The Gazette from Montreal, Quebec, Canada on April 27, 1991 · 14
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The Gazette from Montreal, Quebec, Canada · 14

Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Issue Date:
Saturday, April 27, 1991
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B 2 THF GAZETTE. MONTREAL. SAFUROAV APRIL 27. 1991 RELAX, MARCEL . . . W VE BOTW VAMPED OJR , WAY NEW TOttTOLlOS BEFORE . f O UNDI 1.1 JUNE i . 17 7 8 H V f I I U H Y Ml i, f L 1 T DAVID W. PERKS Publisher BOB RICHARDSON General Manager NORMAN WEBSTER Editor JOAN FRASER Editorial Page Editor ALAN ALLNUTT . . 4 . .... , MICHAEL COOKE oc,ate Managing Ed.tors Primed and published rjy Southam mc at 250 St Antome St W , Montreal, H2Y 3R7 All ngtits ol publication reserved 1 Hydro's clumsy burlesque Secret contracts affair is getting embarrassing udicrous. That's the only word tor the stubborn attempts to prevent Que-becers from learning the details of Hydro-Quebec's contracts to supply electricity to "13 metal-refining plants. It ic ic riHinlnnc it ic inpftVrtlsl tr C(fL" tA keep the media here from disclosing details of ;-these contracts when U.S. television station are informing Quebec audiences of them. The com- nCourt for an injunction to ban publication should iow ask for the injunction to be lifted. These companies seem to have no sense of public responsibility or even of public relations. t' They threatened Equality Party leader Robert ILibman with legal action after he disclosed some details of the contracts in the National Assembly. .Yet a foundation ot the parliamentary system is ijiat an elected representative may never be sued for what he says in the legislature. "They continue to try to block publication here even though details of one of these contracts (with the magnesium company Norsk-Hydro) have been published as far away as Australia. . Premier Bourassa seems at last to have understood how preposterous this affair is and how J ' " 1 . . T T damaging 10 yueoec s image, nis government at first blustered furiously about disclosure of the contracts, but now he says he would make them public if only the courts would agree. If he wants the courts to act, he should send government lawyers to ask them to do so. Immediately. The fact is that beneath this affair lie several grave issues. One is the government's determination to keep the public from being informed on crucial elements of its economic strategy. In this case the public is being kept in the dark about preferential rates on power that the crown corporation is giving to 1 3 aluminum and magnesium producers. This ignorance has kept the public from asking several pertinent questions. B Are Hydro-QuSbec's smaller clients subsidizing cut-rate power for big business? If so, is this the best economic choice? Are more jobs created by these plants than might have been created if the government had steered cut-rate electricity to certain other industries (commercial greenhouses, for example)? B How will these rates stand up under the Can-iada-U.S. free-trade agreement? If the United States finds that the low rates are unfair subsidies to business, what effect will that have on the industries here and what tradeoffs might have to be made with the United States? What is especially troubling is that this scorning of public review is part of a larger trend. After trying for years to push hydro-electric projects ahead at James Bay without adequate public evaluation, for example, Mr. Bourassa now risks seeing these projects disrupted. There is nothing wrong with strong efforts by government and industry to develop the economy jointly. It is splendid. But dealings between the two have to be open to public view. And it should start now. lichard Hatfield, 1931-1991 ot many premiers of small provinces win a significant place in Canadian history. Richard Bennett Hatfield, who died yesterday, was one of the few who do. "; For many contemporary Canadians, the most interesting thing about Mr. Hatfield, in his 17 years as premier of New Brunswick, was his cheerfully unorthodox lifestyle. What other Canadian head of government has been charged with (and aquitted of) carrying marijuana in his luggage during a royal tour, no less? What other Canadian political leader has been renowned for his habit of taking a government jet to New York to visit discos, or for expensive trips to European spas? Richard Hatfield brought a dimension of color to Canadian public life that made all other contestants look like pallid amateurs. But that is not how history will remember him. History will recognize him as the man who, born of staunch Loyalist anglophone stock, worked tirelessly to bring together English- and French-speaking Canadians. It will pay tribute to the man who dramatically improved the rights and status of his province's Acadian minority and who, when the opportunity arose, became the only provincial leader in the history of Confederation to insist on entrenching his minority's expanded rights in the constitution of Canada. Richard Hatfield made many mistakes not only in his flamboyant personal life, but in politics. The ill-fated Bricklin car, whose manufacturers he lured to New Brunswick with huge govern ment grants, is only the best-known example. But he never stopped striving to serve his province, sometimes in ways the public never knew. How many, for example, knew of his steady support of New Brunswick's artists, of the numbers of their works that he purchased and the personal encouragement and backing he gave them? And he almost always got the big things right. He worked unswervingly to build a country in which the two great language groups, and the provinces that are their homelands, would live in dignity and mutual respect. That is why, in 1 98 1 . he supported patriation of the constitution with the new Charter of Rights. And that is why, in 1987, he supported the Meech Lake accord. He stayed in office too long. After 1 7 years in power, and particularly after a controversy involving his use of a government plane to fly a couple of university students to Montreal for a good time, the people of New Brunswick at last rejected him. His Conservative Party lost every' seat in the 1987 election, and still has not recovered. Today, the Liberals under Frank McKenna seem as solidly entrenched as Mr. Hatfield ever did. When he was called to the Senate last year, he seemed almost a relic of a distant era. But this witty and wily politician, unabashedly emotional in his devotion to his country, served Canada mightily. If we had had more like him, we might not today be facing the possible loss of the country Richard Hatfield loved so well. To federal Revenue Minister Otto Je-linek and his department, for bad judgment. At a time when Ottawa is cutting spending and pleading the need for restraint, the department has spent $32,000 to issue a commemorative pin to each of the 8,000 employees who worked on implementing the goods and services tax, probably the most resented tax in recent Canadian history. (The pins' price includes $2,200 in GST.) To authorities in Australia, for cutting through the red tape. A 61 -year-old sugar-cane cutter who became a woman after a sex-change operation 1 5 years ago will start receiving her old-age pension after all. Earlier, she had been refused the pension because her birth certificate says she is a man. Australian women start getting the pension at 60. but men must wait until they are 65. To an unnamed 25-year-old nurse in St. Catharines. Ont.. for quick wits. When two would-be thieves started to force open her patio door, she picked up her camera and began snapping photographs of them. The men fled. But police, armed with the film, identified them both and have now arrested them. To the U.S. Postal Service, for gumming up the works. It has had to destroy 300 million stamps honoring the late Hubert Humphrey because the stamps said he became U.S. vice-president in 1964. He was only elected that year, and didn't take office until January 1 965. The error will cost the government $580,000. To Ferguson Jenkins, for chintziness. The former Chicago Cubs pitcher, a native of Chatham, Ont., was not im pressed by an invitation from the Canadian branch of the Afro-American Sports Hall of Fame to appear at a tribute to himself in Windsor: his first reaction was to insist on a $3,000 fee. Mr. Jenkins says he usually charges just $1,000 if charitable organizations and other good causes are involved. The tribute is intended to raise monev for a local Afro-Canadian cultural centre. To the U.S. Supreme Court, for common sense. It has ruled that a "mere color." in this case pastel blue, used on packages of a sugar substitute called Equal is not entitled to trademark protection. Equal's makers, NutraSweet Co.. had persisted in taking the case to the highest court because the blue used for a rival product. Sweet 'N Low. was allegedly confusing customers. Hearts sank for many in spring Housecleaning meant regime of constant toil; The coming of spring in Montreal in other days did not always bring a sense of liberation. Springtime was then, in many ways, the most troublesome, the most laborious season of the year. Some of its difficulties lasted until the late autumn. Only the return of winter brought them to an end. In housekeeping, an inevitable ritual was the thorough "spring cleaning." It was regarded as having a moral quality. An 1 890s guide for Canadian housewives declared "'it is very easy to find a direct connection between . . . cleanliness . . . and . . . moral standards." An earlier book of advice stressed that "in addition to the moral and physical advantages" of the annual spring cleaning, it also conferred "a species of rank" on the housewife, no matter to what class of society she might belong. A "cleanly house" told the world its mistress was "guided by proper principles." In preparation for the spring cleaning, the housewife wrapped a towel around her head as a protection against dust. Often she commanded her eldest daughter to assist her. By this means, she was teaching her how to clean a house properly in anticipation of the time when she would have one of her own to look after. Scrubbed by hand Every cupboard, large or small, was emptied. It was then completely scrubbed by hand. While it was left to dry, the contents would be examined. Whatever was considered no longer worth keeping went into the garbage, or was set aside to be sold to the ragman who would soon be coming along the lanes in his rickety wagon. The rule was to give all clothing worth keeping an airing on the clothesline. Garments swayed and danced in the breeze and absorbed the purifying sun. The same rule applied to all that was to be put away for the summer. The aim was to keep cupboards and everything in them "sweet smelling." They had to be freed of any mustiness and the peculiar "dead smell" of abandoned and forgotten belongings. Carpets, all sizes, were hung out on the lines. At this point, the boys EDGAR ANDREW COLL A R D of the family were called into service. They had to beat the carpets with heavy sticks. Boys rarely resented this hard work. Beating rugs brought out the boys' fighting spirit. Every time a rug swung back, it would be given another whack. It became an excit-,ing battle. Sometimes a boy would overdo it. His mother's head, swathed in the white towel, would appear at an upper window. Her voice could be heard calling out, "Not so hard! Not so hard!" In the long period when houses were heated by stoves, the stoves and stovepipes had to be taken down for the summer, cleared of soot and stored in the backyard shed. The central heating of the Victorian era (and even, in some houses, far later) consisted of a large stove in the hall, near the foot of the stairs. Stovepipes went up the well of the stairs, along the upper hall, through the main bedroom into the chimney. In this manner a good fire in the hall stove provided the old-fashioned method of central heating. Taking down the stovepipes every spring, cleaning and storing them, was often considered a professional job, requiring the employment of a tinsmith. It was a difficult, dirty occupation. It might have seemed that the domestic labors of springtime would find their compensation when windows could be thrown open and the sunlight allowed to stream in, along with the refreshing air. But it was not so. In Montreal in Victorian days (as well as somewhat earlier and later), the sun could not be admitted or much air, either. In spring and summer, there was often less sunlight Victorian era's central heating "consisted of a large stove in the hall." indoors than in winter. Curtains, often heavy ones, were drawn shrouding the rooms in glooms Many Montrealers had stables in their backyards, and flies were an unremitting plague. Rooms were kept dark, in the belief that flie were less likely to be attracted by a darkroom. '.' Hints to housewives, present ed from time to time in ' The Gazette, dwelt on the need td fight Hies, even it it meant extra work Breakfast and dinner dishes should be removed from the table at once, the floor brushed and the room darkened. To "let the table stand in the glaring light" would only "invite the flies to come to it. Other problems came with' the spring, problems that had been su spended during the winter. One of the worst was the dust. Had not been paved Many streets had not been paed Where they had been paved, ifwas frequently with the small stones known as macadam. These stones became pulverized under horses' hooves or the iron rims of carriage or wagon wheels. If windows were opened in good spring weather, dust might be blown in and. soon cover everything in the room, making still more work for the housewife. So much dust was stirred from Montreal's streets that it formed a cloud suspended in the air. It was a dust-smog, very visible to visitors as they approached the city. . The warmer weather that came with spring brought the need for refrigeration. In the years before electric refrigerators, ice itself had to be used. The ice dealer, generally for a fixed fee for the warm season, delivered ice every weekday. He carried the block in iron tongs and slithered it onto the customer's doorstep. It lay there, possibly in the sun, until noticed and brought indoors. As the ice melted Managing the refrigerator added to the springtime routines. The ice-i box was made of wood, with a metal lining and a hinged lid. The lid was lifted and the block of ice laid inside. At the front of the box was another hinged door. Beyond it were the shelves where perishaj' . foodstuffs were kept. Underneati. the box, a tin pan caught the water as the ice melted. : The careful housewife washed the block of ice before it was placed in the box. Then the pan beneath had t V tol-pn rvtit frrtm tima tx lima ana tne water poured down the kitchen sink. The pan, when nearly full, jas; heavy to lift and hard to manage" The water sloshed about, often' slopping over the sides before the sink could be reached. The joys of spring were sadly off-." set when such toils were added to daily living. Even the tinsmiths, employed to deal with taking down, the stove and its pipes, hated ipe ; dirty procedure. ' A contractor. J.w. Hughes, who established one of Montreal's principal plumbing businesses in .the late 19th century, had begun His working life as a tinsmith. He used to say, "Imagine what a domestic disturbance it w as every spring taking down the stoves and pipes. , I well know, as my first experience was as a tinsmith, and if I am" a plumber today h is largely owing to my desire to escape the terrible stove-piping of spring." . i Tinsmiths were only one group Of Montrealers w ho had reason to regard spring as a season of unwelcome troubles and uninviting chores.

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