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Harper says his musical foray just a day trip

Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa September 29, 2009. REUTERS/Chris Wattie
— image credit: Reuters

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Monday he would stick to his day job after interrupting a charity gala starring acclaimed cellist Yo Yo Ma on the weekend with a piano and voice rendition of a Beatles song.

In an apparent effort to soften his wooden image, Harper's wife, Laureen, convinced the prime minister to participate in a fund-raiser for young artists at Ottawa's National Arts Center, and persuaded organizers to let him appear as a surprise act.

With a little help from Yo Yo Ma on the cello, he sang "With a Little Help from My Friends" while accompanying himself on the piano. He won a standing ovation.

"Saturday night was my wife's idea. Her advice now is, 'Quit while you're ahead,'" Harper said on Monday morning.

There was some irony in Harper's appearance in Saturday night's event and in his choice of music. During his reelection campaign a year ago he had assailed red-carpet galas as events where elite artists complain that their federal subsidies are not high enough.

And though he sang the line, "Ooh, I get high with a little help from my friends," he has made a crackdown on drugs and crime a policy centerpiece. (Harper spokesman Andrew MacDougall said, tongue in cheek, that the prime minister must have meant "high on adrenaline.")

Also, the lyrics about getting "a little help" accurately, though perhaps inadvertently, reflect the fact that Harper's minority Conservative government was kept alive in a parliamentary confidence vote last week by the unlikely support of the left-leaning New Democratic Party.

(Reporting by Randall Palmer; editing by Peter Galloway)

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