Opening NOTES

Opening NOTES

TANYA DAVIES August 3 1998
Opening NOTES

Opening NOTES

TANYA DAVIES August 3 1998

Opening NOTES

TANYA DAVIES

Copps in the doghouse

Street smarts seem to have deserted Sheila Copps. What was the heritage minister thinking when she left Oreo, her black Labrador, locked in her gov-

ernment-issue limo on a steamy afternoon for nearly 40 minutes while she and her daughter, Danelle, browsed for sandals in an air-conditioned Ottawa mall? Could she have forgotten the lesson of U.S. President Lyndon Johnson, whose popularity tumbled after he was photographed in 1964 pulling the ears of his pet beagle to make him yelp? Was this some misguided pitch by Copps for the cat lovers’ vote?

For the record, Copps insists Oreo was never in distress, the car was shaded, the window was open a crack, and she was only gone “10,15 minutes tops.” Her aides have

hinted darkly that the security guard who reported her to the humane society just might have family connections to the Progressive Conservatives. But Jennifer Dagg, the security officer who finally tracked down Copps by announcing her licence plate number over the public address system, says she did so at least 30 minutes after first noticing Oreo’s plight.

Copps was angry at being summoned, but she was lucky to escape with a warning. Dagg had also called the humane society, but before they arrived, a young girl and her mother managed to reach through the window and unlock the car to free the dog. That saved Copps an $80 fine. “Heat can build up to lethal levels in minutes,” warns the handbook Dogs for Dummies. “Brain damage and death can follow.” Watch for opposition MPs waving copies the next time Copps gets up in the Commons.

CAPITAL CONFIDENTIAL

Since on Parliament they began Hill arriving nine years ago, members of the Reform party have prided themselves on being different from all other politicians— more committed to principle, more sensitive to the public weal, more frugal with taxpayers’ dollars. So it is no wonder that Reform’s opponents are gleeful about the dilemma in which the party finds itself over the new MPs’ pay and pension package that went through the House of Commons before the summer recess. When the pension plan was last modified in 1995, 38 Reform MPs (along with six Liberals and four Bloc Québécois members) opted out of the program, arguing it was too lavish. But under the package passed in June, all MPs have until mid-September to change their minds and opt back into the 1995 scheme, which would guarantee a backbencher with eight years’ service approximately $21,000

a year, starting at age 55.

Reform’s righteous facade is quietly crumbling. At least five of its MPs are seriously thinking of opting in, including British Columbian Jim Gouk (West Kootenay/Okanagan), a 42-year-old former real estate agent. John Duncan (Vancouver Island North), a 49-yearold former forester, says he is “leaving the option of going back in wide-open.”

The pension about-face follows Preston Manning’s postelection change of heart when he decided that he would, after all, move into Stornoway, the official residence of the leader of the Opposition. Usually supportive groups like the Canadian Taxpayers Federation are not amused by the Reformers’ pension waffle. The party’s spin doctors will have a challenge when Parliament returns: finding a way for MPs to collect their pensions while retaining bragging rights as the party of steadfast principle and parsimony.

EMPORIUM

According to Infocheck Ltd., a Canadian reference checking company, the percentage of 400 randomly sampled job candidates who misrepresented themselves on their résumés: 23.5

Of that group, the percentage who fudged information about their education: 41.5

The best English-language novel published this century, according to the Modern Library, a group of U.S. scholars and writers:

James Joyce’s Ulysses.

Rounding out the top 5:

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gats by-, Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man-, Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita-, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.

DOUBLE TAKE

Cardinal Carter

Emmett raspy voice Cardinal and gaunt Carter cheeks has the of a man getting on in years. But the former archbishop of Toronto, now 86, who presided over Canada’s largest English-speaking Roman Catholic diocese from 1978 until his retirement in 1990, still has a feisty spirit when it comes to defending the church. He spends one day a week in the office, except in the summer when he relaxes at his cottage on Lake Simcoe. And Carter still mingles with the wealthy and the influential.

Conrad Black usually calls when he visits Toronto. Former prime minister John Turner invites him for lunch. Former Ontario premier William

Davis remains a close friend. “I was the son of a working man,” says Carter, who lives in a Toronto home provided by the church. “We never aspired to high places. So to end up a

cardinal was a tour de force.”

The youngest of eight children, Carter grew up in Montreal, where his father worked as a newspaper typesetter before being fired for organizing a union. Carter was ordained in 1937, and by the early 1980s had reached the pinnacle of both the Roman Catholic Church and Canadian society. Carter moved in rarefied circles—Pierre Trudeau and Brian Mulroney were among the headtable guests at a 1987 dinner marking his 75th birthday. All the while, he

remained a staunch defender of Catholic teachings. “We’re consistent,” says Carter, who rejects the notion that the church is conservative, or that it should listen to critics advocating, among other things, female ordination. “We’d be out of business if we listened to our critics.”

D’ARCY JENISH