No, our premiers aren’t totally inept. There’s one thing they’re very good at

Allan Fotheringham March 6 1978

No, our premiers aren’t totally inept. There’s one thing they’re very good at

Allan Fotheringham March 6 1978

No, our premiers aren’t totally inept. There’s one thing they’re very good at

Allan Fotheringham

Power is the greatest aphrodisiac of all.

—Henry Kissinger.

Proof? There it is, seated like obedient schoolboys around the horseshoe table at that federal-provincial Conference on the Economic Plummet that was impinging on your afternoon soap-opera injection. Who would have suspected the lust that lurks beneath all those bland, barbered faces and safe, sincere suits? The 10 premiers who would represent us in all things, portrayers of the common man, are most uncommon in one field. They are enemies of Zero Population Growth, clear violators of the 2.5 children norm. They crash through, these discreet guardians of our fiscal affairs, all the national averages on what constitutes the Canadian Bedroom Quota.

Look at them! Moores of Newfoundland: eight kids. Lyon of Manitoba: five. Regan of Nova Scotia: five more. Davis of Ontario: five. Lougheed, Bennett and Blakeney: four apiece. Even the laggards, Lévesque and Campbell, have three. (Mr. Trudeau, oldest of all the first ministers, and obviously shamed into catching up with his prolific juniors, had three in four years.) Even throwing in the bachelorhood of Hatfield of New Brunswick, this energetic 10 averages a brood of 4.1, quite clearly men who establish as a group the validity of the Kissinger theorem. Power means progenitors. The state has serious business in the bedrooms of the state.

There are other things one notices when peering, close up, at these strange birds who run us. There is a certain cookie-cutter cast to them—Lévesque aside—a lack of political flamboyance. Gone are the bookends of the country, Joey Smallwood and Wacky Bennett, with their faded music hall routines. These boys hide their differences in their sameness. Let’s peer behind the masks.

Bill Davis of Ontario has a dog who’s eaten the back seat out of two cars. Not known as a reader. Sleek grinning shrewdness hidden in the baby-fat folds of his face. Former Sunday school teacher. Has just given up his Tueros cigars (too much the imag& of a pol?) for the constant oral fixation of a pipe. Has been Tory premier since 1971, he’s 48. A Shriner. A disappointment for his failure to assume Ontario mantle of leadership on the Quebec issue. Doesn’t want Darcy McKeough to succeed him.

Sterling Lyon of Manitoba is glorified with the middle name of Rufus. Not considered too intelligent by other premiers. A duck hunter, calls Trudeau “a closet socialist” who owns “a mid-Atlantic Gallic

mind.” So far to the right he makes Bill Bennett look pink. Can remember the gloom in his family when R. B. Bennett was defeated in 1935. He was eight, he’s 51 now, Tory premier since last fall.

The only bachelor, Dick Hatfield of New Brunswick, is the most sophisticated of the premiers. Talks intelligently on books, films, the theatre. When he was 10, poured an inkwell across John Diefenbaker’s desk. Raised to politics. Started in medicine but decided he couldn’t stand blood. Only citizen of Canada invited to Truman Capote parties. Tory premier

since 1970, he’s 46. Speaks up forcibly on Quebec. Loves to party late. Great pal of Flora MacDonald. Citizen of the world, spent his first vacation as premier driving alone through Morocco.

Bill Bennett of British Columbia at 21 witnessed drunken salesmen on a transcontinental train and decided he didn’t want to waste his life. Didn’t have a drink again till he was 28. Tough-minded. Only premier who’s never been to university. A millionaire. While setting out to make a fortune in hardware stores, would sleep on the store furniture at night. Social Credit, premier since 1975, MiniWac is 45. Best current athlete of the lot, ferocious tennis player and dogged jogger. Tightly strung. Probably has federal Tory ambitions in future. Holidays in California and Hawaii with three pals.

Strangely enough, René Lévesque is the only premier who’s been in a war. Joined the U.S. Army as war correspondent. Saw Mussolini’s body hoisted by the heels. Crossed the Rhine with Patton. Bases much of his belief in an independent Quebec on his international observations. Could read at four. Tied to a tree as a child to prevent his fighting with English chil-

dren in New Carlisle. He’s 55, premier since 1976. Kicked out of law school for smoking by Louis-Philippe Pigeon, now a Supreme Court of Canada judge. Needs a barber. Superb, mercurial mind. Le Monde of Paris: “Only in Canada could a man so intelligent not be prime minister.”

Alex Campbell of Prince Edward Island is the only premier who outdates Trudeau. Just 44, he became Liberal premier in 1966. Eyes of a gunslinger. Second of the group to have a father as premier (Bennett the other). Roomed with Hatfield in a fraternity house at Dalhousie. Sensible.

Most expensive suede jacket is owned by the Sheik of Calgary, Peter Lougheed. Announced to his grade four class he would be prime minister. Peter Potentate has no advisers, just talking bodyguards. Was paid $400 a season as bench-sitter on Annis Stukus’ Edmonton Eskimos. Was best athlete of the premiers as a youth. Totally organized, Harvard grad, 49, Tory premier since 1971. Really does resent Toronto and all it represents—out of family experiences. Not interested in federal ambitions. Disappoints by not using his position to extend a hand toward Quebec.

Gerald Regan of Nova Scotia, following in the great tradition of Robert Bourassa, brought his own barber to Ottawa conference. Actually, what he needs is hair. Former sportscaster. Also at Dalhousie with Hatfield, Campbell. Former MP, he’s 49, been Liberal premier since 1970. Likes to play hockey. At the PM’S private dinner for premiers, when the three Trudeau sons were produced, Regan got down on all fours and played horsey.

Tallest premier is the youngest, Frank Duff Moores of Newfoundland. Born to wealth from one of the buccaneer fishing families that dominate the island. Like such Newfie sons, sent away to school: St. Andrews and Boston University. He’s 45, Tory premier since 1972.

Brainiest premier is Allan Blakeney of Saskatchewan. Looks like a younger Mike Pearson. Even has faint touch of a lisp. Fourth premier to come out of Dalhousie—where he was turned on to socialism after coming from good Nova Scotia Tory family. Prim, somewhat humorless, likes French Impressionists and reads Agatha Christie, Bertrand Russell and George Grant for the clarity of their thought.

Next time you sneer at these chaps’ inability to solve inflation, unemployment and foot itch, heed Dr. Kissinger’s shrewd dictum. In one way, these guys are better than you.