OPENING NOTES

Margaret Atwood minds the store, George Bush faces an acid test, and Walter Mondale confronts a costly race

February 27 1989

OPENING NOTES

Margaret Atwood minds the store, George Bush faces an acid test, and Walter Mondale confronts a costly race

February 27 1989

OPENING NOTES

Margaret Atwood minds the store, George Bush faces an acid test, and Walter Mondale confronts a costly race

SOFT PLEDGES ON ACID RAIN

During a whirlwind visit to Ottawa on Feb. 10, George Bush promised speedy action to remove a long-standing irritant in U.S.-Canadian relations: acid rain pollution. But the President has been slow to nominate key policymakers to execute that pledge. Ronald Reagan had furnished the names of 27 subcabinet-level appointees for requisite Senate scrutiny less than one month after he became president in 1981. But during a similar period, the Bush administration has supplied the Senate with the names of 10 such candidates. That delay is particularly noticeable at the U.S. Environmental Protec-

tion Agency, where William Reilly, a former president of the World Wildlife Fund, began work as the new director last week. Still, the Bush administration has yet to put forward the names of two men who would serve as key ERA administrators, Michigan real estate developer and Bush fund raiser William Rosenberg and J. Clarence Davies, a director of the Washington, D.C.-based Conservation Foundation. At the same time, many environmentalists say that U.S. industries are already striving to delay any significant reduction of airborne pollution until the 21st century. Declared David Hawkins, a spokesman for the National Clean Air Coalition: "The date we have heard put forward for the first meaningful emission reductions is 2003." Bush's pledge was a victory for Prime Minister Mulroney, but apparently other battles lie ahead.

Success in the writing business

Author Margaret Atwood’s latest novel, Cat’s Eye, is climbing the best-seller lists, and a movie based on an earlier work, The Handmaid’s Tale, is about to begin production in New Haven,

Conn. Earlier this month, Atwood began a two-week tour that will take her to seven U.S. cities, including Chicago and Los Angeles, to promote Cat’s Eye. But as success follows success, Atwood keeps a sharp eye on the business end of writing. As she prepared to fly to New York City last week— and a glittering book-launch party attended by such fellow writers as Norman Mailer and Nora Ephron—Atwood noticed that there were no hard-cover copies of Cat’s Eye available at Pearson International Airport. She immediately telephoned her publisher, McClelland and Stewart Ltd., and left a message for firm president Avie Bennett. Declared Atwood:

“Tell him to get the book out here.” That demand achieved partial success. At week’s end, there were still no copies of Cat’s Eye (retail price: $24.95) at Classic Bookshops’ four airport outlets—but store managers have placed a rush order for more books.

TRADING ART FOR SOME SUN

Choreographer Eddy Toussaint has found a novel—and inexpensive—way for his Montreal ballet dance troupe to beat the cold-weather blues. Since early January, the company’s 22 members have been wintering at a Club Med resort in Florida— a holiday centre that charges its guests $174 per day. But in exchange for performing a one-hour ballet each week, the dancers receive free board and lodging. Toussaint’s dancers did not get U.S. work permits before going south: they are not needed in the barter of culture for sun.

STEALING CARS FOR FUN AND PROFIT

Owners of Chevrolet Cámaros and Pontiac Firebirds share an unwanted distinction: across the United States and Canada, those sporty models top the list of automobiles that are most attractive to car thieves. At the other end of the scale, the relatively sedate Ford LTD Crown Victoria is least likely to be stolen, according to Allstate Insurance Co., an Illinois-based firm that has compiled recent theft reports on 119 car models. At the same time, Toronto car owners have a

better chance of retrieving their stolen autos than their counterparts in Montreal. Metropolitan Toronto police recovered 90 per cent of the 7,173 vehicles reported stolen within their jurisdiction last year—and force spokesmen blamed most of those thefts on joyriders. By contrast, Montreal police, who recovered only 62 per cent of the 13,373 vehicles stolen in 1988, say that the city has more car-theft rings than Toronto. And as unhappy owners can testify, more hot cars.

Campaigning in high style

Walter Mondale is under pressure from Democratic party officials to run for the Minnesota seat in the U.S. Senate, which he occupied before becoming vice-president in 1977. But Republican incumbent Rudy Boschwitz—who has predicted that Mondale will be his opponent—has signalled that money will be no object to his 1990 re-election bid. He plans to spend at least $10 million—an outlay that would make the Minnesota contest one of the most lavish campaigns in U.S. history. Declared Mondale: ‘Tm still thinking about it.” That, at least, costs nothing.

High-priced playgrounds

C algary received a rich heritage at the close of the 1988 Winter Olympic Games-$400 million worth of first-class sport sites that include ski runs on nearby Mount Allan, one of the world's three indoor speedskating ovals, two ski jumps and Canada's only bobsleigh track. But some critics say that such expensive facilities as the ski runs and skating oval-now enjoyed largely by Calgary-area residents for recreation-should also be extensively used as training sites for top athletes from across Canada. Indeed, former track-and-field star Diane Jones Konihowksi wants the Canadian Olympic Associa tion to provide travel and training subsidies for such athletes from the $60-million endowment fund it received from the Calgary Games. In any event, the world's top skiers will not compete on the slopes that hosted last year's Olympic downhill ski races. The reason: at the Games' conclusion, officials of the Nakiska ski resort removed the safety and communication equipment that is compulsory for major alpine contests. As a result, the first World Cup ski competitions to be held in Alberta since last year's Winter Games took place near Lake Louise last week-at a site that existed before Olympic organizers carved out expensive new courses on Mount Allan.

TRAVEL IN ECONOMY STYLE

Canada's Supreme Court judges earn $151,700 annually-with Chief Justice Brian Dickson receiving $163,800, a relatively handsome income. But Supreme Court registrar Guy Goulard says that the judges' travel allowances do not match their stature. Declared Goulard: "Court justices are as important to the country as the prime minister or governor general, but their travel budgets don't reflect that fact." All nine judges share an annual budget of only $50,000 for such purposes as attending the funeral of a brother judge. And only Dickson has a new, chauffeur-driven Cadillac at his disposal in Ottawa. His colleagues must compete for the use of a 1985 Cadillac with more than 200,000 km on the odometer. Or form a car pool.

SEEING STARS ON THE CHEAP

A stronomer Ian Shelton wrote his name in the heav

ens when he dis covered an explod ing star on Feb. 24, 1987. Indeed, his Canadian col leagues named the supernova after him in honor of a sighting that he made in northern Chile. But Shelton

stopped observing the star after 18 months because his under powered instrument could no

longer track it clearly. Now, U.S. scientists have confirmed that the supernova contains a dense core of matter known as a pul sar-a discovery that also elud ed Shelton's telescope. Universi ty of Toronto astronomer Robert

Garrison said that in adequate funding of ten forces Canadian scientists to borrow superior U.S. equip ment-lea ding many Americans to ignore Canadian trailblazing. De clared Garrison: "We are mainly a

parasitic nation as far as tele scope equipment goes." Beggars rarely get laurels.