2008 Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery Dinner

Dec 2, 2008

The Press Gallery Dinner used to be a big deal.  The Governor-General would perform, followed by all party Leaders, each of them pretending to be a stand-up comedian of some sorts, with more or less success.  It used to be off-the-record, but that has changed since, some blaming it on the arrival of the National Post.  Whatever happened, it got to the point were some networks, notably CTV Newsnet and CPAC, were broadcasting the Dinner live.

Transforming yourself into a stand-up comedian is not an easy task, and you had to salute the courage of these politicians.  But some grew tired of the challenge.  First to capitulate was Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe, who vowed never to attend again after a bun-throwing incident provoked by a speech that wasn’t well received.  Ever since, BQ MPs and staffers’s appearance are scarce at the event.

In 2007, Prime Minister Stephen Harper decided to skip the event, his relationship with the Press Gallery not being so great.  Governor-General Michaëlle Jean also decided to take a pass, not surprisingly considering the unfair treatment she received in some media after her 2005 performance.
NDP Leader Jack Layton decided to attend, but announced he would not perform, leaving then-Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion as the sole politician performing.

Media and politicos assembled at the Museum of CivilizationThe 2008 event was an unknown. Media types, lobbyists and politicos assembled at the Museum of Civilization, but no politicians would perform.  The event was scheduled for late November, in the midst of the coalition talks.  Full disclosure, I was a guest of Sun Media, thank you very much.  Gossip, speculations and alcohol were going to run freely.

You can read here, here, here and here how it went.

On this year’s menu: 

  • Mixed green salad, beet and carrot “frizou”, pears and dried cranberries served with a cranberry vinaigrette.
  • AAA Beef Tenderloin with Herb Au Jus, served with Gratin dauphinois and roasted root vegetables  
  • Crème brûlée

The mixed salad was a bit on the tart side, but it is hard to do otherwise when you go cranberries on cranberries.

The Beef Tenderloin was cooked medium-rare, and was of a good quality.  The root vegetables were quite tasty, and the Gratin was not bad if not surprising.

The Crème brûlée was uninspiring and quickly forgotten.  But that might have had more to do with the wine we all drank.


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