Maclean's asks: Who is Mrs. Stephen Harper?



    Known in Tory circles as the Secret Weapon, Laureen Harper is a most
    surprising Ottawa first lady. Also featured in the double issue hitting
    newsstands today: the sovereignist movement has never been weaker as the
    PQ turns on Jean Q. Publique, and, cheaters in sport-why we've grown so
    accustom to letdown.

    TORONTO, Aug. 2 /CNW/ - Since her arrival in the nation's capital five
years ago has become one of the nation's most intriguing political spouses.
She arrived Laureen Teskey, a folksy, motorcycle- riding Albertan refreshingly
unstudied in Ottawa mores. She joked about the "muckymucks" and drank beer
from the bottle. Post- 2006 election, she's been retrofitted. Now she's
Laureen Harper. Harper, who ran a thriving business after having her two
children, appears to be channeling Donna Reed as played by Ellen Barkin. She
revels in her role as stay-at-home mom to Ben, 11, and Rachel, 8, boasting
that there's no nanny, she makes the kids' lunches and that the Harpers are
just an "average Canadian family." And, though she backs away from Stephen's
spotlight, Laureen Harper appears an even more complex creature-seen by Ottawa
insiders as quick on her feet and a shrewd participant in household policy
debates.
    "The story's about him," Mrs. Harper likes to say. "Yet the Stephen
Harper story isn't complete," writes Maclean's senior writer, Anne Kingston,
"without putting a lens on the missus." Rarely have two opposites attracted to
such potent political effect. He's IQ; she's EQ. He's the policy wonk; she's
the people person. Her ability to put people at ease, her extroverted nature
and self-deprecating humour serve as a foil for her policy-obsessed,
often-hostile-seeming husband whose social demeanour can mimic balsa wood.
Indeed, the Yamaha-riding former free spirit is an intractable part of Stephen
Harper's political imagery. In photographs they are often seen holding hands,
a united front. Within Conservative circles, Laureen Harper is known as the
Secret Weapon.

    Vive le Quebec libre!

    Forty years after French President Charles de Gaulle declared "Vive le
Québec libre" from the balcony of Montreal's City Hall, and after the
formation of two separatist parties, two referendums, and several rounds of
constitutional talks, the sovereignty movement has rarely seemed weaker.
Quebecers' indifference to the anniversary of de Gaulle's speech-arguably the
watershed moment in nationalist history-has the pur et dur ranks in a funk.
Maclean's Quebec bureau correspondent Martin Patriquin reports in this week's
issue.

    Cheaters will always be with us

    Save your outrage. As long as there have been sports, there have been
cheaters. And we're okay with that. Maclean's national correspondent Charlie
Chillis asks, "When did we become so inured to the sporting frauds among us?"

    About Maclean's:

    Maclean's is Canada's only national weekly current affairs magazine.
Maclean's enlightens, engages and entertains 2.9 million readers with strong
investigative reporting and exclusive stories from leading journalists in the
fields of international affairs, social issues, national politics, business
and culture. Visit www.macleans.ca.





For further information:

For further information: Jacqueline Segal,
Jacqueline.segal@rci.rogers.com

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