3 min

Tickling the ivories

Stephen Harper had a couple of interesting reversals over the weekend. First of all, he eschewed his former position of disdain for arts galas by not only appearing at the National Arts Centre gala, but he appeared onstage to play a four-minute Beatles number with Yo Yo Ma accompanying him. But everyone loved it, so maybe it’s a sign he’s seen the light. (Maclean’s Scott Feschuk, however, fears a coming musical trend). Ignatieff later mocked the performance, saying Harper has been out of tune for the past four years. And then on Sunday, he finally called the four necessary by-elections – one of them near the maximum six-month allowable vacancy period. Remember when he insisted that all ridings be properly represented, and insisted by-elections be called as soon as possible? Apparently that doesn’t count when all four ridings are almost certainly not going to go Conservative.

Libby Davies had a statement on Friday about the Dalai Lama’s visit to Canada.

Mr. Speaker, today Canada's honorary citizen, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, will be travelling from Calgary to Montreal where thousands of Canadians will hear his message of compassion and peace.
He began his visit to Canada at the Vancouver Peace symposium where he was welcomed by many supporters and friends.
His talks and teachings remind us that there are so many in the world who remain committed to achieving peace through dialogue rather than conflict. We are also reminded of the grim situation in Tibet where millions of Tibetans are denied even the most basic human rights.
I am honoured to welcome His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Canada. I wish to urge the government to do all it can to welcome and support the efforts of our honorary citizen so that one day he may return freely to his place of birth, an occupied homeland he has not seen in more than 50 years.

During Question Period, Ralph Goodale brought up new documents that suggested that the Minister of Foreign Affairs knew of the plight of Suaad Hagi Mohamud earlier than he indicated – not that the parliamentary secretary on duty answered the question.

Davies later brought up the HST issue (and sparred with John Baird over a hypothetical woman in her riding). Martha Hall Findlay asked a very simple question of the Treasury Board President just what the colours of Canada are. When Baird – not the Treasury Board President – stood up to run out the clock, he couldn’t even answer that simple question. And Hedy Fry asked why Gary Lunn wasn’t aware of the eerie similarity between the new Canadian Olympic logo and the Conservative Party logo, given that he is the minister responsible, and what else doesn’t he know? Lunn’s Parliamentary Secretary skirted the question.

As the dust began to settle on the whole Liberal feud in Quebec, Natalie Le Prohon – a former Nokia Canada president and Hydro Quebec director, and the candidate Coderre hand-picked for the Outremont riding – came out to say that she welcomes running in Jean Le Bar instead, and in fact relishes the challenge of running in a riding currently held by the Bloc, and that she hopes to win on her capabilities rather than be handed a riding because she’s a woman. She sounds like someone we need more of in Parliament.

After the Quebec wing’s conference on Sunday, the party made its big show of unity, and Ignatieff signalled that he’ll make the selection of his new Quebec lieutenant soon, citing that the party constitution dictates its existence. But it looks for now that the feud is about settled.

The new American Ambassador to Canada presented his credentials to Her Excellency on Friday.

The Toronto Star’s Joanna Smith takes a look at what goes on in the Senate – and it’s nice to see some mainstream media pay attention to it.

Royal watchers note – Prince Charles and Camilla will visit twelve Canadian cities next month including Ottawa.

And finally, today marks the 25th anniversary of the first space flight by a Canadian. That Canadian, Marc Garneau, is now a Liberal MP, and Canada continues to underperform in its abilities in the aerospace industry.

This week: The NDP are prepared to support Bill C-51, containing a number of fiscal measures including home renovation tax credit. No election just yet.