The Clark trivia catalogue: quick now, what’s his favorite brand of popcorn?

Allan Fotheringham May 28 1979

The Clark trivia catalogue: quick now, what’s his favorite brand of popcorn?

Allan Fotheringham May 28 1979

The Clark trivia catalogue: quick now, what’s his favorite brand of popcorn?


Allan Fotheringham

Twenty-four different things you didn’t know about Joe Clark: 1. When he was a youth, his hobby was collecting matchbooks.

2. Jim Coutts, principal secretary to Pierre Trudeau, comes from Nanton, Alberta, 18 miles south of Clark’s High River. At the University of Alberta they were even then political opponents, Coutts, the Liberal leader of the mock parliament, and Clark the Opposition leader. Coutts confided at the time: “In this game you have to be a bit of a son-of-a-bitch. Joe doesn’t quite have it.”

3. Clark was the first man ever to win a federal Tory leadership convention without leading on the first ballot.

4. Dalton Camp is cred-

ited with the line: “When Joe Clark comes into a room, Conservatives don’t know whether to stand up or send him out for coffee.” g

5. When Clark entered | the voting for the party ÍL leadership, he was sup> ported by only three Con* servative MPs—Harvie Andre of Calgary, Steve Paproski of Edmonton and Allan McKinnon of Victoria.

6. Clark is a Coke-aholic. At university he ate enormous amounts of chips, peanuts, cheese crisps and candies. His treat was a canned, candied popcorn called Poppycock.

7. In 1964, when Clark was 25, Davie Fulton, now a B.C. Supreme Court Justice, wrote to him: “There is no one I know whose career would hold greater promise for success for himself and to his country.”

8. On his visit to Jerusalem in January, Clark was shown some religious sites and said to his guide, “Has there been any appreciable increase in the desecration?” He was inquiring, apparently, about vandalism.

9. Clark, a month before the 1976 leadership convention, predicted on national TV that supporters of right winger Sine Stevens would move to him—the shock switch at the convention that ensured Clark the leadership.

10. High River, a half-hour south of Calgary, was a refuge for British remittance men. The town produced the 1912 world championship polo team.

11. Clark graduated from the University of Alberta with average marks, most of them in the 60s. He failed French in his first year and, because of it, was turned down in his application to do post-graduate work at Washington’s Georgetown University. Says Professor Grant R. Davey of the U of A political

science department: “I never considered Clark a serious or committed student—attending university appeared merely as one of several devices to advance his political ambitions.”

12. Though most Canadians don’t seem to know it, Clark is a Catholic and describes himself as a devout one.

13. Once in high school Clark came home telling his mother he had the choice of six essay topics. So he sat down and did all six.

14. During this campaign, Clark was introduced to an exchange student from Ecuador. “Oh,” he said, “what language do they speak there?”

15. As editor of his university paper, Clark led the first student demonstration against the 26-year-old Social Credit government in a demand for increased grants. Clark handed to each demonstrator an instruction sheet: “Keep in mind, this march is unorganized, unplanned and spontaneous.”

16. Clark does not smoke and is not interested in drink. He likes whodunit

books and any movie, the more violent the better.

17. One of his professors, Lewis Thomas, said his mind was “one that got out of its accustomed channels easily.”

18. Clark, at age 31, still drifting in Europe, writes to a friend in 1970: “I don’t consider Trudeau a representative Canadian; he is too much a rationalist

to be French, too inflexible to be Anglo-Saxon; when he went to Harvard he followed his true instinct; he belongs in the modern Puritan society, where everything is coded and the code is everything.”

19. Clark almost drowned when he was three, fishing with his father, when the bank of the stream gave way. He still cannot swim because, he explains, his head sinks, it being heavier than the rest of his body. His first swimming instructor was Merna Mitchell, wife of W. 0. Mitchell, the writer who made High River famous.

20. Robert Stanfield, after Clark served him as an aide and speech writer: “I considered him too highly strung and nervous to be a practising politician. I thought he would probably return to Alberta eventually.”

21. When Clark tried London as a stockroom assistant in the basement of the famed Harrods, he took a flat beneath a bordello but had to move out because of the noise. When he tried the Monte Carlo casino he was refused admittance for not wearing a tie.

22. Knowing he would fail a final exam at the University of British Columbia law school, Clark purposely scrawled 25 pages illegibly in hopes of buying time for an oral exam. He failed the oral.

23. On his first date with Maureen McTeer at the fashionable Café Louis IX across the river in Hull, he got lost on the way home.

24. John McTeer, his father-in-law: “He had a definite political goal in life, which was to go up.”