Mitchel Raphael on Mulcair’s fanboy and the Harper household’s new pet

The Harpers are looking for a guinea pig and John Baird goes autograph hunting
Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper pets a cat as his wife Laureen looks on during a tour following a ceremony at the Ottawa Humane Society in Ottawa July 6, 2011. REUTERS/Chris Wattie (CANADA - Tags: POLITICS)
Mitchel Raphael on Mulcair’s fanboy and the Harper household’s new pet
Chris Wattie/Reuters

Meet Charlie Harper

24 Sussex Drive has a new resident: Charlie, a five-year-old chinchilla. “My daughter has had several hamsters and we were looking for a guinea pig,” says Laureen Harper. “But when I saw Charlie at the annual Ottawa Humane Society garden party I just knew he belonged with us.” For the past two weeks, the Harpers have been learning about chinchillas, rodents native to South America. “Charlie is very friendly and loves attention. He has a dust bath a few times a week to stay clean. I don’t think there is a softer animal on Earth and he loves to sit on our daughter’s lap,” says Harper. “He is nocturnal and so when we spend the evening in our family room he is very entertaining.” Charlie joins the other permanent pets currently residing at 24 Sussex: two cats, Gypsy and Stanley. “And I do have two tiny foster kittens that will need a home in about a month,” Harper says.

Baird asks Muclair for an autograph

On the first day Parliament returned for the fall sitting, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird had lots of fun. While waiting to go on Don Martin’s show Power Play he was sitting with NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair. Baird asked Mulcair to sign last week’s copy of Maclean’s that featured the NDP leader on the cover. Baird said, “Please sign it, ‘To my good friend John Baird.’ ” Mulcair then took a Sharpie to the cover. Before that, Baird was about to pre-tape an interview with host Evan Solomon of Power & Politics. As Solomon was reading his teleprompter, Baird jumped behind him and started reading the host’s lines about what was coming up on the show. Solomon happily went along with it. He then redid the intro.

Germany honours Milliken

Former Speaker of the House of Commons Peter Milliken was given the highest award Germany can bestow on foreign individuals who are not heads of state. The award is the Grand Cross 1st Class of the Order of Merit. It was presented by Germany’s speaker, Norbert Lammert, president of the German Bundestag, who spoke of his profound respect for Milliken. As the most experienced speaker of the G8 during his time in office, Milliken was often consulted for his sage advice. Lammert turned to Milliken to convince Nancy Pelosi, as the then-new speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, to “participate in the G8 parliamentary speakers’ meeting. As she did.” Lammert says he and Milliken shared a common interest in classical music. Milliken has an “amazing private collection of CDs with music by German composers.” Lammert jokes that he and Milliken have even worn the same tie at occasions, including the recent awards ceremony. Lammert wanted to give the award to Milliken for quite some time but wanted to wait until he could come to Canada. Notes the German speaker: “Peter Milliken is a very close friend of Germany and a major supporter of the German-Canadian cultural exchange. Peter Milliken has consistently supported significant positions of Germany and proved himself as a reliable partner to German issues.”