Once the chaos in the House died down after last Tuesday’s budget and Cabinet ministers, MPs, staffers, lobbyists, and journalists all wrapped up their work, lots of them jammed into Queen Street’s illustrious political watering hole, Hy’s Steakhouse and Cocktail Bar. And it was a rather late night. While some groups of lobbyists and rather their clients opted for a sit-down debrief in the restaurant, dozens more packed in to the bar. Conservatives had the best seats around the bar and the drinks were flowing. For some, if the budget brought good tidings, they were celebrating (looking at you Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters President Jayson Myers), and for others, it was more of an excuse to get the scuttlebutt on the big day. It’s a classic budget night Ottawa event when political players and journalists gather together just because that’s what they think they’re supposed to do. A handful of attendees were spotted still carting around copies of the government’s Economic Action Plan 2015, titled “Strong Leadership: A Balanced Budget, Low-Tax Plan for Jobs, Growth and Security.” The gathering also signalled that the unofficial election campaigning has begun, and the political posturing from all sides could be seen. Journalists mingling with their sources, lobbyists shaking hands with potential new clients, and strategists scoping the room. Finance Minister Joe Oliver graced the crowd with his presence well after The Hill Times figured he was in bed, alongside his wife and son, and Mr. Oliver was still wearing his New Balance blue sneakers. There were lots of Conservatives mingling, including Transportation Minister Lisa Raitt, Treasury Board President Tony Clement, ministers of state Maxime Bernier and Michelle Rempel, and Conservative MPs Andrew Saxton, Wai Young, Rick Dykstra and Ted Opitz. Melissa Lantsman, Mr. Oliver’s director of communications, was there and so were Ms. Raitt’s press secretary Zach Segal and Conservative confidant Colin McSweeney, who is also a close friend to Prime Minister Harper. NDP MPs Jack Harris and Rosane Doré Lefebvre were there, along with staffers and party people George Soule, Brad Lavigne, Anne McGrath, Karl Bélanger and Shawn Dearn. Liberals were in short supply, but Party Central did spot speechwriter Colin Horgan, Quebec Liberal Senator Dennis Dawson and, as well as some Liberal strategists like Crestview’s Rob Silver, Bluesky’s Susan Smith, and Summa’s Louis-Alex Lanthier. For the second time of the day, a whole host of Hill journalists gathered in the same room, including the National Post’s John Ivison, Andrew Coyne, Postmedia News Service’s Stephen Maher and Michael Den Tandt; the Ottawa Citizen’s Glen McGregor; CBC’s Laura Payton, and CBC Power and Politics’ producers Christina Lopes and Leslie Stojsic; Global News’ Laura Stone; CTV’s Mercedes Stephenson, Don Martin, Craig Oliver and Richard Madan; The Toronto Star’s Tim Harper and Les Whittington; The Wall Street Journal’s Paul Viera and Reuters’ Mike de Souza; Le Devoir’s Marie Vastel; The Chronicle Herald’s Paul MccLeod; Yahoo’s Laura Beaulne-Steubing; Vice’s Justin Ling; freelancer Matthew Millar; soon to be CP and current The Wire Report’s Peter Henderson; The Lobby Monitor editor Yael Berger; Embassy News Editor Carl Meyer and reporter Marie-Danielle Smith; and The Hill Times’ online editor and Power & Influence editor Bea Vongdouangchanh, and yours truly. Others from the GR and PR communities were Summa’s Robin MacLachan, Tracey Hubley, Tim Powers, and Shay Purdy; Crestview’s Chad Rogers; Nanos’ Greg Weston; consultants Kathleen Monk and Stephen Taylor, and newly free-agent Stephen Hendrie; ENsight’s Jacquie LaRocque, Lindsey Scully; RX&D lobbyist Sarah Douglas; Navigator’s Will Stewart; the Broadbent Institute’s Rick Smith; the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Carole Saab; Greenbridge’s Sheefra Brisbin and Patrick Dion; and Canada 2020 Chairman Don Newman.