COLUMN

Our first female prime minister

Allan Fotheringham October 13 1986
COLUMN

Our first female prime minister

Allan Fotheringham October 13 1986

Our first female prime minister

COLUMN

Allan Fotheringham

It’s always nice to get help in life’s missions. Lord knows, Divine Providence can be most useful. Every little bit helps. It is acknowledged, therefore, that in my personal mission to elect the first female prime minister of Canada, all assistance is greatly appreciated. Especially the inside news that Adrienne Clarkson is about to become the next president of the Canadian Broadcorping Castration. It is exactly the vaulting box I was looking for, in my project that—while daunting—is not impossible.

Having helped Brian Mulroney into 24 Sussex Drive—the voters eventually will decide on the wisdom of that decision— it is now time to move on to the next long-range caper. (Whatever you think of The Jaw, you surely must agree that it was necessary to get the Liberals out of power for at least a sobering spell.) In the future it will be necessary to get the men out of power.

This department, you will agree, has been unswerving in the past as a supporter of present CBC boss Pierre Juneau. He has been held up here as a pivotal figure in the saving of this country that doesn’t want to be saved—a man history will applaud for his roles with the CRTC and the CBC in guarding what is left of our nationality. We smile when we see each other on airplanes.

Alas, I fear we must finally give in to the slavering, lip-smacking desire of the Tories to get rid of him. He was appointed in 1982 for a seven-year term. We all agree that CBC heads should not be thrown out at the whim of changing governments, but a graceful resignation might do the trick. The imperative of Adrienne looming on the horizon tends to concentrate the mind.

Mr. Juneau, gentleman that he is, cannot be faulted for his programming philosophy (though my first nervous feelings of doubt came when he let Peter Herrndorf, the pride of Winnipeg and Harvard, leave “the Holy

Allan Fotheringham is a columnist for Southam News.

Mother Corp.”—Stanley Burke, patent pending).

Mr. Juneau, however, as the fallout from the Caplan Report on the CBC has revealed, has let the computer boffins so dominate CBC financing and budgeting that no one knows which way is up. This is a crime that requires punishment. Computers blight our lives, and once they are allowed into CBC financial records, which are incomprehensible anyway, something serious must be done. Something serious is called Adrienne Clarkson, 47.

The point is that Adrienne’s tenure

as the glamorous and brainy agentgeneral for Ontario in Paris is just about up. I was worried about my next move for her, on the way to 24 Sussex, when it became apparent that the way station of the CBC president’s 14-foot desk was the obvious answer. She was cleverly positioned in France, in waiting for the CBC spot, and now she will be cleverly positioned in the CBC, while the Canadian consciousness-raising level adjusts to the mode, a half-dozen or so years from now, of a female prime minister —in succession to Golda Meir in Israel and Indira Gandhi in India and Maggie Thatcher in Britain. Eventually this country must grow up.

Adrienne, you see, has always been ahead of her time. Born in Hong Kong, raised by a strong, loving father who taught her that nothing was impossible for an immigrant Chinese girl, schooled in Ottawa, she was about the first female star that the CBC produced, starting with Take 30 in the af-

ternoon and finishing with the fifth estate. She was a superb journalist and interviewer.

Ahead of her time? When her marriage to Stephen Clarkson, professor of political economy at the University of Toronto, failed, she was one of the first of her generation to hit upon the younger-man solution. Her man, author John Ralston Saul, a reedy fellow who believes in John Kenneth Galbraith’s maxim that modesty is a highly overrated virtue, is a perfect counterpoint for her in Paris, fluently bilingual as she is, tweedy and prickly. If we are going to have our first female prime minister, why not double our fun by having our first younger-man chatelaine?

Everything fits for the CBC. Adrienne, who has a wardrobe that makes Imelda Marcos look like a bag lady, was appointed to the Paris post by the Conservative government of premier Buttermilk Billy Davis, since retired to boardrooms. It was actually stickhandled by Julian Porter, the Toronto lawyer whose wife is a publisher of some noteer and the second-funniest r woman in Canada, g The other factor, of course, facilitating my arrangements, is that the new Ontario Liberal government of David Peterson naturally wants that Paris plum as a landing spot for one of its own loyal troupers. Adrienne undoubtedly knows that and will be casting about looking to rent the Queen Mary so she can get all her clothes back home. Although the appointment to Paris was made by the Ontario Conservatives, it has not been determined what her personal politics are as we look beyond the CBC post. It doesn’t really matter these days, what with a born Conservative, John Turner, leading the Liberal party and a natural Liberal, Brian Mulroney, running the Conservatives.

The Prime Minister, in his current troubles, needs a few high-level women appointments. Juneau looks very tired. Helpful as always, I contribute my solution.

I know all you guys out there in radioland are laughing. But that’s what they did when I first started on my Project Mulroney.