OPENING NOTES

John Turner’s retirement gift, top dollar for the mayor of Montreal, and high-level talks with the PLO

March 27 1989

OPENING NOTES

John Turner’s retirement gift, top dollar for the mayor of Montreal, and high-level talks with the PLO

March 27 1989

OPENING NOTES

John Turner’s retirement gift, top dollar for the mayor of Montreal, and high-level talks with the PLO

TALKS IN HIGH PLACES

Prime Minister Brian Mulroney insists that Canada is in no hurry to extend diplomatic recognition to the Palestine Liberation Organization. But Maclean's has learned that Canadian officials in Washington, D.C., recently upgraded diplomatic contacts with the PLO by opening talks with PLO leader Yasser Arafat's top-ranked representative to the United States. Hassan Abdel Rahman, the director of the Palestine Information Agency, said that he had recently discussed Middle East peace prospects with Steven Hibbard, a Canadian specialist in the politics of that region. Canadian spokesmen in Washington say that such discussions are not a sign of improved relations. But Rahman maintains that the process that led to the talks conveys a clear diplomatic message on the part of Canada. Declared Rahman: "This is the first time meetings have been arranged in Washington, and the first time meetings have been at the initiative of the Canadians." Definitely the words of a seasoned diplomat.

Political protests with the dead

Making political points with the bodies of the dead is a macabre tradition in Argentina. In 1987, grave robbers entered a Buenos Aires sepulchre and removed the hands of Juan Perón, a former dictator who died in 1974.

Now, a clandestine group has violated another grave to avenge the still-unsolved theft. To that end, the Organization of Upright Argentinians rifled the tomb of Miguel Alfredo de Hoz—the grandfather of former economy minister José Martinez de Hoz—and scattered his bones around the capital.

After depositing the skull at the economy ministry, group representatives telephoned local authorities and denounced the dead man’s grandson. Still, Argentina’s most famous corpse lies undisturbed in a Buenos Aires cemetery. Eva Perón died in 1952 and the military regime that toppled her husband three years later

spirited away her remains—in an attempt to prevent a cult from developing around her. Perón was buried in Europe for 19 years until a civilian government repatriated her body in 1974. In Argentina, the dead exert a powerful influence on the living.

SOME TIME FOR MUCH MONEY

For its 150th anniversary, Swiss watchmaker Patek Phillipe has created a complicated timepiece that weighs 2.4 lb. and performs 33 fimctions—including adjusting the inexact Gregorian calendar at the turn of each century. The firm plans to auction the watch in Geneva next month after exhibitions in cities including New York and Tokyo—but no Canadian stops. In Toronto, Nancy Davis, a spokesman for a local Patek distributor, said that few Canadian collectors had the money for the timepiece: the opening bids alone could top $4 million.

FRUGAL PROMISES ON THE ROCK’

Thomas Rideout will succeed Brian Peckford as Newfoundland’s premier on March 30—and the 40-year-old politician has already indicated that he will decline many of the benefits of high office that Peckford enjoyed during his 10-year stint as leader of the province. They included a rent-free residence in St. John’s, a full-time bodyguard and the use of a stretch limousine. Certainly, the retiring Conservative leader frequently came under fire for maintaining a huge personal

staff and indulging a penchant for entertaining lavishly. By contrast, Rideout said that he would employ the services of a retired police officer if he received threats against his life— and he promised to continue living in a house that he owns in the provincial capital. Indeed, Rideout said that he only wants to exercise one privilege of his newly acquired office: a hunting licence that will permit him to shoot a bull or cow moose in any hunting area of the province. Wildlife beware.

A cigar for old times

On March 6—two days after he announced that he would resign from the leadership of the federal New Democratic Party—Edward Broadbent had an impromptu 10-minute visit from an old adversary: John Turner. The opposition leader arrived at Broadbent’s Ottawa office bearing a going-away present—a cigar—and an invitation to lunch at Stornoway, his official residence, on March 15. Broadbent may soon be able to return those favors. According to Liberal insiders, Turner will likely inform the party before mid-Jxme if he is staying on or quitting his post.

The steep cost of a dream

Quebec entrepreneur Sol Zuckerman is moving from Montreal to Toronto next June—in order to be closer to business interests that include plants making such widely known products as Greb boots and Cooper sports equipment. But the flamboyant 49-year-old businessman said that he regrets having to sell a three-storey Westmount mansion that he described as his "dream house.” Zuckerman bought the house three years ago for $525,000 and recently sold it to Herschel Segal, the president of Le Château, a Montreal-based chain of clothing stores, for $2,050,000. Still, Zuckerman’s friends say that Segal paid a bargain price for the house— because Zuckerman embarked on a renovation project in 1987 that astounded many of the residents of the affluent Montreal district because of its lavish scope. According to Zuckerman associates, the make-over took six months to complete, cost $2 million and included such features as a marble-clad atrium, a bedside hot tub and a replica of Brussels’ famed Manneken Pis (the urinating boy) statue in the living room. Declared Zuckerman: "I did not get a great price. It isn’t easy to sell a house like that in Montreal. In Toronto, I would have got double that amount.” Real estate agents take note.

AN ELITE CLUB OF TWO MINDS

Its sole membership requirement is an intelligence quotient rating above 148—heights attained by only the top two per cent of the population. Still, a controversy at Mensa Canada indicates that great minds do not always think alike. Last fall, Montreal businessman Hyman Brock resigned as president in a split with Mensa's 12-member board of directors. Since then, a debate has surfaced over whether the 3^XXVmember group should continue as an activity club for the certifiably intelligent or become involved in current social issues. The arguments—and name-calling—have spilled into MCa, the group's monthly journal, prompting president Catherine Ford of Calgary to pose the unthinkable question: "Do these people have no sense?"

HIGH SALARIES AT CITY HALL

Montreal mayor Jean Doré is solidifying his ranking as Canada’s highestpaid mayor: he is about to receive an 8.2-per-cent raise, which will increase his yearly salary to $103,000. Similarly, Montreal’s 58 council members will see their salaries rise by $3,756 to $33,000 yearly. But newspaper columnist Nick Auf der Maur—one of five dissenting

members on a 58-member council that is dominated by Doré’s Montreal Citizens’ Movement— has criticized the proposed wage levels for councillors, arguing that they are too high for parttime posts. Doré, meanwhile, has

sidestepped comparisons between his _ salary and those reg ceived by Prime H Minister Brian Mulsi roney ($148,700) o and Quebec Premier 2 Robert Bourassa ($122,448). Said Doré: "The real is-

sue might be whether or not they are earning enough.” A touchy question— for the taxpayers.