BUSINESS WATCH

1992: Easier to laugh than cry

Peter C. Newman December 21 1992
BUSINESS WATCH

1992: Easier to laugh than cry

Peter C. Newman December 21 1992

1992: Easier to laugh than cry

BUSINESS WATCH

PETER C. NEWMAN

It was one of those years most of us want to forget: our political and economic problems either remained as perplexing as ever, grew worse or moved beyond any reasonable hope of solution. In the past 12 months, some deeds and especially misdeeds became worthy of commemoration in this column’s annual, year-end awards.

We’ll Soon Fix That Award—To Bosnian Foreign Minister Haris Silajdzic who, during a UN speech protesting the use of force to deliver emergency supplies, righteously explained, “The people must be alive to receive aid.”

Truth in Advertising Award—To Wayne McLaren, a Hollywood stunt performer who became the rugged Marlboro Man. Just before he died of lung cancer, McLaren told the world, “Tobacco will kill you, and I’m the living proof of it.”

Stiff Upper Lip Award (Part I)—To John Henderson and Zoe D’Arcy who had oral sex aboard a busy London commuter train while stolid commuters watched without comment or complaint.

Stiff Upper Lip Award (Part II)—When John and Zoe completed their lovemaking, they lit the traditional post-coital cigarettes. That was too much for the train crowd. John and Zoe were fined $95—for lighting cigarettes in a non-smoking carriage.

The Don’t Shoot Our Spies: Tax ’Em Award—To Claude Morin, the former Parti Québécois cabinet minister who betrayed his cause by reporting on his colleagues’ activities to the RCMP—and got paid for it. Governments in Quebec City and Ottawa immediately moved against the traitor by ruling the bribes would be taxed retroactively. And no fooling.

Try the “Beer Barrel Polka” Award—To

the frustrated husband who wrote Ann Land-

The only universal emotion was to pray that 1993 would be better. But even lousy vintages have their kicks.

ers on his 30th wedding anniversary that he couldn’t tell his wife something that had been bothering him all those years. As they were unpacking their honeymoon bags at a nice little resort, Louise opened a large suitcase and took out an accordion. She played a rousing chorus of “Lady of Spain” and had been playing the same melody just before having sex ever since—and he hated it. The couple’s only friends were Bernice and Murray who dropped in occasionally to accompany Louise in her “Lady of Spain” renditions. (Murray specialized in playing his head—wrapping his knuckles on his head while opening and closing his mouth—as Bernice clanked two spoons together and hummed the melody.) Landers suggested that the patient husband buy Louise a dozen accordion lessons for her next birthday. She had no advice about Murray and Bernice.

The George Bush Sensitivity Award—

While visiting a hard-core drug addict recovery centre in New Jersey, the U.S. President asked one of the patients: “Did you come here and say, The heck with it, I don’t need this darned thing?’ Did you go through a withdrawal thing?”

The Dan, We Hardly Knew You Award—

In commemoration of the former U.S. vicepresident’s more famous gaffes:

“But how will the people breathe?” Reaction when he was informed the United States was about to impose an air embargo against Iraq.

“Republicans understand the bondage between mother and child.”

“Our party has been accused of fooling the public by calling tax increases ‘revenue enhancement.’ Not so. No one was fooled.”

“I believe we are on an irreversible trend towards more freedom and democracy—but that could change.”

“People are not homeless if they’re sleeping on the streets of their own home towns.” “The global importance of the Middle East is that it keeps the Far East and the Near East from encroaching on each other.”

“If we don’t succeed, then we run the risk of failure.”

“The best thing about rain forests is that they never suffer from any drought.”

“This isn’t a man who is leaving with his head between his legs.” (Referring to dumped presidential aide John Sununu.)

“It isn’t pollution that’s harming our environment. It’s the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.”

The Now We Can Compete With Those Guys Award—To the personnel manager at Tokyo’s Nippon Steel works who decreed that office staffs were working too hard, voluntarily staying at their desks after hours. He enforced his edict by cutting off head-office electricity at 10 p.m. The Japanese average a 2,080-hour work year, the highest in the industrialized world. The year also saw the first official case of an executive Qun Ishii at Mitsui & Co.) being medically judged to have died from overwork.

The Standing on Guard For Thee Award—To the Ottawa politicians who on June 20,1992, approved veterans’ benefits for members of Canada’s Merchant Marine who served during the Second World War. The measure, which took an incredible 47 years to get through the federal bureaucracy, will help only the 4,500 of the 12,000 brave seagoing volunteers who are still alive.

The Stupidest Quote of the Year Award—

To Employment Minister Bernard Valcourt, who boasted that unemployed Canadians would be proud to take cuts in Ul payments. “I say, ‘Listen, buddy, Canada is living beyond its means,’ ” he explained. “Don’t you think we as a people should pay our own way? And you know, he’s proud, he says, ‘Yes, I should pay my own way.’ ”

Quote of the Year Award—To Maj.-Gen. Lewis MacKenzie, head of Canada’s Yugoslav peacekeepers, who told a fund-raising dinner during the referendum debate: “If I could have one wish, it would be to dump the entire population of Canada in Sarajevo for about six hours. Perhaps then they’d realize Canada is the best damn country in the world.”