NEWSMAKERS

December 11 2006

NEWSMAKERS

December 11 2006

NEWSMAKERS

/TM GOING TO KEEP MY FOOT ON HIS GODDAMI

S THE GUY CAN BREATHE’-VANCOUVER MAYOI

DIANNE HASKETT

A STAR CANDIDATE LOSES LONDON

Dianne Haskett’s by-election bid for the federal Ontario riding of London North Centre was remarkably quiet, perhaps too quiet. She avoided talking with the national media—at one point disappearing into a kitchen rather than take questions. Readers had to resort to her website where they learned how Haskett,

51, a popular former mayor of London, revitalized its downtown core. She omitted her post-mayoral work. Living in Washington since 2000, Haskett was a trustee board member of the International Center for Religion & Diplomacy, which wants to “elevate the consideration of religious factors in [U.S.] foreign policy.” Her socially conservative views aren’t new to London voters. In 1997, she was fined $5,000 for refusing to declare a Gay Pride week. Back then, she went on to be reelected. But on Monday, the newly returned

Íl ttk by-election, and ''Im not just to vic"Qkw torious Liberal

third, behind Green Party Leader Elizabeth May.

HANS BLIX

TAKING AIM AT BRITAIN’S WMDs

Tony Blair is in another struggle over weapons of mass destruction, but this time, they’re his own. Blair’s plans to replace Trident, Britain’s submarine nuclear weapons system, by spending at least $50 billion on up-to-date submarines, missiles and warheads, has alarmed Hans Blix. The diplomat who headed the UN team monitoring Iraq’s WMD capabilities in 2003 and who repeatedly clashed with Blair and George W. Bush over their now-disproved Iraqi WMD claims, is criticizing the Prime Minister for endangering the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Blix, who spent 16 years as the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, believes that by modernizing its arsenal, Britain makes it easier for Iran and North Korea to pursue nuclear ambitions. Many Labour backbenchers and even cabinet ministers support Blix’s campaign, but may be whipped into voting along party lines. Says Neil Gerrard, a Labour MP who tabled a motion against Trident: “Dr. Blix was proved right on WMD [in Iraq]. A lot of people will agree with what he’s saying now.”

STEPHEN AMES

FORGET THE SWING, PLAY THE GAME

In February, the Canadian golfer began the 2006 PGA season by suggesting that Tiger Woods was looking rather beatable. “Anything can happen, especially where he’s hitting the ball,” Stephen Ames said, referring to what proved to be a temporary Tiger slump. Days later, Woods—well aware of Ames’s trash talk pummelled Ames at the Accenture Match Play Championship, al lowing Ames, 42, to tie just one hole. But the native of Trinidad and Tobago, who now calls Calgary home, managed to recover. In March, he captured the prestigious Players Championship, and last weekend, solidified his status as Canada’s best golfer, beating vets Fred Couples, John Daly and Fred Funk at the annual Skins Game in La Quinta, Calif. “I forgot about the golf swing and just started playing Gy'Uy golf,”he said.

CHEN GUANGCHENG

THE CHAOS OF CHINESE JUSTICE

With the conclusion on Monday of Chen Guangcheng’s retrial, China’s justice system appeared still unable to ward off outrageous political manipulation. Chen, a blind human-rights activist, was placed under house arrest in September 2005 after publicizing abuses by politically ambitious officials in Shandong province. Those abuses included forcing women to abort days before due dates because they were considered ineligible to have more children under China’s strict birth control policy. The nation’s family planning commission said it would investigate any official promoting illegal activity. Two people were detained, one a birth control official, the other Chen, who was charged with damaging property and disrupting traffic. He was sentenced in August to four years. During the retrial this week, two pro-Chen witnesses vanished and a third was allegedly abducted. The retrial ended in disarray. A decision is expected within a month.

HROAT AND JUST GONNA KEEP PRESSING AND SEE IF m SULLIVAN TRASH-TALKS IN A NEW DOCUMENTARY

PETER JACKSON HOBBIT DIRECTOR SENT TO MT. DOOM

Middle Earth fans around the world have their britches in a knot over news that Peter Jackson, the Oscar-winning director of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, is no longer slated to direct The Hobbit. New Line Cinema, which has an option on the J.R.R. Tolkien novel, dropped Jackson, blaming the director’s ongoing lawsuit against the studio for up to US$100 million in disputed income. New Line says it will make The Hobbit with another, as-yet unnamed director be fore its option on the book runs out. LOTR stars Ian McKellen and Elijah Wood voiced dismay. “I am very sad,” McKellen declared on his website, “It’s hard to imagine any other director matching his achievement.” At fan sites such as www.theonering.net, “Ringers” are trying to move heaven and Middle Earth to get P.J. back. If all else fails, maybe there’s a job for him in front of the camera. While doing interviews for LOTR, the furry New Zealander trekked around a Manhattan hotel in short pants and hobbity bare feet.

JOHN KUCERA CRAZY CANUCK: THE NEXT GENERATION

The experts had warned the unknown 22-year-old Calgarian that he was still too green to compete seriously in the super giant slalom on the World Cup tour. Maybe by the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, they said, he’d be up to snuff. But during last Sunday’s race at Lake Louise, John Kucera proved them wrong, snaring first place, the first time a Canuck has taken gold in a World Cup super G in 18 years. Kucera shouldered aside the Austrians who dominate the sport, including two-time Olympic champ Hermann Maier. The young Canadian was the first to take to the course and sped through at 1:29.70, then watched as competitor after competitor failed to beat his time. Kucera dedicated his victory to Jason Lapierre, who died July 19 when his bike collided with a car driven by a motorist suffering a stroke. “Lapp,” as Kucera called him, had coached Kucera when he was a teenager. “I wasn’t the most talented kid at that age,” Kucera recalled. “He worked really hard with me.” Defying predictions, Kucera is now more than ready for the Olympics.

SAM SULLIVAN SHOCK TALK FROM CITIZEN SAM

It’s been a year since he overcame steep odds to win Vancouver’s mayoralty race. And now that the city’s voters are beginning to wonder just who it is they’ve elected, Citizen Sam offers a revealing portrait of Sam Sullivan, a quadriplegic driven by ambition and tormented by harrowing insecurity. Directed for the National Film Board by Vancouver’s Joe Moulins, the documentary-premiering this week at the Whistler Film Festival—follows Sullivan from war room to the bedroom. With shocking candour, it shows the ordeal he has to endure to get undressed, or take a bath in a motorized harness. Equally compelling are his mood swings. One moment he moans, “I’m in a hole I can’t get out of. I’m useless.” Then, relishing the fight with rival Jim Green, he compares himself to Alexander the Great—“riding straight for that bastard that I’m going to run through with my spear... I’m going to keep my foot on his goddamn throat and just gonna keep pressing and see if the guy can breathe iÉMÉÉÈI at the end of it all.” K

RICHARD TOYE CHURCHILL AND THE RED PLANET

Winston Churchill: a sci-fi geek? Yes, according to British historian Richard Toye, author of the upcoming book Lloyd George and Churchill: Rivals for Greatness. Toye says that some of Churchill’s speeches and books included phrases lifted from the work of H.G. Wells, author of The Time Machine and a Churchill friend. The phrase “the gathering storm,” which Churchill famously used to refer to the threat from Nazi Germany, was first used by Wells in The War of the Worlds, writing about a Martian invasion: “The sky tells of the gathering storm. Yonder, I take it are the Martians.” Toye, who lectures on English political history at Cambridge University, says Churchill and other leaders got their ideas from sci-fi writers because they’re more entertaining than philosophers: Churchill “wanted to read a book that was full of ideas but was also going to be fun.” What do we learn from Churchill’s sci-fi affinity? What this era needs is a clearheaded leader with speeches inspired by Battlestar Galáctica.