Opening NOTES

Opening NOTES

TANYA DAVIES October 26 1998
Opening NOTES

Opening NOTES

TANYA DAVIES October 26 1998

Opening NOTES


A friendly farewell

The late Montreal city councillor, journalist and renowned boulevardier Nick Auf der Maur was famous for many things—including, as his longtime friend, former prime minister Brian Mulroney often remarked, “his complete absence of malice.” So it was all the more fitting that a Montreal gathering last week in memory of Auf der Maur, who died earlier this year of cancer, featured several people who have had public differences in the past.

The occasion was the launch of a book called Nick: A Montreal Life, which features a selection of his past columns and tributes from friends including Mulroney, Mordecai Richler, Conrad Black and renowned cartoonist Terry (Aislin) Mosher of The Gazette newspaper. (Proceeds from the book, published by Montreal’s Véhicule Press, are going to the Nick Auf der Maur Memorial Fund, a charity for cancer patients.) At one point in the evening, the speakers on stage included Richler, Mosher and cochairs of the charity, Auf der Maur’s daughter, Melissa, who plays bass in the popular grunge rock band Hole, and Mulroney. Both Richler and Mosher were frequent and savage critics of Mulroney’s political and personal style

during his nine years as prime minister. But all three men greeted each other amiably, and a cheerful Mulroney was unfazed by his company. “One of Nick’s great qualities,” he said, “was the manner in which he brought together people who normally would never even be found in the same room with each other.” Never mind the same podium.


In the growing controversy over the multi-billion-dollar surplus in the Employment Insurance fund, Finance Minister Paul Martin is getting an unexpected break from several business groups. The Business Council on National Issues, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business are still asking for El premium cuts.

But they have shifted their emphasis to personal income tax relief in next year’s budget—which is also Martin’s top priority. In fact, both the BCNI and the Chamber now favor income tax relief over El premium cuts, while the CFIB still gives the two options equal weight.

That Liberal strategists and business lobbyists are not so far apart in their policy preferences should come as no

surprise. After all, the BCNI is headed by Thomas d’Aquino, who was a special assistant to former prime minister Pierre Trudeau. CFIB president Catherine Swift, meanwhile, was a federal bureaucrat in the late 1970s and early ’80s, and was also a member, along with Martin, of an insider Liberal policy discussion circle known as the Grindstone Group. The Chamber’s new president Nancy Hughes Anthony, is another former, longtime senior federal bureaucrat. In fact, among the top business lobbyists, only Steve Van Houten, president of the Alliance of Manufacturers & Exporters Canada, has no government or Grit credentials on his résumé. And, as it happens, the Alliance stands alone among the main business groups in sticking to a hard-line demand for El premium cuts this fall.


Although English is the most common language used on the Internet, 44 per cent of the 56 million Net surfers worldwide, or 25 million people, use a language other than English. How the rest break down by language, in percentages:

Spanish............24 French..............10 Italian..................4

Japanese.........22 Chinese...............6 Dutch...................4

German 13 Swedish..............4 Others..............13



When 1,400 adult Canadians were asked how important it is to be highly educated, the majority of those 65 years and older decided it is only moderately or not at all important. Meanwhile, the majority of those who are more likely to either be in school or just graduated, feel it is very important. By percentage:

Under age 25 25-34 35-49 50-64 65+ Very important 56 39 33 45 38 Moderately important 34 43 46 42 40 Slightly important 10 16 18 9 11 Not important at all 0 2 3 4 11 DATA COLLECTED FEBRUARY, 1998 Coldl’arh Consultants Limited