Overture

Overture

Anthony Wilson-Smith,Julian Beltrame December 18 2000
Overture

Overture

Anthony Wilson-Smith,Julian Beltrame December 18 2000

Overture

Anthony Wilson-Smith

Shanda Dcziel

@macleans.ca

Let’s play, Super Mario!

Over and Under Achievers

Seagram: The last, last call! Lucien: Hits a (sovereigntist) wall! Super Maño: puts aside his golj ball! The Queen Mum: stands tall!

And the economy: is that all?

Seagram Co.: Down the hatch for a Canadian institution as French firm completes takeover. Rye whisky will never taste the same, eh/hein?.

Alexei Yashin: Ottawa Sens drop lawsuit against

no-longer-wayward star after he agrees to make donation to kids’ hospital. So bashin’ & smashin’ the dashin’

Yashin will soon be out of fashion.

x) /Mario Lemieux: His planned comeback means we’ll soon find out if intensive golf sessions really are good training for an NHL career. The league sure hopes so.

4s The Royals: The British government asks them to plan their own funerals—and the Queen Mum is reported keenest for same. She expects Prince Harry’s great-grandchildren to give her eulogy.

41 Wealthy pessimists: Alan Greenspan feels gloomy about the economy, so the stock market goes up. Now, have a bummer of a day, Gordon Thiessen.

4" Lucien Bouchard: Becomes a unifying figure for all Canadians: he’s vilified in English Canada for being too separatist, and now in his home province for not being enough of one.

Better than the U.S.? Uh, not really.

By at least one statistical measure, it’s time for Canadians to stop bragging about how much more civic-minded they are than Americans. Since last month’s presidential contest, there’s been no shortage of mocking remarks on our side of the border about the Americans’ low voter participation rate—51 per cent. In Canada, by contrast, voter participation rates of 75 per cent were the norm in federal elections for most of

the postwar period until they began to trail off in the 1990s. And the Nov. 27 election that gave Jean Chretien a third consecutive majority attracted 63 per cent of Canadians registered to vote to the polls, a significantly higher number than in the United States.

But if Canada’s participation rate is calculated in the same manner as in the States, our two elections look remarkably similar. For one, 12.8 million Canadians cast ballots on Nov.

27 out of about 20.4 million (the final number is not in yet) listed eligible voters. But as a percentage of adult

Canadians eligible to vote—which corresponds to how the Americans do the calculation—the participation rate shrinks to 54.2 per cent, according to Richard Johnston, a political science professor at the University of British Columbia, who recendy authored a paper related to the subject. So the real difference between Canadian and U.S. participation rates is 54 per cent versus 51 per cent. “Were not much better than the Americans,” says Johnston. The devil is in the details—or perhaps, according to some, lurking in the ballot box.

Julian Beltrame

Web Watch

Wired ’h wealthy

How wired is your province? Its no coincidence that the three provinces with the highest average household incomes—British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario—also have the highest ^ rate of Internet use at home. According | to a survey by Statistics Canada, almost « five million Canadian households—or Canadians are doing all sorts of 42 per cent of the population—had at things these days over the Net least one member who used the Internet regularly in 1999 at either home, school or work. British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario all topped that average. In about 3.4 million households—or 29 per cent of the population—at least one member logs on from home. That’s up sharply from the 16 per cent of homes that were wired in 1997. Internet use rises in direct proportion to income: the richest households are five times as likely to be wired as the lowest-income groups. Along with the well-established use of the Internet for recreation, StatsCan reports that 19 per cent of survey respondents use the Web to buy goods and services, 54 per cent use it to seek medical and health information, and 28 per cent use it for electronic banking. One in five households use the Internet at home for self-employment reasons, and one in four for employer-related use.

Overbites

“I was worried about screwing up, and my hand was shaking a little bit.” -Canadian astronaut Marc Garneau confesses to nervousness while fulfilling his role aboard the shuttle Endeavour during a space walk by two colleagues

“It always tasted better than the treated.”

-Frank Koebel, foreman of the public utilities commission of Walkerton, Ont., testifies that he drank untreated water when he went to check the town’s waterchlorination system. Seven people died and more than 2,000 became ill from E. coli poisoning of the town’s water supply.

“Ontario Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty is opposed to helping welfare recipients addicted to drugs.”

-Quote from an item on the Web site of the Ontario government’s social services ministry. The Progressive Conservative minister responsible, John Baird, defended the posting of the item on the taxpayer-funded site.

“The snow is a gift from Canada to Puerto Rico.

We sent three people,... including a TV cameraman, to prove that this was real snow from Canada.”

-Luis Guzman of San Juan, Puerto Rico, discusses his company’s import of 300 tonnes of snow for a Christmas party to be held in an air-conditioned warehouse