OPENING NOTES

Fergie sings the praises of Canary Wharf, Richard Monette directs an opera, and David Suzuki suffers a setback

September 23 1991

OPENING NOTES

Fergie sings the praises of Canary Wharf, Richard Monette directs an opera, and David Suzuki suffers a setback

September 23 1991

OPENING NOTES

Fergie sings the praises of Canary Wharf, Richard Monette directs an opera, and David Suzuki suffers a setback

THE WRATH OF A FATHER

Frank, an Ottawa-based biweekly magazine of political satire, innuendo and gossip, frequently breaches the boundaries of good taste. But even one of its editors acknowledges that it recently went too far. The Sept. 5 issue included a full-page mock advertisement that invited young Tories to enter a lewd contest involving the Prime Minister's daughter. Sources say that Brian Mulroney is more hurt and infuriated about the item aimed at his 17-year-old daughter—who lives at home with her family at 24 Sussex Drive while attending a local private school—than anything else that the media has done during his seven years as prime minister. Mulroney and his wife, Mila, have declined to comment on the matter, but one source close to the Prime Minister told Maclean's: "They are disgusted by it." Christina Starr, a spokesman for Toronto-based Media Watch, a national organization that monitors images of women in the media, called the mock ad "despicable." Said Starr: "The whole tone of the ad carries the implications of a gang rape—as if it were only a good joke." Michael Bate, one of Frank's editors, conceded that the magazine had gone too far. Said Bate: 'The thing is, when you are doing satire you walk a thin line because for satire to work well, it's between fantasy and reality. Sometimes, you step over the line." The editor did not apologize, but he added: 'The Caroline Mulroney thing has caused a storm. It was clumsy."

An unusual musical debut

The Canadian Opera Company got its man. Never mind that he does not speak German, is unable to read music and knows nothing about opera, Richard Monette will direct the COC performances of Beethoven’s Fidelio later this month. The 47-year-old actor-turned-theatre director, who has directed such acclaimed productions as The Taming of the Shrew, As You Like It and The School for Wives at the Stratford, Ont., theatre festival, says that at first he was daunted by the prospect of directing an opera. “I would say to people, ‘Beethoven only wrote one opera, and I’m only going to direct one.’ ” But he adds that his fears have turned out to be much ado about nothing. Said Monette: “This has turned out to be one of the happiest experiences I’ve had in the theatre.” For his part, COC artistic director Philip Boswell says that the company hired Monette because Fidelio is a very theatrical opera and Monette is one of the best directors in the country. Said Boswell: “Getting Monette involved in opera is a wonderful coup.” He added: “It’s a great growth experience for him and the opera.”

SETTING A GOOD EXAMPLE

Last week, a massive transit strike crippled Toronto. But even if the shutdown continues, representatives of the Washington-based American Public Transit Association say that it will still hold its annual convention in the city on Sept. 29. APTA represents most of North America's major public-transit authorities. Declared Charles Bishop, APTA'S director of public affairs: “Toronto has one of the best transit systems in the world. That's why we're going there, so people from the United States can see how well it does things. " If they can get downtown.

A ROYAL FAMILY FEUD

In his 1989 book, A Vision of Britain: A Personal View of Architecture, Charles, Prince of Wales, attacks modem architecture as a “creeping cancer.” Among his targets is London’s towering Canary Wharf development. But not all members of the Royal Family share Charles’s contempt for mammoth glass shopping complexes. On a recent visit to New York City, Sarah, the Duchess of York, 31, visited the offices of Canary Wharf developer Olympia & York, where company chairman Albert Reichmann unveiled a scale model of the 71-acre London docklands mini-city that is still under construction. And apparently, the duchess liked what she saw. “It’s just incredible,” she said. “I’m really bowled over by how huge it is and the variety of buildings. You can walk through parks, land helicopters, have a good dinner and go shopping while the boys work.” But then, the duchess is accustomed to luxury. During their two-day New York visit, she and her three-year-old daughter, Princess Beatrice, stayed in a $2,000-aday penthouse suite at the posh Hôtel Plaza Athénée.

Better red than refugee

Saatchi and Saatchi has a challenging assignment The internationally renowned advertising agency has landed a $690,000 contract to persuade Vietnamese Boat People that life under the Communist regime that they ñed is preferable to their existence in Hong Kong's refugee camps. The European Community campaign is part of a $13.8-million effort to encourage Boat People to return home. Said one skeptical British Tory MP: “It will take more than Saatchi to persuade people who have ñed Vietnam in leaking boats to return to the ludicrous Communist state. "

Column cutting

Environmental crusader David Suzuki has suffered setback. Citing a reorganization of the Saturday edition, The Vancouver Sun has dropped a weekly column written by the host of the CBC TV science program The Nature of Things. John Skinner, editor of the newspaper’s Saturday section, says that there has been almost no reaction from readers to the cancellation. “He is a onenote, predictable columnist,” added Skinner. “He was not offering any new insights.” Indeed, in 1989, the Toronto Globe and Mail also dropped Suzuki’s column. At the time, the Globés science editor, Terry Christian, said: “We worried that people would get so used to his screaming ‘The world is ending, the world is ending’ that they would just turn off.” Suzuki was unavailable for comment, but Joe Foy, campaign director of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, said that the B.C. logging industry hated Suzuki because of his criticism of clear-cut logging. Said Foy: “He got under the forest industry's skin, because he tells the truth. And he backs what he says with scientific fact.” Foy also speculated that the logging giants are pressuring corporations and institutions to reflect their interests. But Skinner dismissed allegations that the newspaper was under pressure. He insisted: “A lot of people do not read him.”

DELIVERING A BOTTLED MESSAGE

Japanese consumers of a popular brand of Canadian bottled water have it on good authority that they are getting the real thing. Robert Mornier, an official at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo, is quoted on the label of Canadian Glacier: “We invite you to enjoy a pure natural treasure from the snowcapped mountains of British Columbia." But Kathryn Aleong, a spokesman for External Affairs, says that the quote is from a letter to the Japanese distributor. The department asked Western Canada Water to remove the quotation. And Margaret Annett, a spokesman for the bottler, says that it has ordered new labels that exclude Mornier's signature. Aleong expressed relief: “It was never intended for product labels."

A SATIRICAL APTITUDE TEST

Often, truth is indistinguishable from fiction. A recent article in the prestigious British newspaper Manchester Guardian Weekly studiously laments a serious “decline in educational standards” in the United States. To support the claim, the newspaper’s Washington bureau chief, Martin Walker, noted that verbal Scholastic Aptitude Test scores, required for U.S. college admission, are at an all-time low. And he cited a recent Washington Post story which stated that “six out of 10 American students believe that the Ukraine is a sex organ.” But Walker also failed a test of sorts: the Post piece was, in large part, satirical. And its authors, Washington-based political analysts Larry McCarthy and Norman Omstein, say that they deliberately mixed fact with fiction. Declared Walker, who readily acknowledged that he took the Post claim at face value: “Blimey.”