OPENING NOTES

BARBARA WICKENS March 27 1995

OPENING NOTES

BARBARA WICKENS March 27 1995

OPENING NOTES

POETRY AND PROMOTION

The idea was to make Quebec City seem more like a national capital. So last November, the city’s chamber of commerce bought a sumptuous, $800,000 Tudor-style mansion on the tony Rue des Braves to be the official residence of Quebec Premier Jacques Parizeau and his wife, Lisette Lapointe. (Most recent Quebec premiers have been from Montreal and simply rented an apartment in the provincial capital.) And since he moved into the fully furnished house, the Parti Québécois leader has entertained most Thursdays in grand style. To date, he has welcomed more than 1,500 guests to what the local media have nicknamed the “Elisette”—a play on Elysée, the official residence of French President François Mitterrand and the name of Parizeau’s influential wife.

Some of Parizeau’s most recent visitors, however, left opposition MNAs perplexed. Last week, 50 of the nearly 80 guests were there because they had won a Quebec City radio station’s contest. In February, CJMF-FM asked its listeners to send in poems celebrating the Parizeaus, their residence

or the province. “The poems had to rhyme with the ‘eau’ in Parizeau, and the ‘ette’ in Lisette,” said promotional director Steve Hayes. But Liberal MNA Yvan Bordeleau questioned whether the official residence should “serve as a promotional vehicle.” Replied Parizeau: “It shows to what point this government is keeping in contact with so many people from all backgrounds.” He added, “I’m very proud of that and I’m going to continue.” A premier’s home is his castle.

WORKING HARD FOR THE MONEY

When it comes to work, not every number shows up on the balance sheet:

• Number of Canadians currently unemployed due to layoffs: 859,000.

• Number of Canadians holding down more than one job: 473,000.

• Number of Canadians injured on the job each day: 1,607. Killed: 2.

• Chances that a Canadian worker has personal knowledge of a co-worker using illegal drugs on the job: 1 in 4.

•Average number of bankruptcies in Canada each day: 207.

•Amount lost each day to employee theft:

$2 million.

• Percentage of workplace problems caused by drug use: absenteeism, 54; accidents, 30; theft, 36.

• Cost of back complaints in lost wages, medical and insurance claims each day: $2.7 million.

•Amount lost to poor tracking of goods and sales: $1 million.

•Amount businesses lose each day because of illiteracy among employees:

$11 million.

HE SHOOTS! HE SCORES!

They won’t have to shout “Car!” They won’t have to move the net. Indeed, when nearly 1,000 players gather on the weekend of March 25 and 26 for the 10th annual High Voltage Classic, a 32-hour road hockey tournament, Saskatoon civic officials will close the street directly in front of City Hall to traffic. More than 60 teams of up to 15 male and female players, some from as far as Vancouver and Toronto, paid the $25 entrance fee and signed up sponsors for the privilege of stickhandling tennis balls on the three road rinks set up for the event. That makes the tournament, organized by the electrical engineering students of

the University of Saskatchewan, the largest of its kind in Canada. In nine years, the organizers have donated $85,000 to nine charities. This year, the goal is to raise $15,000. “We’d like to top the $100,000 mark,” says Troy Woloshyn, a member of the organizing committee. Teams compete in such categories as most money raised and best costumed. Previous winners, says Woloshyn, include the Cabbage Heads, who wore real cabbage leaves on their heads. “They were kind of wilted by the end of the tournament,” he adds. But all in a good cause.

MAKING THE MOST OF ICY MANITOBA

It was a clean sweep this season for Manitobans, who captured all four major Canadian curling championships. Earlier this season, Connie Laliberte’s women’s rink won the Scott Tournament of Hearts in Calgary, while teams led by Chris Galbraith and Kelly MacKenzie captured the junior men’s and women’s titles in Regina. Then on March 12 in Halifax, Kerry Burtnyk’s rink capped the perfect run—winning Manitoba’s 24th Brier in 66 years of competition.

Why Manitoba? “It’s hard to say,” mused Burtnyk as he celebrated the victories with 300 club mates last week at Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Memorial Curling Club. ‘There’s such great depth in this province.”

Added Galbraith: “Perhaps we have so many good curlers because the season is so much longer here than anywhere else.” But perhaps it is because Manitobans just love the sport. Demand for tickets at this year’s world championships— being held in Brandon, 200 km west of Winnipeg beginning on April 8—

was so high that officials had to hold a lottery to ensure fair distribution. “You get your once-in-alifetime chance to go to the worlds,” said Burtnyk, who, like Laliberte, will compete at the event. “It’s better to do it in front of 6,000 cheering people than going overseas and having a few hundred people in the stands.”

BYTES OF PSYCHOLOGICAL ADVICE?

Feeling a little blue? Or perhaps the urge to scarf down an entire chocolate cake is overwhelming? The afflicted, as well as the merely curious, now have a high-tech alternative to a $100-plus-an-hour office visit to a clinical therapist to learn more about such psychological conundrums. For $28, customers of Shrink-Link, a New York City-based Internet service, are guaranteed a learned response within 72 hours on issues ranging from sexuality to alcoholism to emotional abuse. Since its start last month, more than 450 callers, including about 100 Canadians, have contacted Shrink-Link (http://www.westnet.com/shrink) for help. Founder Daniel Litwin, 30, says that he had originally hoped to

rely solely on his mother Dorothy’s talents as a professional psychologist. But demand, he says, has forced him to recruit seven other mental health professionals to respond to the volume of e-mail coming in from around the world. “It became apparent that we need% ed to find specialists,” says 1 Litwin. But John Service, execQutive director of the 4,500| member Canadian Psychologiu cal Association, says that, although services like ShrinkLink are the wave of the future, he worries about monitoring the quality of advice. “It’s disquieting,” adds Service. Can an electronic highway patrol be far behind?

Edited by BARBARA WICKENS