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Image courtesy of 613TV

Ottawa Minute: An annual basketball tournament gets MPs and media onto the court

By Greggory Clark and Hingman Leung on May 3, 2018

Pitting teams of parliamentarians, Hill staffers and media against each other on the court, the seventh annual Christie Lake Kids Parliamentary Charity Basketball Tournament raised more than $25,000 for the Ottawa charity.

613TV went scouting on April 29th and discovered a high-energy, fun, and non-partisan environment where the only thing that mattered was giving it your all. Congrats to the the Conservative Party of Canada for taking the 2018 trophy.

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Founded by Ottawa local Daniel Bezalel Richardsen, formerly a Hill staffer, the goal of the tournament is to bring MPs together to fundraise for Christie Lake Kids programs. The Ottawa-based organization offers year-round programs to local children living in disadvantaged situations, so that they can learn art, music, sports, and attend summer camp, all free of charge.

While there, we had a chance to chat with Daniel about the tournament.

Interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Apt613: What inspired you to start this?

I was a fairly young Conservative staffer who ended up organizing weekly pick-up basketball for MPs and colleagues, which I’d really enjoyed. I knew a few other staffers from across the aisle, and thought it would be great to have a multi-partisan charity event of some kind. The tournament made sense as I love the power of sport to bring people together and I wanted to help underprivileged kids. Because I used to be one.

What has been the most memorable match over the seven years?

It was the first time I saw some of the kids from the basketball program play each other at one of the half-times. They were beneficiaries of our donations, and seeing their jaw-dropping skills was a visceral reminder of why we do what we do.

Image courtesy of 613TV

Are there transferable skills between basketball and politics?

Teamwork and communication are obvious traits. I’d also put in tenacity and a competitive desire to win.

Any politicians you’d like to get involved in the tournament in the future?

We always want more MPs to come and play, as they are still a minority of the entire roster. Especially Ministers of the Crown!

Who would you pick to be in your Dream Team?

I could give a long list, and I’d keep an internal debate active for each. I’ll make a pick that’s also a nod to my childhood: in 1994—1996 Penny Hardaway was a very special player in the NBA, and possibly my all-time favourite, along with Shawn Kemp from the same era. Obscure to everyone but true hoops fans, but I’ll take those two!

In an Ottawa Minute we’ll explore corners of the city you may have never visited and niche scenes from indie wrestling to fringe theatre, burlesque, the escape room boom, new breweries and offbeat events. So, not “niche” in the sense that niche tastes will be required… but this is probably the kinda stuff you’d have to hear about from a friend. Subscribe to Apt613 on YouTube for new episodes.