OPENING NOTES

Conrad Black moves to London, Donald Getty encounters some rural resistance, and John Nunziata gets the 'message'

October 2 1989

OPENING NOTES

Conrad Black moves to London, Donald Getty encounters some rural resistance, and John Nunziata gets the 'message'

October 2 1989

OPENING NOTES

Conrad Black moves to London, Donald Getty encounters some rural resistance, and John Nunziata gets the 'message'

UPROAR IN A RURAL RIDING

A byelection pledge that Don Getty made to his constituents last spring— that he would maintain a residence in the constituency—has embroiled the Alberta premier in controversy. Getty made that promise as he campaigned successfully in Stettler, a rural riding that is 150 km southeast of Edmonton. To that end, he is considering buying seven acres of land on a site overlooking Buffalo Lake, one of the region's scenic attractions. But some of his potential neighbors have given him a chilly welcome to the district. They charged that the Red Deer Regional Planning Commission acted with undue

haste last July, when it approved the conversion of the seven-acre site from agricultural to residential use. Declared Getty: "There is not one square inch of prime agricultural land on that property." But the farmers working the fields next to the site said that the land in question had produced crops for 23 years. Indeed, Garvin and Kay Anderson unsuccessfully appealed that ruling to the Alberta Planning Board. Other government bodies have been active in the area: for one thing, the provincial highways department repaved the highway that runs past Getty's proposed purchase shortly after the byelection. And the environment department is considering a plan that Getty supports: diverting water from the Red Deer River into Buffalo Lake. Having a premier in the area can liven up a neighborhood.

The case of the missing leader

According to the current issue of Playboy magazine, Teamsters union boss Jimmy Hoffa is buried near the goalposts of a New Jersey football stadium. But state and stadium officials said last week that they were not about to test that sensational revelation by digging up Giants’ Stadium. The magazine quotes Donald (Tony the Greek) Frankos, a contract hit man who claims that he and several friends were hired to kill Hoffa in July, 1975—on orders from the Mafia. According to Frankos, who was in jail when Hoffa disappeared, the other gang members murdered Hoffa, dismembered his body and stored the parts in a freezer. Then, five months later, they stuffed the remains in an oil drum and buried the drum in an end zone. But stadium spokesmen say that workmen who renovated that playing field recently dug four feet below the surface—without

finding an oil drum or any bones. Added New Jersey State Police Supt. Clinton Pagano: “If I believed every story like this, I would have dug up every bridge on the turnpike.” In New Jersey, some Playboy disclosures are clearly more acceptable than others.

SAYING NO TO A QUIZ CONTEST

David Bedford and Bruce Tulloh, two famed British track champions, are suing London-based cigarette maker Benson and Hedges Ltd. over the use of their names in a promotion. They say that a multiple-choice quiz-card game in packages of Silk Cut brand cigarettes asks smokers to identify the British athlete who was convicted of steroid smuggling last year. Former sprinter David Jenkins is the man in question, but Bedford and Tulloh's names also appear on the cards. Both men have campaigned strenuously against the use of drugs in sport.

WRITING DOWN A MISSING MESSAGE

Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and Liberal MP John Nunziata have traded numerous insults and charges across the aisle of the House of Commons. But after Nunziata and his bride, Carolyn Brett, walked down the aisle of a Toronto church recently, Mulroney sent the newlyweds a glowing letter of congratulations. At a 200-guest reception that followed the nuptials, fellow Liberal MP Sheila Copps listened with growing alarm as a speaker read out letters and telegrams, among

them Mulroney’s graciously worded message. The reason: there was nothing similar from Liberal Leader John Turner. Copps rectified the omission by scribbling out a telegram and attributing it to Turner. Last week, Nunziata and his new wife were honeymooning in the Caribbean. Still, he will have ample opportunity to repay Copps’s face-saving gesture: many Liberals say that she is actively recruiting a team of supporters to help her in a bid to succeed Turner as party leader.

Blazing to a fiery record

With one month left in the forest-fire season, Canada has set a staggering record in the amount of woodland consumed by fire this year: 15 million acres, an area that is the size of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island combined. And Forestry Canada spokesman Dennis Dubé told Maclean’s that an alarming pattern of chronic drought and high temperatures will leave many parts of Canada vulnerable to more blazes— despite a total expenditure this year of more than $300 million. Said Dubé: “There is little we can do when Mother Nature decides she is going to take a swat at us. ”

A new spy enters the club

At 1:54 a.m. on Sept. 4, a U.S. air force Titan 3 rocket lifted off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral with a classified payload on board— a spy satellite. And last week, space scientists in Washington, D.C., asserted that the rocket had actually carried a British spy satellite into space. According to the scientists, that Zircon satellite is an updated version of an intelligence-gathering system that Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s administration supposedly scrapped in 1987 because of high costs.

John Pike, a spokesman for the Washington-based Federation of American Scientists, told Maclean’s: “By process

of elimination, it had to be -

carrying Zircon.” As a result, the scientists and Washington-based intelligence officials say that Britain has now joined the United States, the Soviet Union and China in launching and operating a spy satellite. And they suggest that close ties between Britain and Canada could see Ottawa receiving Zircon reports of Soviet military movements in the Arctic. That would demonstrate both countries’ newfound independence from U.S. spy satellites—because of a helping hand from the U.S. air force.

The threats of outer space

A Soviet military journal has cited unidentified flying objects as a reason for the United States to halt development of its complex, laser-ray Strategic Defence Initiative—the so-called Star Wars system. The authoritative Soviet Military Review stopped short of acknowledging a belief in the existence of alien spacecraft. But Aleksandr Kuzovin and Aleksandr Semyonov argue that Star Wars' superswift computer systems might mistake a UFO for an enemy missile attack and order a retaliatory strike. Declared the authors in an article entitled "UFOS and Security": "We believe that lack of information on the characteristics and influence of UFOS increases the threat of incorrect identifications."

BLACK-ANDWHITE MOVES

Conrad Black has shifted his principal residence from Toronto to London— where, he says, he plans to live for seven months of the year. One of Black’s friends added that the media magnate had purchased a wellappointed house in the fashionable Highgate district of North London several years ago—because he hated living in hotels. Black,

45, recently became executive chairman of the Daily Telegraph, a newspaper that he controls through Hollinger Inc., his Toronto-based holding company. But he dismissed speculation that he was planning to take over United ^Newspapers, a £ newspaper chain that owns the Lonas don-based Daily and I Sunday Express tab| loids. Black ac“ knowledged, however, that he was ready to act as a socalled white knight if United needed to be rescued from a hostile takeover. A media baron indeed.