OPENING NOTES

BARBARA WICKENS July 10 1995

OPENING NOTES

BARBARA WICKENS July 10 1995

OPENING NOTES

Paintings fit for a Queen

To celebrate the monarchy’s ties with Canada,

New Zealand and Australia, 30 works from the Queen’s private art collection are touring the three countries. Collected by kings and queens over the past three centuries, the paintings have never before left their traditional places of honor in Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and other royal residences. The Queen’s Pictures, which runs until Sept. 10 at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, includes works from Rembrandt, Van Dyck and Canaletto. And the stories behind many of the paintings are as interesting as the works themselves. Christopher Lloyd, surveyor of The Queen’s Pictures who was in Ottawa to open the exhibition, says that King George IV purchased Rembrandt’s stunning The Shipbuilder and his Wife, in 1811 for 5,000 guineas, millions in today’s dollars and the most the avid collector ever paid for a paint-

ing. “It is fortunate that he lived up to his reputation as a spendthrift on clothes and art,” said Lloyd. Showing himself a better judge of art than of feminine sensitivities, Lloyd went on to describe the work as “another great piece of art showing the wife disturbing the husband.” And this is high culture.

Feeling passionate about Quebec

The subject of Canada’s future without Quebec is often reduced to little more than a dry academic debate among politicians and economists. But for one Toronto woman, Cynthia Good, such discussions are too dispassionate. In her case, the urge to get involved, to “do something,” became overwhelming one night last January when she was listening to Jacques Parizeau on CBC Radio’s As It Hap pens. “I was arguing with the radio,” she re calls. “I felt passionately that individuals should reach out to Quebecers, to let them know how much the rest of Canada would mourn their de parture.” Good, the publisher of Toronto-based

Trapped in voice-mail hell

Voice mail and electronic pagers have become ubiquitous in offices and homes across Canada. Most are bought and installed in the name of greater efficiency. But are they saving money ? According to a recent survey of workers in Canada and the United States by Mississauga, Ont.-based Nortel, one of the world’s leading telecommunications companies, the new technologies often distract workers and are costing billions of dollars a year in lost productivity. Some of the findings:

•Workers spend an average of 302 hours each year listening to voice mail and responding to pages, costing employers $4 billion in lost time.

•An average of more than 2.5 hours is spent away from the desk responding to messages each workday.

• Despite the greater variety of communications tools in

the workplace, people are still unable to make contact nearly one-third of the time.

•Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed said that their performance on the job is hampered by their inability to reach people when needed.

• Seventy-four per cent of respondents reported feeling frustrated when they are un-

able to reach people. Fifty per cent found it stressful.

•Thirty-eight percent of those polled said they sent work elsewhere when they cannot make contact with the desired party.

Dudley Do-Right does OK by Disney

Canadian nationalists were quick to criticize last week’s announcement that the RCMP has signed a licensing agreement with Walt Disney Canada They charged that a treasured national symbol has been sold out to an American corporate giant. But representatives of both the RCMP and the Mounted Police Foundation, a registered charity holding the rights to market RCMP-related merchandise, dismiss the criticism, saying the deal will earn them money for community policing programs while making it easier to crack down on the sale of poorly designed and sometimes tasteless products using the Mountie symbol. Staff Sgt Ken Maclean said the force had to act because abuses of the Mounties’ image were increasing. For instance, both an American pro wrestler and a pornographic movie called The Mountie have expropriated

such recognizable symbols of the Mounties as the redserge jacket and wide-brimmed Stetson hat (In the pom movie, the main character is played by an amply endowed actress named Letha Weapons.)

The Disney deal, which could bring in as much as $5 million a year, protects the Mountie image only in Canada, but moves are afoot to expand the agreement worldwide, particularly in Asia where many of the products originate. Still, Bill Pratt, president of the foundation, admits opposition was expected. ‘Talk of the force going ‘Mickey Mouse’ was always in the back of our ! minds,” he says. But Pratt noted that the giant entertainment conglomerate will receive only 45 per cent of the income generated by the sale of such items as T-shirts, baseball caps and dolls. “It’s a great deal,” he adds. “We get 55 per cent and they do all the i*8 work.” And that’s not at all goofy.

Penguin Books Canada, says that she thought of several ways of becoming involved, but dismissed them as too harebrained. But then she says she realized that there was something that she could do. The result is If You Love This Country: 15 Voices for a Unified Canada, a collection of essays about Canada by writers as diverse as astronaut Roberta Bondar, native leader Matthew Coon Come, and novelists Neil Bissoondath and Roch Carrier, among others. The 350-page book is printed in both official languages, a rarity—and an expensive one at that— in Canadian publishing. But as Good puts it, “How can we be reaching out if we aren’t reaching out in the French language?”

The writers obviously felt Good’s sense of urgency. Although she approached most of them only in February, the book was printed and ready to ship by mid-May, a remarkably fast turnaround period. “Most of them wrote their pieces in five or seven days,” Good says. “The response was really very positive.” Now, she’s hoping that the outcome of this fall’s Quebec referendum campaign will be just as encouraging.

What he did on his summer vacation

f there was ever any doubt that some people will do anything to make a buck or have a baby, a recent lassified advertisement that appeared in both the nelegraph Journal and the Evening Times Globe in Saint John, N.B., should settle the matter. Placed by . student at the University of New Brunswick’s Saint ohn campus, the ad reads: “Healthy, intelligent INBSJ student offers to become a surrogate father ir a childless couple in exchange for tuition assismce.” In an interview, the 29-year-old student who laced the ad said he has addressed two key issues: he high cost of tuition and difficulties some couples iave in conceiving a child. “It is probably something hat is done all the time,” he added.

Still, the ad has raises legal and ethical questions. I wouldn’t call it legal or illegal, because no law says ou can do it and no law says you cannot,” says Moira

Edited by BARBARA WICKENS

Saint John classified ad: sperm for sale

McConnell, executive director of the Law Reform Commission of Nova Scotia and a law professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax. She adds that there is debate among professionals about how the courts should characterize surrogate parenting: Is it a benign act or tantamount to selling babies?

But ethics are far from the mind of the sperm donor, who declines to be named but says that so far he has received replies from two interested couples. “You can get into all the morals you want,” he says, “but it’s really a mechanical thing.” It would be interesting to see what he puts on his résumé about his summer job.