Last evening, I was invited to a Wonderful Wednesday being hosted by the fledgling Fierté Liberal Pride network (whom you'll be hearing more about in the near future). And it while a fun time was had by all, none of the gay MPs showed up.
That's not to say that there wasn't a good turnout. Early in the evening, a bunch of MPs showed up, including Carolyn Bennett, Siobhan Coady, Anita Neville, and Mike Savage. Rounding out the first wave were Senator Art Eggleton, and former MPs Don Boudria and Sheila Copps. Hedy Fry's assistant made her apologies, saying that Hedy had House Duty and was thus in the Commons and unable to attend. But where were Scott Brison, Mario Silva or Rob Oliphant? I couldn't a clear answer to those questions.
Bob Rae turned up, and while talking to me, has promised Xtra a full-frontal centrefold spread – to complement his now infamous Rick Mercer exploit. I didn't even have to ask – he volunteered! Rae talked about how much he's learned from his Toronto Centre constituents, and on a more serious note, he's looking forward to sitting down with me in the near future to talk about GLBT issues in the context of his bid for party leadership. I'm going to hold him to that promise.
When the president of Fierté Liberal Pride, Bryn Hendricks, took the microphone to thank everyone for showing up, he spoke about the importance for Liberals to reclaim the GLBT vote, pointing out that in the 2004 election, lesbians disproportionately voted NDP. When he passed the microphone to Sheila Copps (whose birthday it happens to be today, so here's a shout out to you), she spoke about how the Liberals not highlighting their accomplishments when it comes to GLBT issues, they're not doing themselves any favours. Copps was also instrumental in helping Hendricks get the organisation off its feet, and they are now looking to set up chapters in every riding across the country.
While most of the MPs took off early for other engagements (a full social calendar has been compressed into four weeks, and there is a fall economic update tomorrow that rumour has it could spell doom for the Liberal party), a few turned up later in the evening, including Martha Hall Findlay and Gerard Kennedy. But if there was one image that stuck with me as I left, it was that the characterisation of a "velvet mafia" operating on the Hill with all those gay and lesbian staffers can't be too far from the truth.
(Oh, and Suite 34, the venue for the evening's festivities – a big thumbs down for running out of red wine. Seriously? You may have had hot boys behind the bar, but your shocking lapse in judgement when it comes to stocking your bar leaves much to be desired).