COLUMN

It was that kind of year

Allan Fotheringham December 28 1981
COLUMN

It was that kind of year

Allan Fotheringham December 28 1981

It was that kind of year

COLUMN

Allan Fotheringham

It was a very good year if you owned a lot of bank stock, had seasons tickets to the Edmonton Oilers and didn’t get your mistress’ name in Peter Newman’s book. It was a very bad year if you were Nelson Skalbania, who got not only Vince Ferragamo but all his ladies identified in the book. It was a swell year if you lived in the West, were named Jean Chrétien and had mastered Rubik’s Cube. It was a lousy year if you were named Sterling Rufus Lyon, were left a lot of Massey-Ferguson stock by your father and had invested in Joe Clark futures.

It was a curious year for Pierre Elliott Trudeau. He turned 62, got most of the plastering finished in his Montreal art deco home and supposedly capped his political career by getting his constitution safely across the water to the bored Brits. But he did it by leaving out the 24 per cent of Canadians who compose his own province, his blood roots, and one wonders if he can be completely proud of it. He made it to Korea, Australia,

Mexico, Algeria, Tanzania and way points, but remains as puzzled as ever by the foreign atmosphere of Calgary and Vancouver. The most outstanding Canadian of our time, still with his formidable intellect, doesn’t have the means or the patience to understand half of the country. He lost the last remaining elected Liberal in the four western provincial legislatures, having long lost all his Liberal premiers. He remains the neutron bomb of politics, having destroyed the party while keeping the office intact.

It was the usual year for Joe Clark, nibbled to death by ducks. The walking accident only loses by winning. He hung tough on the constitution drama and forced changes. He was rewarded by fellow Tories Bill Davis and Richard Hatfield siding with the Liberals. He gained enough in the Gallup poll to indicate the voters would give him a majority tomorrow. As a result, the assassins within his party threatened more cau-

Allan Fotheringham a columnist for Southam News.

cus rebellion unless he removed himself. He remains, in the public eye, a boy in a man’s office who, once given power, shot himself in the foot.

It was a tough year if you were a Canadian banker, emitting pitiful buckets of crocodile tears to explain away record profits—tight-faced Presbyterian souls, all wormwood and vinegar inside. They serve as our own OPEC, sheiks in blue serge and lace-ups, squeezing every drop as they fight furiously in the background to deny their little-girl tellers the protection of a union. The last vestige of feudalism in the country,

they blush at their interest rates and point to Ottawa.

It was a very tough year if you were Muffie Brandon, social secretary at the White House, who complained of a “terrible tablecloth crisis” because Nancy Reagan, who spent $209,508 on a new set of china, had only six changes of cloth from which to choose. Concerned Americans sent in a dozen paper tablecloths through the mails.

It was a calamitous year if you were Allan MacEachen. All that money invested in hairstyling, all that discipline wasted on a Scarsdale diet so as to bring his weight down to the flat-tummy profile of a future prime minister. All that loyalty shrewdly socked away in Pierre Trudeau’s vault after engineering the Trudeau miraculous reincarnation so as to be gifted with an “interim” prime ministerial title when Himself leaves. All for naught. All down the drain with one fumble-fingered budget written by academics who couldn’t change a tire and slipped past cabinet in the 40 min-

utes before delivery. Go to your room, Allan.

It was a usual year for Harold Ballard, the No. 1 boor of Canada. The man who trashed Foster Hewitt’s gondola, kept the Canada Cup from Maple Leaf Gardens because it included Commies, and turned the most storied franchise in the land into a joke, continued on his appointed rounds. He drove away captain Darryl Sittler and generally proved that there is no fool like an old fool. In sport, his popularity ranks up there with that of Idi Amin.

It was a remarkably successful year if you were John Turner or Brian Mulroney. The former, his silvered brow growing more magisterial in exile, rests on his own personal Elba at the corner table in Winston’s, his appeal to the Liberal party growing the more he stays away from it. The latter, his radio-announcer voice deepening in maturity, reigns over his Perrier at the Maritime Bar in Montreal’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel, a man who z attracts speculation as Sto his leadership credentials the more he re-fuses to dip his toe into “electoral waters. They hover far from Ottawa like well-upholstered eagles, waiting to pounce.

It was a fine year if you were Peter Lougheed, the prince of the plains, holding out on the constitution, denying aboriginal rights from the final package, riding back home on the jet stream of one’s own Heritage Fund. Most of all, the satisfaction of viewing grandly the Eastern papers speculating about higher office, knowing smugly inside that being King of Alberta is far superior to Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition in that funny little town of mosquitoes and misplaced pomposity, Ottawa.

It was the most impossible of years if you were Wayne Gretzky. The best player in hockey, the greatest scorer in history, he is polite, good-humored, modest, a gentleman before he has reached 21. He makes us forget Ronald Reagan, the Argos, General Haig’s English, the Maple Leafs, Brooke Shields’s mother, the Blue Jays and velvet knickers.