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Prime Minister Stephen Harper enjoys a standing ovation after he sang and played With a Little Help From My Friends on the piano during a surprise appearance at the National Arts Centre gala in Ottawa on Oct. 3, 2009. He is flanked by guitarist Richard Linke, left, and cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

How the world (or at least our part of it) turns…

Last night, Stephen Harper was playing piano at an NAC gala that he had previously dismissed with derision. And, though it appears that, at times, he noticeably sang out of tune - presumably when the crowd was clapping or during the fortissimo passages of accompanist Yo-Yo Ma's cello, plus two guitarists and a drummer - the Prime Minister was nevertheless given a standing o by the worthies in attendance.

Earlier in the day, we learn in the same Ottawa Citizen report, Laureen Harper had her hair done by Rinaldo - Ottawa's favourite coiffeur since the days of Mila Mulroney. It will also be remembered that, back then, Rinaldo achieved a degree of national notoriety as one of Brian Mulroney's most notorious patronage appointments. For her part, Mrs. Harper was accompanied yesterday by Janet Yale, Telus' chief Ottawa lobbyist. Ms. Yale is also the likely Liberal candidate in Ottawa Centre in the next federal election, which presumably will take place when Jack Layton needs no more proof that Liberals and Conservatives are Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

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Also yesterday we learned that the Prince of Wales and Camilla, his consort who would like to be Queen some day, will visit Canada in November. What one is to make of an itinerary that has the future King of Canada visiting Montréal and Toronto but not Alberta I leave to greater minds than mine.

Meanwhile, in Québec City, Michael Ignatieff was playing dodge-ball with reporters. In the French though not in the English version of a CP report headlined " Michael Ignatieff dodges questions on Denis Coderre's resignation," we can read the Liberal Leader's answer to the nasty questions they asked him about Coderre and whether he will be appointing a replacement as Québec lieutenant:

"What counts is that the party's future in Quebec be settled in Quebec by Quebecers under my leadership and that is what is going to happen soon."

In other words, round one has gone to Denis Coderre, who will not be asked to retract his allegation about "Toronto advisers who know nothing about the social and political realities of Québec" - the incendiary statement that brought so much joy to Gilles Duceppe last week.

No doubt Mr. Duceppe will make good use of Coderre's statement against 'Les Anglais' in the four by-elections (including two in Québec) that Mr. Harper called this morning for November 9th - not to speak of in the next general election. The Conservatives, we learn in a report in today's edition of Le Soleil, will counter with the slogan " Action. Not elections," inviting voters to reject both the Bloc and the Liberals, a party in turmoil in Québec - or so the Conservatives hope. As to the Grits, the big question now is whether Michael Ignatieff will fold completely and name a new Québec lieutenant to replace Mr. Coderre before the by-elections.


Update The question I posed at the end of this post-as to whether Mr. Ignatieff would fold completely before the by-elections--appears to have been answered, according to this CTV report:

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"Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff sought to deliver a rousing speech before the party faithful in Quebec on Sunday, in an effort to present a united front after his lieutenant in the province, Denis Coderre, resigned last week….

Ignatieff that he will nominate someone to replace Coderre as Quebec lieutenant in the coming days, most likely another elected MP.

'I will name this representative, and I believe we will choose perhaps at the same time a leading organizer'."

As to the united Liberal front referred to above, La Presse's Hugo de Grandpré reports from the convention:

"Liberals are not on the same page as to their strategy toward the Conservative government-some want to systematically oppose the government, others favouring a case-by-case approach.

"Caucus president Marc Garneau indicated that the Liberals will evaluate each vote in the House of Commons, and MP Alexandra Mendes agreed that there could be exceptions to categorical opposition to every Conservative bill.

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"MPs Marlene Jennings and Pablo Rodriguez affirmed, however, that they've lost confidence in the Harper government for good."

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