WAKEFIELD, QUE.—The fifth instalment of one of the biggest fundraising events of the year went down at the Black Sheep Inn, in Wakefield, Que. on the evening of Sept. 29, and thanks to the crowd of Hill heavyweights, and more than 50 sponsors, it was able to raise more than $200,000 for the annual parliamentary internship in honour of the late Hill staffer Jaimie Anderson, who died of cancer on Jan. 16, 2010.
Back after a hiatus for the 2015 election, the crowd included a number of new faces, but like all things in Ottawa, many familiar ones too. The $200-a head shindig is well-known for its off-the-cuff dress code of plaid shirts, and cowboy hats and boots; and continually reinforced off-the record rule for the evening.
The aim is to have the crowd—most who see each other daily in the House of Commons, scrumming in the foyer, or across a boardroom table—disarm, have a few drinks, and socialize like friends.
The event is put on by the Anderson family and friends, namely Abacus Data’s Bruce Anderson (Jaimie was his niece, and Conservative strategist Rick Anderson’s daughter); his wife Nancy Jamieson; his daughters Mollie Anderson, and communications director to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Kate Purchase; her husband Perry Tsergas; and family friend, CBC The National host, Peter Mansbridge.
Since the first round of internships took to Parliament Hill to work in MPs offices from all sides of the House, 17 have come through and while many have gone on to adventures outside of Ottawa, a few have stuck around, one most notably being Jordan Deagle—a 2014 intern who is now Lead Writer to Mr. Trudeau—who was in attendance that evening.
As guests streamed in off the shuttle buses from Ottawa, live country music filled the scenic and character-filled venue that hosts low-key performances by some of Canada’s best musicians throughout the year. Staff from the adjoining Rutherford Bistro circled with Tex-Mex inspired snacks, including bacon-wrapped jalapeños, pulled pork egg rolls, and meatballs on skewers.
Once everyone had grabbed a beer and caught up by regaling how busy they were, the musical performances got underway. Thanks to accompaniment from the illustrious Kelly Prescott and her band mates, a number of MPs braved the stage, including Liberal MP Marco Mendicino who took to the keys and started the party off on an energetic note with his take on Garth Brooks’ Friends In Low Places. Conservative MP Lisa Raitt sang too, leading a sing-along to a French song (quite literally, that was the name on the lyric card) and Party Central thought it was an interesting choice, highlighting her new bilingualism. NDP MP Charlie Angus and former MP Andrew Cash did a duet. But the performance that brought the house to its feet with hoots and hollers was Treasury Board President Scott Brison’s rendition of the Tammy Wynette classic Stand By Your Man.
After dinner—a spread of salads, beans two ways, potato wedges, ribs, and chicken legs—which saw cabinet ministers and top staffers breaking bread with reporters, it was time for the crown jewel of the evening: Mr. Mansbridge’s comedy set. Part roast, part stand-up comedy, part musical number, and 100 per cent off the record, his routine has become a tradition at the party.
While it’d likely cast Party Central into political oblivion to disclose what the iconic anchorman had to say, do, or sing, I can tell you it prompted one CBC At Issue panellist, Andrew Coyne, pulling a PMJT (taking his top off), as well as a declarative “I’m in” yelled from a speculated NDP leadership candidate in the audience.
Then, Liberal MPs Randy Boissonnault and Rodger Cuzner hosted a silent auction, and the music and toe-stomping lasted into the next morning, according to a 2 a.m. tweet from Ms. Kennedy showing Mr. Mendicino, Mr. Cuzner, Mr. Cash, and Conservative MP Erin O’Toole on stage singing Bob Dylan’s My Back Pages.
Among the long list of notable attendees were Ministers Jane Philpott and Kent Hehr; Liberal MPs Gudie Hutchings, Marc Miller, and Steven MacKinnon; and NDP MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau.
From the PMO, Sam Khalil, executive assistant to the chief of staff and principal secretary; Director of Issues Management Zita Astravas; and Eleanore Catenaro, executive assistant Ms. Purchase. Other Liberal staffers in attendance included Robert Asselin, policy director to the minister of Finance, the Liberal Research Bureau’s Kevin Bosch, and Jean-Luc Ferland, press secretary to Mr. Brison.
U.S. Ambassador Bruce Heyman came by too, for what is likely his last ‘Jaimie’s Party’ as ambassador.
Journalists in attendance included CBC’s Rob Russo, Chris Hall, and John Paul Tasker; The Globe and Mail’s Bob Fife and Laura Stone; Bloomberg’s Theo Argitis and Josh Wingrove; CTV’s Don Martin; Toronto Star’s Tonda MacCharles, Chantal Hébert, and Susan Delacourt; iPolitics’ Stephen Maher; and Policy Options’ Jennifer Ditchburn.
From the lobbying and public affairs world were more than two dozen big names Party Central simply doesn’t have room to spell out here, spot them in the pictures accompanying this piece, and look for them all at the next big Hill functions they’re likely to attend. Until then!
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