February 13, 2007

Queen's in the Senate

Last night I had the privilege of attending a very special event hosted by the Ottawa branch of the Queen's School of Business alumni association. The reception was in the Senate Foyer and we had 120 guests attend. There were some good nibbles and a cash bar. I turned around and there was our guest speaker, former Prime Minister Paul Martin. He saw me and immediately came forward and stuck out his hand (what a great political tactic--it made me feel special). We chatted a bit. I was tongue-tied and stupid.

After about 45 minutes we moved into the Senate Chamber (see attached image) and we all took our seats. I was rather emotional, as it is a great privilege to be able to go past the brass bars and actually enter the Senate. In fact, as "Commoner" (a member of the House of Commons), Paul Martin is allowed to enter but not to speak in the Senate Chamber. Last night an exception had been made, and he noted that the event was also a privilege for him. Interestingly, our Head of State (The Queen or her representative, the Governor General) is not allowed to enter the House of Commons.

So Mr Martin spoke for about 20 minutes and then took about 45 minutes of questions. I looked over and sitting at the entrance was Kingston's very own Member of Parliament Peter Milliken, Queen's BA'68, who is also Speaker of the House of Commons (he is not technically allowed to proceed past the brass bars, and he observed protocol). After the Q&A I made a point to talk to him, as I have been a long-time supporter of his. I then made my way back to Mr Martin and exchanged a few words with him. All-in-all very memorable...

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