Former “Rat Pack” MP Sheila Copps served as deputy prime minister of Canada and in other cabinet posts under Jean Chrétien. She is running for president of the federal Liberal Party.
Do you celebrate Christmas?
Oh yes. I’m a Christian. I celebrate Christmas.
Are you offended by politically correct terms such as “seasonal celebration,” “festive season” or “the holidays”?
No. People can celebrate what they want. I celebrate Christmas. Christmas is as Canadian as the beaver.
When does Christmas start for you?
I love putting on Christmas music as early as I can. I kept my Christmas tree up until February. A fake one. We took it down on Valentine’s Day.
How early is too early? Are you annoyed when the first Christmas ads start appearing in early November?
The advertising part of it can be extreme, but I actually like spreading it out from the start of December until Jan. 6. It’s the Epiphany.
How many are on your Christmas list?
I don’t write things down. We used to do family. My family, my husband’s family, the kids. What we do now is we do the grandkids and we do Secret Santa.
My list is probably 15. It used to be bigger. We used to give quite big gifts to all the kids. Four kids and two have kids of their own. We have four grandkids. With the kids, we do Secret Santa. Then we have an evening where you give crazy presents where there is a limit on what you can spend.
I have a circle of friends, old friends, that I give to as well. Small gifts. Above the 15, so it is probably 20 or 25.
When do you Christmas shop – all year round or in a last-minute panic?
All year round. I would always bring things from a trip – India or somewhere like that. I like to find things that aren’t available commercially, unique to the individual.
This year, I may be in a bit of a panic because I haven’t been able to shop. I have been very busy running for the presidency of the Liberal Party. I have been on the road so much that I haven’t got my Christmas stuff all organized. With my grandkids, we try to make it special. My bedroom is usually half full of stuff waiting to get wrapped, so I am in a bit of a panic this year.
It is Dec 6 as we speak. Do you have the tree up and decorated yet?
No, we haven’t. We are going to be in Hamilton for Christmas. I’m going to help my mom put her tree up. She has a fake tree. My sister has a real tree, so I go to my sister’s house to smell the tree. I have a fake tree because we like to keep the tree up so long.
When my daughter was small, I was working in Parliament, then back in Hamilton, so we got a fake tree. We still have the same tree. It has lasted for probably 20 years.
What is your style in decorating it: minimalist and elegant, or throwing anything and everything at it?
It’s not tasteful and elegant. I have decorations from China in 1982. I have a whole bunch of these hand-done embroidered Chinese decorations and also decorations I have collected over the years. When my daughter was born, somebody gave me a Christmas ball on the day of her birthday. It’s part of a collection.
Do you put up lights?
We live in a condo, and there is a giant tree in front. It is one of the tallest trees in Ottawa. Next week, we are having a lighting party. All you have to do is plug it in because that tree, the lights stay on all year. I can look out my kitchen window and see this giant tree and I don’t have to do any work.
What’s the worst Christmas gift you gave anyone?
I gave my mother a gift one time. She wanted a card table. I searched high and low and found this perfect set of card tables in the colour she liked. She took the box, opened it up, looked at them and said, “They’re round. I hate round!”
What’s the best Christmas gift you ever received?
The best? I got a pogo stick. And I LOVED it!
I don’t suppose he’s on your Christmas list, but what would you get Stephen Harper?
He gets a gift? I’d have to get him an air conditioner. He’s going to need it after refusing to deal with global warming.