Barred from public places, banished to office-building entryways even in the dead of winter, walloped with high taxes on their addiction of choice, many Canadian smokers are fuming mad. Last week, a group that claims to represent six million of them, the Smokers’ Freedom Society, called upon candidates in the approaching federal election to cut tobacco taxes. That and other smokers’ complaints are not likely to get a very sympathetic hearing from the country’s politicians, most of whom are eager to stay on the healthy side of the smoking issue. But while stopping short of promising tax cuts on the demon weed, one politician recently expressed sympathy for smokers’ plight. On July 28, Liberal Leader Jean Chrétien chanced upon a knot of reporters clustered outside a riding office in Hull, Que., having a smoke. To the astonishment of many, the Liberal leader, a nonsmoker, had comforting words for the nicotine-addicted bunch. “During the winter, I see people huddling outside federal buildings in the cold puffing away on cigarettes,” he said. “I think it’s ridiculous and probably discriminatory. Smokers should have ventilated rooms where they can smoke if they want to.” Chrétien did not promise to order federal buildings to provide such facilities, but he did not close the door either. Where there’s smoke____
WORD FOR WORD
Notes from a tragedy
White House deputy counsel Vincent Foster had been embroiled in the Clinton administration’s most embarrassing gaffes: failed political appointments, cost overruns in White House renovations and the improper use of the FBI in an investigation of travel staff. On July 20, he shot himself to death in a Washington park. The reasons for his suicide were unclear, but a week later an aide cleaning out his office found a torn-up letter, written by Foster shortly before his death. In it, he lashes out at his critics—including The Wall Street Journal— and the rigors of public life in the U.S. capital. Excerpts: “I made mistakes from ignorance, inexperience and overwork. I did not knowingly violate any law or standard of conduct.... The FBI lied in their report to [Attorney General Janet Reno], The press is covering up the illegal benefits they received from the travel staff. The GOP has lied and misrepresented its knowledge and role and covered up a prior investigation. The Ushers Office [household staff] plotted to have excessive costs incurred, taking advantage of Kaki [White House interior designer Katherine Hockersmith] and HRC [Hillary Rodham Clinton]. The public will never believe the innocence of the Clintons and their loyal staff. The wsj [Wall Street Journal] editors lie without consequence. I was not meant for the job or the spotlight of public life in Washington. Here ruining people is considered sport.”
Dress nice, and bring a ruler
Maybe it’s a sign of the boring Nineties, but the workplace dress code seems to be making a comeback. A staff task force at the Royal Bank’s Metro Toronto Operations Centre recently issued one such sartorial fiat. Banned wear (most of it for women) now includes short shorts, clinging tank tops, Spandex/Lycra clothing and beach sandals. Walking shorts and skirts are OK if they are no higher than three inches above the knee. The rub is that op-centre workers perform backroom functions, in areas where customers are rarely admitted. So why the code? “We don’t make a strong distinction between people who are expected to meet the public and people who are not,” said bank spokesman Mark Utting. Still, the backroom people have one advantage. Friday is “Casual Dress Day,” when staff are allowed to wear loose tank tops, T-shirts and running shoes. And the permissible height for skirts rises to a whole four inches above the knee. Those bankers sure know how to cut loose.
1. The Bridges of Madison County, Robert Waller (1)
2. The Night Manager, John Le Carré (2)
3. Vanished, Danielle Steel (3)
4. Honor Among Thieves, Jeffrey Archer (4)
5. Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, Roddy Doyle (8)
6. The Scorpio Illusion, Robert Ludlum
7. Without Remorse, Tom Clancy
8. Pleading Guilty, Scott Turow (10)
9. Gai-Jin, James Clavell (7)
10. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth (5)
1. Ageless Body, Timeless Mind, Deepak Chopra (1)
2. Women Who Run with the Wolves,
Clarissa Pinkola Estés (2)
3. Post-Capitalist Society, Peter Drucker (7)
4. Unfinished Conversation, Chris Gudgeon
5. The Great Reckoning, James Dale Davidson and Lord Rees-Mogg (3)
6. Culture of Complaint, Robert Hughes (10)
7. Love & Friendship, Allan Bloom (6)
8. Shifting Gears, Nuala Beck
9. Kim Campbell: The Making of a Politician,
Robert Fife (8)
10. A Short History of Financial Euphoria,
John Kenneth Galbraith (9)
( ) Position last week Compiled by Brian Bethune
Naked with a vengeance
it’s hard to be a nudist. At the height of summer, as many as 40,000 tourists from all over Europe descend on the Mediterranean resort of Cap d’Agde, France’s largest nudist colony. Most of them doff their clothes to frolic at the beach, shopping centre, supermarkets and restaurants. And at Cap d’Agde, nudity is not only acceptable—it is mandatory. But not all visitors are willing to let loose, and signs declaring “Nudity obligatory” have been largely ineffective at inducing the shy to take off their clothes. In response, Cap d’Agde town council recently organized a seven-person patrol force. Wearing white caps, the patrols comb the resort and politely ask clothed people—or “les textiles,” as they are known—to remove their coverings or leave. Hands up, and drop your shorts?
All in the political family
Politicians may be in disrepute these days, but that is not stopping the sons and daughters of current and former legislators from following in their parents’ footsteps. A list, culled from the three main federal parties, of political offspring who are in the running in the coming federal election:
• Mark Weiner, son of Gerry Weiner, the federal minister of multiculturalism and citizenship, in the Quebec riding of StLaurent/Cartierville.
• Bruce Wilbee, son of Tory MP Dr. Stan Wilbee (Delta), in the B.C. riding of Nanaimo/Cowichan.
• Robert Mantha, son of former Tory MP Moe Mantha (Nipissing, 1984-1988), in the Ontario riding of Timiskaming/French River.
• Geoffrey Regan, son of former Nova Scotia premier and former federal Liberal cabinet minister Gerald Regan, in Halifax West.
• Susan Whelan, daughter of former federal Liberal minister Eugene Whelan, in Essex/Windsor.
• Jane Nixon-Stewart, daughter of former Ontario Liberal leader Robert Nixon, in the Ontario riding of Brant.
«Joe Barrett, son of NDP MP and former B.C. premier Dave Barrett (Esquimalt/Juan de Fuca), in the B.C. riding of Skeena.
• Jason Schreyer, son of former governor general and former Manitoba premier Ed Schreyer, in the Manitoba riding of Selkirk/Red River.
Top movies in Canada, ranked according to box-office receipts during the seven days that ended on Aug. 12. (In brackets: number of screens/weeks showing.)
1. The Fugitive (144/1)..............................$2,626,700
2. Rising Sun (90/2).......................................$980,400
3. Jurassic Park (97/9).................................$786,300
4. The Firm (99/7)..........................................$664,100
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