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Stranger than fiction

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When one spends the morning pondering the sacrifices of First World War veterans during a ceremony marking Vimy Ridge Day, there is much time for reflection.

This year’s ceremony – all the more poignant for it occurred just weeks after the death of Canada’s last surviving veteran of the Great War - was set on a cold, grey day in Ottawa. It was haunted by music by Manitoba’s Sierra Noble and the prayers, poems and speeches of thanks that always give me the stomach-churning sense we’ll never be able to say thank you enough.

It is all the starker for what occurred next. Less than an hour after he laid a wreath on the National War Memorial, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, took to a podium in the Foyer outside the House of Commons for the latest installment in the Helen Guergis/Rahim Jaffer soap opera.

It’s not very often an announcement gets made that no journalist on the Hill was expecting but this morning it happened. Everyone expected Harper to announce Guergis had resigned. But it came out of the blue that she is also no longer in the Conservative caucus and the RCMP are investigating "serious allegations" about her behaviour.

The romps and roaming of Guergis and Jaffer have kept many a political watcher fascinated for months. His arrest for drunk driving and cocaine possession and months later a plea deal for a lesser charge. Her temper tantrum in Charlottetown. Assistants writing glowing letters. An explosive Toronto Star story replete with salacious details of call girls, flashy cars, con men and mysterious business deals.

This one-time golden couple has been headed for a date with disaster for awhile now but I’m just saddened that the crash occurred today.

I could not help but hope as I watched the veterans pay their respects that none of them are paying attention to the goings on in the building a few blocks away for fear of how disapproving they would be.

The latest events may be unusual. But all too often the focus on the Hill is about game playing and one-up-man-ship.

I can only hope that the other 307 MPs, and their countless staff, us in the media who watch them, and the lobbyists, interest groups, and others who make up the political goings on in this country will take heed and pledge to tone down the bull**** and tone up the real work. We owe it to the veterans the defended this country once and those that defend it today, to be better than this.

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About Mia Rabson

Mia Rabson is a born and bred Winnipegger whose interest in politics seemed clear when she dressed up as Prime Minister Brian Mulroney for Halloween in the 7th grade.

Her interest in writing was no surprise to her parents, who learned early in Mia’s life that no piece of blank paper — or wall, for that matter — was safe in her hands.

She holds an honours BA in English from Queen’s University, a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Western Ontario, and has completed a political journalism fellowship in Washington, D.C. with the Washington Centre for Politics and Journalism.

Prior to working for the Winnipeg Free Press, Mia briefly worked for the Detroit News in the paper’s Washington bureau.

Mia joined the Free Press team in February 2001, and in April 2001 was appointed to the Manitoba legislature bureau. In December 2004, she was appointed bureau chief at the legislature. She became the newspaper’s parliamentary bureau chief/national reporter in Ottawa in January 2008.

In 2008 she was nominated for a Michener Award with a team of reporters from the Free Press for its coverage of the province’s child welfare system.

She counts reliving the invasion at Dieppe, France, with veterans of the failed Second World War expedition and overcoming her fear of heights to touch the Golden Boy statue atop the Legislative Building among her favourite experiences as a reporter.


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