A new boy joins the lobbying game

OPENING NOTES

Wayne Gretzky tries some new lines, Brian Peckford gets a job, and George Bush delivers a dubious gift

May 22 1989
A new boy joins the lobbying game

OPENING NOTES

Wayne Gretzky tries some new lines, Brian Peckford gets a job, and George Bush delivers a dubious gift

May 22 1989

OPENING NOTES

STATIC ON THE LINE

Wayne Gretzky tries some new lines, Brian Peckford gets a job, and George Bush delivers a dubious gift

Vancouver author Philip Marchand conducted extensive research for his critically praised biography on Marshall McLuhan entitled Marshall McLuhan: The Medium and the Messenger— but, in the process, he angered the communication thinker's widow. The source of that ire dates from 1985, when Marchand took a job cataloging McLuhan's correspondence at the National Archives in Ottawa. One year earlier, Corinne McLuhan had entrusted 225 volumes of her husband's personal letters to the archives. And she, too, was working on a book in 1985: a collection of her husband's letters that she copublished in 1987 under the title Letters of Marshall McLuhan. In any event, she refused to grant Marchand an interview about her husband— as did her six children. Marchand has used the McLuhan letters in his biography—to excess in Corinne McLuhan's opinion, her friends say. But Marchand maintains that he consulted lawyers to ensure that he did not violate any copyright laws when he quoted from that correspondence.

A new boy joins the lobbying game

After 10 years in office, Brian Peckford resigned as premier of Newfoundland on March 30— complaining that he was financially strapped, despite a $76,000 annual salary and a $60,000 yearly pension from a 17-year legislative career. Conservative supporters responded by holding a fund-raising dinner that raised $100,000 to help Peckford purchase a house and car. Now, Maclean’s has learned that Peckford will soon embark on a lucrative new career: working as a part-time lobbyist for Public Affairs International, an Ottawa-based consulting firm. From an office in St. John’s, Peckford will use his political experience—and contacts with influential Conservatives—on behalf of firms doing business with the federal and Newfoundland governments. Peckford is simply following a trail blazed by Frank Moores, the man he succeeded as premier.

Moores now runs the Ottawa-based Government Consultants International—a lobbying firm that he founded soon after the federal Tories came to power in 1984. Now, the two men are business rivals in the back rooms of politics.

A MOTH-EATEN BIRTHDAY GIFT

President George Bush marked North Dakota’s centennial celebrations last month by giving the state an offshoot from a tree that a predecessor, John Quincy Adams, had planted more than 140years ago. But agricultural inspectors in the state capital of Bismarck quickly sprayed the American elm last week when they determined that the 12-foothigh tree had arrived with an infestation of gypsy moths, leaf-eating pests that have been the target of huge spraying programs in other states. Beware of presidents bearing gifts.

THE OFF-ICE FOLLIES OF NO. 99

He is superbly at home on the ice, but hockey superstar Wayne Gretzky was battling stagefright in New York City last week as he rehearsed his role hosting Saturday Night Live. In his initial meeting with the staff of NBC’s weekly comedy series—including Canadian-born producer Lorne Michaels—the Los Angeles Kings centre declared that he wanted to be “in as little of the show as possible, and to say as little as possible.” Having made that request, Gretzky

arrived on the set the next day in a black suit jacket—forcing wardrobe staffers to search frantically for a casual sweater more appropriate to the show’s laid-back image. And while filming ads for the program, Gretzky mispronounced the name of guest rock band Fine Young Cannibals, repeatedly referring to them as “The Canni-balls.” The show went on as scheduled, but the message to the gamely trying Great One seemed clear: he should not give up his day job.

Withdrawal from Ottawa

For two years before he became Canada’s ambassador to the United States last January, Derek Burney led a pressure-filled existence as Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s chief of staff. And Burney acknowledges that he had difficulty adjusting to the slower pace on Washington’s diplomatic circuit. During his first month there, in fact, Burney satisfied his craving for Canadian political content by regularly tuning in satellite broadcasts of Question Period from Parliament Hill—beamed in daily to the Pennsylvania Avenue embassy. Life on the outside can take some getting used to.

Eyeing the mayor’s chair

When U.S. officials launched an investigation into the alleged drug links of Washington, D.C., Mayor Marion Barry Jr. last December, several of Barry’s political associates decided that it was time to find the mayor a new job. Now, those politicians—including key local Democrats—say that they are seriously considering a proposal to raise $1.2 million as part of a deal to allow the embattled mayor to resign with dignity. Under that plan, the money raised would endow a Marion Barry Chair in politics at the University of the District of Columbia. And as a professor there, Barry would draw a salary of $100,000 from the interest generated by the endowment. Certainly, a Barry switch to the classroom after three four-year terms as mayor would leave the top civic job open for another politician who is immensely popular with Washington’s predominantly black population: Rev. Jesse Jackson. In the past, Jackson has said that he would consider running for mayor—if Barry decided to step down. Jackson, who normally resides in Chicago, is currently well placed to enter municipal politics: he and his wife, Jacqueline, have been in Washington more than usual over the past three months overseeing renovations to a house that they own in the U.S. capital.

SPURNING THE OLIVE BRANCH

Before he died of cancer last week, Alexander Fraser had spent 20 years in the B.C. legislature representing the Interior riding of Cariboo. But there was friction between Fraser and William Vander Zalm within the Social Credit party because Fraser fiercely opposed Vander Zalm's plans to sell off most provincially owned enterprises. And when Vander Zalm became premier in 1986, he swiftly removed Fraser as highways minister. Still, the premier tried to effect a reconciliation—and last month he sought Fraser's permission to visit him in hospital. The reply from the unbending MLA: Vander Zalm would not be welcome. Despite that rebuff, the premier said that he planned to attend Fraser's funeral in Quesnel last weekend.

TICKETED FOR TWO BIG WINS

Joe Ghiz describes himself as a lucky man—shrugging off

such incidents as a punch that he received from a drunken stranger shortly before the Prince Edward Island premier called a provincial election on May 2. Certainly, Ghiz’s wife,

Rose Ellen, has en-

joyed good fortune recently: she purchased a $1 lottery ticket last month and won a $26,000

Chrysler convertible. At that time, the Ghiz driveway already contained a station wagon, a compact car and a provincially owned sedan. And on May 5, Ghiz matched his wife’s luck when a Rotary Club official drew

the premier’s ticket from 400 entries. The prize in a lottery that cost $200 per ticket: a $42,000 Cadillac Sedan de Ville. Still, Ghiz said that he will be too busy to drive the car until the campaign

ends on May 29.

Shaking hands from a Cadillac does not convey a common touch.