Opening Notes

Opening Notes

Tanya Davies November 1 1999
Opening Notes

Opening Notes

Tanya Davies November 1 1999

Opening Notes

Tanya Davies

Trudeau turns 80 with the old gang

It was a homecoming of sorts, a class reunion for the old gang that sustained Pierre Trudeau in power for nearly 16 years. Maybe it was even something of a last supper. Not that Trudeau, who celebrated his 80th birthday on Oct. 18 in

his old abode, 24 Sussex Drive, is in especially frail health. But it is unlikely that the same confluence of happy events and personalities will reoccur anytime soon.

In the same dining room where he had stared across the table at René Lévesque, world leaders and, yes, actress Barbra Streisand, there was Trudeau, flanked by former cabinet ministers and aides. Direcdy across was Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, the man Trudeau appointed to eight different cabinet positions. Among the guests: former ministers Roméo LeBlanc and Mitchell Sharp, former aides Ivan Head, Michael Kirby and Ted Johnson, rainmaker Keith Davey and financier Paul Desmarais. “These were the people Pierre was closest to in a personal sense,” says Senator Jack Austin, the

organizer and a former principal secretary. It was very much a bachelors’ party: the only woman invited, former aide and now Senator Joyce Fairbairn, had a prior engagement. One of the few under 60 was Trudeau’s middle son, Sacha, 25. Trudeau initially balked at such a §■ gathering. But faced with a deter| mined group of well-wishers—and I when Chrétien offered 24 Sussex as * the venue—he came around. Chrétien and former cabinet heavyweight Allan MacEachen led the speech-making—Trudeau’s response was a few heartfelt minutes of thanks. The entire evening passed in three hours, much of it taken up by chit-chat as old warriors caught up after a long absence. “I guess most of us were there to celebrate the Trudeau era,” says one participant. “And to celebrate the guy, too. He is a great guy.”

Downsizing, Bronfman-style

Charles Bronfman has

taken a bite out of the Big Apple. Bronfman, 68, cochairman of Montreal-based Seagram Co. Ltd., recently signed a deal to pay almost $27 million for a 480-squaremetre duplex condominium at 838 Fifth Ave. in Manhattan. That brings the number of Bronfmans living within a 15-block radius of Manhattan’s ultra-exclusive Fifth Avenue to four. Charles’s older brother, Edgar, the chairman of Seagram, and his wife, Jan Aronson, live at 960 Fifth Ave. Edgar Jr., the chief executive of Seagram, owns a five-story, $6-million townhouse (which has been in the midst of renovations since 1996) with his wife,

Clarissa Alcock. And another of Edgar’s sons, Matthew, paid $4.1 million for a townhouse, with reports that he and wife Lisa Belzberg spent an extra $25 million updating it. Charles and his wife, Andrea, can’t move into their new home until July, 2000, when the building is scheduled to be completed. The developer’s proposed design for the Bronfman’s apartment shows three bedrooms. But don’t expect servants’ quarters or a wine cellar. If the couple, who currently divide their time between homes in Montreal and Palm Beach, Fla., want those luxuries, they will have to pay between $45,000 and $846,000 extra.

A scorching finish Down Under

A solar-powered car designed by Queen’s University students, placed second in last week’s World Solar Challenge in Australia. The car, one of 40 entries in the five-day,

3,010-km race that started in Darwin, crossed the finish line in Adelaide just 15 minutes behind an Australian team sponsored by Ford Motor Co.