COLUMN

The secret source of power

Allan Fotheringham November 12 1984
COLUMN

The secret source of power

Allan Fotheringham November 12 1984

The secret source of power

COLUMN

Allan Fotheringham

Every province, of course, feels it is unique, the exclusive owner of some magical qualities denied the other nine. It is what makes Canada: smugness divided 10 times with enough left over for two territories. Ontario naturally has the morality denied all the others, Alberta the buccaneer spirit of free-booting capitalism, New Brunswick the most free-form politician in the land. British Columbia has a lock on the loonies and the weather. Prince Edward Island has the most preposterous claims

to be a separate jurisdiction. The true base of Canada, however, is the province that happens (not by accident) to be at the heart of the country. All the great ones come from Saskatchewan.

It really was not designed that way by public relations men, but it would seem the juicy Colin Thatcher murder trial, the script reading as if it were out of some steamy Faulkner town in the Deep South, was designed to prove to the rest of the land that Saskatchewan is not dull.

As if to counter the feverish court testimony coming out of Saskatoon,

Premier Grant Devine staged an event the other night to offer evidence about the quiet Saskatchewan. The province has the most stable economy in the country now, its wheat complemented by oil and gas, fertilizer and uranium. All of these head out to world markets, but Saskatchewan’s biggest export remains brains. Devine’s government, to celebrate this fact, staged a gala evening to honor its sons and daughters of the soil who, as we know, secretly run Canada. If the plane bringing them into Regina had crashed, it would have wiped out most of the intellect of Western civilization.

It has been known for some time that the upper reaches of the mandarinate in Ottawa are populated almost exclusively by people who spent their early lives snaring gophers. There are entire reaches of Rockcliffe filled with deputy ministers who still know what a pitch-

Allan Fotheringham, born in Hearne, Sash, is a columnist for Southam News.

fork looks like. This evening in the Hotel Saskatchewan (which has the best newsstand this side of New York, better than any in insular Ottawa) there is such as a Bank of Canada Gov. Gerald K. Bouey, who hails from the metropolis of Axford. Also the deputy governor, Gordon Thiessen, who apparently learned to count in Saskatoon. Half the corporate world of the country comes from stubble-jumping land. Present is Arden Haynes, president of Imperial Oil. Also James Hay, chairman of Dow Chemical. Also John Stoik, president of Gulf Canada, who started in North Battleford, and

Elvie Smith, president of Pratt & Whitney, who was born in that centre of culture and learning, Eatonia.

Star of the night is our classy Governor General, Jeanne Sauvé, looking as polished as ever in brilliant green. She got her start in Prud’homme, which is northeast of Saskatoon, and it was obviously her Saskatchewan sophistication that allowed her to rise so steadily through the intellectual ranks of Quebec, through Trudeau and Pelletier and the rest, to become cabinet minister, Speaker of the Commons and now the mistress of Rideau Hall. Where would the country be, I ask you, without the breadbasket of the land? Sauvé said, “If we’d all stayed in Saskatchewan, the capital of Canada would be here in Regina.” Modesty is another of our characteristics.

Commissioner Robert Simmonds, chief fuzz of the country as boss of the RCMP, is from mighty Hafford, and he looked as if he could even have brought

his horse. Dr. Beverley Koester is the clerk of the House of Commons. Jennifer McQueen is commissioner of the Public Service Commission of Canada, a babysitter for all the swivel servants. Devine said the “children of Saskatchewan” had a “kindred spirit” that he thought had something to do with service to people. Tommy Douglas, still recovering from his injuries sustained when an Ottawa bus was so unwise as to tangle with him, couldn’t make it. But Mr. Justice Willard Z. Estey, of the Supreme Court of Canada, did. So did Mr. Justice Darrel V. Heald of the Federal Court.

Come to think of it, the new chief justice of the Supreme Court, Brian Dickson, is a sod-buster.

The intelligent Joni Mitchell, without her guitar, is present, Saskatoon her home. There is the handsome Keith Morrison, now perfecting his Vincent Price act on The Journal. There is the second most famous product of Wadena, Bernard Ostry, a legend in his own mind, famed as a high mandarin in Ottawa and now the owner of the most elegant suits in Bill Davis’s Tory

0 government (which ain’t

1 hard). Most famous prodg uct of Wadena is Pamela “ Wallin, who has gone nowhere but up since leaving the penitentiary in Saskatoon (as a social worker) doing therapy and breaking hearts (not rocks) and now arouses every travelling salesman in the land with her act on Canada A.M. Saskatoon’s Joyce Davidson sends her regards, as does Moose Jaw’s Earl Cameron.

W.O. Mitchell of Weyburn and Max Braithwaite of Nokomis couldn’t make it, and, for some strange reason I couldn’t figure out, no one invited poet Sarah Binks, the Sweet Songstress of Saskatchewan. Gordie Howe, from Floral, was elsewhere and occupied that night on a foreign rink with Bryan Trottier from Climax. Best discovery, however, was that yet another daughter of the soil is Zena Cherry, who daily delineates Toronto’s Establishment figures in her Globe and Mail social page column. That someone from here is the ultimate arbiter on Toronto’s social climbers is true Saskatchewan revenge.