Opening Notes

Opening Notes

Ready, set, run to the polls

BARBARA WICKENS February 3 1997
Opening Notes

Opening Notes

Ready, set, run to the polls

BARBARA WICKENS February 3 1997

Opening Notes


Ready, set, run to the polls

Few things set the hearts of political junkies racing more than rumors of an election. And 1997 could be a pulsepounding year. Ottawa is abuzz these days with talk of a June federal election, which is the current thinking of Liberal strategists. In Alberta, pundits are predicting a spring provincial vote. Premier Ralph Klein, they say, will call it soon after the next budget—expected on Feb. 20. Among the signs that a vote

is imminent: local Tories are already setting up campaign headquarters for Klein in a former Consumers Distributing outlet in a south Calgary mall.

Although the office will officially open only when the elecKlein: setting up headquarters tion is called, supporters are

moving in desks and otherwise getting the place up and running.

By May, Nova Scotia’s Liberals will be entering their fifth year in office, and if tradition holds, Premier John Savage will call a summer election. In New Brunswick, meanwhile, the question is not so much when as whether. Premier Frank McKenna, who has said repeatedly that 10 years in office is enough for any politician, will mark his 10th anniversary in power this September. But McKenna, who is in the early stages of his third term, recently surprised reporters by publicly musing for the first time about seeking a fourth. In any event, he has said that he plans to decide his political future before year’s end. One factor that could influence McKenna is history: every sitting premier in New Brunswick since 1940 has eventually been defeated in office. McKenna could set a precedent and McKenna: had enough? leave before the electorate makes the decision for him.

When Hull closes down

With their 3 a.m. closing time, bars in Hull, Que., have long been a popular destination for teenagers from nearby Ottawa, where last call is an hour earlier. But that may soon change. In an effort to clean up a downtown bar strip known for its early-morning rowdiness, Hull council will vote on Feb. 11 on a proposal to close all the city’s watering holes at 2 a.m., one hour earlier than the rest of Quebec. “People can cross over to Hull very easily, and when they do, they’re often intoxicated,” says councillor Claude Bonhomme. He adds that about 70 per cent of the people arrested on the strip are from Ontario, and that policing the area has cost the city $9 million over the past decade. Predictably, many bar owners are opposed to the proposal. “It doesn’t make any sense,” says Lionel Guilbault, who estimates his bar-restaurant would lose $3,000 a night. He maintains that the problems on the strip are no worse than anywhere else, and that if the proposal goes through, Ontarians will head to adjacent Gatineau, where bars will still close at 3 a.m. Adds Guilbault: “Even people from Hull will go to Gatineau.”

Gzowski apologizes to the boss

Lost week, in a speech to the Canadian Club, Morningside host Peter Gzowski apologized for a remark he made in the Nov. 18 issue of Maclean’s about the

head of the CBC: , 7 _


a -r—«

I called Perrin Beatty, the president of the corporation


president not long ago, sorry I made it. What triggered it was the matter of my retirement. I had begun to feel shunted aside. It was as if the powers that were had said, “OK, Gzowski’s gone, now we can dismantle everything he’s been part of.” The president

called me at home, announc-

I was and still am contracted to, an unfortunate name. And in case the reporter missed it, I took the

trouble to spell it out: “S-0-N of a____”

This was not a career-enhancing move, even if you are nearing the end; and I am now, as I wrote to the

ing himself with, “It’s the son of a bitch himself,” and proceeded to engage me in a frank, open and, I think, friendly discussion of the corporation and my own feelings of frustration and anger. So, sorry, Perrin; next time I’ll bite my tongue.

Mauled by bankruptcy

Troy James Hurtubise’s dream—to wrestle a grizzly bear in the wild—has ended on the scrap heap.

The North Bay, Ont., junkyard operator spent nearly $150,000 developing a titanium suit that would allow him to safely study the bears at close range. Hurtubise, 33, gained national attention last year when his eccentric quest was depicted in the popular National Film Board documentary Project Grizzly. It showed him wearing the suit as he was pummelled by baseball bats, run down by a truck and tossed down a hill. Now, the selfstyled bear behavioral specialist may never get a chance to confront a grizzly because the high cost of creating the suit, dubbed the Ursus Mark VI, has forced him into bankruptcy. His body armor will go to the highest bidder. Said Hurtubise, who is hurt that people often laughed at his plan: “I’ve lost everything.”

A carnival coup

The queen is dead! Long live Bonhomme! After reigning for 42 years, the queen and duchesses of the Quebec City Winter Carnival will be noticeably absent when the 17-day snow festival kicks off this week in the Quebec capital. But another longtime feature, the jolly snowman called Bonhomme, will continue to mingle with the crowds. Organizers decided to dethrone the royals, whose duties included presiding over a ball often viewed as elitist, after a poll showed that most area residents, particularly those aged 25 to 45, wanted to see drastic changes in the carnival. As a result, this year’s festival—expected to attract about one million visitors—will include more daytime activities, such as dogsledding and snowboarding on the Plains of Abraham. “We’ve changed our concept to a festival based on fun and family,” says director of marketing Gabriel Biron. In addition, a new, improved costume means that Bonhomme will—finally—be able to move his head.

Billions on brand names

The items on the following list alone would not exactly comprise a healthy diet. But according to the most recent A. C. Nielsen MarketTrack, they were the biggest-selling brand-name foods in Canadian grocery stores in 1996. The top 10:

BRAND (in millions)

1. Pepsi-Cola $392.1

2. Coca-Cola $391.8

3. Campbell’s soups $231.3

4. Tide laundry detergent $137.3

5. Tropicana chilled juices $125.3

6. Christie cookies

7. Kraft cheese slices

8. Christie crackers

9. Minute Maid frozen juices and drinks

10. Kraft cheddar