Cat's demise prompts rumors of Thatcher death

AP News
Posted: Nov 13, 2009 8:28 PM

When Canada's transport minister decided to name his cat Thatcher, he likely never thought it would cause quite the stir it did during a gala dinner earlier this week.

During a tribute to Canada's military in Toronto, some 1,700 luminaries, including Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, were in the middle of dinner Tuesday night when smart phones throughout the room began to buzz with the news: "Lady Thatcher has passed away."

Dinner chatter abruptly veered to expressions of shock and reminiscences of Margaret Thatcher, the 84-year-old former British prime minister, as news of her apparent passing spread like wildfire.

Harper's aide Dimitri Soudas, back in Ottawa, was dispatched to confirm the news and start preparing an official statement. Soudas immediately e-mailed his contacts at Buckingham Palace and in British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's office.

They had no idea what he was talking about. Lady Thatcher, they informed an embarrassed Soudas, was still very much alive.

About 20 minutes after the rumor mill started churning, a corrective e-mail message began to circulate among the diners at the hall.

Turns out it was Transport Minister John Baird's beloved 16-year-old cat, whom he'd named Thatcher out of admiration for one of his political heroes, who had ceased to be.

Soudas is said to have quipped since: "If the cat wasn't dead, I'd have killed it by now."