February 1 1972


February 1 1972


Having just moved away from New Brunswick to continue my education, and still feeling homesick, I found Wilhelmine Thomas’ column Home Is A Place They’ve Wrapped In Foil (December) particularly significant. But I must add one thing: the people who were the original farmers, and their kin, are no longer on the land, but there is a group of the new farmers, those who saw death in the cities and came from their universities or jobs to live again on the land. They are not the same as those who farmed before them, but they too are using butter churns and thrashing machines, spinning wheels, lye barrels and wood stoves. They subsistence-farm and are happy doing it. They are not large in number but their numbers are growing, and they are serious about saving the land, raising happy, free children (and schooling them in some cases) and getting back to things simple, natural and alive. In places like Prince William, Bloomfield and Tay River you will find them, working hard, learning a bit from books but mostly from doing. And there is always time to “find fiddleheads along the river banks and wild strawberries up on the ridge.”


Pussy willows. Cattails

The article Early Morning Afterthoughts (December) by Robert Markle adds some stream-of-consciousness homey details to our picture of Gordon Lightfoot. We like him, and are glad that he visits in our township home of Egremont. Markle is welcome there, too, as long as he behaves himself. Poor and ignorant we may be, but the Scots are also proud, and I would gently remind Markle that making fun of an invited guest in your home contravenes a code that is older than any laws. No less an authority than Plato says that there are some stories that you do not tell if you wish to live at peace with men. The use of the name of Markle’s midnight guest added nothing to the article for most Canadian readers and

hurt a great many people in Egremont and Normanby, where the “extended family” is still in operation. When Markle has lived longer among us he will find that there are times in country living when you need your neighbors. As the Mennonites say, “In trouble neighbors come at once. Friends stop to dress.” I hope that when Markle is in need he may have some neighbors left.


* May I commend you on the content of the December issue of Maclean’s. The article Early Morning Afterthoughts was particularly enjoyable. Robert Markle very nearly captures the essence of Gordon Lightfoot. But mere words will never be adequate enough to describe this complex enigma. Just because the small local papers don’t always cover Gord’s concert doesn’t necessarily mean that he is taken for granted. For many people across this immense country hear, feel and breathe this man’s music. I wonder how many of us have stood like those boys, watching and listening in silence — but, nevertheless, in recognition of this unique Canadian. At times Gordon may feel discouraged when the land lies fallow for a period of time — but, oh, the crops that are reaped at harvest!


Love is all we need

My wife and I wish to convey to you and your able staff our keen appreciation of the splendid issues of Maclean’s which we have been receiving of late. My wife said tonight, “Maclean’s is now a truly Canadian magazine.” I am so glad of this. With a population of 20 million there is no reason why there shouldn’t be one, and Peter C. Newman is the one to create such a magazine.


* Just a short note to congratulate you on your fine magazine. I have been taking it for years and I mean years, as I’ll soon be 86 years old and going strong. But the November issue was the best I have ever read — and more power to you in future.


Life in the 51st state

On page 74, sandwiched between articles Have A Chauvinistic Christmas Dinner and Gordon Lightfoot And The Canadian Dream, in the December issue of Canada’s national magazine there appears an advertisement

for a ski holiday in Quebec. If I knew my state and zip, as required in the clip-out coupon, I could write for the free brochure.


Maurice Strong

I read with interest your article on Maurice Strong, Mr. Clean Is A Canadian (November), in which you describe his rise to a position of international eminence with the United Nations. At one point in his career, Strong was associated with Power Corporation of Canada Limited. Inasmuch as parts of the article dealt directly — but inaccurately — with this association, I think it is time that the facts be made known.

Item: The article states: “In Montreal, the board grilled Strong, then offered him the job. He said he had first to talk to Thomson, whom he liked but could see was hurt because the board didn't want him as president.” I have been a member of the board of directors of Power Corporation since 1957. I was one of those directors who, on September 19, 1961, proposed the establishment of a Search Committee for senior executive talent capable of eventually assuming the corporation presidency. At that time, I was 35 — three years older than Strong. Strong was hired as executive vice-president in the hope that he would be able to assume the presidency within a few years. In fact, I was executive vice-president at that time and on June 25, 1962, the board appointed me as Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of the corporation. It was on October 26, 1964, that the board approved Strong’s promotion to the presidency.

Item: Strong is directly quoted as having said that he put forward the following conditions precedent to the board of Power Corporation: 1.) “I want to keep the presidency of CIGO [his former employer] for two more years.” Strong’s employment contract provided that only during the first year of his employment by Power Corp. could he continue as an officer of CIGO and “make available to that company such reasonable amounts of time, not to exceed a maximum of an average of two (2) days per month.” 2.) “I want to spend half my time with YMCA.” There was no provision in Strong’s contract whereby he would be paid to spend half his time with the YMCA. On the contrary, it provided that, subject to the above exception, Strong would “devote his whole time and attention to furthering the business Your View continued / of the corporation,” bearing in mind of course that any responsible corporation is always more than willing to allow its executives reasonable amounts of time to devote to community and welfare initiatives. 3.) “I want to be executive vice-president, which will let you make Peter president but I want it in my contract that I will be president in two years and I want the same authority as the president.” I am grateful for Strong’s retroactive solicitude. The record will show, however, that at all relevant times during his tenure I was chairman, chief executive and by far the largest shareholder in Power Corp. —and conducted myself accordingly. 4.) “I want bigger stock options, but at higher than market price . . .” Strong was given normal executive stock options which, by the way, were identical to those granted me when I was appointed to the chairmanship and presidency — i.e. 10,000 old common shares at $50 per share which were split on a 10 for 1 basis during 1963.

continued on page 14

Item: The article states: “By 1966, when Pearson called Strong to CIDA . . . Strong said, terminating our talk to run over his convocation speech, he dropped a $200,000 salary and $250,000 in unexpired options.” The clear implication here is that Strong made quite remarkable financial sacrifices to enter government service. In fact, when Strong left Power Corporation on September 30, 1966, his salary, excluding director’s fees, was exactly $35,000 per year. If he had remained with the corporation until the termination of his contract on September 1, 1967, he would have been entitled to exercise his remaining stock options for a total of 55,000 new common shares of the capital stock of the company. However, when he gave notice of the termination of his services, his rights to exercise any of the options not already exercised by him thereupon terminated, leaving him the right to only claim 25,000 of the 55,000 new shares remaining. Due to the fact that he was leaving the company to go into public service, the board allowed him to pick up 15,000 more new shares than he was entitled to (i.e. 40,000). Strong did not give up anything but was, in fact, rewarded to the extent of approximately $75,000 (the difference between the last sale on September 30, 1966, of $101/8 and the option price of five dollars) — a remarkable financial sacrifice indeed. Needless to say, it is obvious that the value of the unexpired options on the 10,000 new shares could not total $250,000 or

anything even close to that figure.

That Mr. Strong is a first-class executive and public servant is quite clear. So, too, is the fact that, when it comes to recalling events, his memory is just as fallible as yours and mine.


Pass the Turns

Peter Newman’s interview with E. P. Taylor — The Table Talk Of E. P. Taylor (November) — could have fruitfully included a paragraph on the “good citizenship” he proudly proclaimed. Taylor is a master at avoiding Canadian taxes, despite the obvious fact that Canada has treated him so well. He is now a resident in the Bahamas, pays no Canadian income taxes and managed to escape the tax consequences of his extremely profitable sale of Windfields Farm — which appreciated in value a thousand-fold, not because of his genius or initiative or productivity but because the population of Toronto increased without any assistance or effort on his part. In our free economy, which still works better than any known alternative, ignoring the responsibilities of citizenship are acceptable, if legal, but Taylor designating himself as “a good citizen” is a bit much.


* Surely there is something wrong with a society that will pay homage to the kind of greed and gluttony exemplified by Roy Thomson — The Table Talk Of Roy Thomson (December). He confesses he cannot spend more than a fraction of his colossal income, and what he does spend, apparently, goes straight to his stomach (“I could do without culture and I could do without art; I can do without the theatre. But I can’t do without eating”). He regrets being deprived of his Canadian citizenship when he accepted his title and regards it as punishment befitting a traitor. The man and the attitude disgust me.


View from the back 40

In reply to E. R. Keizer — Your View (December) — who asks, “Does the federal government owe these farmers a living?” My answer is, No. All we want is a right to work our own land and reap a fair price for what we produce.

“Should we subsidize them,” he asks, “because they like to farm and don’t want to learn new skills so they can move out of farming to take

steady-income jobs in other occupations?” Pardon me for saying this, but get off the pot. Farmers spend a lifetime investing time, love, labor and money in their farms, and not so government can push them off their land into something they don’t want. And what jobs are available, unemployment the way it is? Those academic and skill-training programs are already overcrowded with people who can’t find work in the urban economy. There are urban people who want training and can’t get into the programs. There are people who have had the training and cannot find jobs.

His last question is a dilly. “Why not let the farming industry become efficient?” In case you don’t know it, our Canadian farmers are the most efficient primary food producers in the world. If you think that getting large, efficient farming operations allows cheaper food production for Canadians you are wrong. Just let the big monopolies (usually U.S.) get control of food production and see how food prices will soar. Big supermarkets were originally supposed to lower food costs by being efficient distributors. What a laugh.


How now, Bobby Orr

We would like to comment on the article Eulogies For Each Other (November) by Bobby Orr and Gordie Howe. We found Howe’s article on Orr very interesting. However, we must say that he was completely misinformed on one point. Howe gave the impression that, even after losing a game, Bobby Orr would sign autographs and then, when time ran out, would say politely, “Excuse me, I have to go.” While this once may have been true, we are afraid that it’s no longer so, and the following story is reason for this opinion.

The incident took place on February 14, 1971, in Toronto, after a game in which Boston had defeated Toronto. We were standing right beside the door of the Bruins’ bus and three boys (about 10 years old) were standing on the steps of the bus waiting for Bobby Orr. When Orr finally showed, he didn’t sign any autographs and he certainly didn’t say, “Excuse me, I have to go.” He physically pushed the boys out of the way and yelled, “Look outta the way!”

“Humble, nice and polite” may have been an accurate description of Bobby Orr two years ago but, unfortunately, it no longer applies.