The seductive notion of free trade: kiss the Canadian dream goodbye
Peter C. Newman
By making the worst of a bad situation, our Ottawa politicians are driving some of this country’s more flexible patriots in a highly dangerous direction. Over their pre-luncheon martinis and after-dinner cigars, an increasing number of Canadian senators, businessmen, wheelers, dealers and just plain appeasers are talking up the notion of getting out of the economic morass in which we find ourselves, by plunging into a common-market arrangement with the United States.
We’ve been out conquering the world,” says Arnold Spohr, director of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, “but we haven’t conquered Winnipeg. It’s a challenge.” It won’t, of course, be the first challenge the company has faced since Gwenneth Lloyd and Betty Farrally had the nerve to start it all in 1939, in a town where folks thought a “barre” was a fancy way to say saloon.
In the constant, worldwide search for al ternative energy sources, a breakthrough: scientists are learning to harness the firefly. The lowly, luminous lightning bug isn’t about to replace oil and gas, but it does have one property that can be extremely valuable in certain fire-risk circumstances: it produces light without heat— “cold light.”
teven Brill is the kind of kid people love to hate. At 28, he has a law degree from Yale, has served as assistant to the mayor of New York, worked as a consultant to the Police Foundation in Washington, written for New York and Harper's and has a regular column on U.S. legal affairs in Esquire.
A comic strip about a sightless superhero called The Kane and his sidekick Wheels—a paraplegic with a fabulous wheelchair that flies through space—is one of the most popular features of a new and otherwise serious newspaper called Touchstone.
It can get lonely waiting for socialism in Alberta
Conservative Premier Peter Lougheed, with something like a third of his cabinet having decided not to run in the next election, is the butt of a joke currently convulsing Alberta New Democrats. The premier, the story goes, deigned to ask NDP leader Grant Notley to join his cabinet and was turned down.
If Canada’s economy were as prosperous as the chubby little rodent it chose as a national symbol, the country would be booming. Fifty to 60 years ago, overtrapping and the tularemia virus contracted from rabbits almost wiped out the beaver, but since then Castor canadensis has been very busy—tinkering with water levels and multiplying like, well, like rabbits.
There is so much wrong with Roy MacGregor’s piece on the National Film Board, Theatre of the Absurd (Sept. 18), that it doesn’t merit discussion. With the exception of Peter Pearson, all of the people interviewed by MacGregor were capable of providing worthy and interesting material on the subject.
Nobody knows the trouble Anita Bryant has seen ... cream pies over the lectern on the publicspeaking circuit, gay boycotts of the frozen orangejuice section in the supermarkets, and now nobody wants to do her TV show. Bryant, who is noted for her anti-homosexual evangelism, and husbandmanager Bob Green are trying to assemble a twohour “non-issue” TV special and a radio program— without much success.
Canada’s favorite sport—baiting the public broadcasting system—enjoyed a world series of its own last week at the CRTC hearings in Ottawa, when it was CBC President AI Johnson and his team against just about everybody. The toughest question put to them: Should the CBC try to compete with U.S. shows or repudiate light entertainment and sports to concentrate on high-quality, all-Canadian programming? Michael Posner zooms inside the CBC as budget slashes heighten the most serious crisis it has ever faced—a crisis in public confidence.
Of the 23 million things that might be said about the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the one certainty is that it is not beloved. It is respected on occasion. It is even grudgingly admired from time to time. But week in, week out, on Parliament Hill and in executive boardrooms, in highrise apartments and suburban living rooms, few things stir the bile quite like the public broadcasting network.
CBC President Albert Wesley Johnson has a vision—inspired by the early days of Canadian broadcasting when, as a boy in the Wilcox, Saskatchewan, home of his minister father and organist mother, he tuned in the family’s old wooden radio to shows like Hockey Night in Canada and Jake and the Kid.
On the face of it, Marc Thibault’s testimony to the CRTC hearings seemed self-evident. Here was the director of information programming for radio and television for the CBC French network saying that Radio-Canada would be maintaining its high level of coverage of Quebec politics and, as the political situation evolved, increasing it at the expense of less important questions.
Back in June, 1976, two prominent Montreal attorneys, Joseph Nuss and Michel Robert, concluded in a study for the Quebec Bar on commissions of inquiry that they should “as a general rule sit in public.” Earlier this month Nuss and Robert, the latter a prominent provincial Liberal and ex-head of the Quebec Bar, appeared before the McDonald Commission on the RCMP to argue, in effect, for more closed hearings on behalf of the federal government.
After a 14-week recess that spanned a politically charged summer and with an election looming in the spring, Parliament was expected to resume with megaton vigor last week. It was assumed the Opposition, tasting blood, would mount an all-out attack and the government, back to the wall, would not leave a parliamentary rule unturned in its struggle to survive.
When the squawk of a horn woke Peter Chang one fate-ridden morning in August, he looked out the window of the house where he lives with his sister in Musquodoboit Harbor, Nova Scotia, and saw the milk truck in front of the Chang Family Takeout next door.
When the Penthouse Cabaret was open,” sniffed a woman alderman recently, “it was second only to the Capilano Suspension Bridge as a tourist attraction.” What she did not have to spell out for old Vancouver hands was that it wasn’t the advertised entertainment that made it famous.
It is highly unusual for a government to use a throne speech to announce what it is not going to do. But there it was last week, in a section dealing with national unity: “There is no intention to change or to reduce in any way the role Her Majesty plays."
As he makes his harried way to the national assembly’s daily question period, Premier René Lévesque is intercepted to stand for inspection by former television actress Michelle Juneau. She pats the premier’s tie into place and runs a comb through his mutinous hair before releasing him through a beige velvet curtain and into the aim of the assembly’s new TV cameras.
If Soviet Major-General Alexander Knyrkov was impressed by the manner in which the West German troops attempted to repulse the “red” invasion, he did not show it. His pudgy face, wreathed in the smoke of countless Russian cigarettes, was as impassive as that of Chinese Red Army General Li Chien, sitting only 50 feet away in the makeshift grandstand on the banks of the Danube.
When Captain Jim Cumming edged the 22,000-ton Canadian support vessel Preserver into Barcelona’s bustling harbor last week, trailed by the destroyer Margaree of the First Destroyer Squadron, 425 sailors were looking forward to painting the town.
While the Chinese tide is in full flood over many parts of the world, it has ebbed in one small corner, Albania; and the ripples from that apparently minuscule shift in world alignments are causing waves as far away as Washington. To state department thinkers, the issue posed by last July’s official breakup of Albania's 17-year-old "unbreakable” friendship with China is a capital one: Will Albania, a beautiful but isolated mountain fortress facing Italy across the Adriatic, revert to its alliance with the Soviet Union or will it look for other allies to fill the enormous gap caused by the withdrawal of China’s aid and its 500 technicians?
It had been a week of intense if discreet politicking in the Vatican. As the 111 cardinals sealed themselves in the silent, secret world of the conclave for the second time in seven weeks, they may have been glad to withdraw from the cacophony of predictions and pressures.
With a simple trap, set and baited by a lady-for-hire, an American television company caught and exposed one of the most senior and searched-for Soviet defectors of the century last week. They did it in a hideaway courtyard café with cameramen peeping out from behind potted plants and producers lurking behind a magnolia.
The overriding impression as Egypt and Israel opened their negotiations for a formal peace treaty in Washington last week was that the United States is trying—thus far, successfully—to play the role of a puppeteer, with President Jimmy Carter pulling the strings.
Although Sweden once more has a government this week, a gaping cavity on the Baltic coast north of Stockholm still exists—a memorial to the country’s first non-Socialist administration in 44 years. The crater, dug to hold the foundations of Sweden’s 11th nuclear power station, was the direct cause of the fall of Premier Thorbjörn Fälldin’s Centrist-Conservative-Liberal coalition, 24 months into a threeyear term.
It will be galling for some who remember wire-whip artist Julia Child as The French Chef— but when she returns to her televised kitchen after a five-year absence, she’ll be no more Parisian than a Boston baked bean. In departing from her old format, Child will now prepare an entire meal on each show in her 13-part series, “drawing recipes from anywhere and everywhere.
For Canadian business, that picturewriting has been just one of the many stumbling blocks along with insufficient follow-up, too few contacts, and unstable Chinese politics that have for years frustrated two-way trade. Since Alvin Hamilton, agriculture minister in the Diefenbaker government, told a cheering House of Commons in February, 1961, of a $60-million wheat sale to China, everyone has awaited the string of trade successes as long as the 1,500-mile Great Wall.
After a three-year truce, Ottawa and Alberta appear headed toward another shootout over oil and natural gas pricing. While the latest dispute has been relatively tame to date, with little of the invective that characterized the 1973-75 blowup, the two governments could end up in the courts, this time with profound implications for Confederation.
It was the second dissenting decision since the formation 20 years ago of the Board of Broadcast Governors, and the first in the lifetime of its son, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. The kid almost cracked at the seams.
When you’re hot, you’re hot, and when you’re not, you’re Ontario. Or so it seems for the province’s hapless corporate tax collectors who, as if a shrinking tax-base wasn’t enough, now face an exodus of oil companies to taxlight western climes.
The Yankees were hurtling off a memorable sudden-death playoff drive and the Dodgers, doing their impression of the Waltons, had won another pennant in Happy Valley. They were getting set to revive a rivalry that spans four decades when suddenly a Dodger of 26 years was struck down, and the World Series became a struggle in which Mr. October met The Devil.
It was like the old days of Expo 67. Huge crowds all excited and all going in the same direction. Packed subway trains released their cargo of spectators on Ile. Notre-Dame. Instead of pavilions, they had come to see the spectacle of Grand Prix car racing.
The one-week strike by air traffic controllers in June, 1976, was no ordinary labor dispute. It cut wide and deep into the fabric of Canadian society and represented, according to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, the country’s greatest crisis since conscription in World War II.
Every 100 seconds, the tiny, legless puppet lurches forward convulsive ly, clanging its head with demonic force against a silver bell. The effect is eerie; violence by proxy at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Charlie McCarthy has been up dated as a sado-masochistic stand-in by New York artist Dennis Oppenheim in a piece called An Attempt to Raise Hell.
A wide-eyed fearful girl of about 18 hesitantly enters the examining room. Her carriage is faintly provocative. She sits down across the desk from the doctor and shifts uncomfortably in her chair. “What seems to be the problem?” asks the doctor.
Rosalie Gottlieb is singing again. She’s shopping, driving a car and dating. She’s even living alone. These activities may not seem like monumental achievements, but for Gottlieb and many of the estimated four million North Americans afflicted by a riveting and little-understood fear, they can be impossible.
Fight for lottery millions: the odds are you’ll lose
During the past week, as every week, Canadians dug into their wallets for a deflated dollar bill, a five or a 10, until they had plunged $20 million on lottery tickets. Four out of five Canadians buy regularly, though few quite so regularly as Toronto office manager Richard Quesnell, who after cutting back the habit from $200 per month, is buying $50 worth —confidently waiting for the big million.
There are some things that one can never bring back: the soaring arc of a Mickey Mantle hit, the slapstick antics of Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour on the road to anywhere, the tailfins on a ’50s Chevy. But, Life magazine is back. After a six-year hiatus, the familiar red and white logo is once again on the newsstands and old Life readers will not be disappointed in the new effort.
Early in the CBC’s new film The Masseys, a frail grey man who has been pictured standing in the Massey graveyard turns to the camera and says, “I’m Lovat Dickson, a biographer.” He is, too. Lovat Dickson is the biographer of the costume Indian, Grey Owl, of the lesbian novelist Radclyffe Hall, and others.
Once upon a more harmonious if less musical time, the Boyd Gang was a group of Toronto tearaways with a distressing penchant for breaking into banks and out of jails. That was a full quarter-century ago, just about the time the CBC was launching its television service.
Is there an actor alive better at whooping it up on the screen than Jack Nicholson? As horse thief Henry Moon in Goin' South, Nicholson has the stoned look of a crazy not given enough room to break loose and raise hell; the rest of the world is much too sane to contain him, and he feels stultified.
When an actor co-produces his first film and stars in it, his performance often contains an element of distraction, as if the on-camera self is busy sorting out off-screen problems. This feeling is intensified in The Big Fix with Richard Dreyfuss playing a lowkeyed, cynically witty private detective, Moses Wine, involved in a cockamamy plot so muddled it’ll drive anyone to distraction trying to make sense out of it.
The voice on the radio purrs and stutters like a syncopated Hare Krishna chant, intoning five words, one of which is rude. The repeated phrase, “A warm place to shit,” is the beginning and end of a poem by 38-year-old Vancouver poet Bill Bissett, and through a series of serio-comic episodes it rests at the centre of a melee that has seen the West Coast literary community pitted against what it sees as steely-eyed rednecks; exposure for Bissett on CBC radio’s Sunday Morning; a $3 book that has sold some 56,000 copies; a suit for libel and copyright infringement involving 28 defendants; and a full-page ad in a Vancouver newspaper to support Bissett and his publishers.
Hugh Stuart sits at his desk one morning in 1966 yearning to be free from the burden of managing the family firm, Stuart & Kilgour, distillers of premium rye whisky since 1851. An American, Pettigrew, arrives and offers $50 million for the company.
A word in defence of the Corp: battered, bruised but still a relief from the alternatives
Would it be permissible to say something in defence of the CBC? Society has its own rules of conduct and what it feels constitutes fair play: bearbaiting is no longer legal in this country, cock-fighting is regarded as cruel and unusual punishment and the spectacle of torturing small animals in public for private amusement is regarded as outside the law.