MACLEAN’S BESTSELLERS

BRIAN BETHUNE April 9 2007

MACLEAN’S BESTSELLERS

BRIAN BETHUNE April 9 2007

NEWSMAKERS

Curling’s Canadian women’s champ Kelly Scott and her team weren’t going to repeat last year’s disappointing third place finish at the world championships. With few fans and no family to distract them at this year’s finals in Aomori, Japan, “it was just the curling girls here on a mission,” said skip Scott. Their focus paid off. They cruised through the round-robin tourney with just one loss. Ignoring a 7.1-magnitude earthquake the morning of the championship game, Scott’s rink defeated Denmark 8-4 to win Canada’s first world title since Colleen Jones’s victory in 2004. With the victory comes a unique honour—Scott is the only skip in history to win both the world adult championship and world junior championship. Kelowna, B.C.’s Scott and her teammates have a huge incentive to defend their world titlenext year’s championship will be just up the road in Vernon.

‘WE’RE JUST REGULAR GUYS FROM i TUBE BABY COLIN RANKIN, SPEAKING,

KELLY SCOTT CANADA'S CURLERS: THE EARTH MOVED

DUNCAN BROWN GAMING CHIEF HOLDS LOSING TICKET

As CEO of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., Duncan Brown had been praised by colleagues as a “first-class public servant.” But last week he was fired as Queen’s Park scrambled to defuse a growing scandal at the agency. Last year, after the CBC reported ticket retailers were winning with suspicious frequency, Ontario’s ombudsman André Marin launched a probe. His report, released Monday, found things were even worse: it says “internal fraudsters,” meaning ticket retailers and others, had scooped $15 million in winnings. “The system has been cheated, charities have been cheated,” Marin said. He accused the OLG, under Brown, of putting profit ahead of ethics and ignoring initial allegations. With an October election looming, the McGuinty government turfed Brown in a bid to defuse controversy. Brown was said by colleagues to be in shock. But his departure may not be the end of the issue. Marin is recommending that an independent regulator step in to oversee the OLG.

ZSUZSA DEMCSAK ARROGANCE IN UNDERWEAR

On Monday, Hungary’s Socialist-led coalition government fired Zsuzsa Demcsak, 28, its newly appointed spokeswoman, even before she started. It wasn’t the fact that she’s a former lingerie model who told Velvet magazine she prefers G-strings to thongs that spawned a storm from letter writers; it was her haughty blogging. Demcsak complained in her blog about how the children in her child’s daycare centre didn’t live up to her standards. She alleged that one with chicken pox had been brought in by a drunken mother. Their government-subsidized daycare system is a source of pride for Hungarians Their government isn’t. Prime Minister Lerenc Gyurcsany was recorded last year admitting his government had lied about the parlous state of the economy. The comments and his cynicism in discussing the topic sparked violent protests. Maybe hiring an underdressed arrogant spin doctor wasn’t the best response.

GENSHIRO KAWAMOTO LOW-INCOME MANSIONS

Twenty years ago, he cruised Honolulu’s best neighbourhoods in a black limousine, choosing multimillion-dollar properties with the point of a finger. Last week, Japanese tycoon Genshiro Kawamoto was practically giving them away, turning over the keys to a handful of his mansions to give low-income, native Hawaiian families a chance to live in luxury. Kawamoto, 75, is collecting negligible rent, and told Hawaiian television he wants to foster a more “Polynesian atmosphere” on tony Kahala Avenue. He’s promised his new tenants (chosen from 3,000 people who wrote to him when he announced his plan last fall) they can stay for 10 years. Some Kahala residents suspect Kawamoto, known to evict tenants with very short notice so as to sell high, is trying to drive real estate down and buy up more property on the cheap. Certainly, the gesture is hardly a sacrifice for one of Japan’s richest men. “This is pocket money for me,” Kawamoto said.

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lORMAL FAMILY, ONE THAT’S ALSO PRETTY AMAZING’ ¡OUT HIS AND HIS TWIN BROTHER’S 25TH BIRTHDAY

COLIN AND GREGORY RANKIN TEST-TUBE MEN

Despite the history they made just by being born, Colin and Gregory Rankin marked their 25th birthday Sunday with little ado. In 1982, the fraternal twins became the first test-tube babies born in Canada. Brownhaired, hazel-eyed Colin, who manages a residence at the University of Mani^ toba, spent Sunday recovering from a night out with friends. He also enjoyed a rare phone call from blond, blue-eyed brother Greg, who’s been backpacking through Central America since October. Back in 1981, after enduring two ectopic pregnancies, parents Ian and Catherine sought the help of a British doctor, Patrick Steptoe, the only in vitro specialist at the time, as a last resort. Their “maybe babies,” as the Rankins called them, were successfully conceived in a petri dish in England and later born in a hospital in Oakville, Ont. The Rankins acknowledge that media attention at the time helped teach others about the medical breakthrough. The twins both want kids of their own someday, and Colin says he’ll be open to in vitro if it comes to that. “We’re just regular guys,” he says, “from a normal family, one that’s also pretty amazing.”

ELIZABETH EDWARDS TOUGHING IT OUT

It took 11 hours of hospital tests last Wednesday before Elizabeth Edwards, wife of American Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards, got the diagnosis she dreaded—her breast cancer was back and, having spread to the bone, including one rib and a “hot spot” on her right hip, it is incurable. But Edwards, 57, was determined that her husband’s campaign for the White House would continue. She declared, “I don’t want my legacy to be that I pulled somebody who ought to be president out of the race.” Days later she received a standing ovation at her first solo appearance since the diagnosis. Though critics worry about the effect her decision will have on their children, or whether the electorate would choose a devoted family man whose wife may die during his term, Elizabeth is confident about her announcement: “Either you push forward with the things or you start dying. That seems to be your only choice.”

IAN PAISLEY NORTHERN IRELAND’S DR. NO SAYS YES

When the tough, wizened leader of Northern Ireland’s Protestants sat down this week with his rival and once-sworn enemy, Gerry Adams, the leader of the Irish Catholic Sinn Fein, the two didn’t so much as shake hands. So much bad blood has flowed between the two that Ian Paisley, nicknamed Dr. No for his past refusal to compromise, once labelled Sinn Fein, the political arm of the IRA, a terrorist group. So it was remarkable not only that the two held face-to-face talks, but that they actually agreed to a power-sharing agreement for Northern Ireland, a bitterly divided province where talks had been stalled for the past 4% years. The historic deal is expected to result in Britain handing back to Northern Ireland this May powers to govern over its internal affairs through an administration made up of both Catholics and Protestants. The last coalition broke down in 2002. “We must not allow our justified loathing of the horrors and tragedies of the past to become a barrier,” said the elderly Paisley. He sounded barely convinced.

FRANK STRONACH PARTS DON’T ADD UP TO CHRYSLER’S WHOLE

The king of auto parts has been doing meetings lately, including several with Canadian Auto Workers boss Buzz Hargrove. Magna International chairman Frank Stronach, 74, was rumoured to be laying the groundwork to buy troubled Chrysler. Typically tightlipped, Magna officials wouldn’t comment. Stronach’s Magna has grown into an auto-parts powerhouse, increasingly favouring high-margin, complex assembly work. Yet his interest in getting Chrysler will give shareholders the jitters. Two reasons: current owner DaimlerChrysler is said to want up to US$8 billion, too rich a tag for Stronach to go it alone; if a combined Magna-private equity bid is successful, Stronach will probably end up with a minority stake, and not the control he historically has preferred. And despite long experience making parts and even assembling whole vehicles at an Austrian plant, Magna has no background in direct selling to the public and wrangling dealers. Has the king of auto parts undertaken a conquest he can’t win?