Andrew Robinson might have expected better. The Canadian special co-ordinator for the Middle East peace process was in Lebanon last week, proferring $21.9 million in new aid for Palestinian refugees in that country, including $1.1 million from Canada-usually enough to
win a warm welcome. Instead, Ottawa-based Robinson found himself at the centre of a vicious eruption of accusations—newspapers in Beirut called him everything from American lackey to Israeli agent.
It began with a rumor that Robinson was really in Lebanon to try to convince the government to naturalize the 350,000 Palestinian refugees who live there—an idea unpopular with both the refugees, who have waited 50 years to go home to what is now Israel, and with the Lebanese, who would be glad to see them go. The theory runs that Canada, which chairs the refugee working group in the multilateral talks, would be bowing to American and Israeli pressure to just do something about the refugees, in order to speed up the ailing peace process. Last week, the ministry of foreign affairs would say little about the career diplomat’s travails, except that the rumors were silly and Canada has no such policy on naturalization. But Lebanese government sources say Robinson tried to pressure Prime Minister Rafic Hariri to relax a Lebanese law barring refugees from holding any but the lowliest jobs. Robinson later said he was not “accusing” Lebanon of mistreating refugees. Nonetheless, refugee groups called him a “promise breaker” in irate letters to the press, and schoolchildren blocked the entrance to a camp he was expected to visit. It’s never easy being Mr. Nice Guy.
Things they seem are in seldom the byzanas tine world of international diplomacy. Consider the invitations that Greece’s Hellenic Olympic Committee recently sent to representatives of all 185 members of the United Nations General Assembly. Visit Athens, site of the first Olympic Games, urged the missives, and then spend four days cruising around the Aegean compliments of the committee. The goal, according to Yorgos Dardavillas, a spokesman at the Greek Embassy in Ottawa, is to push support for an international truce during all Olympic Games. But the invitation raised eyebrows because it comes at the same time as Greece’s bid to win a rotating seat on the UN Security Council, which will be decided by a General Assembly vote in October.
Greece, the Netherlands and Canada are seeking seats being vacated at the end of the year by Sweden and Portugal. Normally, UN sources say, the lobbying for twoyear Security Council seats tends to be more subtle. “If Greece wants to do something like that, it is their business,” says Rob Zaagman, press attaché at the Netherlands’ UN mission in New York City. “We will continue to emphasize our involvement with the Third World.” As for Canadian officials, who declined to comment on, or accept, the Greek invitation, the strategy is simple—what one UN source calls a “full-court press.”
But time is short. The pitchmen have only a few months to sell the idea that everyone benefits from giving Canada a seat, even though there’s no luxury cruise in the offing.
According to the National Council on Welfare, the percentage of children under the age of 18 who live in poverty: in 1996, 21; in 1989,15.
The best North American film of all time, according to the American Film Institute’s top 100 list:
Citizen Kane (1941).
Number 100 was Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942).
Holiday season has arrived, but unless Canadians have changed dramatically since last year, most will not be straying too far from home. And many—almost a third—won't be vacationing at all. Predictably, those with higher incomes are more likely to travel outside the country. The percentage of Canadians who, in the past year, vacationed:
Outside . Canada
Both 12 None 29
Less than $35,000
$60,000 and up
Goldfarb Consultants Limited
Tommy him about Hunter his loves boat, to the talk. 13-m Ask cruiser Travlin’ Man—named after his backup band and one of his hit songs—and he says enthusiastically: “I’m on the water as soon as the ice breaks up in the spring.”
Or mention Georgian Bay, where he
spends much of the summer cruising, and he replies: “ It’s the greatest freshwater boating in the world.” But when the conversation turns to The Tommy Hunter Show and why it lasted 27 years on CBC television, the 61-year-old country singer becomes modest and self-effacing. He attributes the program’s success to his staff, to guests ranging from Johnny Cash and Tammy Wynette to Garth Brooks and Shania Twain—to everyone, that is, but the affable host. “I understood our audience,” says Hunter, who lives in Penetanguishene, Ont., with his wife, Shirley (they have three grown sons). “I respected the fact that people brought me into their living rooms.”
The show aired from 1965 until 1992, when the CBC cancelled it. Since then, he has toured coast to coast, per-
forming 65 to 70 concerts a year. Hunter says he continues giving shows for the fans, not the money, since he is financially secure. And he still has an itch to perform, something he acquired at age 9 when his father, James, a railway worker, and mother, Edith, an amateur pianist, took him to a travelling Grand Ole Opry show in his native London, Ont. “It inspired me,” he says. “I decided that’s what I wanted to do so away I went.” And he has never looked back.
Seduced by soccer
Just in time for the World Cup comes Fever Pitch, a British film about the life of a die-hard soccer fan. Based on the best-selling 1992 autobiography of the same title, the comedy features Paul, a teacher who is a passionate Arsenal fan. When he falls in love with Sarah, his life seems complete, except for one detail—she doesn’t like soccer.
Top movies in Canada, ranked according to box-office receipts during the seven days that ended on June 25. (In brackets: numbers of screens/weeks showing.)
ENTERTAINMENT DATA INC.
1. The X-Files (187/1).....................$3,794,000
A father of only one child, U.S. writer Bill McKibben delves into overpopulation and the controversial issue of family size in Maybe One-. A Personal and Environmental Argument for Single-Child Families (Distican). Citing scientific studies, he also argues that only children are better adjusted than kids with siblings.
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