Opening NOTES

Opening NOTES

RAE CORELLI September 21 1998
Opening NOTES

Opening NOTES

RAE CORELLI September 21 1998

Opening NOTES

Acting up in prison

It was a warm autumn day in the exercise yard of Stony Mountain Institution, 11 km north of Winnipeg. And as the film crew laid out cables and sound equipment last week, dozens of convicts wearing identical prison greens watched from the sidelines. They comprised two groups: the ones who looked pale and tense were

were the actors, while the real inmates padded around with wraparound sunglasses and big smiles. About 25 convicts were taking part in the shooting of Hard Time, a dramatization of the life of the wrongfully convicted David Milgaard. ‘This is a lot of fun,” said Alain (French AÍ) LeBras, former president of Winnipeg’s Las Bravos motorcycle club. Added LeBras, who is head of the inmate welfare committee: “How often do you get to be in a movie?”

After being convicted of the murder of nursing aide Gail Miller in 1970, when he was 16, Milgaard spent 23 years in prison—most of them in Stony Mountain. He was released in 1992, but it was not until 1997 that a DNA test proved his innocence. Now, three Winnipeg production companies have banded together to shoot Milgaard’s story as a two-hour movie for CTV, expected to air in early 1999. One of the producers, Ritchard Findlay, noted that 117 of Stony Mountain’s 462 inmates applied for work in the movie: “But we needed haircuts

TANYA DAVIES

we that matched the period, so we could only hire two dozen.” The inmates’ wages—they were paid scale as extras—will be used to purchase equipment for the weight room and the prison band.

At one point during last week’s filming, LeBras sidled over to a reporter. “This should indicate to the public that after 23 years, a man can still be found innocent,” he said, then paused for effect. “Heck, we’re all innocent in here.” His buddies gave a hearty laugh.

Staking out a new post

With Southam Inc.’s new national daily newspaper set to begin publishing on Oct. 27, it now has a name—The National Post—and lots of griping from some employees. Ever since Southam bought The Financial Post from Sun Media Corp. last July—and announced plans to fold it in-

to the new daily—editorial employees have been fretting about their future. A visit last week from Don Babick, Southam’s chief operating officer and publisher of the new venture, did nothing to soothe those concerns. Aside from announcing the paper’s new name, he revealed little else.

Many senior editors and writers have not been told how—or whether—

they will fit in. Layoffs or buyouts seem inevitable since most management positions in the new business section have already been filled. (Southam recently hired Globe and Mail columnist Terence Corcoran to help run the business section.) “The one thing that’s clear is

that they have no need for all of us,” says one senior journalist. Many employees fear that Southam will wait until just before the final October edition of The Financial Post before announcing any bad news. As well, it is not clear what will happen to the monthly Financial Post Magazine: one employee Southam

officials at first “did not even seem aware of its existence.” And another journalist says that Kenneth Whyte, the editor-inchief of the new paper, “treats us like the poor relatives he’s been ordered to get along with.” But at least one senior staff member of the soonto-be-defunct publication is untroubled by doubts. Just hours after National Post columnist Christie

Blatchford announced recently that she would not use the private office she had been assigned, outgoing Financial Post editor Diane Francis appeared on the scene with her belongings and moved into the vacant space. She is expected to be a columnist at the new National Post.

EMPORIUM

The United Nations Human Development Report again ranked Canada the best country in the world, but added some caveats about inequality: with 11.7 per cent of its people living below the poverty line, and 17 percent functionally illiterate, Canada placed 10th among 17 rich countries on the Human Poverty Index. Other notable findings in the 1998 report include these annual spending figures, in U.S. dollars:

Global military spending: $780 billion Cosmetics in the United States: $8 billion Estimated additional spending required to make primary education accessible to everyone in all developing countries: $6 billion

DOUBLE TAKE

Shirley Carr

When Shirley Carr decided to return to work after giving birth to a son in 1952, the job she got as a municipal clerk required her to join a union—so she did. That action influenced her future far more than the humdrum job. In 1986, the Niagara Falls, Ont.-born Carr, by then a competent and outspoken activist, completed her climb through the ranks of the 2.3million-member Canadian Labour Congress to become its first woman president. But in 1992, Carr relinquished the Ottawa-based post and went home to Niagara Falls to care for her ailing husband, Bruce. Last April, he died of multiple systemic atrophy, a degenerative tissue disease, and Carr is still coming to terms with her loss. However, she says, “I’m

going to start letting it be known that I’m able to do some things.”

like what? “There have been some overtures about running for mayor of Niagara Falls,” says Carr. And local New Democrats have approached her about a candidacy (she has not made up her mind). Yet her decision may not be far off: she admits to being a political junkie who is upset over the state of the nation. “The political parties have forgotten that we have to keep building this country,” she says.

Still, after more than 40 years of organized labor, why not just retire? “Because there are so many other things to do,” says Carr, who is in her 60s. “I’m going to do something; I’m just not sure what it is.” Whatever it is, both supporters and critics will watch with interest as the feisty Carr ventures once more into the breach.

RAE CORELLI

CAPITAL CONFIDENTIAL

Prime Preston Minister Manning Jean may Chrétien not often and agree, Reform but both Party men Leader have reason to keep a watchful eye on a megamerger that has created one of Canada’s biggest law firms. Last week, the Ontario and British Columbia-based Fraser & Beatty merged with the Alberta-based firm of Milner Fenerty, forming a company of more than 350 lawyers. But it is the links between prominent Liberals and Reformers that will evoke the most buzz. The chairman of the new firm, to be named Fraser Milner, is Toronto-based David Smith, a former Liberal cabinet minister and cochairman of the Liberals’ election campaign committee. Another high-profile partner is Ottawa-based Richard Mahoney, a onetime political aide to Finance Minister Paul Martin, and still his close friend. On the Reform side, there are two notable links: Clifford Fryers left his position as managing partner of Milner Fenerty in the spring to become Preston Manning’s chief of staff. And one lawyer has even closer ties to the Reform leader: his daughter, Andrea Manning-Kroon. This is one firm where watercooler talk will be more than just idle gossip.