?"

"It's in the bag, and I also hear that Elsie Wayne is thinking about coming back too. She says she's been asked by the Party to run again in Saint John and she's raring to go, although she's more iffy and there are a couple of other tories sniffing around for a shot at the nomination."

"Doesn't Paul Zed hold that riding now ? Won't her rabid anti-gay stand hurt the Party ?"

"Yep, and Zed's fit as a fiddle and ready to run again, but I hear the Conservative's are hoping she'll keep a lid on it".

"I can't imagine anyone muzzling Elsie."

"Dave Chatters is out, health reasons, he's fighting cancer ... Charlie Penson's out too, but I don't know why ... and did ya hear about Bernie Valcourt ?"

"The Mulroney MP ?"

"The one and only. Cabinet Minister, Provincial leader, Evil Kneivel on two wheels, he's done it all. He's going to run federally again, can you believe it ? Wants the nomination in Restigouche, it should be a coronation."

"Can he win an election ?"

"Dunno".

Mr. Friendly spots someone else across the bar. He waves and whispers "there's what's her name ... did you know she's sleeping with what's his name ?"

Adscam shakes his head, gulps the rest of his drink, then says,

"... well, I'm outta here."

--

Friday, April 15, 2005

But what about Pettigrew ?

A Friday lunch hour and the usual suspects wander in. One man, embracing the old "Casual Fridays" mantra, head-to-toe in designer casualness, no doubt a personal splurge.

Designer Casual saunters over to a booth, and joins an overweight man in a slightly tight Moore's Suit.

"We're worried about Pettigrew", sweats the chubby suit.

"What's to worry about ?" asks Casual, all too casually.

"Well, if there's an election, it's hard to believe he'll be re-elected", responds Chubby.

"I hear ya, but is that a bad thing ... in the long run ?", winks Casual.

"He's a pillar!" retorts, Chubby.

"He's crumbling", chuckles Casual, glancing quickly at the menu as the waiter appears at the table, "I'd like the oysters and a large filet, medium rare ... and I'd like a big glass of merlot".

"Caesar salad and the cajun rib steak for me", says Chubby, as he smacks his lips, "and I'd like some Merlot too".

The waiter nods and departs, the two diners resume their chat.

"Besides," adds Casual, "I hear he's angling to get out before the election. He may be in line for some some kind of International appointment, perhaps as the head of the OAS, the Organization of American States."

"Really !"

"I've also got some news about who the Tories want as candidates", chuckles Casual.

"Yum, tell me, tell me," replies Chubby.

"Well, this is according to someone who is close to someone who is close to John Reynolds"

"Reynolds ? I thought he's retiring."

"Ya, but apparently he's got a wish list with 200 names on it"

"200 hundred names ! Jesus, he's ambitious."

"For starters, look for Bernie Lord's former health and education minister Dennis Furlong. He's being parachuted into Fredericton. And then there's Patrick Lynch, New Brunswick's paid organizer, he's going to run too."

"If he's going to run, who's going to look after the organizing in New Brunswick ?"

"Good question, but he's going to run, or so I'm told."

"ok, ok, who else ?"

"Well, you saw on Bourque at the beginning of the week that former Harris Cabmin John Baird is going to run federally ?"

"Of course, he's going to kill Marlene Catteral !"

The wine arrives, Casual leans forward, picks up his glass, swirls, sniffs, sips, swishes, swallows. Chunkie simply chugs the full glass, and asks the waiter for another.

"Ok, back to Reynold's wish list, I'm told Hockey Night in Canada's Ron Maclean is on it, as is Rick Hansen, sprinter Donovan Bailey, astronaut Marc Garneau, and one of the french fry guys, Scott McCain .

"Wow", burps Chunkie.

"Wow, indeed," nods a satisfied Casual.

"What about that Taxpayer fella ?"

"Robinson ?"

Chubby nods.

"Walter's going to sit this one out."

"You're kidding, didn't a dog bite him in the last election ?"

"Once bit, twice shy, you might say", chuckles Casual, "he's putting family before politics this year."

"Good for him, he'll be missed."

They both nod.

--

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Charest To The Senate ?
Two beefsteak Tories, one ex-OLO, the other ex-PMO, are slurping martinis and letting their tongues wag ever so gently.

Adscam revelations have made many Conservatives cocky these days, who can blame them. These two lean into their Grey Goose concoctions, whispering over the semi-submerged olives, voices barely audible to all except a nearby few. In public places, of course, there are always a nearby few.

"The wild card will be Charest", coughs OLO, his eyes darting around the bar, wondering who may know he knows what he knows..

PMO is excited, he shifts his weight from foot to foot as he libates himself.

"If this can be pulled off, Harper will be a national hero".

OLO grins.

"The way it will shake out is that Charest's key Quebec organizers will help us during the federal election. Once we're elected, Charest will be summoned to the Senate, he'll be Speaker, a perfect spot for him."

"Speaker ?", wonders PMO.

"We thought Ambassador to Washington, but it will likely be the Senate. Either Speaker, or Goverment Leader, with a place at the Cabinet table."

"Unbelievable", burps PMO, this from a fella who's been knee-deep in his fair share of Machiavellian escapades in decades past, political corpses littering his trail along the way.

"Charest's got to get out of Quebec", offers OLO, "he's sinking the federalist cause over there, and a lot of people want to see a fresh face to counter Duceppe who everyone knows is dying to take over from Landry at the PQ. He sees himself as Premier, the guy who will lead his flock to the Promised Land."

"Sovereignty", notes PMO.

"The dissolution of Canada as we know it today", confirms OLO.

"And Charest's said OK to all of this ?", asks PMO

OLO shakes his head, then gulps two inches of premium vodka and signals to the bartender for another round.

"He won't even know what's hit him. It will be over before he knows it."

PMO looks off with a wistful gaze ... then the next round of drinks are set up ... and the topic changes to wives and otherwise.

--

Tuesday, January 4, 2005

This, That, & The Other Things
A couple of freaks of nature maneuver their way into the bar. He's in his late-70's, not a grey hair on his head. She matches his age, her ample bosom defying gravity. They order highballs and start to gossip.

"He's being courted by both Parties", says he.

"Who?", asks she.

"Seamus", he huffs, "that Canada AM announcer."

"The weatherman?" she asks hopefully.

"Weathermen usually don't win elections. That Newfoundlander Simms is an exception. But remember that Newsworld one, Jordy Morgan ... and before that the CJOH fella ... voters don't buy them ... I'm talking about O'Regan, he's a Newfoundlander and both the Liberals and Conservatives wan't him for the By-election."

"Oh, my", she replies, "but does he want them ?"

"Don't know yet".

The drinks arrive, he takes a long pull, scans the room, and continues,

"Kenney's diet's in trouble", he snorts.

"Jason ? He's looking so slim", she notes.

"My source in the caucus says he lost 70 pounds, but with all the Christmas cocktail parties in the past month, he's put half of it back on".

"Oh, my," she adds, sadly.

Suddenly he shoves a hand in his pocket and fishes out his Blackberry. He consults it, chuckles, puts it away, and leans in to his drink.

"Buzz Hargrove just walked through the bar at the Fairmont Hotel in downtown Vancouver. Black leather jacket and a big smile. Shook hands with every waiter and barmaid in the joint".

"How on earth do you know that ?"

"A friend is there having a martini, just emailed me. He just saw Buzz walk in and do his thing. The Fairmont's a CAW shop and he's pressing the flesh with the membership"

She shakes her head. "He should run for office someday", she offers.

He nods.

"Did I tell you Belinda's moving into that new building next to the Chateau Laurier ?"

"But isn't that place still under construction ?"

"She's in a suite at the Sheraton until it's ready."

"I hope she runs for the leadership again", she says.

"Oh, she will", he nods knowingly, "she's already maneuvering".

He moves closer to her.

"Are you going to want another drink ?", he asks.

She snuggles into him.

"I don't think so, what did you have in mind ?"

"In that case, I'm taking my Viagra pill now. Ready to go ?"

"I'll say !"

--

Friday, December 3

Mulroney's Big Apple
The longtime Tory bigwig and his wife are just finishing up the last of their Friday night dinner. And what a meal ! Spinach salad and filet mignon for her, crab cakes and prime rib for him, le tout washed down by a pricey Burgundy of a certain age. As they are leaving the dining room, they stop by a table to say hello to one of Canada's best-known businessmen, a Torontonian shanghai'd in the Capital for a weekend of obligatory parties.

"Great to see you again", says the Tory, as his wife says hello to the businessman's trophy wife.

"I was in New York this week", barks the businessman as he pulls a Robaina torpedo from a suit pocket and rolls it in his fingers, "you'll never guess who I saw on 5th Avenue ... Brian Mulroney and his friend and travelling companion, Pat MacAdam. They were returning to the St. Regis Hotel following an after diner speech to 300 U.S. bankers in the Rainbow Room on the 65th Floor of Rockefeller Centre."

"I knew they were down there", bluffs the Tory.

"The recognition factor was amazing", adds the businessman, "when Mulroney paused to admire the huge Christmas tree on Rockefeller Plaza, ordinary Americans recognized him and approached to shake his hand. It was the same all along Fifth and there was no sign of security or, apparently, any need for it. All those who stuck out their hands were friendlies They gave Mulroney all five fingers."

"I saw the big piece in the New York Times on Thursday", says the Tory, "Brian's the only non-American to joing a new 30-member blue chip fundraising committee that will raise half a billion U.S. dollars for a significant World Trade Centre 9/11 Memorial."

"No kidding", says the businessman, "I missed that one".

"Well", adds the Tory, "he joins four former U.S. Presidents - Ford, Carter , Bush and Clinton , as well as New York Governor George Pataki, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani , ABC's Barbara Walters , Richard Parsons , Chairman and CEO of Time Warner, David Rockefeller , Kenneth Chenault , Chairman and CEO of American Express, "Woody" Johnson , Chairman and CEO of Johnson Co., banker Henry Kravis , Michael Eisner , CEO of Disney, William Harrison , Chairman and CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase, Lee Leipi , a former New York firefighter and the father of a firefighter and relatives of the victims and crews of the aircraft."

The businessman is trying hard to mask how impressed he is, then adds,

"Wanna start a pool guessing how long it will take this group of heavy hitters to raise the half billion U.S. ? A week? Ten days?"

--

Flight of Fancy ...
With snow falling gently on the Capital, a table close to the steak pit is as good a spot to warm up as any. And so it was that two of Ottawa's more visible lobbyists, one tall, the other small, sat down for a couple of luncheon steaks and Caesar salads.

"Did you hear Martin's going to be on CNN ?" asks Tall.

"Bodaceous ! Do you know when ?" replies Small

"Sunday, 1 PM with Wolf Blitzer".

"Cool!" replies Small.

"I also hear Martin's on the road again soon", adds Tall.

"No rest for the weary", replies Small, "where's he going now ?"

"Just before Christmas, I hear he's going to Tripoli".

"Libya? What the hell's he going to do over there ?" sputters Small.

"I don't know, but the word I hear is that while he's away, no government decisions are going to happen in his absence. Everything's chugging to a halt."

"Son of a bitch", chokes Small, "I'm waiting on some key decisions !"

Tall gives him a commiserating look.

"Besides", continues Small, "didn't he just get back from Chile and the Sudan ?"

"It's the pomp and circumstance", says Tall, "addictive. And that's not all, I hear he'll be away for much of January too."

Small sighs.

"January in Ottawa or Pomp and Circumstance around the globe. I don't blame the guy, but it sure screws things up for us. Where's he going ?"

"I'm told it will be India, Japan, China and Hong Kong sometime in the second or third week of January."

Small nods his head.

"Must be nice !"

Tall shrugs, then starts to scan the room to see who else is lunching at Hy's today.

"Hey, is that Jamie Deacey over there ?"

--

Thursday, December 2

McCaffrey Storms Toronto ...
It's just about closing time and the couple with the Blackberries order another round. Champagne cocktail for her, a top-shelf single malt for him.

"I just got an email from you know who down in Toronto", she says, "The McCaffreys' brought down the house tonight in Toronto. An "A" list of guests made appearances. Hunky Canada AM host Seamus O'Reagan popped by, so did Arlene Bynon the original talk tv diva."

He nods, looking up from his screen.

"Good news travels fast. I also hear Stephen Ledrew, the former President of the Liberal Party came by and heckled Conservative lobbyist Tim Powers as he introduced the McCaffreys... must have been a lot of fun!"

She sips her bubbly.

"The McCaffreys surprised the crowd by announcing their latest business venture - thongs! Justina McCaffrey Intimate line hits the stores in Canada in the New Year."

"Well, you now know what I'll get you for Valentine's Day", he chuckles.

She smiles and takes another sip. "Success was obvious when the New York set hit the scene. "In Style" magazine showed up proving the Canada's best can take on the world any day of the week. Word is conservative Ottawa will be lit up in February when the McCaffreys throw their next big bash."

"You know we'll be there !", he says, before pulling on his scotch.

--

Cosgrove Turfed
Meanwhile, over at the coat check, two journalists are heading out into the night.

"Did you hear about Gillian Cosgrove ?, asks the one from the tabloid.

"Over at the Post?", replies the one from the broadsheet.

"In a manner of speaking", says Tabloid, "the paper dropped her today. She's gone."

"A shame", notes Broadsheet, she's a good writer, but that thing about Queen Adrienne was over the top, wasn't it."

Tabloid shrugs. "I think Queen Adrienne's over the top".

The two head for the door, Broadsheet exits first, then over his shoulder, says,

"I feel sorry for Ray Heard, he's a good guy."

Tabloid nods.

"I hear Gillian's been sick, spent quite a few days at the hospital for stomach troubles."

"Gee", shrugs Broadsheet, "I hope she won't need surgery".

"What's with those Post writers", asks Tabloid, "first that unpleasant business with Brad Evenson, then what's her name Elizabeth Nickson, and now Cosgrove. Who will be next ?"

"Only a matter of time, pal, but did you see that Globe writer Ivison the other day writing about things happening at Hy's ? I guess imitation is the sincerest form of flattery !"

"Doesn't he write for the Sun ?".

--

Wednesday, December 1

The Mounties get their ...
A couple of the regulars arrive a bit later than usual. Still, the Cosmos are ordered and delivered with dispatch.

"All the action was on the Hill, not at Hy's tonight", says one. "Even the PM's reception couldn't match the warm thanks MPs of all parties gave the RCMP tonight in Centre Block."

"The Deputy Prime Minister and Commissioner of the RCMP came by to thank their Red Coats", replies the other one.

"And did you see the heavy contingent of Conservatives including Jim Prentice, Monte Solberg, Jay Hill, Gary Lunn, Rona Ambrose, Rahim Jaffer, Kevin Sorenson, among dozens of others ?" asks the first one.

"Even Bill Blaike made an appearance", notes the second one, "see Jack Layton - Law and Order is not such a bad thing."

Both chuckle as they slurp their potent concoctions.

"The only challenge during the night was to keep the peace officers fed", adds the first one, "The boys in blue like a good meal - donuts and coffee just don't cut it with the carnivores!"

--

Friday, November 26

No Peace at PSAC
Two PSAC Union types hanging around the bar nursing their beers. The one in the '70's era head-to-toe corduroy cautiously approaches the other and says:

"It didn't hold".

The one with the tweed coat and leather elbow patches whips around in obvious frustration.

"Whatdya mean it didn't hold, I thought you said we had a deal with the AEU !"

Corduroy says "It just crashed and burned, PSAC staff didn't buy in and they voted for strike action today, so they're going out for sure."

"Jesus Christ ! Do ya mean we're all gonna be locked out of the building on Gilmour ?"

"Well did you ever know of any Union member worth his salt ever crossing a Union picket line ? It just ain't done, brother"

Tweed rubs his furrowed brow, sweat beads beginning to form as he digests the bad news.

Corduroy continues with it.

"PSAC's elected officers who are refusing to implement a benefits plan for PSAC retirees. Once again we are faced with a double standard by the union's elected officers. Because they have worked in the federal public service, they have access to a comprehensive benefits package once they retire. However, they expect their own staff to do without health care protection once they reach age 65. It's a ridiculous position, and everyone knows it."

Tweed loosens his tie, gulps down the rest of his beer, and barks an order for scotch, neat, to the bartender.

"Geez, I may have to go into the building for something I have to do for the big January ratification vote. God's Teeth ! Do they have a Scab Tool Kit like the National Component??"

"It gets worse", replies Corduroy, clearly enjoying the debrief, "while the National Component has chosen to adhere to Union principles and respect the picket line of these striking bargaining units, they've set up a rinky-dink 1-800 number so that members can leave messages and the appropriate staff can be contacted for action. In other words, they're going to telecommute to virtually cross the picket line. Isn't that cute ?"

"Jesus Christ", spits Tweed, as he chugs his scotch and reaches for his cellphone.

--

Hy's Pot Pie
"Do you come here much ?"

"Normally not, just on special occasions, but this is my second time this week."

"Second time this week ? Hey big spender !"

"Yep, I was here on Wednesday night. Sat at a table next to that guy from the Marijuana Party. Funny, too, I had just seen him on the tv news, then came over here, and here he was."

"Wow! Did you speak with him ?"

"Yep, just how dee doos and I told him I supported the legalization and taxation of marijuana".

"I agree. What did he eat ? Did he have the munchies ?"

"Hahaha, well, he sent back his first bottle of wine, and he told me the second bottle of Australian wine actually tasted worse. But he devoured his NY strip and the cherries jubilee dessert. After that, he casually rolled a joint, paid his tab, and went out to enjoy it. No one seemed to mind, or notice. On his way by my table, he mentioned that it seems pot is mainstream now because nobody thinks it's a big deal anymore."

"He's got a point"

--

That Kinsella Fella
The man from Liberal HQ at the end of the bar leans over his shooter glass full of olives and whispers to a pal.

"Kinsella's got a bee in his bonnet about Colby Cosh over at the National Post."

"What's up with Warren ?" asks his pal.

"Apparently Cosh bought a copy of that "game" about the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Cosh thinks its fun, and Warren thinks it's in pretty damn poor taste and that the Aspers should fire him."

"Ah," says his pal, as he reaches over and helps himself to the olives, "he has a point".

--

Oh Danny Boy
A well known Conservative Senator saunters into the restaurant whistling Danny Boy and takes his usual seat at his usual table. A moment or two goes by, and a well known Liberal Senator arrives and joins him at the table.

"Do you like John McDermott ?, asks Conservative.

"One of my favourite singers, my wife loves his concerts", replies Liberal.

"I hear he's taking a break from solo touring for at least the next year."

"No kidding !", replies Liberal

"Would a Conservative lie to you ?"

"Let's not start arguing politics", chuckles Liberal.

The waiter arrives with the menus and takes the drinks order.

"I'd like a Beefeater martini on the rocks ... make it a double", says Conservative.

"A glass of the house red, please," Liberal says to the waiter, then he turns to Conservative, "now what's this about McDermott ?".

Conservative nods. "All solo dates currently booked for 2005 will be honored, but beginning in January, the only new dates to be added to John's schedule will be those with The Irish Tenors. I heard he wants to take this opportunity to pursue business and philanthropic pursuits, as well as quality time with his family, all things he has had to put off while touring over the last decade."

"Maybe we can get him to run in the next election, get him a place in the Cabinet next to Dryden," notes Liberal

"You mean up by the curtains in the Opposition benches, don't you ?"

"I thought we weren't going to talk about politics!"

--

Tuesday, November 23

An elderly couple arrive for dinner and are promptly seated and made comfortable with drinks and nibblies. She slowly surveys the room and leans into her husband, whispering,

"Who is that man, he looks familiar.."

Her ascot-clad man glances in the general direction of where she is indicating, then turns back to her.

"That's Don Newman, he has a political program on cable tv".

"Who are the others with him, they seem very intense".

Ascot turns back towards the Newman crowd, then back towards his wife.

"The older man is Jeffrey Simpson from the Globe & Mail, the younger one is Paul Wells, used to be with the National Post, now at MacLean's, a big jazz fan ... Susan Delacourt is the one with the curly hair and the brooding one is Chantal Hebert, she writes in french and english ... the other two are Nik Nanos, the pollster from Summa, and Graham Fox, I don't know what he's doing now.

"How do you know who they all are ?", she wonders.

He just shrugs and grabs a menu.

--

Bloody Mary Tuesday
Two big wheels in the lobbying world are into Hy's for a pre-lunch libation. The one with the brown suit orders a Bloody Mary, the one with the blue suit asks for a Caesar.

"Well that was quite a night last night for John Tory at the Congress Centre", says Brown suit, "about $75,000 to pay down the party's debt."

"Yep", replies Blue suit, "one of the students working my table told me that with walk ups, they expected to bust the 400 ticket mark."

Brown suit nods.

"$200 a pop ... and the booze was extra at the cash bar to boot!"

They both chuckle as the drinks arrive.

"Quite the who's who of Tory Ottawa", says Blue suit as he chinks glasses with his buddy. "And a few grits on hand too", says Brown suit, "as well as the political chameleons like Claudia and Adam Chowaniec and new Ottawa Hydro chair Pierre Richard." "Speaking of Lang Michener", adds Blue suit, "did you see who the cat dragged in ? Former CA wallah Manny Montenigrino."

Brown suit nods and slurps his Bloody Mary.

"Did you understand anything Thom Bennett had to say ?"

"I wasn't really listening", admits Blue suit' "but I'm glad Harper didn't speak for more than 5 minutes when he intro'd Tory."

Brown suit nods.

"Tory's best zingers were at the end when he made some CFL jokes and then noted that big Liberal Ottawa Mayor Bob Chiarelli was in attendance. This at the end of a "it's getting so bad with Dalton, that even die-hard Liberals are turning away and coming to us" joke."

"That got a good laugh from the crowd", chuckles Blue suit. "and speaking of soft Liberals, local undertaker Brian McGarry was on hand pressing the flesh in his bid to drum up support for his 2006 Mayoral bid ... looks like his prostate cancer surgery went very well, Brian was working the room like a man of 45 as opposed to his 60 years of age."

Brown suit signals to the bartender for another round.

"I noted that local MPPs Norm Sterling and Bob Runciman were in attendance, as were defeated MPPs Brian Coburn and Gary Guzzo, education critic Frank Klees and even Tony Clement, who was overheard telling folks he's billing away at law giant Bennett Jones." "Must be nice", says Blue suit as he licks the rim of his empty drink.

"I also counted a gaggle of MPs, including Peter MacKay, Belinda Stronach, Gord Brown, Scott Reid, that young fella Pierre Pollievre, Gordon O'Connor, Michael Chang, Jim Prentice and Dean Allison.

"And we were'nt the only lobbyists there either", adds Brown suit. "Hill and Knowlton's top dog Micheal Coates and his glad handing slickster Godly Hyder and Dimitri the Pollster and Eugene Melynk's Biovail GR guy Ken Villazor and Ottawa Hospital Chair Ray Hession and Senators Consiglio Di Nino and Marjory LeBreton her sister Kay Stanley and Cdn. Construction Association Prez Shirley Westeinde, was there too." "I also saw, let's see, Claude Bennett and ex-CTF big wig Walter Robinson and former Kingston Eco Dev guru Steve Kelly who was ex-chief of staff to Paul Dick back in the Tory Glory days. Queen's Park fixer Larry Malloy and ex Ottawa police services board chair Peter Vice."

"I also saw National Post journalist John Ivison working his magic ..."

The second round arrives and they both pause in the conversation to pull on their straws.

--

Saturday, November 20

A man enters the steak house and walks into the bar for a post-lunch libation, where he joins his pal, who is sipping a Mount Gay & Coke. It's Grey Cup weekend in the Capital and the two are making the rounds.

"I just came from "The Fox and the Feather", says the man as he takes off his coat, "and you won't believe who was there. David Orchard. He walked in and about 5 minutes later he sends one of his minions around the restaurant to random patrons telling them to come and meet David. The table behind me after hearing the pitch says who is David Orchard."

His pal shrugs. "Who's David Orchard ?"

--

Friday, November 19

A Tory Story ...
Four Ladies Who Lunch, dressed to the nines, arrive at the appointed hour and are escorted to their table. A handful of swivelheads swivel their heads to ogle the parading flesh. In a moment the ladies are seated and the one who is married to one of the city's top lobbyists starts in,

"Is everyone going to the John Tory cocktail at the Congress Centre on Monday ?"

Heads nod excitedly.

"Tory's on a mission to pay down the provincial party's $9 million debt", she whispers, quickly glancing around conspiratorially, "Thom Bennett's chairing it, Harper will be there to intro Tory, Mackay and Belinda and a gaggle of MPPs and MPs and old Harris Cabinet Ministers like Tony Clement and Frank Klees will be there too.

"Wow", utters the second lady, the quiet wife of a well-known Conservative lawyer, "I also hear Norm Atkins and his Senate cronies will be there, Marj LeBreton too.

"Uh-huh, over 350 tickets have been sold in just under three weeks. Besides, it's 75% tax-deductible", shrugs the third lady, a PR whiz who knows all the angles.

"By the way", leans in the fourth, finally, anxious to land a small dagger into the one married to the lobbyist, "I saw your hubby with a VERY curvy redhead looking through power ties at Harry Rosen's this morning ... a niece ?"

Conversation suddenly stops, jaws drop, eyebrows rise ... just another meal for the Ladies Who Lunch ...

--

Wednesday, November 17

Rub-a-Dud-Sub ...
Two military types in a moment of madness splurging on a night out on the town. The senior of the two, mid-50's, is eyeing the prime rib, his junior, mid 30's, is thinking chicken.

"We're going to miss Henault", the older one notes somberly, "a good man"..

"How will his departure impact the House of Commons Defence Committee, which is looking into the acquisition of the British submarines ?", asks his dinner partner.

"Well, for starters, they'll have trouble nailing anything on Jim Judd now that he's become top spy at CSIS. Remember he was DM when the Navy chose the subs."

Junior nods, Senior continues,

"And now that Ray is moving on to NATO, it should be interesting to see if Vice-Admiral Greg Maddison, currently the Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff, gets the promotion. After all, he was Chief of the Maritime Staff when our lovely little subs were purchased."

Junior nods.

--

Tuesday, November 16

Tiny Tories ...
Two students, down from a night of part-timing on the Hill, hit the bar for some soda. It's a round of Ginger Ales.

The one with the wispy 'stash and an attitude starts the complaining.

"On top of having campus clubs excluded from sending voting delegates to the convention limiting youth involvement at the Convention and one lone youth spot per riding, the fees have been set higher than at any Conservative Convention in recent history."

He's miffed. So's the other guy, a Sultan of Schmooze who sees himself as the second coming of Brian Mulroney.

"Even student observers are asked for the $300-400 fee plus travelling and lodging expenses", he notes. "Young people in the party are very upset at being overlooked and asked to pay through the nose to promote their beliefs and the party."

"Tell me about it", adds the wispy 'stash, "it's going to create tension between the central party apparatus and grassroots activists. You've got to wonder if a youth structure/wing/group will be recognized by the party to prevent such actions discouraging involvement in the future."

--

Guys and Gals ...
So in walks the guy with the gal and they grab a booth. Soon the two of them are joined by the gal with the guy. Now they're four, two guys, two gals, comfy-cosy and ordering cocktails.

"I can't believe we're at Hy's, I wonder if we'll be "heard at Hy's", giggles the blonde.

The two guys look at each other the way two guys look at each other when they don't know what to answer. Then they both scope the room, looking, wondering.

"Did you read that bit about Cucamunga the other day ?" asks the one guy.

"Cuconato, Mario Cuconato", the other guy says.

"Whatever, Super Mario", the first guy again, "anyway, he's ..."

"He's teaming up with west-end billionaire Terry Matthews and Glenn O'Farrell for a big Martin shindig at the Chateau Laurier on December 1", interrupts one of the gals, "but now that Bush is coming to town, will that still happen ?"

"Dunno", replies the first guy, "but I expect there will be some wining and dining going on big time while the President is in the Capital."

"We've got to get invitations to whatever's happening when Bush is here", says the second gal, "who do we know, who do we know ?"

"I can talk to Scott Reid", he'll know what's what", offers the second guy.

"And I've got a friend who works for Mike Robinson, we might have an in there", suggests the second gal.

The waiter arrives with the drinks, they sort out who gets what, and resume yapping.

"The way I hear it, if there's a State Dinner or something like that, it will be the 30th." This nugget from the second guy.

"Oh yeah, who'd you get that from ?", asks his gal.

"A guy I know knows a guy who knows Mauril Belanger", says the second guy.

"That's a start, but what about Cuconato ?" The second guy again, as all eyes turn to guy number one.

"Right, right", the first guy finally warms up to his little piece of gossip, " well I came across a blog this aft that links the team-up between Cuconato and Matthews for the Martin fundraiser to a deal announced by Allan Rock a couple of years ago to make a strategic investment of up to $60 million with Matthews Mitel Networks and March Networks to launch an aggressive research and development program."

"So what's the link between the Martin fundraiser and something announced two years ago ?", one of the gals asks.

"I don't know, but I found it a fun read", admits the first guy, "interesting speculation".

"What's Mario going to do with his new company BenchmarkFM ?" asks the gal.

"Not a clue, but someone should find out", replies her guy.

They chink glasses and toast to Mario's success.

--

Monday, November 15

When Powell was in the Capital ...
Three pals enjoying a post-work libation in the bar. The one with the Rusty Nail, of all things, is waxing lyrical.

"As the story goes", he relates, "Justina and Dave got about 20-30 minutes notice from Cellucci's office that he was bringing Powell over to look at dresses."

"At dresses?", sputters Johnny Walker.

"Cellucci"s daughter Ann was a Justina bride and Paul is close with the McCaffrey's", says Rusty Nail.

"C'mon. c'mon, finish the story", burps Bud Light.

"Ok, ok ... so in rolled Powell, Cellucci and a number of large bodyguards...just there on Sussex drive...they stayed for a short while and browsed. Don't think any other Ottawa merchants had that experience ..."

The three chuckle, then Johnny Walker turns to the bartender and says "Can we get another round ?"

--

Sunday, November 14

Sleeping dogs ...
An early dinner for two at Hy's on a Saturday night and a bit of political wishful thinking over piping hot plates of escargot, the waiter keeping this table stocked with enough bread to mop up the garlicky butter on the bottom of the plates.

"I like Michael Bryant, he's got a big future", notes the portly one, referring to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty's pit bull in the Attorney General's office.

"Are you sure he's got the ambition ?" asks the lanky one.

"He's got as good a shot as anyone to take over the Liberal leadership", retorts Portly, "after all, he does have former Allan Rock operative Tom "The Organizer" Allison working in the AG's Office."

Lanky ponders the idea, gulps some merlot, and asks the obvious,

"Isn't it a bit early to be lining up a leadership bid ?"

"Tell that to Paul Martin", huffs Portly, as he pops a snail into his mouth.

--

Saturday, November 13

Slim Jim ...
A sight to behold on the Hill wanders into the bar. Two shots of Iceberg vodka, neat, and the mouth starts to motor. Five minutes of gum flapping later, the only thing gleaned is that this urban bushwacker has a brand new Jeep 4WD and he's amazed at how svelte and energetic Jim Durrell, the former Mayor, has become. "A helluva guy", the man says, as he drops his Platinum card, signs the slip, and disappears out the door.

--

Friday, November 12

Super Mario's New Game ...
The well-known EA, one of the Hill's hottest hotties, languidly sips her second martini while he, her big man on campus, chomps on his Beefsteak tomato, blue cheese, and bermuda onion salad.

"You know, sweets, your breath is going to reek ...", she floats, but he isn't thinking about that ....

"I tell ya about Mario Cuconato ?", he gossips, referring to the PM's former Director of Operations and hubby to Alex Himelfarb's EA Danielle May-Cuconato.

She rolls her eyes and spears an olive at the bottom of her glass. More shop talk.

"He's resurfaced ... in more than one way. Seems he has a new business venture. Something called BenchmarkFM, all about "facilities management", of all things. Super Mario (as Tim Murphy likes to call him), is also concentrating on his other new "vocation"...as Paul Martin's Fund Raiser for All of Eastern Ontario. Quite a Kingdom!!"

She could care less, but he presses on with his thoughts, clearly a man in the know...

"As a matter of fact," he gushes, "Super Mario and the gang (Sir Terry Matthews and Glenn O'Farrell) are planning a PM Reception for December 1st over at the Chateau Laurier. Apparently, people are being told that they will have a chance to rub shoulders with government decision-makers...guessing that means the PM can't actually show up!"

"I know, I heard, but with the Liberal Caucus Christmas Party a couple of days later", she clues in, "who's going to fork over $250, as opposed to the $50 or so that the Caucus usually charges. Is this a wise time of year to have a high-priced fundraiser ?"

The main courses arrive, hers the roast rack of lamb, his the gorgonzola filet mignon, both on the government tab.

"And no doubt", he continues as he cuts his meat, forks a piece, and stabs the air with it, "some casual observers may wonder why Sir Terry and Glenn "The Broadcaster" are the front men for a Liberal fund raising event. I mean, isn't it odd that two folks who's organizations slurp at the public financial and policy troughs are doing such overt pandering of favour ? Doesn't this fly in the face of the attempts of the former Liberal administration to get business out of the political fund raising business ?"

"Eat your steak", she replies ...

--

AIMS 10th Worth a Toast
Across the room, two suits gobbled cheese toast the way some folks chuck nuts at their tonsils. But these fellas were hungry and they were anxious for the main course. In the meantime, they talked about the new contacts they made at last Tuesday's AIMS schmoozefest in Halifax. The dinner, which attracted 350 of the who's who of the Halifax and greater-Atlantic business set, not to mention Brian Mulroney talking as eloquently as when he was PM, and John Crosbie who turned on the Newfie charm and humour like it was 1986. The only thing that was missing from any of the keynote addresses was any mention of AIMS 10th anniversary -- the whole purpose of the dinner in the first place -- and the think tank's contribution to public policy debate both regionally and nationally. "Maybe they'll get it right at the 20th birthday bash", spit the one with the long sideburns, bits of food spraying from his lips.

--

Bill's Joy
The distinguished gentleman at the bar leaned against it and turned to his date, a person not unfamiliar with local media. "Greg Joy, the Olympian, asked Bill Milliken, Peter's brother, if he's going to try again ... Bill said "I hope he does, I'd like him to", referring to his former boss John Manley, the onetime Liberal leadership tire-kicker. "What's Joy doing now ?" she asked, "isn't he a motivational speaker ?" "That's right", he offered, "and Bill's still at Temple Scott".

--

It happened one night at Hy's
It happened in one of Hy's preferred corner booths Wednesday evening after a fine dinner of steak and prime rib. Yes, Stephen Harper's communications guru Mike Storeshaw proposed to Nicole Hilliard, his girfriend of three years, and a staffer inside MP Diane Ablonczy's office. "She said "yes"", reports one nearby gawker, who was impressed that restaurant staff, in cahoots on the caper, surprised the soon-to-be bride-to-be by bringing the ring out on a dessert tray and offering the duo complimentary bubbly ...

--

Wednesday, November 10

PSAC's New Scab Toolkit
A couple of nervous bureaucrats, quietly sipping their post-dinner tea, glanced furtively about as they whispered concerns over the newly released "Scab Tool Kit" from one of the PSAC groups (National Component).

One fella wondered if Union solidarity may well have faltered during the August-October strikes and whether the Union may need to make "shining" examples out of some of the more un-supportive members for future strike actions that could occur later this year or early next year.

The fret-filled civil servants spoke of recriminations that could occur in the coming weeks if National President Heather Brooker's "Expedited process" for strike breakers is put to the test. One of the nervous nellies suggested the papers should start flying soon, given that the web site states that "All Locals are required to adhere to the PSAC Constitution and commence this process immediately. This will permit the National Level, PSAC, to make the final determination on discipline in the near future."

The dejected tea cuppers quietly left their nook without leaving a tip and hunkered off to catch their bus out to suburbia.

--

Tuesday, November 9

From Hy's to Halifax ...
A chance encounter with a big down-East politico at the taxi stand around the corner from Hy's and news about tonight's big schmoozer to celebrate the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS) 10th Anniversary with a banquet at the Casino Nova Scotia Hotel in Halifax . Featured speakers included former United States Senator and Secretary of Defense, William Cohen and ex-PM Brian Mulroney, who urged US President George Bush to repair damaged relations with Canada and the world. Single tix were $250, while the big spenders dropped $2,500 for a table. "I got an invite", remarked our contact, before he loaded himself into the cab and roared off to the airport ...

--

Eat Drink & Meet Tory ...
It was an evening to remember, a cause celebre, and a command performance all wrapped together like the main course. And so there they were, all assembled in Aurora, thanks to Belinda Stronach, to laud new Ontario PC leader John Tory at a place called "Dinardo's The Mansion", of all places. Fitting, but no Jim Flaherty, though the other former Provincial PC Party candidate Frank Klees was there, looking a lot like Al Pacino, as were Canada's milder version of Karl Rove, John Laschinger, MPs Peter Van Loan, Bev Oda and Gary Goodyear. No Peter Mackay in sight, but former Premier and Magna board member Mike Harris was also here, as was fashionista Justina McCaffrey and her husband Dave, no doubt there to sample the, surprise suprise, stuffed chicken.

Earlier today ...
Two blocks north of the great steak palace, a few furtive souls braved the outdoor cold to puff a pre-noon butt within the Parliamentary Precint, one of them disappointed that her hard work for the cause had not been rewarded with an invite to tonight's big Belinda whoop-it-up for Ontario PC supremo John Tory. The hotspot tonight for politicos and hangers-on who make the cut will be Aurora, where the car parts heiress turned MP is throwing a "Late Fall Harvest 5 Course Dinner with Wine." Will it be Ontario's prize-winning Pilliteri vino, Belinda ? The funny part is there is a fundraising raffle - who knew Belinda or John needed the money. Tory, it is said, seems to be impressing everyone with his reaching out, something he learned from Bill Davis and Brian Mulroney.

--

The gospel according to ...
The otherwise agnostic Tim Powers, Conservative moth to Don Newman's flame, looked his usual unflappable self as he retreated from a mid-morning tv schmoozathon, muttering things evangelical to nobody in particular, negating any suggestion that his party was overrun by religious zealots and that extremists within the party are worried that their leader Stephen Harper is straying a bit too far from the chosen path ...

--

Threadbare DND ...
A building or two down the street from Hy's, a couple of fellas sipped their morning double-doubles. It became evident that the two are not unfamiliar with the internal workings of the Department of National Defence as they proceeded to second-guess myriad commands in the chain and hover lovingly over the kind of military minutia that would otherwise bore one to tears.

One topic perked the ear, however, whither the Ombudsman in action last Wednesday giving a presentation to Senior Armed Forces Staff on his Annual report. "One expensive report", chortled the one fella, "you should get a copy. It even has a CD in it that must have cost a few bucks. It looks like one of those coffee table magazines, really slick ..."

--

Sightings ...
Val Sears, the retired Toronto Star political reporter turned Ottawa Sun noodler, seen Sunday mowing down a room full of dim sum ... Walter Robinson, ex-CTF media big wig and missed-it-by-that-much Conservative flame-out, slurping hops at a downtown pub and waxing lyrical with Blue Sky strategist Greg Strong about his current ventures, including a new online outpost, his Sun column, and some intriguing work in the areas of strategic issue management, communications and consulting services for several private sector clients ... And no, Mea Culpa !, that was not Ofra Harnoy, but NAC cellist Amanda Forsythe, NAC conductor Pinchas Zucherman's gorgeous galpal, spotted zipping through traffic in her Audi TT roadster ...

Friday, November 5

Bob!, Bob!, Bob!
Bob Rabinovitch pals were yukking it up last night after the CBC supremo agreed to a 3 year extension to his gig. "Make mine a Grey Goose", one lifer barked, as news of the deal made its way around the downtown core. The Prime Minister's pitch to Rabinovitch, irresistible as it was to a man who some say demanded it to stay on, still needs the blessing of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. Interesting that a half-dozen or more seats on the CBC Board are coming up for grabs, something that will surely interest the multitudes who aspire to such offices ...

--

Tuesday, November 2

Party-Hearty Watching US Election
Quite the to-do last night that united myriad politicos, lobbyists, lawyers, government types, and the usual cacaphony of wannabes, bag carriers, and hangers-on, all schmoozing it up at the Bell Building on Elgin Street in downtown Ottawa courtesy Bill Pristansky and his Prospectus government relations boutique.

Setting the scene were Conservative MPs like Belinda Stronach (asked by many if she still covets the leadership as she simply beamed her Belinda smile), Lee Richardson, James Rajotte, not to mention many liberals including caucus chair Andy Savoy.

Faces from the Chretien era PMO were seen like Bruce Hartley, along with assorted Martinities and staff from the OLO.

"Not a dipper in sight", snorted one well-known tv face, "they must have been at a Nader rally at an undisclosed location".

Phil Murphy, Harper's chief of staff was there, as were TV pundits Sue Smith and Tim Powers. Lobbyists from many firms fingered the food. Even Canada's top designer Justina McCaffrey was there.

"Quite the crowd, lots of big screen TVs", noted one Hy's regular.

--

Tuesday, November 2

Senate Appointment, Anyone ?
Three party stalwarts, plates a-heap with ruffage, wondered aloud about who will replace Jean-Robert Gauthier in the Upper Chamber. "Nothing concrete yet," intoned one cad, "though a number of people are hovering with respect to Senate appointments... Stan Keyes, of all people, is said to be dying for a seat ... the deposed Defence Minister Art Eggleton has been rumoured... as has been Francis Fox, a Martin heavyweight ..." And so went the conversation in a ring around the mulberry bush kind of way. One insider, who listened with glee, noted, however, that "Martin will be very circumspect on Senate appointments. Of course, he can implement another element of Meech/Charlottetown by stealth if he just keeps leaving them vacant." Yes, there are 13 vacancies right now. But then why play the, er, party pooper ?

--

Echos of Ekos
With the Government of Canada now publishing the essence of all contracts over $10,000, folks were choking on their martini olives and much ado about Frank Graves and the myriad contracts his EKOS Research has been able to secure willy-nilly throughout the federal bureaucracy. Take Social Development Canada, for instance, where one carnivore was quick to point out that Graves has managed to land an incredible $279,746.67 so far this year ... and that's just one department among dozens of others !

--

Paging Mr. Bumsinseats
Tomorrow is the Annual Red Trillium Dinner in Ottawa at L'Auberge Westin. Last year, flush off the big victory, local boy Dalton McGuinty drew a "paying" crowd in excess of 900 exuberant re-blooded Liberals. Rumour has it that this year's event has had a little trouble sparking the same level of interest. Of course, "sales" and "bums in seats" are two entirely different things. But rumour has it that fewer than 600 ducats have been "sold" for this year's rendition. Could it be that the health premium has caused a bit of heartburn for usual ticket buyers? Or is it just that with the arrival of Tory-John-Tory there are more "options" to be considered when spreading around one's political donations? One thing for sure, the McGuintyites will be busy lining up bodies to "fill the room" tomorrow evening.

Monday, November 1

With Bourque reporting last week that former Lib National Director George Young joining the boutique Freeman & Associates, now word that none other than Steve Freeman and Gerry Mandel were spotted hunched over plates of HY's food ... no doubt plotting to fill the communications void that seems to have shrouded the Liberal government since the election."

--

Ezra Levant and his buddies over at the Western Standard were abuzz when Bourque expressed interest in an item about ex-CA MP Deb Grey teaming up with Liberal Rat Packer John Nunziata in an Ottawa lobbying company called the Parliamentary Group. The story notes that she and John intend to "procure a grant, or obtain assistance with a regulatory or legislative matter ..."

Sunday, October 31

Travelers aboard a 3 o'clock Air Canada flight from Ottawa to Toronto were, for the most part, unaware that Canada's newest recipient of the Order of Canada (Companion) slipped aboard under her floppy beret. Joni Mitchell, our grande-dame crooner, sat comfortably in seat 2A, directly ahead of a man who looked suspiciously like Capital Hill Group veteran David Angus, who otherwise busied himself with a not-too bad hot roast beef and cheese sandwich ...

Saturday, October 30

One for all and all for one ?
A couple of nervous PSAC types stewed over their pea soups and the optics of a looming strike. No, not one of those large-scale departmental walk-offs. Worse. Yes, it seems that the little-known AEU (Alliance Employees Union), the PSAC internal union, is set to hit the bricks, a sign that PSAC isn't treating its union people well. Who would have thunk , but stick-in-the mud issues here appear to be money and staffing (contracting out fears).

One person in a pickle over this situation is PSAC's Louise Laporte, who is also on the AEU executive, according to one of the cracker-crunching soup slurpers. In other PSAC news, what became of the thoughtful Elaine Massie, now that a position has opened up for a service officer at its Environment Component ? Apparently it is getting harder to keep good bilingual people, proof being an "outside the box" come-on to fill the job that appeared on Workopolis, of all places !

Friday, October 29

Pollsters poll pollsters
Sitting down with a fine view of the flaming steak pit, we learn there was quite the to-do at a downtown Toronto hotel mid-day today as most of Canada's top opinion takers schmoozed each other into a post-electoral froth. Unbeknown to the participants, we can tell you that Summa's new summa Nik Nanos chitted and chatted with Conrad Winn of Compas, Ipsos-Factoids Darrell Bricker and John Wright, Dimitri Pantazopoulos of Praxicus, Environics' Michael Adams, even Eddie Goldenberg's pet project Frank Graves of Ekos, all of them there to digress over the recent federal election ....

Meanwhile, at the bar ...
Lunchtime carnivores came and went blissfully unaware that Stephen Harper's dark alter ego Tom Flanagan was talking shop with Hill and Knowlton President Mike Coates, one step removed from the rabble and otherwise tucked away from prying ears at Hy's popular bar where martinis are poured by the gallon ...

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