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Jane Taber

Hill's Angels head out on the highway Add to ...

Yvon Godin's is the biggest. The New Brunswick MP and NDP Whip has a great big Harley-Davidson motorcycle. But he is not the leader of the Parliament Hill motorcycle pack.

That title goes to John Rafferty and his roommate, Glenn Thibeault, two New Democrats from Northern Ontario with much smaller bikes, who are right now in the final stages of organizing a motorcycle club for MPs. They are calling it the Hill's Angels.

"It occurred to us last year that there are a whole lot of MPs who have motorcycles," Mr. Rafferty told The Globe. "… And we thought well, how could we take advantage of that and do some charity work?"

They are in the process now of designing a patch - they even have permission from Speaker Peter Milliken to incorporate the House of Commons emblem into their design as their club is focused on raising money for good causes. A constituent in Mr. Thibeault's Sudbury riding thought up the name.

Expecting about 40 MPs to join the club, they are hoping their first outing will take place this month or next. The goal is for all the bike-owning MPs to drive in their community's Ride for Dad, which raises money for prostate cancer research. Mr. Rafferty says the club should be going "full bore" when they come back from the summer recess.

So far the MPs with the motorcycles appear to be all male. Mr. Rafferty has a mid-range bike, a Suzuki that he drove here from Fort Frances last year. It took him a couple of days. Mr. Thibeault has a Honda. "We are not Yvon Godin," Mr. Rafferty says, "he's got a great big Harley."

As well, the MP said that Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers is an honorary member of the club; he drives a Honda Goldwing touring bike. "Although [the club] is sort of intended for MPs, we all need a Sergeant-at-arms, I guess," Mr. Rafferty says.

And Heritage Minister James Moore is said to be bringing his bike from his Vancouver-area riding to Ottawa. At 33, he likely one of the youngest riders; the others are going through some mid-life issues, clearly.

"I suppose we are all the right age, too, aren't we?" Mr. Rafferty, 57, said. "We all had bikes when we were younger and then ended up with families and children.

"Some people think this is a mid-life crisis." Then, referring to an article he had read on the topic, Mr. Rafferty quoted expert psychological opinion: "It's not a mid-life crisis, it's 'me-time.'"

(Photo: An RCMP officer patrols the Hill in 2006. The Canadian Press)

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