Laureen Harper makes rare public appearance at Calgary fundraiser for military members and families
By Trevor Howell, Calgary Herald February 2, 2013
When Laureen Harper makes a rare public appearance on her home turf and throws down an even rarer challenge to Calgary’s corporate jet set, people tend to show up and listen.
Harper, wife of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, spoke Friday night to a small, yet influential crowd of this city’s business, political and philanthropic leaders to throw their weight behind a planned fundraiser in Calgary for Canada’s military men and women and their families.
Established in 2009, the True Patriot Love Foundation has raised more than $14 million for Canadian Forces members, veterans and their families. Each year the foundation has hosted a fundraising dinner in a Canadian city.
It raised more than $2.3 million at its annual Tribute Dinner last year in Toronto and aims to surpass that benchmark at this year’s event in Calgary slated for Oct. 9.
“This is a great cause,” said Laureen Harper. “This is a way for ordinary Canadians to give back to provide support for military members and their families. They sacrifice so much, the least we can do is buy a seat at a banquet.”
According to the foundation’s website, its vision is to “permanently bridge the military and civilian worlds, to ensure always that our Canadian Forces men and women have private dollars at their disposal to address the various gaps inevitably left unfunded by government.”
The organization focuses its funding and efforts into three categories: mental health and well-being, physical health and rehabilitation, as well as family health and support.
Michael Burns, vice-chair of the foundation, encouraged the dozens in attendance to sign up or encourage the companies they work for to book tables for October’s dinner.
“We’re here because our Canadian military, veteran and families need us,” said Burns. “We do a really good job in this country of celebrating success, whether it’s in business or entertainment or sports, but we don’t do a lot to recognize and support those who sacrifice the most for this country.”
He said this year’s dinner in Calgary is “a real opportunity for Calgary to step up” and support Canada’s military members and their families.
Harper said the event and the foundation can help rebuild the connection between the nation’s military members and regular civilians.
“You feel for people you know, and if you don’t know soldiers and their families, you can’t connect,” she said.
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