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Felines Move Into 24 Sussex (Yay!)

January 27th, 2006, 06:44 PM
There IS at least one good outcome of this election (well maybe a few more depending on one's outlook - we all have differeent perspectives I know) but I am delighted to report that a family of cat lovers is moving into 24 Sussex Drive (home of our Prime Minister for those of you who may not be from Canada and wonder what's so significant about 24 Sussex Drive. It is our 1600 Pennsylvannia Ave or 10 Downing Street, etc.).

This article appeared in the Globe and Mail the day after the election. It was primarly about Laureen Teskey, Stephen Harper's wife, who, I am also happy to note is a computer person. (They both have worked as programmers actually though she is a Mac person and he is more the PC-UNIX kind of guy). Even at Stornaway, she worked out of her home, designing menus and other materials for eateries and other materials for small businesses in Alberta - Calgary area mainly. She is a graphic artist by profession but is familiar with programming as well though likes th artistic side of IT more than the strictly programming aspects. I wonder if one would ever see a spouse in the White House working from home - as Laureen plans to contiue doing. (Mind you, Cherie Blair continued to work as a barrister and in NB, Bernard Lord's wife, Diane - who has an MEd, works in education tho I doubt one can compare a province with a country, lol)

Laureen rescues cats and fosters kittens and has stayed up many nights with bottle babies. And when one of the family cats managed to get out of the house while the Harper family was living at Stornaway (The House for our Oppostion Leader for our non-Cdn Friends), Stephen Harper was devistated and upset and mourned for a long time. This is a family that loves and cherishes cats!! I think that in itself is worth something. Well, it is in my book anyway.

Here is the Globe and Mail article (which will not be available online as a link after Monday and hence, I include the entire piece:

Teskey will breathe life into 24 Sussex


Tuesday, January 24, 2006 Page A5

CALGARY -- When Laureen Teskey gets back to Ottawa, one of the first calls she's going to make is to the local humane society to ask, "What have you got for me?"

Ms. Teskey soon will have room for more of the kittens she and her family regularly foster -- her husband, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, is Canada's prime-minister-designate and the clan is poised to make the move to 24 Sussex Dr.

With two children (Ben and Rachel, 9 and 7, respectively) who go to public school and play soccer and hockey like millions of others across the country, two permanent cats (Gypsy, who arrived from the SPCA starving and at death's door and Cartier, "who is 12 and very shy," according to Ms. Teskey), the family will bring the prime minister's official residence alive in a way it hasn't been in a long time.

Talking to her, it's easy to conjure a vision of the sprawling old limestone pile functioning as a real home -- Ms. Teskey calling for the kids to bring the foster kittens down from their lair (the family's established felines are on perpetual high alert outside the room, hugely amused, poking paws under the door), perhaps cradling one and attempting to entice a dinner guest, as she did in vain recently with the party's deputy leader, Peter MacKay, into adopting it for a relative.

In 2002, when I worked for the National Post and was driving with photographer Kevin Van Paassen (he worked for the Post then, too, but has since moved to The Globe and Mail) across the United States for the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, I wrote about the pleasures of the road trip made in the company of men.

Out of the blue, a day or two later, I got an e-mail from Ms. Teskey: She was driving from the couple's home in Calgary to Ottawa with her brother and her son, and she offered her riff on the fun of travelling with boys.

The note was warm, articulate and smart. So, it turns out, is she.

In fact, in the lingo men sometimes use to describe a woman they like and admire, Ms. Teskey is a pistol -- she has a big ready laugh, a self-deprecating wit and a kind and open heart.

She's also the self-confessed mouthy one, despite the fact it's her 46-year-old husband who is now poised to speak for the country.

On the campaign trail, she was the one whose name in the introductions ("The next prime minister of Canada, Stephen Harper . . . and his wife Laureen . . .") was drowned out by the roar of the crowd. "I have the kind of face people forget," she said, adding wryly, if harshly, because she's pretty and more when she's grinning, "I'm no beauty."

Mr. Harper says it's Laureen who has to be reined in for public consumption, and he's not kidding, because she appears to have as many big opinions as he does but lacks the brakes he has developed after several tough campaigns. She is ever-worried she'll say something that could land him in trouble.

But the broader truth is that the danger doesn't lie in the content of what the 42-year-old Ms. Teskey says as much as it rests in the fact that she remains so remarkably open that she could be easily wounded.

Her pattern at an informal dinner recently at a Toronto-area hotel with me and Conservative Senator Marjorie LeBreton was to say, just before launching into one of the stories that reveal her as the independent and quirky character she is, "But you can't write this!"

She has no plans to carve out a role. "It's not about me," she said. Her mantra is, "No expectations, no pressure." She pointed out, with obvious gratitude, that it is the Governor-General who handles much of the dignitary side of official government business.

She isn't shy one-on-one but like most regular people, and certainly like her husband, is self-aware if not self-conscious before the crowds and in the media glare.

By the campaign's final weeks, those crowds were sometimes so huge, with people swarming the couple, that even Mr. Harper reportedly found it a little disconcerting.

Ms. Teskey kept getting sarcastic notes from her long-time girlfriends saying, "You looked great today . . . hahahahahaha" or "Nice outfit," she said the other night, gesturing with a helpless grin at her royal blue jacket and black pants. Her public clothes are like this: Safe, conservative, inoffensive. A graphic designer who once ran a thriving firm in Calgary, she prefers jeans and says she'll still wear them in private.

In her corner of the Harper campaign bus, she sat before her laptop for much of the campaign, the view out the window to her left blocked by, as she put it, Mr. Big Head -- the enormous picture of her husband on the side of the bus -- and to the right, the loo. "And I can hear everything," she said.

In the last federal campaign, where Mr. Harper was the new leader of the freshly minted Conservative Party, the two of them would sometimes, when the media was off working, drive around whatever town they were visiting in their tour bus.

Ms. Teskey was at the wheel of course, as she almost invariably is as well when the family travels. "I'm a farm girl," she said. "I can drive anything" -- and she can too, tractor, truck, and her beloved motorcycle. She likes the escape: On the bike, she's not a wife, mom, politician-by-proxy or anything but herself.

While on stage with Mr. Harper, she sought out eyes in the crowd that would meet hers, making small connections. "You can only look adoringly upon your husband for so long," she said with a grin.

Her best campaign memory came at a rally in Montreal. She walked in, saw the crowd, remembered how hard Mr. Harper had worked on his French and on inviting newcomers into the party, and felt tears very close: "Whatever happens," she said, "I thought, 'This is for Stephen. He worked so hard for this moment.' "

In recent days, as the polls painted Mr. Harper as the front-runner, the couple asked themselves, "Do we really want this? Have we thought how it might change things?"

Ms. Teskey remembered the day, shortly after Mr. Harper first became the Opposition Leader and acquired the requisite security detail, the RCMP asking her, "Where are you going now, Mrs. Harper?"

"To the grocery store," she told them. "To buy groceries."

It wasn't so long ago -- the recent annual press gallery dinner in Ottawa -- when she and Mr. Harper were taken to a VIP room as they arrived.

"I'm from a town of 1,000," she said of her Turner Valley, Alta., roots, "and we call people who get to go in the special rooms the mucky-mucks."

She leaned over and whispered to her husband, "We're with the mucky-mucks."

"If we win," he told her, "we'll be the mucky-mucks."

And I add this:

From the Toronto Star cover story on our new Prime Minister:

“Harper loves cats and never seems to tire of exploring the difference between cat people and dog people. He once said you could sum up politicians’ motives by whether they were cat or dog owners. ‘The ones who have dogs want to be loved,’ Harper once told an interviewer. “The ones who have cats want to serve.’

“Laureen has said she and her husband seriously worried before they had children that they might not like them as much as their cats. (Their worries were luckily unfounded.) Harper’s most cherished cat, Cabot, was run over by a car in front of Stornoway in 2003 and Harper still reminisces wistfully about him. This cat was so intelligent, Harper insists, that it knew how to slap its paw on the radio alarm to wake him up.”

January 27th, 2006, 06:53 PM
I don't know about this. At least they don't intend on keeping the cats. I mean, 24 sussex is not exactly a permanent residence. And I don't know how I feel about people who let their cats roam free to be hit by cars either... I don't know...

January 27th, 2006, 11:09 PM

With claws.

Razor sharp claws.

At 24 Sussex.

In Canada.

Super intelligent kittens.

Possibly mutants.

Trained to do their dark master's bidding.

He's already trained them to operate electronic equipment, like his alarm clock.

What else has Harper trained his army of evil, super-intelligent cats to do?

He's not saying.

We're not making this up.

We're not allowed to make stuff up.

January 27th, 2006, 11:21 PM
LOL LOL :evil:

January 28th, 2006, 12:20 AM
Well of course they must be super intelligent, lol
Prin, they never let them roam! This kitty got out - as cats do from time to time - and was sadly hit by a car!! (even the most protected manage this - YY ran into my van once but that was my only scare and fortunately, it was a small place). I am pretty sure I pointed that out but maybe not. Yep, I did: "d when one of the family cats managed to get out of the house while the Harper family was living at Stornaway" And as for not keeping the cats, they do have wo of their own. The kittens have a "lair".

Maybe small children should not be allowed either.

Even if one did not vote for him, it does sound kind of kewl. Now, if they had a pitbull as well - in Ottawa, lol

Every President has had a dog and they used them politically - Clinton and Buddy, (and Socks was there first of course), FDR annd Fella, Millie even had puppies, remember that - don't you guys read up on your politics and pets, lol ?

January 28th, 2006, 12:27 AM
Too bad the Liberals did not know tis - I can see the commercial now - as Loki suggests. With cats roaming the house and getting hair on clothes of the heads of state or seeking out cat dislikers of the world. That commercial could show the Queen being jumoed on by a cat - Cats - umping on our Monarch - sniffing her corgis - only in Canada - we are not making this up. :)

I prefer having someone who rescues cats at 24 Sussex - Maybe Laureen can get together with the fellow at Parliament Hill who cares for the strays there. He has a wonderful story and everyone (well almost everyone - my bet is that McGinty's brother who is an MP for some Ottawa riding doesn;t, wasn't there some comment by someone about MCginty and kittens in the Ontario election?

January 28th, 2006, 07:55 AM
The fact that Harper has a soft spot for lost cats may well help to get the animal protection legislation out of the Senate - where it has been stuck for months because it is disputed by a few inbreds who are worried it will interfere with their huntin' and fishin' - and back into the House. Wouldn't that be something?

January 28th, 2006, 08:16 AM
Badger,I was thinking the same,she can prove to us all how much she cares,by getting her husband the PM,to rubberstamp the animal-protection Bill on the table idle for many,many years,to change the current 100yr old Bill.
The only problem is,many of the nay-sayers were from the western part of Canada,strongly objecting to any changes,to the way cattle and other livestock are handled.
It's not all about cats/dogs it concerns all animals.

January 28th, 2006, 09:13 AM
Everything is fixable, chico, it just takes a little political will. If he thinks it's important, he needs to lean on the Liberal senators (who, thank gods, are in the majority) to get it done.

January 28th, 2006, 11:48 AM
does Harper know of the feral cats that live at the Parliament? he should give fundings to the old man who feeds them :)

January 28th, 2006, 03:58 PM
That guy gets a ton of money from the staffers on the Hill. I used to visit all the time when I lived in Ottawa many moons ago. I'm not even sure he spays and neuters. He takes them home when they're sick and then brings them back when they've recovered. As I remember, he was well into his sixties then, I wonder if it is still the same guy. And he took over from an elderly woman, so it's really an institution now.

I remember once there was some kind of a shindig on the Hill - maybe it was the Queen - and the cat guy arrived, carrying his supplies (although he has a big padlocked box on the site that he uses to store things). Since literally everyone knows him (even the RCMP), they let him cross.

January 28th, 2006, 04:17 PM
That is the fellow I meant jiorj - Rene Chartrand, the Cat Man of Parliament Hill. He is a legend. Surely the Harpers must know of him. He gets help from the Humane Society and Laureen fosters for them so surely they must know of him???? As Badger nted, he gets a ton of money. All his cats are spayed and neutered Badger - according to a sectrion about him in a very recent book on Cat Stories, a new Canadian book.

It certainly would not hurt and would help (I should think) to write about the legislation!!

January 29th, 2006, 03:10 AM
Purina also supplies free food for the cats. Crap food but a nice gesture.