In case you didn't notice, it's a wacky world

Allan Fotheringham December 14 1998

In case you didn't notice, it's a wacky world

Allan Fotheringham December 14 1998

In case you didn't notice, it's a wacky world

Allan Fotheringham

So, you see, I’m home, alone on a Saturday afternoon, my feet up, contemplating the universe, and the phone rings. It is a female voice—one of those voices you know is masquerading as a machine—and she asks me if I have received the Sears catalogue flyer at my door.

“Lady,” I tell her, “are you serious?”

I hang up. I live in a world where in Texas, in the richest nation in mankind’s history, there are more than 450 people sitting on death row, waiting to be dispatched, and the governor of the state who allows this is George W. Bush who is the leading Republican candidate to be the next president. A world where farmers in Saskatchewan are shooting their piglets because hog prices are so low and, in the meantime, people in Russia are starving.

A world where in a democracy called Canada the voting is so rigged that the Liberal party in Quebec gets 43.7 per cent of the vote and only 48 seats while the Parti Québécois gets 42.7 per cent of the vote and 75 seats. Where Toronto city council, because it can’t find a way to stop filthy, ragtag squeegee thugs from bothering motorists, wants to spend $250,000 to rehabilitate them and house them and wipe their noses.

A world where the president of the most powerful nation on earth is regularly serviced by a young woman near the age of his own daughter, in a cubicle off the Oral Office within earshot of his secretary, and then for months goes on television to tell the American people that what he was doing was not really sex. A world where impresario Garth Drabinsky, who was paid $13,000 (U.S.) a week by his Livent theatre empire that is now in bankruptcy, has just authorized a circular letter sent to near-strangers asking for donations of $100,000 to help pay his legal bills.

It’s a world where the CBC, that great bastion of free speech and human rights, has given reporter Terry Milewski a further suspension of 15 days because he actually wrote with his own little hands a letter to The Globe and Mail setting out his case. Where the United States, which supported Gen. Augusto Pinochet in the coup that overthrew and led to the death of the democratically elected Marxist Salvador Allende, now applies diplo-

matic muscle hoping to stop his extradition from Britain to Spain.

Where the Conservative Party of Canada, to revive itself, chooses as its new, fresh blood leader the chap who, two decades ago, committed political suicide while leading it. Where the brilliant businessmen and politicians who arranged to have the taxpayers build Toronto’s SkyDome now find it bankrupt and futureless since, only now realized, it is too small to host either the Olympic Games or a National Football League franchise.

A world where Time magazine, in choosing the 20 “most influential builders and titans” of the century (19 of them American)

includes gangster Lucky Luciano because while he “created something horrible, it worked well.” Where teachers strike in Ontario for better working conditions and nurses strike in British Columbia for more money, while Mike Piazza of the New York Mets signs for $91 million (U.S.) over seven years and Randy Johnson, who works only every fifth day in a six-month year, signs for $52 million (U.S.) over four years with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Where the World Bank now says the decision by the International Monetary Fund and the United States treasury last year to urge Asian countries to push their interest rates soaring was a crucial blunder that only worsened the world financial crisis and, as a result, nearly half the world’s population will experience a recession next year. And some 26 per cent of Canadian banks’ international commercial loan exposure is in Latin America, where wheelhorse Brazil is in the biggest danger.

In the meantime, the geniuses who have become billionaires by building computers apparently couldn’t figure out that a century comes to an end eventually and the 2000 millennium bug problem so frightens those in charge that the RCMP and police forces have cancelled all vacations until March in fear of civic unrest when all the elevators stop and the planes won’t fly and your car won’t start.

This is the same world where two-dozen Canadian scientists have discovered that Ottawa bureaucrats, who let the cod fishery collapse, now ignore the evidence that the Newfoundland seal hunt kills 40 per cent more seals than are actually caught and “processed” by hunters.

While, in Mexico it is found that Citibank of New York allowed a special unit for wealthy clients to move $ 100 million secretly out of the country for Raul Salinas de Gortari, brother of the former president. The $100 million—in addition to a further $114 million that Swiss authorities have confiscated—was protection money paid by drug traffickers. The wealthy former president, Carlos Salinas, is presently, we believe, in exile in Ireland, after hiding out for some time in Montreal, obviously with full knowledge of our lovely Ottawa government.

And some lady on Saturday afternoon is bothering me about whether a junk-mail guy is doing his job, and will be sacked if I rat on him?