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Meeting celebrities not Harper's "schtick" 

[PoliticsWatch updated 5:15 p.m. June 7, 2007]

OTTAWA  — Prime Minister Stephen Harper defended his decision not to meet with rock star and African aid advocate Bono at the G8 Summit this week, saying that meeting celebrities is not his "schtick." 
  

Bono and fellow rock star Bob Geldoff met this week with U.S. President George W. Bush and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Summit, but Harper's office turned down a similar meeting. 

Harper said it wasn't because he's not a fan. 

"Obviously my priority here this week is to meet with other leaders and maybe we'll get an occasion to meet Bono in the future."

"I've got to say that meeting celebrities isn't kind of my schtick. That was the schtick of the previous guy," he said in reference to former prime minister Paul Martin, who had Bono speak before him at the 2003 Liberal leadership convention. 

"My principle focus in public policy is not kind of to meet celebrities."

Harper said he spoke to Bono on the phone "a while back" and described him as a "knowledgeable guy."

Harper also revealed that former Beatle Paul McCartney also tried and failed to contact him by phone. Last year, McCartny made headlines around the world because of his opposition to Canada's seal hunt. 

In Ottawa, NDP Leader Jack Layton was skeptical about Harper's reasons for not meeting Bono and Geldoff, who have been critical of Canada's foreign aid contributions to Africa. 

"Frankly, I think he should be talking to civil society leaders," Layton said after question period."I don't care if they play guitar or write music if they advocate for global justice." 

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