Thatcher has died. No, not that Thatcher.

With lightning speed, it spread from Blackberry to Blackberry among the 2,000 or so Conservatives in black-tie this evening at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre for the first ever True Patriot Love Tribute Dinner: Thatcher has died.

Those three words are daggers in the heart of many in the Canadian conservative movement who put former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher and former U.S. president Ronald Reagan at the centre of the pantheon of their political universe. Indeed, during Stephen Harper's first visit overseas (not only his first visit overseas as PM but his first visit overseas – period) to the United Kingdom, Harper, with Jason Kenney at his wing, scored an audience with the Iron Lady. Trust me: Conservatives in Canada like her a lot. I swear Kenney was walking on air post-Thatcher meeting.

So back to the dinner in Toronto. From one BlackBerry to another — the messsage spread: “Thatcher is dead!” “Thatcher has died” “Did you hear about Thatcher? Dead!” Politicians and their advisors huddled. Should they acknowledge this passing of a legend from the dais? It was a non-partisan event, after all, with none other than LIberal Leader Michael Ignatieff in attendance. Should they grieve? Would this take the focus off of the purpose of the evening which is to honour Canadian military families?

None of those questions, it turns out, needed to be answered for Thatcher was not Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher LG, OM, PC, FRS, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990 but was in fact Thatcher, John Baird's cat. That's right. Transport Minister John Baird, at home in his riding in Nepean, Ont. was mourning the passing of his cat Thatcher and sent a message to that effect to someone at the dinner in Toronto.

To Minister Baird, we send our condolences and sympathy for cats are special beings and can be great friends. (Your correspondent's household has three such friends. )

Of course, the big real news of the night was the announcement that the Government of Canada donated $250,000 to the Military Families Fund.

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