The morning buzz: What's making news on Parliament Hill
1. Lady Thatcher revealed. With the Prime Minister away in India today and the House returning after a week-long break, you may expect to see Transport Minister John Baird up on his feet in the Commons answering questions this week. However, Mr. Baird, who is used to the spotlight in the chamber, won't be in the House today and has been shunning attention outside. He and his staff have refused requests to speak about the death, or release pictures, of his 16-year-old cat, Lady Thatcher.
They say it's personal and we understand. Still, we uncovered some pictures of the feline thanks to the crack team at CTV's Question Period. A search of the archives revealed an interview Mr. Baird gave to another CTV program several years ago. It features, none other, than the lovely Lady Thatcher named as a result of Mr. Baird's admiration of right-wing conservative politicians. Not only did he name his cat after the former British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, dubbed the Iron Lady, but he has a plaque on his desk in his Parliament Hill office quoting the late U.S. president Ronald Reagan: "It can be done."
Back to the late cat: Lady Thatcher's death has become a trans-Atlantic cause celebre after an innocent email announcing her death spread like wildfire through a gala dinner in Toronto last week. "Lady Thatcher has passed away," read the message that buzzed on BlackBerrys and cell phones throughout the dinner. So seriously was the message taken that the Prime Minister's communications director Dimitri Soudas called 10 Downing Street to retrieve more details in anticipation of releasing a statement of condolence from the Prime Minister.
It turned out not to be true. But it was such a delicious story that it wasn't long before the British press picked up on it: 'Thatcher has died' message causes chaos: but it was a moggy, not Maggie. (A moggy is a cat in Britian.)
As you can see from the picture she was a much-loved and very robust-looking cat in her day. Our condolences to Minister Baird.
2. Captain Craig. CTV Question Period co-host and the dean of the Parliament Hill press corps, Craig Oliver, has become a captain in the Canadian Navy. The Defence Department is to formally announce his honourary three-year commission this week.
Although he is not paid one cent for this new job, it is more than show. He will be supporting and in his own way, providing informal advice, to his senior officers. Mr. Oliver, 71, served in the naval reserve as a young man and has a great affinity for the Canadian navy. Interestingly, this is the navy's centennial year and later this morning the Commander of the Maritime Command, Vice-Admiral Dean McFadden, is to launch a book commemorating the 100th anniversary of the navy. But the navy needs more than glossy books to help it these days. Mr. Oliver says that because of the war in Afghanistan so many resources have gone to the army and "the navy is in serious trouble."
"They are badly in need of more sailors and they need more ships. They are not getting them," he says. They are "so stretched" that Mr. Oliver says "they may have to pull ships off the line."
3. Sarah Palin and Kim Campbell. While America's most famous right-wing female politico, Sarah Palin, is traipsing around the United States promoting her new biography, Kim Campbell, our former Conservative prime minister, (the first and only woman to occupy the high office), is sending around to friends a link to her new website. And Ms. Campbell, who is not seen much in Canada these days, appears to have been very busy. But it seems she wants to do a lot more and you can reach her easily online.
On her new site - she says she is looking "forward to our next step of utilizing social media, which has so many possibilities" - she is pictured with former U.S. President Bill Clinton and the Dalai Lama. And to find out where she is now, you simply click on a picture of an airplane and the caption: "Where in the World is Kim Campbell?"
Well, most recently she's been in London, the Napa Valley and Ethiopia, speaking about peace and security for women. Last September, she was in Vancouver speaking with the Dalai Lama about how she was inspired by her mother and grandmother to be ambitious and work toward advancement of women. Soon she will be launching a video blog of her exploits, promoting herself as a "Woman of Firsts" who has "much of her life breaking barriers for women."
Meanwhile, Ms. Campbell has no impersonator a la Tina Fey. And you can bet that her interviews, speeches and appearances are far more substantive than those given by Ms. Palin. Hello, Katie Couric.