John Geddes,Kristi Green,Shanda DezielFebruary262001
OVER m UNDER ACHIEVERS
Take this to the bank
Winners-’n-sinners list. Bank bosses: face losses! CP: yessiree! Cineplex: soon-to-be-ex! Albertas Klein: feelin so fine!
Ralph Klein: Canada's most successful politician calls election; appears in-Klein-ed to win yet again.
David O’Brien: What now for an encore? Savvy CP CEO pleases shareholders—by breaking up the company!
Bank CEOs: Face a new push to reform—and maybe reduce—the manner in which they’re paid. But who would be left to get mad at then?
4P” Cineplex: Now playing at many of their properties,
The Last Picture Show. Up next: The Gerry Schwartz Story.
^ Jean Chrétien: Flip-flops on human rights issue in China by first suggesting he’ll say nothing, then taking a stand. But better that than the reverse.
4^The federal Libs: Vote against their own promise to create an ethics watchdog who would report to Parliament. After all, why allow questions if you can’t control the answers?
OVERHEARD IN OTTAWA
A new Day?
ith his approval rating plunging, Stockwell Day named a new communications director last week to help restore his battered image—ultraconservative gadfly Ezra Levant. The new Alliance message-shaper likes what he has to work with. “Day is a quick study,” Levant told Maclean’s. “And he’s got a huge sense of humour.” Day may need it. Most recendy an editorial writer for the National Post, Levant is better known for set-
ting political brushfires than snuffing them out. In a 1996 book called Youthquake, he suggested medicare be replaced by personal medical savings accounts. As a journalist, he defended Talisman Energy when Ottawa scolded the Calgary oil company for exacerbating Sudan’s civil war. In 1998, while working for Preston Manning, Levant co-wrote an attack on then-Senator Ron Ghitter of Alberta—and had to apologize last year after Ghitter sued. Just what Day needs—more controversy around the office.
Walter’s hot polka hand
According to Walter Ostanek, the fountain of youth lies in polka. Canada’s “Polka King” credits the music with making him feel more like 25 than 65. This year is no exception: Ostanek is up for a Grammy for his latest album, Let’s Dance! It is his 13th nomination since 1987, with three wins—in ’92, ’93 and ’94—under his belt.
But Ostanek isn’t taking anything for granted. “It’s still like the first time I was nominated,” he says.
Ostanek was born in Quebec, but moved to Ontario at age 4. He first developed his taste for the accordion at house parties in the northern Quebec town of Duparquet. He received his first squeeze box from his parents at age 9, following six years of wishing and waiting. Since the early 1960s, Ostanek has written about 40 polkas and made 61 recordings, and is working on another right now. How does one person keep track of all those polkas?
“You don’t!” he laughs. “If I’m not in a good mood, I know maybe 10; in a good mood, maybe 2,000!”
Aside from polkas, Ostanek has built a collection of 200 accordions over the past 35 years. This fall, he hopes to display them, along with other memorabilia, in a mu-
seum opening at the Music Centre in St. Catharines, where he has lived for most of his life. Ostanek describes his life as being nothing less than “a dream come true. “You know that it’s going to be over one day, so you enjoy it.” Wise words from someone so young—at heart.
The T-bird prepares to fly again
Last week, Mark Conforzi returned to his home town of Toronto with a new toy. The 46-year-old car designer brought his latest creation, the 2002 Ford Thunderbird, to the Toronto Auto Show. Conforzi was born in 1955, the same year the Thunderbird was introduced. “It was an absolute classic,” says Conforzi, who now lives in Michigan. “It was the car that made me want to be a designer.” After attending design school in Pasadena, Calif., Conforzi joined Ford of Europe and worked on small cars like the Fiesta, Sierra and the trendy Focus. Three years ago, he was asked to head the 2002 T-bird design team. “We didn’t know who we were targeting,” he says. “We tried making it a European sports car, then one that was very modern. Finally,
we looked to the old ’55 Thunderbird.” For the new model, Conforzi kept some of the early models’ most memorable features: two seats, round headlights, porthole window, sweetheart-shaped grille.
Like the original, the new T-bird will not be mass-produced. Only 25,000 will be made in North America, and only 2,000 will be available in Canada —half of which are already spoken for. The car, which comes in yellow, black, red, blue and white, will make its way across the country, appearing at various auto shows—and will be on the streets in September. “The Thunderbird design has been all over the map,” says Conforzi. “But this one is romantic; we think it will have longevity.”
“The press wanted me to give instructions to the Chinese. I said we have to put it in perspective a bit. You know, we are 30 million. They are 1.2 billion. They want me to tell the Chinese what to do, but they don’t want me to tell the [Canadian] premiers what to do.”
-Jean Chrétien, at the start of Team Canada’s mission to China, appears to suggest he will not instruct his hosts on human rights issues
“As a friend, I must tell you that Canadians are concerned when they hear reports from China of interference
in the right of free expression. Or that people are imprisoned and badly treated for observing their spiritual beliefs. These reports transgress our most deeply held convictions.”
-The PM, several days later, instructs his hosts on human rights
“I have a minister of my cabinet who was born in the Philippines, very „ close to China. He looks I a bit like a Chinese.”
g -The PM introduces I Rey Pagtakhan,
I Manila-born secretary S of state for Asia-Pacific,
I to a Shanghai crowd
LOOK WHAT THEY DID TO MY THONG
Ever been confused by the words in a song? You’re not alone. Incorrectly heard lyrics are called “mondegreens.”The word originates with journalist Sylvia Wright, who wrote a column in the 1950s in which she recounted hearing the Scottish folksong The Bonny Earl of Morray. Wright misheard the lyric “Oh, they have slain the Earl o’ Morray and laid him on the green” and thought it was “Oh, they have slain the Earl o’ Morray and Lady Mondegreen.” Some more recent examples:
Dancing Queen Right words: “Dancing Queen, feel the beat from the tambourine” Wrong words: “Dancing Queen, eat a bean off the tambourine”
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds Right: “The girl with kaleidoscope eyes”
Wrong: “The girl with colitis goes by"
I Purple Haze Right: “ ’Scuse me, while I kiss the sky”
Wrong: “ ’Scuse me, while I kiss this guy”
Right: “Hold me closer, tiny dancer”
Wrong: “Hold me closer,Tony Danza” (This misheard lyric was quoted by Phoebe on a recent episode of Friends)
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