Opening NOTES

Opening NOTES

TANYA DAVIES,RAE CORELLI August 31 1998
Opening NOTES

Opening NOTES

TANYA DAVIES,RAE CORELLI August 31 1998

Opening NOTES

TANYA DAVIES

Baptism by fire

The recent forest fire that forced the evacuation of Salmon Arm, B.C., was a nightmare for all, especially the handful of families who lost their homes. But for five men from the West African country of Ghana, it was an education. They arrived in April to learn the latest techniques in fighting forest fires. For three months, the toughest challenge for the group, all fluent in English, was dealing with homesickness—until Salmon Arm. For two weeks, the trainees got a literal baptism by fire as they joined the effort to quell the blazes that threatened the community. ‘We think British Columbia has the best when it comes to fighting forest fires,” says Charles Adu, 33, a member of the Ghana Fire Service. “So we decided to come and have a firsthand experience.”

Paul Sowah and Dominic Yiadom of the Ghana Forest Service, Adu and Julius Kuunuor of the Ghana Fire Service and Augustine Flolm of the Ghana air force now will return home convinced they can help their country better deal with a growing forest-fire problem believed to be caused by global warming. And what impressed them most about the two-week effort to quell the B.C. fires was the attention to safety and the stamina of the Canadian crews. “Their fitness is phenomenal,” says Adu. “We hope to instil that back home.”

CAPITAL CONFIDENTIAL

The Tory leadership race may not begin in earnest until the first of five regional debates (or dialogues, as the party calls them) is held in Vancouver on Sept. 13. But that doesn’t mean party members haven’t already begun choosing their camps. And there are a few surprises. Although Joe Clark is acknowledged to have strong support among longtime Conservatives, his old cabinet mates are more reluctant to join his team. So far, Hugh Segal’s camp claims support from 10 of Clark’s former cabinet colleagues, including Michael Wilson, Barbara McDougall and Elmer MacKay. Clark tallies just six ex-ministers.

Signing up new members is crucial to winning the leadership. And the candidate showing the most early success is Saskatchewan farmer David Orchard. His secret: with an anti-freetrade platform, he benefits from the zeal of anti-freetrade activists who are selling memberships on his behalf. The Orchard campaign acknowledges it is getting support from Green Party members, the anti-free-trade lobby Action Canada Network, as well as dozens of activists from unions and leftist Maude Barlow’s Council of Canadians.

“There are certainly some working for him from the council because it is a way to raise issues that are now being ignored,” says Barlow. The party has no official count of new memberships, but Orchard’s impressed opponents say he has sold about 5,000 cards so far. Imagine trying to unite the right with those heretics on board.

EMPORIUM

According to a Statistics Canada survey on literacy in the workplace, the number of employees who have higher skill levels than their jobs require: 2.5 million

The number of workers without sufficient skills for their jobs: 635,000

DOUBLE TAKE

Shawn O'Sullivan

One day in 1977, when he was only 15, Shawn O’Sullivan’s dad signed him up for the boxing program at Toronto’s Cabbagetown Youth Centre to find out if he had any real talent. By the age of 22, O’Sullivan had won the Canadian junior light-middleweight championship, two world titles, a silver medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and 96 of 101 amateur fights, 71 by knockout. “I enjoyed it, I did it well and I just kept doing it,” recalls O’Sullivan. He may have kept doing it a little too long. After the ’84 Olympics, he turned pro, but the passion and the power began to fade. Even though he won 23 of 28 fights during the following 13 years and earned about $1.5 million, things started to go wrong. More than once, he retired and tried to make a comeback. And in July last year, amid concerns about his slurred speech, he finally quit the ring.

Today, O’Sullivan, 36, his wife, Veronica (they have five children ranging in age from 4 months to 8) run a 26-hectare apple nd cherry farm in southeastern Ontario’s Prince Edward County. The speech impediment is still there, but so is the eloquence of his Irish heritage; he says he had not known much about rural life, “but I have found this to be a little piece of heaven on earth.”

He is candid about his performance as a pro. ‘The amateur career didn’t use up all the gas I had,” he says, “but it sure did take a pretty major amount of it.” And of boxing in general he says: “Without a doubt, there are easier ways to earn a living.” Fortunately, he found one.

RAE CORELLI