I attended the National Arts Centre Gala Saturday Night and along with 2200 people in the audience was blown away by sight of the Prime Minister of Canada strolling onto the stage with a drummer and a guitarist and the world's most famous cellist, Yo Yo Ma, the evening's headliner. Before anyone could quite comprehend what they were witnessing, Stephen Harper sits down at the piano and launches into a pitch perfect rendition of "I Get By With a Little Help from my Friends."
The audience went nuts and cheered and applauded throughout as the PM confidently delivered the goods - more in the style of Ringo Starr than Joe Cocker's version.
In one fell swoop, Mr. Harper turned it into a huge political hit. The risk he took doing that was extremely high. All of us know people who can tinkle the ivories in their living room or sing in the shower. But to get up in front of a huge audience with such high stakes and pull it off is exceptional. So, regardless of one's political stripes, you gotta admit, it was a perception-altering smash!
A little birdie told me that the spark for the idea was first lit at the G20 summit in Pittsburgh when Stephen and Laureen Harper (the NAC Gala Fundraiser's Honourary Chair) met Yo Yo Ma.
Check it out on YouTube.
David Letterman Follow-up
I will be on CBC Newsworld Sunday afternoon at 3:15 p.m. EST when I will be assessing David Letterman's handling of his "crisis".