OPENING NOTES

Tipping a Zamboni, shifting a holiday and filming long-ago gals of summer

June 1 1992

OPENING NOTES

Tipping a Zamboni, shifting a holiday and filming long-ago gals of summer

June 1 1992

OPENING NOTES

Tipping a Zamboni, shifting a holiday and filming long-ago gals of summer

FILLING SEATS, SPANNING GAPS

Secretary of State Robert de Cotret got the idea on a sparsely booked Winnipeg-toOttawa flight last fall: fill empty airline seats for national unity in Canada’s 125th-birthday year. Air Canada bought the idea (valued at more than $20 million) to fly 125 students from each of the 295 parliamentary ridings for a week’s visit to a twinned constituency, and home again, between June and November. And in the week after the May 15 applications deadline, 175 MPs reported that the Voyageurs Canada ’92 program scored high marks. Youths in Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s Quebec riding of Charlevoix and NDP Leader Audrey McLaughlin’s Yukon, for two, signed on eagerly to swap visits. Elsewhere, the program had yet

to take off. A mere 25 youths in the Lac-Saint-Jean riding of Bloc Québécois Leader Lucien Bouchard had volunteered to visit Hamilton; only 30 in Liberal Sheila Copps’s Hamilton East agreed to return the compliment. Now, program officers have extended the deadline in hopes that a full roster of 36,875 young citizens will help fill the gaps dividing Canada’s regions.

Canada wins again

Preparing a 20th-anniversary special on a supreme moment in Canadian sport, CBC TV returned to the scene of

the triumph—Moscow’s Luzhniki Ice Palace. It was there, on the night of Sept. 28, 1972, with 34 seconds left in the final game of the hockey “Super Series,” that winger Paul Henderson scored against goalie Vladislav Tretiak to beat the Soviet all-stars 6-5 and win the series for Canada by four games to three, with one tie.

The arena setting was arranged for mid-May reminiscences by Henderson, Tretiak and lawyer Alan Eagleson,

who organized the 1972 contest. But as CBC producer Robert MacAskill and his crew set up, arena officials demanded a fee—$53,000 in U.S. funds. In an ensuing dispute, Eagleson won on ap-

peal to higher officials, and the filming of Summit on Ice, to air on Sept 27, proceeded. Afterwards, Eagleson had a question for the arena manager—“how he had settled on $53,000 as a fee.” The manager’s reply: his ice-making gear was worn out, and that is the cost of a new Zamboni.

YEARS OF SHAME

A Parliament Hill rally on May 18 by ChineseCanadians, including elders who were forced to pay immigrant taxes or were barred for years from joining spouses, pressed for compensation. An outline of the discrimination decades: 1858: Lured by a Fraser River gold rush, Chinese

immigrants arrive in British Columbia from California. Anti-Chinese agitation grows in the 1860s.

1871 Quly 20): British Columbia joins Canada, counting as population several thousand nonvoting Chinese residents (and native Indians) to increase federal grants and seats in Parliament

1878: British Columbia bans employment of Chinese on provincial public works. Victoria’s British Colonist comments: “The Chinese ulcer is eating into the prosperity of the country.”

1880-1884: Canadian Pacific Railway recruits about 15,000 Chinese, at less than half the standard laborer’s pay, for its B.C. leg. Prime Minister John A Macdonald responds to anti-Chinese sentiment (1882) : “Either you must have this labor, or you can’t have the railway.” Cheap Chinese labor saves the CPR up to $5 million. About 5,000 Chinese cannot save enough to return home as planned.

1885: In the year of the CPR’s completion, a royal commission on Chinese immigration reports: “As a railway navvy, the Chinaman has no superior.” Ottawa imposes an entry head tax of $50 on new Chinese immigrants, raises it to $100 in 1901 and to $500 in 1904 (the Chinese Canadian National Council says that Ottawa collected $23 million in all to 1923).

1923: On July 1, Dominion Day, known to Chinese-Canadians as “Humiliation Day,” an exclusion law, until its repeal in 1947, effectively bans Chinese immigration. (Canadians of Chinese ancestry now number almost 400,000, about half bom in China or Hong Kong.)

1988 (Sept 9): Hong Kong-bom financier David See-Chai Lam, 65, is named B.C. lieutenant-governor.

The good and the so-so

The 1992 UN Human Development Report, which ranks Canada first among 160 nations on its quality-of-life human development index (HDI), places Canada’s partners in current free trade talks sixth (the United States) and 46th (Mexico). The report also provides a less flattering 33-country gender-sensitive HDI, which deducts points for the shortfall in women’s pay and employment compared with men (Canada/U.S.A. tied for eighth, Mexico unrated), and a 53-nation income-distribution HDI, which rewards the narrowing of gaps between the richest and poorest fifths of the population (Canada 6th, U.S.A. 8th, Mexico 30th). And among “deprivation” factors on a development balance sheet for the non-industrial world, the report notes: “Female representation in parliament is only 14 per cent that of males.” By that measure, Canada barely exceeds the poor-nation ratio. The record 40 women MPs in Ottawa represent just 15.7 per cent of the 255 male MPs. And women, 51 per cent of the population, make up only 13.6 per cent of the full Commons membership.

A movable feast day For Canadians who cherish long weekends, Canada Day has become movable when July 1 falls in midweek. But especially this year, when the national day is Canada’s 125th anniversary, and with Confederation itself in peril, many nationalists argue that every citizen’s day off work should be Wednesday, July 1. Even in Quebec, where St Jean Baptiste Day is immovably on June 24 under the province’s 1978 National Holiday Law, the government has bowed to federalist pressure with new legislation to fix July 1 as the Canada Day holiday. But one major group that is moving the holiday to Monday, June 29, by agreement with employers, is the ûsually nationalist Canadian Auto Workers. In the past, that union resisted attempts to close U.S.-owned car factories in Canada on July 4, the U.S. national holiday. Recalls Jane Armstrong, a CAW representative in Toronto: ‘We said, ‘No, we live in Canada, thank you very much, and we will take Canadian holidays.’ ” But not this year? “Oh, we are—we just tacked it onto the weekend, thaf s all.”

Fast off the base paths

Moviegoers have flocked to films with baseball themes (Field of Dreams) and rough-hewn women (Thelma & Louise). Now, Columbia Retures aims to cash in on both trends with A League of Their Own. The summer film is loosely based on the experiences of Vancouverborn sisters Marge Maxwell, 70, and Helen St. Aubin, 66, who played in the U.S. Midwest’s All-American Girls Professional Baseball League in the 1940s. St Aubin’s son Kelly Candaele co-

wrote the story (brother Casey Candaele, a former Montreal Expo, plays with the Houston Astros). Both sisters say that the exploits of the on-screen duo, played by Geena Davis and Lori Petty, and a fastlane character played by Madonna are likely more sensational than their own. St Aubin says that the league’s founder, chewing-gum magnate Phil Wrigley, had strict moral standards, and expected them to “play like men, but act like ladies.” Added Maxwell: “I don’t recall anyone at that time having a personality like Madonna’s.”