Opening Notes

Opening Notes

D’ARCY JENISH June 16 1997
Opening Notes

Opening Notes

D’ARCY JENISH June 16 1997

Opening Notes


Eerie portraits

Margaret Atwood’s 1977 short story Rape Fantasies paints an eerie portrait of the southwestern Ontario town of Leamington, known for its Heinz factory and surrounding tomato farms. In the story, a woman imagines getting raped in the cellar of her mother’s Leamington home by an axewielding man who grabs her as she reaches in the dark for a jar of jam. More recently, two Leamington-born authors have produced disturbing novels, apparently set in the town. In a Glass House, the 1995 novel by Governor General’s Award-winner Nino Ricci, is the tale

of a young boy coming to terms with his severely dysfunctional family. The book takes place in a town nicknamed “the Sun Parlour,” located on the shores of Lake Erie—both true of Leamington. Now, Tim Wynveen has produced Angel Falls, about the efforts of a man to trace the terrible events that led each of his parents to commit suicide. Wynveen’s story unfolds in fictional Wilbury, a name the. author created by combining Wheatley and Tilbury, two towns near Leamington. Perhaps the most revealing clue in Wynveen’s book: the hero’s mother never uses Del Monte Ketchup. Always, she insists, it must be Heinz. Move over, Twin Peaks.

Instant trouble

Loto-Québec says it is just trying something different. But consumer advocate groups in la belle province are not laughing about a new instant lottery ticket they say is aimed at children. Issued in early May under the name Wanted, the $1 scratch-and-win ticket features six Wild West cartoon figures on a wanted poster; players win from $2 to $5,000 in cash prizes by uncovering three identical figures. According to a spokesman for the provincial lottery agency (which earns more than 20 per cent of its $1.5-billion annual revenues from instant lotteries), the wanted poster format and cartoon characters are merely marketing ploys designed to get people’s attention where tickets are sold. “Our customers are adults; it’s not just kids that look at cartoons,” says Jean-Pierre Roy, who adds that more than half of the seven million Wanted tickets issued have already been purchased. “Don’t forget, we put out more than 20 instant lotteries every year. So we have to be creative.” This time, however, creativity is testing the limits of propriety in some people’s view. “Gambling is causing huge social problems in Quebec, and here’s a government agency trying to set up the next generation of compulsive players,” says Nathalie Saint-Pierre, an official with the Fédération nationale des associations de consommateurs, a provincewide consumer advocacy group that represents more than 100,000 people. Saint-Pierre, who insists that Loto-Québec is aiming at children despite the agency’s denials, says the Quebec government should set a minimum age limit for lottery ticket purchases. “Loto-Québec pushes every button it can to make money,” she says. “We have to protect our young people. And not getting them hooked on store-bought lotteries would be a step in the right direction.” But the agency no intention of pulling the tickets.

„ . , . . . Harris for prime minister K


In the wake of last week’s

federal election, few observers saw any leaders on the horizon capable of restoring harmony to a fractious land.

One exception was Conrad Black’s Daily Telegraph. In a post-vote editorial, the influential London newspaper argued that Ontario Premier Mike Harris—known to opponents as Mike the Knife and Bomber Harris for his cost-cutting policies—has what it takes. An excerpt:

Since the days of Sir John A. Macdonald, the Confederation’s first prime minister, English-Canadians have relied on blandness to hold the country together. What is now required is something very different.

They need Mr. Manning’s edge, but also someone who is identifiably modern. The only person who remotely fits the bill is Ontario’s Progressive Con-

servative premier, Mike Harris, who has successfully rolled back the frontiers of provincial government. So far, he has resisted the charms of federal politics. But whoever that person is, we would like him to tell Quebec that it can go only on the harshest conditions— such as ceding the St. Lawrence Seaway and western Montreal to English Canada. Such a view used to be dismissed as extreme; now it looks like an approach whose time has come.

TV bragging rights

In a star-studded gala—complete with exploding screens, onstage pillars of fire and Due South star Paul Gross riding in on horseback—the biggest story at the launch of CIVs fall lineup last week was an announcement that CTV News 1, its 24-hour news channel due to première on Sept. 8, had just clinched a spot in the basic subscriber package offered by the country’s leading cable casters. Although the headline news service is still scrambling to hire an estimated 50 reporters, producers and cameramen, Henry Kowalski, the vice-president of news, used the occasion to crow over the fact that CTCs nightly newscast has outdrawn the CBC’s The National for the past five years. But Kowalski failed to mention that in the most recent ratings war, CTV’s election-night special got creamed by the public network, with only 1.7 million viewers compared with CBC’s 2.75 million. For CBC News, it was a rare opportunity to blow its own horn. Some industry insiders, however, questioned how the perennially cash-strapped public broadcaster could afford to fly more than 40 people, and tons of equipment, from Toronto to Ottawa to set its show inside the Centre Block of the Parliament Buildings. A CBC spokesman, who refused to divulge how much the show cost, claimed it was less than its 1993 studio-based extravaganza. Meanwhile over at CTV, one participant in its election-night coverage grumbled that all the private network could afford was a new table around which Lloyd Robertson and a half-dozen pundits were crammed.

'A hollow victory’

Toronto lawyer Edward Greenspan has made his name by defending clients in high-profile criminal cases—and winning many of them. But in a 20-day civil trial in early 1996, Greenspan was the defendant in a lawsuit filed by former client Robert Stewart. And on June 6, when Justice John Macdonald of the Ontario Court’s general division released his 183-page rul-

ing, Greenspan found himself in an uncomfortable position—the losing end of a decision. But the voluble defence lawyer declared that he was appealing, and described the judgment as “nothing more than a hollow victory for the plaintiff,” since Macdonald awarded only $5,750 in damages.

The case originated with a November, 1978, accident in Toronto in which Stewart, now 48, ran over and killed dance teacher Judy Jordan. He was later convicted of criminal negligence causing death and sentenced to three years in jail; he served 11 months. Greenspan represented Stewart at his sentencing, and unsuccessfully appealed the verdict. Stewart, who lives in Concord, Ont., with his wife, Carmelita, and two children, and works for a food manufacturer, launched his lawsuit after Greenspan hosted and narrated a 1991 episode of the CBC TV program Scales of Justice dealing with the case. Macdonald ruled that Greenspan had breached his duties by, among other things, putting financial gain and self-promotion ahead of the interests of his former client. Said Barry Swadron, who represented Stewart, “It means that a lawyer has certain duties he has to respect.”


DIED: Canadian history professor and author Kenneth McNaught, 77; of cancer, in Toronto. Born in Toronto and educated at Upper Canada College and the University of Toronto, McNaught spent more than 25 years teaching at the university and inspired a generation of historians, including Michael Bliss and Ramsay Cook. Although McNaught lived in Toronto’s upscale Rosedale neighborhood, he was a committed Socialist who revered J. S. Woodsworth, one of the founders of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, forerunner

of the NDP. He was the author of A Prophet in Politics, a biography of Woodsworth, and the Penguin History of Canada, a staple with undergraduate history students.

DIED: Veteran political journalist Ron Collister, 68; of kidney failure, in Edmonton. A native of Liverpool, England, Collister began his four-decade-long career in Canada with the now-defunct Toronto Telegram in 1955 before moving to CBC TV as its chief Ottawa correspondent. He became the founding editor of the Edmonton Sun in 1978, and later a radio talk-show host.

SELLING: The NHL’s Edmonton Oilers; by owner Peter Pocklington, in order to pay off his debts to the provincially-owned Alberta Treasury Branches. Pocklington values the franchise at $85 million.

FINED: Former political aide Pat MacAdam, 62, who served as a top adviser to Brian Mulroney; $164,610 for tax evasion, in Ottawa. A probation officer’s report described MacAdam as unemployed, in poor health and nearly broke.

RECOVERING: Canadian star of the television sitcom Friends, Matthew Perry, 27; from an addiction to painkillers, in a Los Angeles treatment centre.

AWARDED: The $68,000 Orange Prize for best fiction written by a woman, to Canadian author Anne Michaels, for her novel Fugitive Pieces-, at a ceremony in London.

DIED: Rose Cherry, 62, wife of hockey broadcaster and former NHL coach Don Cherry, 63; of cancer, in Toronto.