Opening Notes

Opening Notes

Sailing in Cabot's historic wake

BARBARA WICKENS May 5 1997
Opening Notes

Opening Notes

Sailing in Cabot's historic wake

BARBARA WICKENS May 5 1997

Opening Notes

BARBARA WICKENS

Sailing in Cabot's historic wake

When the replica of John Cabot’s ship, the Matthew, sails into Canadian waters in June, it will return home four of the country’s seafaring sons. Crew members Peter Zimonjic, 23, of Toronto, and Newfoundlanders Chris Legrow, 20, Luke Porter, 27, and John Smith, 76, last week tried on medieval-style moleskin coats and floppy hats in preparation for the re-enactment of the pivotal 1497 voyage from the English port of Bristol. Smith, who first went to sea in 1935 and will use his experience to help navigate the infamous Newfoundland shoals, is under no illusions about how tough the voyage will be. “The month of May is not a very kind one in the North Atlantic,” he says. But he considers the tiny (19 metre) size of the ship as an advantage. “She’ll probably be kinder to you because a smaller boat is like a

duck—she’ll be up over the hills and down in the troughs,” he explains, using his hands to show the gentle motion of riding out the waves.

Before the May 2 start of what organizer and Bristol businessman Mike Richmond calls “the last great adventure of the millennium,” the 19-member international crew must first navigate Bristol’s massive threeday launch party. Prince Philip will take the helm as the Matthew makes it way down the river Avon amid a flotilla of 150 craft. Crowds in excess of 100,000 are expected for the festivities, which will include more than a million fireworks cascading from the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge. Smith will mark the start of the seven-week voyage by celebrating his 77th birthday on April 29 aboard the Matthew. “What better place?” he declares.

A minister's hockey bet

The man charged with managing the nation’s finances turns out to be a bit of a gambler. Two weeks ago, Paul Martin invested a whopping $5 in a Stanley Cup hockey pool. The finance minister—dubbed “Money Bags” by the pool’s organizers—has 10 players on his ersatz team, including Mark Messier of the New York Rangers, Doug Gilmour of the New Jersey Devils, and Paul Kariya of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. But shockingly for a Montreal MP and longtime Canadiens fan—who, in a nod to the town where he works, is also an occasional Ottawa Senators booster—Martin has no players from any of the three Canadian teams that made the playoffs. In this instance, however, Martin gets to pass the buck. Even though he claims to follow the playoffs closely, he admitted that one of his aides actually selected the roster for him. "You’ve blown my cover,” an embarrassed Martin told Maclean’s. “I would have picked someone from a Canadian team." He will use any hockey winnings to join a summertime baseball pool. “Don’t worry,” he added, “I only gamble with my own money.”

Sweet strains of protest

When 22 of Vedran Smailovic’s neighbors were massacred in a mortar attack in Bosnia, he protested. Not with a gun, but with music. Smailovic defiantly played his cello in the streets of Sarajevo for 22 days in 1992 amid a hail of snipers’ bullets. So last week, when Citizenship and Immigration Minister Lucienne Robillard refused to grant Smailovic, 40, a visitor’s visa amid fears that the impoverished cellist might overstay his welcome in Canada, Victoria-based artist Deryk Houston decided to protest. With his paintbrush. Later this week, Houston will arrive in London, where Smailovic now resides, to personally apologize to him on behalf of all Canadians. Upon his return to Canada, Houston, 43, who with his wife, Elizabeth Wellburn, 42, is collaborating on a children’s book with Smailovic, will paint outdoors in downtown Vancouver for 22 days preceding the federal election. Money raised from any sale of the art will be deposited in a fund in Smailovic’s name. Meanwhile, Houston is also trying to organize musical and artistic demonstrations in 22 cities across Canada. “Vedran Smailovic has shown the world a different way to act,” says Houston. “He knew the snipers prided themselves on a good skull shot. Vedran was willing to risk his life playing his cello.”

Convicted by a cat

It is a murder case without precedent in Canada. And instead of the usual legal journals, it has attracted the attention of the British scientific journal Nature. That is because the evidence against a Summerside, P.E.I., man convicted of the seconddegree murder of his former girlfriend included some unusual forensic science— analysis of DNA taken from the murderer’s cat, Snowball. While analysis of human DNA is now common, scientists say the trial last year of Douglas Beamish is the first in which animal DNA was admitted in court. In part, that is why Beamish’s lawyer, John MacDougall, has lodged an appeal. Testing cat DNA, says MacDougall, is highly suspect. And, as he told jurors last July, “without the cat, the case falls flat.”

It all started when Shirley Duguay disappeared in October, 1994. About three weeks later, the RCMP found a leather jacket covered with blood, which tests later showed was Duguay’s. (Her body was discovered in May, 1995.) The jacket lining also contained several strands of white cat hair. A DNA test matched the hair to Snowball—and helped to link the jacket to Beamish. One of the scientists who tested Snowball, Marilyn Menotti-Raymond of the National Cancer Institute in Frederick,

Md., said the methods used are accurate and were “acceptable for publication in two highly respected journals.” True, but the appeal, which might be heard as early as November, could help determine whether the science is, in fact, legally sound.

Warm words for Quebec

No one can accuse New Brunswick of timid self-promotion. Often criticized for trying to woo Canadian businesses from other provinces, officials in Fredericton are now openly gunning for a staple of Maine’s tourism industry: French-Quebecers. After surveys showed that nearly 300,000 Quebecers vacation in Maine each summer mainly to swim at the beach, for the past month New Brunswick has bombarded the province next door with an aggressive $1.2-million advertising campaign. French-only billboard, TV and magazine ads

New Brunswick billboard in Quebec City: fickle

claim that, according to data from Environment Canada and the U.S. National Oceanic Data Centre, New Brunswick has the warmest coastal wa¿ ters north of Virginia. “The I bottom line is, the Atlantic 3 is cold and people want ¡warm-water beaches,” says Flarvey Sawler, executive d ¡rector of tourism and parks in New Brunswick. The message is getting across: since the campaign began, the number of calls from Quebec on the New Brunswick toll-free tourism line has quadrupled to more than 4,000 daily. Officials in Maine say they are not surprised by New Brunswick’s new tack. “Tourism is a very competitive and fickle market and everybody is trying to get everybody else’s customers,” says Nathaniel Bowditch, a spokesman for the Maine tourism office in Augusta. “But New Brunswick won’t get them all. Maine has a very strong history of return visitations.”

Passages

DIED: Comedian Pat Paulsen, 69, whose tonguein-cheek campaigns enlivened five U.S. presidential races; in Mexico, where he was being treated for colon and brain cancer. Paulsen was best known for his appearances on the The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, which won him an Emmy in 1968. That same year, he announced his first run for president and by 1972 was on the ballot for real. Among his campaign promises: improving the postal service (“I can lose your mail for half that much”) and gun control (“As a sportsman, I believe everyone should have a gun—for fishing”).

DIED: Suspected Nazi war criminal, Joseph Nemsila, 83; in Oshawa, Ont. Nemsila, the alleged commander of a Hlinka Guard unit responsible for deporting Jews to Auschwitz, arrived in Canada from Slovakia in 1950.

DIED: Former Viennese conductor and concentration camp survivor Herbert Zipper, 92; of lung cancer, in a Santa Monica, Calif., hospital. Held captive by the Nazis at Dachau, Zipper recruited fellow inmates to perform secret concerts to raise the spirits of the prisoners.

DIED: Former president of Paraguay Andres Rodriguez, 73; of cancer, in New York City. Considered one of the richest men in South America, Rodriguez overthrew dictator Alfredo Stroessner in a bloody two-day coup in 1989.

FIRED: Professional golfer Fuzzy Zoeller, 45, from a sponsorship deal with the Kmart chain; in Troy, Mich., after Zoeller made racist remarks directed at Masters champion Tiger Woods, 21, in an interview with CNN.

REFUSED: A request for U.S. citizenship by Grammy-winning jazz trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, 47; after American immigration officials in Miami claimed that Sandoval, who defected to the United States from Cuba in 1990, had been a member of the Communist party.

MARRIED: Tennis champion Andre Agassi, 26, and actor Brooke Shields,

31; in Carmel, Calif.