1. Rick Mercer's worst nightmare. What was the Canadian political satirst scariest television moment: being hugged by Stephen Harper or seeing Bob Rae naked? Mr. Mercer was hilarious last night entertaining Ottawa's political A-list, who came out in full party dress to the Hope Live charity gala. The packed event raised about $100,000 for Fertile Future, an organization that assists young Canadians diagnosed with cancer who want to be able to have children after their treatment.
Walking the red carpet was an impressive string of senior Harper cabinet ministers, including Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, Defence Minister Peter MacKay, Sports Minister Gary Lunn, Environment Minister Jim Prentice, Heritage Minister James Moore and Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl. Then there were MPs from all parties, including Tories James Rajotte, Dean Del Mastro, Ted Menzies, Rick Dyksta and Maxime Bernier. Rodger Cuzner, Albina Guarnieri, Scott Brison, Justin Trudeau and Bonnie Crombie were among the Liberals. The only NDP spotted in the crowd was the party's health critic, Judy Wasylycia-Leis.
Former Newfoundland premier and Chrétien cabinet minister Brian Tobin was there with his wife, Jodean, and son, Jack. And another political progeny was there, too - broadcaster Catherine Clark, the daughter of former Tory PM Joe Clark. CTV Canada AM co-host Seamus O'Regan acted as the master of ceremonies and Mr. Mercer provided the entertainment. The two men, both from Newfoundland, are friends of another displaced Newfoundlander and the evening's organizer, Rogers Communications executive Heidi Bonnell. She is a recent cancer survivor, who before undergoing treatment explored ways and options that could allow her to have a family post-treatment.
Meanwhile, Mr. Mercer showed television clips of his encounters with Canadian politicians, including his sleep-over at 24 Sussex Drive, during which Prime Minister Stephen Harper read him a bedtime story (it was the budget) and the next morning packed him off to school along with his children, Ben and Rachel. Poking fun at himself, after he was criticized for shaking his daughter's hand when he dropped her off for school, Mr. Harper hugged Mr. Mercer as he said goodbye. Mr. Mercer told the audience that was one of the "scariest things" he has encountered.
But later, he showed the piece he did with Mr. Rae, in which they went fishing. The segment ended with the two jumping naked - their backsides obscured by pixilation - into a Northern Ontario lake. At that point, Mr. Mercer amended his earlier statement, saying that seeing Mr. Rae naked was scarier than the prime ministerial hug.
2. 'Harmony is always better than singing off key.' This email message arrived early this morning from senior Liberal MP Bob Rae. Mr. Rae is referring to the debate over the harmonized sales tax that is to take place this morning behind the closed doors of the Liberal caucus. Although, he didn't respond to a follow-up question, his statement suggests that he is in favour of the HST. Not all of his Liberal colleagues may agree.
Last week the government announced it was bringing in a motion to implement the HST in British Columbia and Ontario, putting the Liberals in a bind . The vote is expected later this week. The tax is unpopular but has been negotiated by two Liberal premiers. And so what does Mr. Ignatieff do? Does he alienate his Liberal cousins? Or does he take the short view by voting against the tax to appease some of his B.C. and Ontario MPs? It's a delicate balance but also a test of his leadership to see if he can make his caucus sing with one voice.
Mr. Rae, meanwhile, delivered the best quote of the week when he was having trouble answering questions by reporters as to how his party would vote on the HST last week. "I'm not waffling," he said. "I'm skating."
(Photo: Former Newfoundland premier Brian Tobin and his wife, Jodean, pose with Liberal MP Justin Trudeau. Brigitte Bouvier/The Globe and Mail)