Margaret Atwood aims her pen at an editor, Robert Coates suffers another setback, and Jacques Lanctot ducks the Mulroneys’ wrath

October 1 1990


Margaret Atwood aims her pen at an editor, Robert Coates suffers another setback, and Jacques Lanctot ducks the Mulroneys’ wrath

October 1 1990


Margaret Atwood aims her pen at an editor, Robert Coates suffers another setback, and Jacques Lanctot ducks the Mulroneys’ wrath


Jacques Lanctot is alive and well and living in Montreal. Now 44, the former FLQ terrorist who achieved notoriety for his role in the 1970 kidnapping of British diplomat James Cross spends his time operating a publishing firm called VLB editeur. But time and age have clearly mellowed the man whose impulsiveness and fierce nationalism led to the October Crisis and earned him an eight-year exile and a three-year prison sentence after he returned to Canada. Lanctot recently passed up a chance to nettle Brian and Mila Mulroney. He decided not to publish an insider's account of life at 24 Sussex Drive written by François Martin, a former chef at the Prime Minister's residence. Martin's manuscript is now being considered by other houses, among them Halifax's Fleetwood Publications, which recently published the attention-getting expose of the Queen's household entitled Courting Disaster. Said Martin of his rejection by the former terrorist: "He said he was scared he would be sued."

Public health at a private school

A private-school education is expected to provide privileged young women with quality academics, useful social contacts and, above all, respectability. Now, students at one of Canada’s leading private girls’ schools, Branksome Hall in Toronto, may have access to condoms as well. Amy Fisher,

17, president of the student’s council, said that the students have wanted to install a condom machine in one of the school’s washrooms for some time. She said that the principal is aware of the plan, but it still requires approval by the board of governors. Fisher said that Upper Canada College, a Toronto boys’ school, installed a condom machine this September. She added: “We’re not recommending any behavior. We’re not promoting

promiscuity. We’re just saying that AIDS is a big problem.” Sugar and spice—and everything safe.


Descendants of the Vikings have just opened the world's first home for battered men in Horsens, Denmark. According to Svend Aage Jensby, a shelter worker, thousands of Danish wives are physically and psychologically abusing their spouses. The centre has 20 doctors and social workers who will care for distressed Danes. Jensby attributes the abuse to the legacy of Viking masculinity. Said Jensby: “Danish women want their men to be towers of strength, but often find that we are weak or sexually inadequate. " So much for horns.

A problem with communications

Teleglobe Canada Inc. is a leader in communications technology, but officials at the company, which has built the Pennant Point fibre-optic transatlantic receiving station near Halifax, could use a crash course in map reading. Officials acknowledge that they only recently learned that the $11-million unit is not located at Pennant Point, but at Crystal Crescent Beach, about seven kilometres away. Teleglobe spokesman Jacques-Alain Lava lée was unable to explain how the error occurred: “All the documents pertaining to the project say Pennant Point. The error was simply an embarrassing oversight.” Or a case of crossed wires.


Whey, a waste product left over from cheese-making, and a drink for connoisseurs as well as pigs and other animals, may have still another use. Researchers at Ohio State University in Columbus say that the substance may solve two distinct pollution problems. According to Shang-Tian Yang, a chemical engineering professor, fermented whey produces calcium magnesium acetate, which, like salt, is a powerful de-icer. Until now, the substance has been too expensive, but a new technology, which Yang developed, could help dairies solve the problem of disposing of surplus whey as well as providing a cheap substitute for road salt, which causes corrosion and groundwater contamination. Yang says that his technology will be ready in 1 VJ years. The whey of the future.

The disabled news

While the rest of the country presides over the possible breakup of a nation and the threat of more widespread native insurrection, TV stations in St. John’s, Nfld., are occupied with other matters—in particular, handicapped parking. When a blue-andwhite CBC van recently parked outside St. John’s city hall in a handicapped parking spot, rival network NTV ran a three-minute report that included interviews with a spokesman for the disabled and a city councillor, as well as footage of a traffic-control officer ticketing the van. Award-winning journalist and author Michael Harris, executive producer of NTV evening news, said that the CBC started the dispute when it recently filmed a provincial politician parking in a spot reserved for handicapped people. Said Harris: “The CBC has run several stories on the same issue. These guys are on a bandwagon.”


The fact that truth is stranger than fiction may explain why Margaret Atwood has drawn on recent events at Toronto’s Globe and Mail. Hack Wednesday, a short story by Atwood that appeared in the Sept. 17 issue of The New Yorker, recounts a day in the life of Marcia, a columnist on social issues for a Toronto newspaper called—“somewhat grandiosely,” the story says—The World. Marcia, who writes about the disadvantaged, laments the decline of the paper’s quality. Once, she said, “it had integrity. You could trust it to have _ principles, to at-

tempt fairness.” Marcia attributes The World’s down-

fall to its new editor, Ian Emmiry. She says The World is staffed with journalists “handpicked by Ian for their ability to nod.” Atwood was « unavailable for comment, but former Globe columnist June Call5 wood, who left the paper last winter, told Maclean ’s that the story is based on her experiences. Said Callwood: “She can see through 2 walls, that woman.” Marcia’s husband, Eric, who eats turnips and I pickets the U.S. consulate, resembles Atwood’s companion, novelist z Graeme Gibson, and editor Ian the Terrible is reminiscent of Globe § editor William Thorseil. Thorsell’s response: “No comment.”

Taking a backseat

Ever since a 1984 visit to a West German strip club forced Robert Coates to resign from the Tory cabinet,

the former defence minister from Nova Scotia has been waiting for a Senate seat. But the appointment of John Buchanan, leader of Nova Scotia’s scandal-ridden government, has dashed Coates’s hopes until at least 1994. Coates, 62, who has been unemployed for several years, could not be reached for comment. Meanwhile, no room at the Senate.