CANADA

OPENING NOTES

Elvis in memoriam, those restless young Tories and a crossover marriage

August 31 1992
CANADA

OPENING NOTES

Elvis in memoriam, those restless young Tories and a crossover marriage

August 31 1992

OPENING NOTES

Elvis in memoriam, those restless young Tories and a crossover marriage

CANADA

BACK TO SCHOOL

For eight years, she has been Mila Mulroney’s executive assistant—and one of her closest friends. But last month Bonnie Brownlee, 38, stepped down from her position, and the Prime Minister’s Office has declined to say what she will be doing next. In fact, Maclean’s has learned that Brownlee has been awarded a 10-month fellowship, beginning on Aug. 24, from the elite National Defence College in Kingston, Ont. Funded by taxpayers, the $1.2-million fellowship program enables about 40 students a year, chosen from the ranks of the military, government and the private sector, to travel widely in Canada and around the world, learning about domestic and international affairs. Not surprisingly, the course is highly prized by senior public servants—but it has drawn fire from some retired military officials, who complain it is a waste of money. The college’s commandant,

Maj.-Gen. Scott Clements, says that the government is now reviewing the fellowship program with an eye to cutting costs. Clements added that Brownlee’s application included a letter of recommendation “from the Prime Minister’s Office,” but not from the Prime Minister himself. “We did an awful lot of checking to make sure she would fit the demanding profile that we look for in our candidates,” he said. “There was no pressure put on me.” Brownlee: a prized fellowship

Big-time bargaining

In the Toronto area’s deflated property market, Marie Byers is betting that an elephant will succeed where real estate agents have failed. After eight months of unsuccessfully trying to sell her suburban Toronto home, privately and through agents, Byers says that she is fed up with the conventional approach. Now, she is shelling

out $2,000 to rent a twostorey-high inflatable pink pachyderm that bears the sign, “I’m selling my house for peanuts.” Although the artificial animal will fill her driveway for an entire week, Byers says that she does not expect her neighbors to object. “I’ll go down in history on this street,” she added. “They won’t forget me after I move away.”

‘I DO, MINISTER’

The marriage of Liberal MP Ethel Blondin and Leon Andrew of Fort Norman, N.W.T., last Saturday took the ecumenical spirit to new heights. Blondin and Andrew, both of whom are Dene Indians, are Roman Catholic. But because Blondin d husband, the Catholic church would not sanction the union in time for the wedding on Aug. 22.

As a result, the § couple wound 3 up tying the g knot in an g Anglican church | in Fort Norman, | and Blondin asked United Church minister David MacDonald, a friend, to conduct the ceremony. That decision crossed religious and political boundaries: as well as being a Protestant clergyman, MacDonald is the Conservative member of Parliament for the Toronto riding of Rosedale.

A brush with nudity

For the cover of the book By a Lady, a soon-to-be-published history of Canadian women artists by art historian Maria Tippett, staff at Penguin Books of Canada chose Joyce Wieland’s 1983 painting Artist on Fire. In that work, orange and blue flames erupt from the body of a woman who sits before an easel, touching up a portrait of a male nude. But the dustjacket design was approved only after some heated debate at a recent Penguin sales conference. Some staff members said that they were concerned that booksellers would object to the painting because of the anatomically correct—and, apparently, sexually aroused—figure depicted on the woman’s easel. Explained Brad Martin, Penguin’s vice-president of sales and marketing: “With such an important book, I thought it was prudent to get feedback from the booksellers first.” Penguin distributed mock-ups of the cover to several influential book dealers. To everyone’s relief, said Martin, the buyers agreed to stock the book even though they expected that there might be “a few complaints” from customers. Proof that, in some matters at least, art and commerce can coexist.

Remembering the King

Every August, Elvis Presley fans around the world pay tribute to their idol, who died on Aug. 16,1977. Highlights of events commemorating the 15th anniversary of his death:

Memphis, Tenn.

More than 40,000 people gathered for Elvis Week ’92 from Aug. 8 to 16. The festivities included a candlelight vigil at Presley’s Graceland mansion, an Elvis Presley Memorial Karate Tournament and a revamped production of the Elvis: Legacy in Light laser concert at the Memphis Planetarium.

Niagara Falls, Ont.

The Elvis Presley Museum, home of “Elvis’s favorite casual suit” and dozens of other Presley artifacts, staged a special 12-hour tribute. More than 350 visitors ate cake

while listening to local Presley soundalike Mark Bridgman. “He was so good, people thought I was playing a tape,” said museum general manager Dale Hall.

Abu Ghosh, Israel

Restaurant-owner Uri Yoeli,

46, an Elvis impersonator, entertained diners at his Elvis Inn, a truck stop on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway. “I think that he was like Jesus,” Yoeli said. “If Elvis had come 2,000 years ago, he would have started a new religion.”

St Vincent and the Grenadines

Postal officials in the Caribbean island nation said that they were close to selling out 20,000 sets of nine Elvis stamps issued in July. Said Alphonso Dennie,

general manager of St. Vincent’s Philatelic Service: “We’ve done it because we can make some money off it”

Tupelo, Miss. (Elvis’s birthplace)

At the Tupelo Hardware Co., owner William Booth, 72, welcomed visitors to the store where Gladys Presley bought her son a guitar for his ninth birthday, ignoring Elvis’s repeated requests for a .22-calibre rifle. Recounted Booth: “She told him if he didn’t behave, he was going home without a present and he would get something else." He added: “The rest is history.”

ON THE WILD SIDE

Over the Aug. 1 long weekend, 300 members of the federal Conservative youth wing converged on Ottawa to attend an annual meeting and hear speeches from Conservative heavyweights—including Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, who praised the group as representing “our future leaders.” If Mulroney’s prediction is correct, however, Canadians had better brace themselves. When the budding politicos returned to their lodgings at Carleton University’s student residence, some of them apparently let loose. “There were two incidents of men urinating from window ledges,” said Carleton’s conference co-

ordinator, Maria Neil. “One security guard even saw a naked man at one of the windows.” Neil told Maclean’s that some young Tories, most aged between 18 and 30, were drinking in prohibited areas, and that cleanup crews found vomit and urine in some of the rooms. Mark Arsenault, president of PC Youth, insisted that Carleton officials had exaggerated the extent of the damage. “It was just a lot of Canadian youth having a lot of fun together,” he added. But Neil insisted that the incident was more serious. “If they stay here again,” she said, “we will have to get a better undertaking for more socially acceptable behavior.” Neil added that, a week later, a group of young Liberals stayed at a Carleton residence. Her assessment of the youthful Grits: “No problems.”