Yesterday in politics: the Jaimie Anderson fundraiser
Last night was the first annual fundraiser for the Jaimie Anderson parliamentary internship -- a project I've written about in this space and in the paper in recent months. It is off to a flying start, if last night's music fest at the Black Sheep Inn in Wakefield, Que. is any indication.
Jaimie was the daughter of Rick Anderson, perhaps best known for his role through the 1990s and beyond as chief adviser to Reform Party leader Preston Manning. The Anderson family as a whole, actually, has deep roots in several parties. Michelle Williams, Jaimie's mom, is the daughter of a former Liberal party national director, Blair Williams. And Bruce Anderson, who spearheaded last night's effort with his wife Nancy Jamieson, was former chief strategist and adviser to former Conservative leader Jean Charest.
Any family with feet in so many political camps can serve as an example of civility between partisans and the crowd last night was vivid evidence -- a healthy mix of long-time politicos of many stripes. CBC anchor Peter Mansbridge was the master of ceremonies (and also a chief organizer). Manning, of course, was right up front, with his wife Sandra, and many of the original Reform caucus -- Monte Solberg, Jay Hill, Chuck Strahl, etc. Because Government House Leader John Baird was there, Mansbridge got to make many jokes about Toronto elites. Laureen Harper, the Prime Minister's wife, made brief remarks on stage and Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, unable to be there, sent warm greetings. Bob Rae had been scheduled to give a musical performance, but wasn't able to make it back in time from recent foreign travels. Liberal MP Albina Guarnieri was also on hand, after telling Ignatieff last week she has multiple sclerosis and won't be running again in the next election.
At any rate, this blog post would run on forever if I just listed the names of attendees. The whole evening was about Jaimie and amid the music, there were a couple of heartbreaking speeches (by Rick Anderson and Jamieson in particular) and a similarly tear-inducing performance by Cynthia Dale (Mansbridge's wife) of Jaimie's favourite song, I Will Always Love You.
An all-Conservative-MP singing group took the stage at one point to belt out Southern gospel tunes. Apparently this band sings every now and then at caucus gatherings and beyond their gospel repertoire, they do dabble in political tunes too for their audiences. And so, Chuck Strahl, Mark Warawa, Kevin Sorensen, Ed Fast and Randy Kamp treated us to this rendition of the Beatles' tune Yesterday, dedicated to Ignatieff and his travails of earlier this year. (Strahl gave me the lyrics to print here and, uh, Liberals? I'll say in advance, lighten up; this was not meant to be anything other than gentle humour.)
Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away,
Now it looks as though they're here to stay,
Why did I leave the USA?
Suddenly, I've got problems in the polls you see,
This is not how it was meant to be,
Oh Harvard, how I long for thee
How I've sunk so low, I don't know, but you'll all pay,
I've done nothing wrong, but I'm stuck at Stornoway
Yesterday, I was stateside sipping Chardonnay,
Now I'm here and I can't get away,
Why did I leave the USA?
I wish I had gone for the coalition play,
Cause I won't win now and I'm stuck here with Bob Rae
Yesterday, politics was just a game to play,
Now I need a place to hide away,
I'l be home, sweet USA. Mmmmmmm, mmmmmm.