NEWSMAKERS

March 19 2007

NEWSMAKERS

March 19 2007

NEWSMAKERS

‘MAYBE ONE OF US WOULD HAVE HAD THE

WEREWITHAL TO KICK OVER THE ONLY TUB OF POISON THE ARCHITECT OF THE 1978 JONESTOWN MASSACRE IN TOWN’-STEPHAN JONES, SON

STEPHAN JONES REFLECTING ON SINS OF HIS FATHER

He hated his father, and who could blame him? Dad was Jim Jones, who ordered the suicide/ murder of 913 people, including Stephan Jones’s mother and six of his siblings. Stephan escaped the 1978 Jonestown massacre because he was playing basketball in the Guyanese capital of Georgetown. Some say basketball saved his life. But if the team had stayed in Jonestown, he says, “maybe one of us would have had the wherewithal to kick over the only tub of poison in town and have it drain into the earth rather than into the bodies of our loved ones.” Stephan— who participated in a new Canadian docudrama, Jonestown: Paradise Lost, airing next week on Vision TV—has forgiven his father. “It’s been a long time since I’ve viewed it as a tragedy,” he says. “I’ve come to see it as an opportunity, a gift to us all.” While conceding his father was a monster, “he taught me to express love—that men can be soft and gentle,” says Stephan, who has since fathered three daughters and is now 47, his father’s age when he died.

MIRA NAIR

AN ICONOCLAST IN MATTERS OF LOVE

guy ended uj marrying another Mira.

Along with her Canadian friend Deepa Mehta (Water), Mira Nair belongs to a rare niche: internationally acclaimed female directors from India. And like Mehta, Nair (Monsoon Wedding, Kama Sutra) likes to question India’s conservative mores. “I make big, circus-of-life films,” says Nair, whose latest, The Namesake (based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel) is an epic romance about a couple who emigrate from Calcutta to New York after an arranged marriage. “I loved the eros of that idea, that two strangers marry, then fall in love,” says the director. When Nair was 18, her mother sent her to meet a prospective husband. “I was a wild girl,” she recalls. “I took both my brothers with me and I walked up to the father-inlaw-to-be and said, ‘Meet my two boyfriends—I don’t know which one I’m going to sleep with tonight.’ That was the end of the proposal. This

JOHN DAVISON CANADA’S HERO OF THE WICKET

Being born in Canada has turned out to be the best move cricketer John Davison ever made. Davison spent just five weeks in Campbell River, B.C., where his Australian parents were teaching, before returning to Oz. After a modest career as a professional cricket player in Australia, he’s had a second chance at success as captain of the Canadian squad, thanks to the lack of homegrown talent for the sport. At the 2003 Cricket World Cup in South Africa, Davison set a competition record for the fastest 100 runs, and led Canada to a surprising victory against Bangladesh (although it was to be their only victory in the tournament). His presence will again give Team Canada a modicum of credibility at this year’s cup, which starts next week in the Caribbean. “My mates back in Australia are extremely jealous of the opportunities I’ve had,” says Davison.

JEAN-MARIE LE PEN IS FRANCE'S EXTREME LEADER FINISHED?

Perennial right-wing politician Jean-Marie Le Pen might be excluded from France’s April 22 election. The 78-year-old National Front leader has until March 16 to get the legally mandated minimum endorsement of 500 elected officials to become a presidential candidate, and as of last Friday he was at least 100 signatures short. But while Le Pen scrambled, many politicians were unwilling to be associated with a man who called Nazi gas chambers a “detail of history,” and whose beliefs toward immigrants have been labelled racist and xenophobic. He has charged that rivals are undermining his effort to get on the presidential ballot, and his situation grew more difficult when a hacker stole Le Pen’s confidential list of current political backers. Calling the signature requirement “antidemocratic,” National Front spokesman Julien Sanchez noted that Le Pen is polling well, with 14 per cent of voters, and placed second behind Jacques Chirac in the last presidential race. He called for international help: “Americans send monitors to elections in Africa. They should send them here.”

JOSEPH KABILA

GHOST IN THE CABINET HAUNTS A GOVERNMENT

Last year’s elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the first multi-party vote since i960, marked a moment of great hope for the central African nation. After years of dictatorship and civil war, 70 per cent turned out to vote, and Joseph Kabila, de facto leader since 2001, won a legitimate presidency. But rumours of a “ghost” in his government threaten to shake his credibility.

The man appointed minister of trade appears not to exist at all. It’s believed he was concocted by a coalition party leader in a bid to guarantee himself a cabinet post (parties are required to submit a choice of two names for each spot; the leader expected himself to be picked). But it seems Kabila’s prime minister chose the unknown rather than give the job to a former spokesman of his bitter enemy, former strongman Mobutu Sese Seko. “Nowhere else in the world could you attempt to swear in a ghost,” one civil

LEWIS ‘SCOOTER’ LIBBY

‘MIS-RECOLLECTING’

STILL MEANS GUILTY

After deliberating for 10 days, a jury convicted Lewis “Scooter” Libby this week on four of the five charges against him—including obstruction, perjury and lying to FBI agents—in the case involving whether key members of the Bush administration deliberately leaked the identity of CIA operative Valerie Píame Wilson in 2003. (Libby was acquitted on one count of lying to the FBI.) Although he’ll probably serve far less, the former chief of staff to Vice-President Dick Cheney faces up to 30 years in prison. Libby’s lawyer, claiming his client never intentionally lied but suffered from “mis-recollections,” plans to call for a new trial. If denied, he will appeal. The verdict also promises to have embarrassing implications for the Bush administration, which continues to get beat up in the polls over Iraq. With Democrats controlling Congress, further investigations into the extent of White House abuse are a certainty. Many expect Cheney to spend a fair bit of time in the spotlight.

MELISSA HAWACH A MOTHER’S COURAGE FIT FOR A MOVIE

Name a Calgary mother who can claim Angelina Jolie is considering playing her in the movies. How about Melissa Hawach? Last week, Hawach spoke publicly for the first time about last year’s ordeal, which began not long after she allowed her two daughters—Hannah, 6, and Cedar, 3—to travel to Australia for a visit with their father, Joe. Hawach was soon horrified to learn that her ex-husband had allegedly fled with the girls to his ancestral Lebanon. With the legal process dragging, she jetted to a Lebanese resort, with men she calls “security contractors” hired to help rescue the girls (she insisted last week that they merely drove her around). “I alone walked into the playground where Hannah and Cedar were playing. I alone called to them,” she said. Reunited, they escaped back to Canada. Sound like a movie? Jolie apparently thinks so—she’s asked Hawach’s agent about film rights. And given that the whole undertaking cost Hawach thousands of

JIM BALSILLIE

A SHORT FALL,

AND A SOFT LANDING

As acts of self-sacrifice go, it’s more like falling on a butter knife than a sword. Jim Balsillie resigned as chairman of Research in Motion Ltd. this week after a seven-month internal investigation into the practice of stockoption backdating caused his company to “restate” its earnings by US$250 million since 2004. Mistakes were made in at least 321 cases of issuing stock options to employees, then backdating them to coincide with days when the stock price was low. It wasn’t intentional, the RIM report says. The co-founder of the Waterloo, Ont., BlackBerry maker retains his positions as co-CEO and director, and a couple of other executives will shuffle chairs in the boardroom. Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, the other CEO, are also offering to put out up to $5 million each to help pay the costs of the probe and earnings restatement. (Court filings have put the pair’s stock option gains at $439 million since they took the company public in 1997) The real question is whether the moves will be enough to satisfy regulators.