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Belinda Stronach's strategists say she is firmly focused on campaigning and trying to win as the Conservative MP for Newmarket-Aurora. Meanwhile, the U.S. press is focused on something entirely different Belinda-wise -- her relationship with former U.S. president Bill Clinton.

In the latest issue of Vanity Fair (the one with Brad Pitt on the cover) Ms. Stronach is mentioned in an article about Mr. Clinton's post-presidency exploits: ". . . his physique is the trimmest in years, he looked, well, gorgeous," writes Robert Sam Anson. He says, too, that Mr. Clinton's "social life has been eventful," noting that the former president has also been seen with Bono, Anthony Hopkins and has "taken in the Preakness with blonde billionaire Canadian businesswoman Belinda Stronach (they discussed his presidential library)."

This is not the first time Ms. Stronach has been linked to Mr. Clinton.

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She brushed off questions about their relationship during her campaign for the leadership of the new Conservative Party.

Recently, the Globe supermarket tabloid wrote about Ms. Stronach, saying that Hillary Clinton was furious and had warned her husband to "cool his 'close relationship' with a wealthy blonde divorcee." The blonde? Ms. Stronach. The candidate's spokesman, Mark Entwistle, says Mr. Clinton and Ms. Stronach are friends but that she has "an interesting constellation of people that she knows and hangs with."

The pet poll

Strange but true: An Edmonton Veterinary Centre is doing its part to raise election awareness by polling its clientele -- dogs and cats -- to try to determine how close they come to predicting the outcome of the federal election. So far the Conservatives are leading with 42 per cent compared to the Liberals with 38 per cent, while the NDP have 20 per cent. Sherwood Park Veterinary Center's Tony Wilson has set up a polling booth of three dishes -- there is a pork-flavoured treat in the Liberal dish, a turkey treat for the Tories and fish for the NDP. The first treat the pet chooses counts as its vote.

Mr. Wilson chose pork for the Liberals because "they've been hogging the trough for many years" and turkey for the Tories because a turkey never backs off from a challenge. The NDP reminded him of fish because they are always "going against the flow." The polling ends on Friday. And so far it's been quite exciting: Yesterday, Elmo, a shih tzu, approached the NDP treat, licked it, and moved on to gobble down the Liberal pork.

The party leaders will try

to stay on message

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ICBW -- that's text message-speak for "it could be worse" -- is what Liberal Leader Paul Martin may hear from young Canadians tomorrow when he participates in the Dominion Institute's "Txt Me to Your Leader." At various times tomorrow, Mr. Martin and his opponents -- NDP Leader Jack Layton, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper and Green Party Leader Jim Harris -- will spend half an hour each in text message chats with Canadians. It's an attempt to engage young Canadians in the federal election campaign. To prepare the leaders, the Institute's Rudyard Griffiths sent each a copy of the new youth vocabulary -- a crib sheet of text-message abbreviations -- to allow them to be able to converse intelligently. Mr. Griffiths says "Youth Text" is a first, not a rip off from the United States. The messages cost 10 cents each. "But there is a really perfect fit between the demographic who isn't voting and the demographic who text messages," Mr. Griffiths says. He says to click on for the times and codes to find out when you can talk to the leaders. CYO (that's see you on-line).

Hot and not:

Not: Jack Layton. The NDP Leader stumbled over the name of Calgary Flames GM and coach Darryl Sutter while in Calgary yesterday. "If someone had asked Darryl Sittle, Sutt . . . Darryl Sutter, excuse me, Sittler, if somebody had asked him, 'Do you guys have a chance to be in the fifth game of the Stanley Cup last fall?' I think they'd have said 'C'mon most people would have said not a chance.' But look what's happened." And look what could happen to Mr. Lay, Lew . . . Jack Layton, excuse me, Lawson in the election campaign.

Hot: Walter Robinson. The Conservative candidate in Ottawa Orleans has learned how to say "hello" in Urdu, Arabic, Spanish (he says he has Caribbean-vacation Spanish) and Serbo-Croatian as he canvasses door-to-door in the suburban Ottawa riding. He says he keeps the phonetic spellings of the greetings in his Palm Pilot for quick reference.

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