Saturday night in Wakefield
On Saturday night, at the Black Sheep Inn in Wakefield, Que., a couple of hundred politicos, journalists and (gasp) lobbyists, from across the political and media spectrum, gathered for the second annual event that's come to be known as Jaimie's Party. (And if you're wondering whether that's Laureen Harper in that YouTube video, and Peter Mansbridge's voice on the audio, you're right on both counts.)
The cause is an excellent one -- a scholarship for young political interns on Parliament Hill. The scholarships are named after Jaimie Anderson, a bright spark of a young woman (daughter of Rick Anderson and Michelle Williams), who died about a year and a half ago of an aggressive, merciless form of neuro-endocrine cancer. She was only 23 years old. For more information about Jaimie and the cause, you can click here on jaimiesintersnship.ca
Update: The Ipolitics.ca website has a great photo essay of the evening too (featuring somewhat superior photos to the ones you'll find here.)
Two young women have already served as Jaimie Anderson interns -- Alexandra Day, who worked with Chris Alexander, and Rhiannon McCluskey, who worked with Justin Trudeau.
Mansbridge has hosted both events and though I'm pleased to report that his Saturday night speech was hilarious, I'm sorry to also tell you that it was off the record. It was, essentially, a roast of the attendees, and few people were spared a good-natured barb. As with all speeches of this kind, it worked mainly because Mansbridge made fun of himself too. And that's Bruce Anderson standing beside him in the picture above. You might recognize Bruce as the newest panelist on At Issue. He was also Jaimie's loving uncle. Bruce and his wife Nancy Jamieson have poured much energy and emotion into this internship, in memory of their niece.
I wrote last year about the first event -- its cross-partisan and casual atmosphere reminds me more of long-ago times in Ottawa, when political differences weren't so sharp, and more infrequently intruded into the social scene. The same was true of the second annual event. Note, for instance, John Baird and Brad Lavigne, pictured left. (Baird, incidentally, had brought a load of business cards, and one of them was auctioned for $5,000.)
In the quest for a new civility in politics, and all the talk of improving the tone, I keep wondering why we can't bottle the atmosphere at the Jaimie Party and make it more widespread. For now, I guess, we can at least be heartened that it takes place once a year, not exactly on Parliament Hill, but not far away.