Mitchel Raphael on the Prime Minister’s wife and the grizzly bear

Harper teams up with Don Cherry, Laureen Harper, Rockies chef, and Necklaces by Bev Oda

Harper teams up with Don Cherry
Ontario Conservative MP Patrick Brown’s third annual Hockey Night in Barrie charity game was packed with fans and celebrities, including the Prime Minister. It was the first time Stephen Harper had attended the event. Harper coached the “blue” team with Hockey Night in Canada’s Don Cherry. Past coaches at the celebrity game have included Sports Minister Gary Lunn and former Conservative, now Independent MP Helena Guergis, who, coincidentally, was in a car crash the day of the tournament. (Guergis is now reported to be doing “fine.”)

Prior to the puck drop, the PM thanked Don Cherry for not making him wear his jacket. Cherry was in a light cream number with giant flowers on it. When Brown introduced the PM, noting he “was someone who needed no introduction,” there was a bit of confusion among the crowd—some people thought he was talking about Cherry. And in fact it was the hockey broadcaster who got the most cheers. Between periods, the PM went into the stands to pose for pictures. When a man in an NHL hockey jersey came up to him, Harper peeked at the back to see who he was wearing. Other celebrities playing included hockey icon Wendel Clark and figure-skating legend Kurt Browning. Actor-singer Michael Burgess sang the national anthem and played in the game. Out in force was the Kempenfelt Rotary Club, selling tickets for the first annual Great Canadian Beaver Race & Festival. The Rotarians plan to dump 10,000 rubber beavers in a river for the race—each ticket will have a corresponding number on a beaver. To promote the event, the city of Barrie is displaying 50 giant-sized beavers painted by a variety of artists. Each beaver is sponsored by an individual and/or group. Patrick Brown sponsored an Olympic beaver painted by Pauline Bradshaw. His beaver has a gold medal and the slogan “King of the Pond.” There’s also a Don Cherry beaver done up with a flashy jacket. In the end, Harper and Cherry’s blue team beat the white team 11-8 and the event raised $200,000 for Barrie’s Royal Victoria Hospital’s cancer-care centre.

Laureen Harper, Rockies chef
While the Prime Minister was busy coaching hockey in Barrie, his wife, Laureen Harper, was finishing up a five-day hike through the Rockies. She had coordinated a group of 10 hikers, men and women, that included two RCMP officers and cabinet minister Rona Ambrose. When the group got lost at one point, Mrs. Harper was the one who got them through the mountains with her compass and map. She also planned and made all the dinners. Food items were bagged and dated according to which meal would be served on which day. Ambrose said the food highlight was the herb bread the PM’s wife cooked over the fire. Mrs. Harper also whipped up some Chinese food. At one point a moose came into the camp. Then there was the day they spotted a grizzly bear right in their path. Notes Mrs. Harper: “We blew whistles and made lots of noise. Needless to say, that was the only time we spotted him.”

Necklaces by Bev Oda
For the summer, Minister of International Co-operation Bev Oda has been working on, among other things, Canada’s mission in Haiti. “We’ll be there for the next 10 years,” she says. But she also hopes to take some time off. On her relaxation wish list is sitting down to watch the King Henry VIII drama The Tudors.

When Oda needs to relax throughout the year she makes bead necklaces. She made a beige and grey one for Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Josée Verner, who told Oda that neutrals were the colours for summer. Oda is not the only minister who beads. Human Resources Minister Diane Finley is also an avid beader. The two even shop for each other: “[Diane] brought back beautiful Murano glass beads from Italy.” Oda says she now has enough beads to last a lifetime.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.