OPENING NOTES

Fredrik Eaton takes some ribbing, Lise Payette analyses the nation, and Brian Mulroney tattles

October 28 1991

OPENING NOTES

Fredrik Eaton takes some ribbing, Lise Payette analyses the nation, and Brian Mulroney tattles

October 28 1991

OPENING NOTES

Fredrik Eaton takes some ribbing, Lise Payette analyses the nation, and Brian Mulroney tattles

STRAIGHT FROM THE HIP

With the unveiling of the new constitutional package out of the way, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney appears to be more relaxed than he has been in many months. And his newfound calm seems to be accompanied by a refreshing candor. Insiders report that the Prime Minister has offered off-the-cuff opinions on everything from his favorite—and least favorite—opposition members, to what he and his wife, Mila, think of Ottawa journalist John Sawatsky's new biography, Mulroney: The Politics of Ambition. According to Mulroney, Newfoundland Liberal MPS George Baker and Brian Tobin are "very effective" in

the House of Commons. But he named Liberal Sheila Copps and NDPer Nelson Riis as the "foulest" members. Said Mulroney: "They have to be the candidates for the meanest mouths in the House." And he added that Copps would be more effective if she were less vindictive. The PM dismissed Liberal Leader Jean Chrétien as "a cream puff." He expressed anger about Sawatsky's recently published book, which he said he has not read. But Mulroney said that when he and Mila watched Barbara Frum on CBC's The Journal interviewing the author recently, Mila "fell off the bed, she was laughing so hard." Many details about his alcoholic past are fiction, Mulroney said. But he did not deny the substance of the allegations. Said the Prime Minister: "If he wants to talk about stuff I have done in my life, there's a lot more than that."

Different styles for Quebec

Veteran CBC news anchorman Knowlton Nash may have identified a real source of division between Frenchand English-Canadians in his new book, Visions of Canada, published this month.

Nash spent four months travelling across the country and talking to 45 prominent Canadians. The book is a collection of conversations between Nash and such familiar personalities as Thomas Axworthy,

Allan Gregg, Jeanne Sauvé, Oscar Peterson, Elijah Harper and Jane Jacobs, who discuss their hopes and fears for the country. But it was Lise Payette, Quebec broadcaster, writer, politician and a

committed sovereigntist, who told Nash: “We are not like you: we don’t eat what you eat, we live differently, we love differently.” She did not elaborate. But last week in Toronto, Nash told a gathering held to celebrate the launch of the book that he wished he had the

time to do more research on love-making techniques in Quebec. Avie Bennett, president of McClelland & Stewart, which is publishing Visions of Canada, told Nash to hold off. Said Bennett: “That may be an idea for your next book.”

MYTHS IN THE MAKING

Sassy, a New York City-based magazine for teenage girls, includes the word “atwood” in its glossary of teenage slang. An atwood, states the magazine in its November issue, is a “Canadian synonym for wedgie,” as in, “This worn-out old pair of underwear is giving me an atwoodA spokesman for Sassy, published by Lang Communications, the owners of Ms. magazine, declined to comment. But according to the glossary, the term was coined by a Canadian woman called Mrs. Atwood, “who had uncomfortable undergarments. ”

SECOND-FIDDLE CHALLENGE

In his career as prime minister, Pierre Trudeau often trod a fine line between politics and theatre. But in 1984, he finally had a chance to cross the line permanently. At the time, the CBC’s Front Page Challenge, now the world’s longest continuously running television panel show, began looking for a replacement panelist after the death of journalist Gordon Sinclair. The show’s executive producer, Raymond McConnell, says that he approached Trudeau through Liberal Senator Keith Davey.

Trudeau, who had

[ecently announced his retirement from

politics, had twice

been a mystery

guest. He turned the offer down, and Maclean ’s columnist Allan Fotheringham got the job instead. But when the CBC approached him, he asked who else they were considering and learned about the offer to Trudeau. Said a grinning Fotheringham, not known for his speed with a lunch cheque: “The first question he asked was, ‘How much?’ ” Fotheringham added: “I don’t really mind being second choice to Pierre Trudeau. But can you imagine? Every one of his questions would have been 20 minutes long.”

Mario’s firstclass pain

Edward DeBartolo, owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins, has a reputation for counting his pennies. But his thriftiness may be annoying his star player. The daily Le Journal de Montréal reported that because of his chronic back problems, Mario Lemieux likes to fly first-class when the team is on the road, but that DeBartolo refuses to pay. Not so, maintained team spokesman Harold Sanders, who said that DeBartolo has not ruled out picking up the tab. But while that decision remains to be made, relief may be imminent in another form. DeBartolo is selling the team.

Back

talk

In his bid for the mayoralty seat in Toronto’s upcoming municipal elections,

New Democrat Jack Layton has the blessing of someone who is both an ideological opponent and a personal ally—his father. The 41year-old Layton is the son of Robert Layton, Tory MP for the Montreal riding

of Lachine/Lac-St-Louis. The younger Layton grew up in Hudson, Que., and attended McGill University before moving to Toronto’s York University to do a doctorate in political science. It was then, recalled Robert Layton, that his son “picked up this attraction to the socialist option, working with some professors who were a bit left-leaning.” Jack was first elected to Toronto city council in 1982. Robert’s own career as a Tory MP began late in life, in 1984 at the age of 58, as he was ending a career as an engineer. He served as Tory minister of state (mines) from 1984 to 1986 and is currently chairman of the Tory caucus. But both father and son are former Liberals. Robert ran unsuccessfully for the Liberal nomination in Vaudreuil in 1972, and together they worked on Pierre Trudeau’s campaigns. Both say that although they do not always agree on political issues, their respect is mutual. Said Jack Layton: “We both have an interest in social-justice issues. But I must say my father has taken a different tack.”

TAKING POETIC LIBERTIES

Humble Howard (Glassman), a disc jockey with Toronto radio station MIX 99.9, has delighted opponents of Ontario Premier Bob Rae with his new song, Superbob. Using the tune of the rock group Crash Test Dummies' hit single Superman, Humble Howard changed the lyrics to: "Superbob never saved any money/Big business is gone, they think Ontario's crummy/ Sometimes I say a prayer and hope there'll never be another man like him." The deejay says that people in Ontario Tory Leader Michael Harris's office have requested the song. Brad Roberts, lead singer of the Dummies, says that he is flattered, but that the superman of his song is a socialist. Said Roberts: "My Superman would have voted NDP."

BARBED

DIPLOMACY

The recent appointment of Fredrik Eaton, former

chairman of the family’s department-store chain, to the coveted post of Canadian high commissioner in London has provoked some derision in Britain’s class-conscious diplomatic commu-

nity. Soon after taking over the post from Donald Macdonald,

Eaton presided over a black-tie

dinner organized by the Canadian Club at the posh Savoy Hotel, and observers say he seemed ill at ease. At home, Eaton is the embodiment of the Canadian Establishment, but in London some insiders apparently view him as a

mere merchant. One joke making the rounds is that Eaton might help External Affairs turn a profit by converting a floor of Canada House over to ladies’ fashions or menswear. But the sharpest

barb: “At least if we

don’t like him as high commissioner, we can always exchange

him for a new one.”