A couple of weeks ago, members of the Conservative caucus challenged their friends in the Parliamentary Press Gallery to a hockey game. It was a two-hour match with no referees but with full contact in full equipment. The media, anchored by the offensive prowess of my friend and colleague Roger Smith and the goaltending brilliance of my former colleague, Joel-Denis Bellavance, won the slugfest 17–13. The Conservative side for this match featured the likes of James Rajotte, Rick Dykstra, Mike Lake, Dave Batters, Patrick Brown, Brian Jean and, in between the pipes, Dean Del Mastro.
Perhaps chastened by their loss at Canada’s game, we were challenged Wednesday to see who was best at the world’s game — soccer. Nets were were set up on the front lawn of the Parliament Buildings; chalk lines were etched in, and referees and linesmen were hired at great expense. I was placed at the centre forward position with the great support of Alec Castonguay of Le Devoir, Simon Tuck and Campbell Clark of The Globe and Mail, Allan Woods of CanWest Media, Peter Harris of Global National, Alan Findlay of Sun Media and the towering Scotsman John Ivison of The National Post, who anchored our defensive line.
Our opposition, clad in blue T-shirts naturally, was mostly incredibly young and incredibly fast Conservative political staffers. But there were some political heavyweights. I would often look up, while running down the wing with the ball, to see the fearsome and formidable Minister of Agriculture bearing down very quickly on me. If I wasn’t about to get run over by Chuck Strahl, it was likely James Bezan or Ron Canaan. Up at the other end of the field, the Conservatives looked for offensive prowess from Rahim Jaffer, Industry Minister Maxime Bernier, and — though he was a bit late to the game — Foreign Affairs Peter MacKay.
But despite the addition of some serious cabinet talent, it wasn’t enough to overcome the grit and determination of the Parliamentary Press Gallery squad and we prevailed 2–1.
With both of those important events complete, Parliamentarians are now able to recess for the summer. The House of Commons will next sit on September 18.