OPENING NOTES

JOE CHIDLEY September 12 1994

OPENING NOTES

JOE CHIDLEY September 12 1994

OPENING NOTES

A COW OF A DIFFERENT COLOR

Whatever else people say about Norwegians—well, all right, maybe not that much is said about them—they certainly have a unique way of doing things. A good example is the protest being waged by Norway’s farmers, who are concerned that membership in the European Union, to be voted on in a Nov. 28 referendum, would mean an end to agricultural subsidies. In Norway’s northern reaches, farmers have used black chalk to inscribe the words “Nei Til Elf ’ (“Nay to the EU”) on glaciers. And in fields throughout the Scandinavian country, many have planted bright flowers to spell out the slogan in their fields. That decorative tactic, however, has run

afoul of the highway department, which has ordered that the floral signs be removed on the grounds that they contravene a ban on unsanctioned roadside messages. But recently, Njal Foss, a farmer in the southern town of Sorum, fought back with a strategy that gets top marks for artistic impression. He has painted the antiEuropean Union slogan on four of his dairy cattle—in effect, turning them into bovine billboards. And that, in turn, has got him into hot water with the animal protection board, which has ordered him to clean up his cows. The steadfast Foss has so far refused the board’s order, claiming that the water-based paint is harmless. A moo (t) point.

AGAINST THE 0. J. TIDE

While the North American media feast on the 0. J. Simpson spectacle, one Canadian TV program has bucked the trend. Pumped!, a magazinestyle sports show for teens airing on The Sports Network, had taped the football idol for one of its regular features—celebrities reminiscing about their “Most Embarrassing Moment” in sports. In February, Simpson recorded his account of his struggle during a junior college football game after his jockstrap snapped. But when Los Angeles police arrested him in June and charged him with murdering his ex-wife, Nicole, and her friend Ronald Goldman, the show’s producers, Toronto’s Insight Productions, pulled the clip. “We didn’t want to be sensationalist or exploitative,” says Dale Burshtein, the creator of Pumped! Instead, she says the show, which began its second season in Canada last week, intends to examine how children are affected when their athletic heroes are disgraced.

F--’N’ GAMES

Ah, the joys of summer camp: fishing, hiking, camaraderie, swearing like a trooper. At least the last of those was prominent this year at Camp Finally Free, a retreat in Spedden, Alta., for about 60 Young Liberals aged 14 to 25 from the West and the North. Besides dropping the former name of Camp Wannabe Free in honor of the federal Liberals’ 1993 election victory, organizers adopted a charming new slogan, emblazoned on T-shirts distributed to all the fledgling Grits: “Individuals who give a [expletive, describing the act of copulation, deleted].” That liberal use of vulgarity was on the mark, says Young Liberals of Canada president Greg Fergus, because it generated discussion. “You have to meet the Alberta Young Liberals,” he added. “They’re just particularly liberal.” But Roseanne Skoke, Liberal MP for Central Nova, northeast of Halifax, and the party’s self-styled moral crusader, was less understanding. ‘We have infiltration of leadership within the Young Liberals that is promoting a morality that is contrary to what I would consider good Christian morals,” Skoke said when Maclean’s told her of Finally Free’s hip quip. Kids today.

A LESSON IN VISIBILITY

Any former politician planning a comeback could do a lot worse than take a look at what Joe Clark is up to. Last week in Calgary, the ex-prime minister launched Joe Clark and Associates, an international business consultancy venture formed in partnership with accountants Ernst & Young and the law firm of Milner Fenerty. At a cere-

mony organized by longtime Tory backroomer Jock Osier, Clark said the company was “an extension and an application” of his seven years of experience as external affairs minister. This week, Clark’s visibility will get an even bigger boost with the release of his new book on Canadian unity, A Nation Too Good to Lose: Renewing the Purpose of Canada. “It is a wide-ranging call to action,” says Susan Renouf, editor-in-chief at Key Porter Books in Toronto. In Ottawa, Tory insiders are already calling the book “sensational,” comparing it to George Grant’s influential Lament for a Nation (1965). And on Oct. 14, a month after the Quebec election, Clark begins a cross-Canada promotional tour. All of which has fuelled speculation that he is poised to re-enter the political fray, ft the book catches on, it might provide an opportunity too good to lose.

TONGUE TRIED

Even for an expert in English accents, the Cape Breton dialect is something to behold. As voice coach for Glace Bay Miner’s Museum, a joint Canadian-British production now filming in the Nova Scotia community, Julia Wilson-Dickson is teaching the cast—featuring British actor Helena Bon-

ham Carter, Scotsman Clive Russell and Canadians Kenneth Welsh and Kate Nelligan—how to speak convincingly like Cape Bretoners. But when she received tapes of the distinctive dialect at her London home, Wilson-Dickson was surprised: the Cape Breton dialect, she says, is one of the toughest she has ever had to tackle. “It is deliciously and totally inconsistent,” she explains. “It’s closest relative is definitely Irish”—a puzzling conclusion, given that most Cape Bretoners trace their roots to the Scottish Highlands. The cast, however, has fared admirably—especially Bonham Carter, who learned highly formal English from Wilson-Dickson for the film A Room with a View. The actress has already mastered such popular phrases as “soot urself’ (suit yourself) and “rowndaboot” (roundabout). Next thing, she’ll be picking up a fiddle.

JOE CHIDLEY