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Prime Minister Stephen Harper departs Ottawa for New York on Sept. 22, 2009, where he will visit Mayor Michael Bloomberg and take party in a United Nations dinner meeting on climate change.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, travelling in the United States this week, will be a no-show during U.S. President Barack Obama's address to the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday morning.

The White House press office says Mr. Obama's speech starts at 9:15 a.m., but the Prime Minister's Office says Mr. Harper is scheduled to be back in Canada for an event in Oakville, Ont, at 11:30 a.m.

The reason? Mr. Harper's making a stop at something called the Tim Hortons Innovation Centre.

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That's right. The coffee-and-donut heavweight apparently has a research and development arm. Presumably they're responsible for such breakthroughs as the Smile Cookie.

No word on when Mr. Harper will visit the Bud Light Institute.

Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon, meanwhile, will represent Canada on the floor of the UN.

The Tories are really chuffed that Tim Hortons announced this summer it was moving its headquarters back to Canada, a development they chalk up to their prowess in cutting corporate taxes.

Update As expected, Mr. Harper used his visit at Tim Hortons on Wednesday to celebrate the fact the retailer -- once owned by Wendy's International -- has reconfigured itself as a Canadian company. He attributed the move to Ottawa's decision to enact major corporate tax rate reductions. "Tim Hortons' decision shows our strategy is working," the Prime Minister said.

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Another update The Prime Minister's Office points out that Tim Hortons itself explained its return to Canada as partly in response to falling federal tax rates.

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Says PMO communications official Andrew MacDougall: "It's not just us touting our tax advantage as the reason for their return to Canada. Tim Hortons did so too."

He notes the following statement from the coffee giant: "Management and the Board believe that the proposed reorganization would be in the best interests of the Company and our stockholders by creating operational and administrative efficiencies over the long-term, enhancing the Company's ability to expand in Canada and internationally, and improving the Company's position to take advantage of lower Canadian tax rates commencing in the year following implementation."

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Steven Chase has covered federal politics in Ottawa for The Globe since mid-2001, arriving there a few months before 9/11. He previously worked in the paper's Vancouver and Calgary bureaus. Prior to that, he reported on Alberta politics for the Calgary Herald and the Calgary Sun, and on national issues for Alberta Report. More

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