Opening Notes

Opening Notes

Canadian designs on the catwalk

BARBARA WICKENS April 7 1997
Opening Notes

Opening Notes

Canadian designs on the catwalk

BARBARA WICKENS April 7 1997

Opening Notes

BARBARA WICKENS

Canadian designs on the catwalk

It was the shot in the arm that the Canadian fashion industry has been hoping for. For five years, a number of designers had Merulla’s been banding together twice a knitwear: year to show their spring and fall breadth ready-to-wear collections, but and depth without attracting much notice. of fashion By mid-January, it looked as though there wouldn’t be enough interest—or money—to stage this year’s fall collections. But at the end of January, a corporate sponsor stepped forward to save the day. Although a bane to antismokers, Montreal-based Imperial TobacJHB co Ltd., via its du Maurier and Players ™ brands, has been a boon to arts and sports groups throughout Canada. Now, it was time for Imperial’s Matinée to step up its presence in the fashion world. With a substantial infusion of cash, the show became the

“Matinée Fashion Ready-to-Wear.” That, however, left little more than six weeks for organizers to find a suitable venue, hire more than 30 models and co-ordinate dozens of behind-thescene staffers, from makeup to lighting artists. As well, a jury of fashion industry insiders had to quickly determine who among the 27 applicants would get one of 16 time slots to show their line. But at last week’s two-day £ event in Toronto, none of that scram§ bling was readily apparent. Instead, 1 the shows demonstrated the breadth I and depth of Canadian fashion, from k Vancouverite Patricia Fieldwalker’s | sensuous lingerie to Torontonian BriE an Bailey’s stunning suits to Montreal“ er Dina Merulla’s carefree knitwear. > On the business side, the event attracted buyers from across Canada and as ° far away as Dallas. All dressed up with I somewhere to go.

A Chance to please

Since his first appearance last fall, Kim Campbell’s puppy, Chance, has been helping her settle into her job as consul general in Los Angeles. Now six months old, the black standard poodle charmed both employees and visitors with his appearances at the South Hope street consulate. When nature called, the former prime minister’s chauffeur would take the poodle puppy outside. But according to a Campbell aide, for the most part Chance just lay on the floor in Campbell’s office, “like an

ornament.” That quickly ended when the building’s landlord angrily enforced his no-pets policy. “She got over it,” said the aide. “The staffers were even more upset.”

Chance now spends his time at the consul’s official residence, entertaining the frequent guests and bonding with Campbell— who also owns a cat named Time. Chance’s exemplary behavior around felines endeared him even more to Campbell, whose 1996 autobiography was titled—surprise—Time and Chance. Recently, however, Time disappeared for a while. But Chance was not a suspect. Time just ran out.

Shacking up now respectable

ommon-law marriages used to be considered “common”—it was lowerclass couples, the attitude went, who lived together without a marriage licence. But a Statistics Canada report released last week indicates that such marriages now are “common” in another sense of the word: widespread. According to “Common Law Unions at the End of the 20th Century,”

the number of couples simply living together nearly tripled between 1981 and 1995. StatsCan analysts attribute the phenomenon to the fact that there is now far less stigma attached to such unions. Some study highlights:

• In 1995, nearly two million Canadians lived common law, up from 700,000 in

1981. Nationwide, they now represent 14 per cent of all couples.

• Quebec has the greatest number of

common-law spouses, with 25 per cent of couples living together. The number jumps to 64 per cent for Quebecers under 30.

• Manitoba and Saskatchewan have the smallest percentage of common-law couples, 7.1.

• StatsCan predicts that if the current trend continues, by the year 2022 there will be the same number of couples living together as married in Canada.

Daylight savings

All-night marathon sessions featuring mind-numbing partisan speeches by bleary-eyed politicians are now a thing of the past in Quebec’s national assembly— in theory, at least. When the current legislative session began on March 11, the ruling Parti Québécois and the opposition Liberals voted unanimously to modify the rules governing working hours in the provincial legislature. Assembly sessions now begin at 10 a.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and must end by 6 p.m. Speaker Jean-Pierre Charbonneau says the changes will save the government $400,000 annually in overtime costs. And, he claims, the new hours will improve the image of Quebec’s politicians. “It is unacceptable that laws which affect people’s lives are discussed and adopted late at night, often without the media and the public present,” says Charbonneau, who proposed the reforms. Adds Liberal house leader Pierre Paradis, who supports the changes: “You don’t always get good speeches at 4 a.m.” He says that the shorter hours should also reduce the “human risk factor”—a reference to a past occasion when MNAs were ejected from the assembly for being drunk. But just 10 days after the new rules were adopted, the speaker called for a special sitting on March 21 so the assembly could debate until midnight a special law that would have forced Quebec government workers’ unions to reopen collective bargaining agreements. Old habits die hard.

No more loosey goosey

Thirty years ago, the snow goose was nearly cooked. But thanks to conservation efforts, both the lesser and greater snow goose have staged a remarkable comeback—too remarkable, some would argue. Farmers in the Quebec City region accuse the greater goose—whose numbers

have increased sixfold since the 1960s, to an estimated 650,000—of destroying crops during its spring migration north to Baffin Island. The lesser goose—which is a third smaller than its cousin—however, is posing an even bigger problem. Wildlife researchers fear that the tripling of its population to roughly six million has led to an I ecological crisis along the southern I and western shores of James and I Hudson’s bays. Kenneth Abraham, x a scientist with the Ontario ministry I of natural resources, explains that ° the geese forage along ecologically fragile salt marshes, destroying plants and turning coastlines into deserts. ‘This, in turn,” he says, “sets off a food-chain cascade which negatively impacts ducks, shore birds and the snow geese themselves.” As a result, the Hudson Bay Project, a joint Canadian-American research group, recently made 14 recommendations aimed at reducing the lesser snow goose population— including longer hunting seasons.