Harper sweeps in to Brier

PATRICK MALONEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:29 PM ET

Kids volleyball brought Prime Minister Stephen Harper to London this weekend. The country’s biggest curling event? Well, that didn’t hurt either.

Harper’s trip to the Forest City was prompted by a volleyball tournament his son, Ben, was competing in, but he spent some time Saturday afternoon taking in the 2011 Brier with some political allies.

“I’ve been at the Brier most years for the last 20 years,” Harper said, sitting about 12 rows from the ice in Section 102 of the John Labatt Centre.

“It (curling) is bigger here than anywhere else in the world. We’ve really made it our own.”

Harper arrived into the bowels of the JLC in a black Buick, flanked by six RCMP officers, at about 2 p.m. Saturday.

He took in the afternoon games with local Tory MPs Ed Holder and Joe Preston. Also joining them was a long-time federal Liberal, London Mayor Joe Fontana.

Harper and his family were set to leave London later Saturday, the prime minister said.

With a possible election in the offing, Harper couldn’t resist a chance to compliment the city he’s visiting.

“I always love coming to London,” he said. “Always a great place to visit.”

Harper’s attendance was a well-kept secret among Brier organizers, who were not surprised to learn Canada’s most powerful curling fan was coming.

Fans sitting in his section, though, certainly didn’t see it coming.

One man walking toward his seats had Harper pointed out to him by a reporter. He did a double take.

“No way. Is that him?” the man said with a laugh. “He looks different on TV.”

E-mail patrick.maloney@sunmedia.ca, or follow Patatlfpress on Twitter.

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