Macleans magazine held a glitzy gala last night at the Chateau Laurier in Ottawa to unveil the winners of its second annual Parliamentarian of the Year survey. Bill Blaikie, the longest-serving MP in the Commons, a United Church minister who's been representing the riding of Elmwood-Transcona for the New Democrats since 1979, was the overall winner. (Last year, it was former Liberal finance minister Ralph Goodale, another long-serving MP from Saskatchewan.)
The other big winners were Deputy Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, named as best orator; Windsor NDP MP Joe Comartin, named as most knowledgeable; Nova Scotia NDP MP Peter Stoffer, most collegial, and Northern Ontario NDP MP Charlie Angus, judged the best at serving his constituency.
Notice anything? There's not a Conservative MP in the mix -- and you can't blame the media or the Ottawa establishment for that one. The winners are chosen through a survey of MPs and Conservatives, though in a minority position, should be able to muster the numbers to secure at least one winner among the lot.
Here's the explanation Macleans magazine offers in its little editor's note of the latest issue: "We are not surprised by the absence of government representatives among the winners (although two Conservative MPs were among the finalists for MP of the year.) It's in opposition, where the perks of power are few, that the selflessness of an MP's work is most obvious."