OPENING NOTES

Don Getty considers his options, Michael Dukakis pinches pennies, and Mikhail Gorbachev tells all

May 29 1989

OPENING NOTES

Don Getty considers his options, Michael Dukakis pinches pennies, and Mikhail Gorbachev tells all

May 29 1989

OPENING NOTES

Don Getty considers his options, Michael Dukakis pinches pennies, and Mikhail Gorbachev tells all

SELECTIVE AUSTERITY

During last year's presidential campaign, Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis presented himself as a prudent economizer who mowed his lawn with a hand-pushed mower and cleared his driveway with a 25-year-old snowblower. Last week, two aides of the Massachusetts governor maintained that image of New England thriftiness when they visited Toronto to pave the way for a speech that Dukakis will deliver on May 30. Indeed, the advance men were 45 minutes late when they took a shuttle bus and the subway from the airport—rather than a taxi—to a downtown meeting with organizers of The Toronto Star lecture series. And when the aides learned that their hosts had booked them into the posh Sutton Place hotel for their two-night stay, they quickly switched to a less expensive Ramada Inn. Dukakis will have an opportunity to display the penny-pinching traits of his administration while he is in Toronto: the governor is also scheduled to at the Sutton Place.

Hot words about a burning issue

Alberta has agreed to incinerate thousands of litres of carcinogenic chemicals that were not burnt in a warehouse fire in the Montreal-area community of StBasile-le-Grand last August. But the May 10 decision to burn those PCBs at a new waste disposal plant near Swan Hills, 250 km north of Edmonton, has embroiled recently appointed provincial Environment Minister Ralph Klein in controversy. Klein, the former mayor of Calgary, said that the cabinet had waived a ban against the importation of hazardous material on humanitarian grounds—and he predicted that the plant could easily fit Quebec’s PCBs into its schedule. Responded Calgary Aid. John Schmal: “The Swan Hills plant was paid for by Albertans. We have

wastes throughout the province and we are going to treat Quebec’s first?” So much for interprovincial goodwill.

MIXING UP THE MESSAGE

Earlier this year, Fred Wilson helped the Committee of Progressive Electors—a Vancouver civic party of which he is a member—by sending a COPE press release to local news outlets. But Wilson, the British Columbia leader of the Communist Party of Canada, said that he forgot to remove an imprint from an electronic facsimile machine. As a result, the press release identified CPC headquarters as the source of the message. Red-faced COPE officials stressed that there is no formal link between the two parties.

Letter bombs in the post office

III feeling between Canada Post and its unionized workers deepened earlier this month when corporation managers in Vancouver removed flyers that the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) had mailed to customer boxes in the city's main postal station. Corporation officials say that they did so in the belief that the flyers— which criticized recent staff cuts—were an additional bulk mailing. CUPW officials say that they will lay criminal charges against Canada Post under a section of the Postal Act that prohibits opening, keeping or delaying the mail. Then a court will have to address the issue.

RELAXING WITH THE LEADER

Since Mikhail Gorbachev became the general secretary of the U.S.S.R. in 1985, he has introduced glasnost to once-hidden aspects of Soviet life. Gorbachev displayed openness last January when he candidly revealed a state secret—his $28,800 yearly salary—to a Soviet reporter. Earlier this month, Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze continued that trend in the pages of the newspaper Argument and Fact by discussing the trials of balancing work and family obligations. And last week, Gorbachev provided

further revelations about life at the top of Soviet society. In an interview that appeared in the monthly publication News of the Soviet Communist Party Central Committee, Gorbachev described such personal interests as a passion for theatre, reading good books and “most of all, taking walks in the woods.” He also spoke of his dependence on his wife, Raisa—a taboo topic for the male-dominated Soviet elite. Those disclosures seem innocuous by outside standards—but in the U.S.S.R., a little gossip goes a long way.

STAR TURNS IN THE MEDIA SPOTLIGHT

Normally, The Toronto Star simply reports the news—but, during the past four months, two unusual incidents have drawn media attention to the newspaper itself. Last February, Star management forced Ken Adachi to resign when they learned that the award-winning book columnist had plagiarized three paragraphs in a Jan. 21 essay. Adachi committed suicide on Feb. 10. And last week, Robert Hepburn, the Star's Washington bureau chief, acknowledged that he had copied 102 words from a Washington magazine—and used them without attribution in a Jan. 5 column. Star editor John Honderich himself will likely be in the spotlight next week when he is scheduled to take part in a seminar that the Centre for Investigative Journalism is staging in Ottawa. Its subject: plagiarism.

Contemplating a switch

The western Alberta town of Edson received a welcome report last February: the provincial government had chosen the 7,323-member community to host the four western premiers’ annual meeting this month. At the time of that selection, Environment Minister Ian Reid represented West Yellowhead, the riding that contains Edson, in the provincial legislature. But while the Progressive Conservatives were returned to power in a snap March election, Premier Don Getty his Edmonton riding—and New Democrat Jerry Reid in West Yellowhead. Getty subsea May 9 byelection in the rural riding of Stettler. But, since then, he has postponed the premiers’ meeting and refused to say if the conference will still be held in Edson—or be shifted to Getty's own constituency, 290 km to the southeast. Political plums tend to land in government-held ridings.

Capital speculation

It's been almost five months since publisher Roy Megarry fired Norman Webster as editor-in-chief of Toronto's

Globe and Mail newspaper. But last week, a rumor swept through the Globe newsroom: that Webster was about take a new job, as publisher of The Ottawa Citizen—and that he planned to take Globe Ottawa columnist Jeffrey Simpson with him. While Simpson denied being approached, Webster could not be reached for

comment.