Interview (7)


New Style For Anne

“See My Claude?” says Anne Murray, on a first-name basis with a dark brown Montana coat. “I throw it there just to . . . ,” she continues in mock- cavalier tones that suffice to finish the sentence and suggest another chapter in the career of Canada’s biggest star.

Flung casually on their separate chairs, Murray and her coat are in the Toronto offices of Balmur Ltd., her management company, and for a conversation about hair, clothes and makeup, she is poised at her most charming which is to say her most sassy.

The night before, she had been to Ottawa to be honored as a Companion of the Order of Canada. “It was a real fun time,” to which Murray had worn a real simple silver column of a gown with matching, big- shouldered jacket accessorized by sapphires and diamonds. Iona Monahan, who was also in Ottawa, named to the Order of Canada as one of the country’s most authoritative fashion journalists, declares that there was no one there more fashionably attired than Murray. “She looked good, and she looked right.” Perhaps not since 1968, when a reporter in Springhill, N.S., paused in a review of a hometown performance to notice her “glamorous, shiny hostess gown in the Mandarin style,” has Murray’s attire enjoyed such favorable regard. Over the years, as she proceeded down her prize-strewn path, first, in bare feet, now sometimes in Maud Frizon pumps, Murray has frequently, in her choice of costume, left people wondering, “Where did she get that?” Today, the question is more real than rhetorical. And Murray provides at least part of the answer when she speaks of “the big shop.” “It started in Boston, but that was nothing like the dent I put in the card here in Toronto. Oh my goodness, I went crazy. They were real glad to see me in Hazelton Lanes, I’ll tell you.” Lest she seem like an entirely material girl, Murray adopts a hayseed’s accent to outline this recent splurge, but the pleasure she now takes in clothes is not pretence. Nor does it really have much to do with the actual articles of dress. It is an attitude. “I mean, I don’t dwell on clothes, you know. I’d prefer to put on a T-shirt and shorts, but I love to look nice, and when I go out, I do. . . . I’m not nearly so self- conscious as I used to be.” Not by a long shot. Asked for an inventory of what she has on, Murray is quick to her feet. She stands back-first while her fingers turn down the waistband of her black, crinkled leather trousers, to reveal the label. These were designed by Pablo and made in France. The purple sweater, featuring the emphatic shoulders that are a symbol of what her manager, Leonard Rambeau, likes to call “a more contemporary look,” is by Judit of Toronto. Her black leather athletic shoes are Reeboks, of which she also has pairs in grey, white, blue and pink.

While she’s obviously grown bolder in practising the art of self- presentation, Murray is shy of taking full credit for what she wears. “I don’t know enough about clothes to be put in charge of them. Not for one second do I know enough about them to be put in charge. That’s why I have Lee, and he helps me buys these things and put them all together.” Lee is Lee Kinoshita-Bevington, who a year ago replaced Juul Haalmeyer as designer of Murray’s stage outfits and personal shopping aide. Although Murray knows who Claude Montana is, she does not particularly care. “I just know that that’s the most wonderful coat I’ve ever seen.” Thus, it is Kinoshita- Bevington who can tell you that the coral suede, oversized, suspendered trousers that Murray wore to the taping of Tears Are Not Enough (the Canadians- for-Ethiopia single) is by New York designer Alicia Herrera; that the plaid, likewise suspendered, outfit that she wore on her most recent television special was from Hyper Hyper, an emporium devoted to young London designers; that in her cupboards there are several Anne Klein garments and lots by Saint Laurent.

In fact, questioned about what is is like to wear Saint Laurent, Murray offers a perfunctory, “Wonderful,” and rushes into a discussion of her Bogner stretch cords and how well they fit, “because I don’t have any hips, and I got a bum.” Murray’s basic indifference to the heights of fashion is something she says she came by honestly, inherited from her father, “the kind of person who kept things for years and years and years.” Of a snazzier stripe is her mother; and, as a child, Murray drove her crazy with her refusal to dress in dresses. Murray still has nightmares about being made ready for school, and her memories of her first dance and the red velvet frock it required are of awkwardness and discomfort.

Since then, the tables have somewhat turned. Murray, who wears heels – “when I have to” – regards it as something of a triumph to have in the last couple of years sold her mother on the joys of flat footwear. And there is something like vindication in her voice when she tells of a conversation in Ottawa the night before. “I talked to an orthopedic surgeon – he was being honored too – and he looked at my feet, and he said, ‘Now, those are sensible shoes.’ And I said, ‘All my shoes are sensible.’ And he said, ‘You know, that most times if you take a woman’s foot out of her shoe, her foot is twice as wide as her shoe, and that’s not natural.’ And I said, ‘Boy, I agree with that.’ ” Despite her taste for naturalism, Murray, when asked to cite a woman whose style she admires, names Raquel Welch, paying tribute to her physique and panache. Pinching her fingers together, she enthuses about an awards program at which Welch showed up “with her hair that long all over.” Having foregone the car-pool-mama, semi-bouffant bob that in the late seventies succeeded a curly perm, Murray is wearing her hair short at the sides and swept sleekly, almost sassily, back. In a flash, though, she would follow Welch’s cropped example. “I’d love to have my hair that short, are you kidding?” Why not? “Leonard would not allow it, I mean, it just doesn’t look as good.” A man with pronounced notions of what looks good and what doesn’t, Leonard Rambeau, Balmur’s president, laughs and responds to this by saying, “Anne’s idea of real short is for going to the beaches at Pugwash. I think under the lights, it’s a different thing.” Ever conscious of image, he nonetheless allows that a different do might be appropriate in connection with Murray’s next album, to be recorded in the summer and to mark a new musical direction. Typical of Rambeau’s deliberateness is his refusal to divulge any details of what Murray will be wearing on the stage of the O’Keefe Centre when she appears there in early May. He would prefer to let that be a surprise.

In the past, Murray’s informal, candid, irreverent nature has sometimes been impinged upon by apparent attempts to groom her for the middle-of- the- road marketplace. But, just as nervy as nice, Murray says that her current fondness for leather and dramatic shoulder lines does not derive from any effort to please an audience but is all of of her own volition. Kinoshita-Bevington agrees, points to a new confidence, and says, “What she wears in her private life is coming more and more on stage. She’s very relaxed in how she wears the clothes.” Just how relaxed is perhaps best illustrated by Murray’s reaction to the newly fashionable short skirts. Kinoshita-Bevington points out that already in her wardrobe are garments cut anywhere from two to six inches above the knee. Says Murray, “Hopefully, now he’s going to get into more short things,” adding that past designers have been mistaken in thinking that she would not go for such revelation. “I mean, I have good legs.

There’s no reason why I shouldn’t show them.”

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Fate of Japan’s politicians woven into web of trade curbs

Nothing better illustrates the worst of Japanese trade policy than a tale of two cherries.

One is grown in the United States, where, after a laborious series of tests, producers persuaded Japanese authorities that they could fumigate the fruit at 10 degrees Celsius instead of 17 degrees and get rid of the bugs just as well.

The lower temperature kept the cherries fresher, and producers in British Columbia, who only managed to get into the Japanese market in 1982, decided to follow suit.

Not so fast, said the Japanese Government. Before Japanese consumers could be exposed to such potential health dangers, Canada would have to prove that the process was safe when carried out on Canadian soil with Canadian cherries.

The federal Department of Agriculture is now conducting a year-long program at a B.C. laboratory, infesting trees with moths, waiting for the fruit to ripen and then fumigating it to prove that the bugs still die. If all goes well, the results will be sent to the Japanese Government by Christmas and then on to public hearings in Japan.

All this will allow the process to be used only on the specific varieties of fruit tested, and only on those grown in British Columbia. If Ontario growers want to sell to Japan, they will have to repeat the tests.

It is measures like this that have politicians in other countries taking pot shots at a rich market that seems to shake off the rain of imports better than a well-fed mallard.

Some of the shots, though, are coming too close for comfort, and Japan is scrambling to find ways of deflecting the criticism. But Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone’s unprecedented television appeal to consumers to buy more imports – and the market-opening package that went with it – largely ignored products that might cause political trouble at home.

Canadian politicians use quotas and other restraints to protect the jobs and votes of textile workers in Quebec and auto workers in Ontario. Japanese politicians do the same thing. They just do it better.

Japanese farmers are perhaps the best protected in the world, because rural ridings are vastly over-represented in the Diet and their support has been crucial to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, whose electoral record rivals that of the Ontario Conservatives.

Asking Mr. Nakasone to abandon his farmers is akin to expecting Prime Minister Brian Mulroney to drop all quotas on textiles, clothing and footwear and declare Canada unilingual English to boot. Fences for the farmers will not be torn down until urban consumers get fed up with $60 melons.

The degree of protection depends on the product. Japanese fleets catch plenty of fish, and imports are subject to quotas. Farmers do not grow any wheat and Canadian exports do nicely.

In forest products, Japan buys pulp, but uses it to make most of its own paper. A Canadian lumber marketing program to promote North American building methods is paying off, if only because they help to bring Japanese housing costs down from almost impossible to merely astronomical.

But plywood producers face a brick wall around their 700 Japanese competitors. First, there is a 15 per cent import duty, enough on its own to price most Canadian production out of the market.

Then, imports must get the Japan Agricultural Standards stamp of approval, and the inspections and laboratory testing cannot be done until the plywood arrives in Japan. If the samples tested do not measure up, the entire shipment is turned away. ”t’s not the time, it’s just the hassle. It’s typical of many procedures in Japan that they’re masters at,” said Kenneth McKeen, director of lumber and shingles at the Council of Forest Industries in Vancouver.

Manufactured products face different barriers. In most cases, import duties are low and no quotas exist, but many other factors make it expensive and time-consuming to win Japanese customers.

In the auto parts sector, for instance, the Canadian industry has virtually given up hope of making large-scale deals with Japanese auto makers, said Patrick Lavelle, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association of Canada.

The distance makes it expensive to ship products and difficult to meet the needs of the Japanese just-in-time inventory system. Long-standing relationships with existing suppliers pose a major obstacle to newcomers. Winning long-term business usually means accepting low-volume contracts at first and these cannot be profitable in themselves.

Canadian companies must also cater to the Japanese obsession with quality, and that leads to the bottom line: Stringent quality control, long distances, a weak yen and low volumes make it all but impossible to price competitively.

Canadian telecommunications companies, which are world leaders, have higher hopes, and state- owned Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Public Corp.

is gradually being sold to the private sector.

Northern Telecom Ltd. of Mississauga, Ont., has been able to land some business and is looking for more. But it can afford to spend $6- million a year while cultivating the market. Also, because its Japanese operations are a subsidiary of its U.S. unit, it gets diplomatic backing from both the United States and Canada.

Smaller companies are having a tougher time, and Canadian trade officials believe Japan is still protecting its own. For instance, Japan is not planning to add digital switching to the public telephone network until 1990, by which time Japanese products should be able to match what Canada could supply now.

One official summed up Japanese import policy this way: ”f they need it, it gets in. If they don’t, it doesn’t.”

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Helicopter industry ready to face the world

Canada’s nascent helicopter industry, nurtured in the womb of public subsidy, is almost ready to face the world – and a bleak and difficult world it will be.

The federal, Quebec and Ontario governments have shelled out $312.7- million to help two companies build and start up helicopter plants that, when finished, will have a combined capacity of about 25 helicopters a month.

Yet in the first six months of 1985, only 22 light, twin-engine helicopters – the type to be made at both plants – were sold by all manufacturers worldwide.

A spokesman for Bell Helicopter Textron Canada Inc., which is building the larger of the two plants at Mirabel, north of Montreal, said the market for light twins remains weak and could not say how many people would be hired to work at the plant when it starts up next spring. “We are reassessing the marketplace on a regular basis,” he said. “The rate of production will be dependent on that.” Twin-engine helicopters are more expensive to operate than their single-engine counterparts, but they are much safer to fly, especially when trips are being made over water or remote areas.

For instance, one of the most common uses for this type of best beginner quadcopter is in the oil exploration business, especially for offshore work. But amid the chaos of falling oil prices, demand for twin-engine machines has been less than enthusiastic.

Bell Helicopter said potential customers have taken out options on 200 machines to be built at the Mirabel plant, which will take $275-million in public money and a $238-million investment by the company to get up and running.

Customers must put up a deposit when they take out an option, but can get their money back at any time.

Although the company would normally expect to convert about half its option-holders into customers, it has yet to record a single firm order.

The plant is about 95 per cent complete, most machinery is in place and just needs to be installed, and the company plans to start recruiting workers for the plant floor in January.

But the number of workers it hires to add to its existing work force of about 250 people depends on an upturn in orders.

If the demand for the best drone to buy does not pick up enough to push the plant profitably toward its 20-helicopter-a-month capacity, Bell Helicopter may also use it to take on other work as a sub-contractor on projects where its machinery and technology could be put to use.

There is more optimism at MBB Helicopter Canada Ltd. about the prospects for its smaller plant at Fort Erie, Ont., which is being built with $37.7-million in public money and a $35-million company investment. MBB is a joint venture 95 per cent owned by the Messerschmitt- Bolkow- Blohm GmbH of West Germany and 5 per cent by the Fleet Industries division of Fleet Aerospace Corp. of St. Catharines, Ont.

Like Bell Helicopter, MBB expects to finish its new plant by next spring, but it has already started handling assembly work in leased space at the Fleet factory across the road from its construction site.

The basic helicopters are effectively imported in crates and then fitted with radios, hoists and other custom features in Fort Erie. MBB recently delivered two light twin helicopters to the Canadian Coast Guard, and is now doing up a VIP version of its BK117 helicopter to be used as the official helicopterof Expo 86 in Vancouver.

That helicopter will be operated by Airlift Corp. of Vancouver, which also bought one of the same models, without the VIP features, earlier this spring.

The model to be built at the new MBB plant is a high-performance version of the one sold to the Coast Guard, and is intended for use in hot climates and at high altitudes.

Donald Chambers, MBB’s manager of government programs in Ottawa, said the company expects the helicopter market to pick up early in the new year, and even before then, hopes to make several new sales in both the government and commercial sectors.

When the new plant goes into operation, the company expects to turn out two or three helicopters a month. Activity at first will be largely assembly of parts and components brought in from outside Canada, but the company hopes eventually to reach a Canadian content level of 70 per cent.

That will not happen until 1988, when the company will start using new engines being developed by Pratt and Whitney Canada Inc. of Montreal. The engines account for about one-third of the total cost of a helicopter.

The Pratt and Whitney engine, whose development is being helped along by another $100-million of federal money, will also be used by Bell Helicopter.

The MBB plant could turn out five of its $900,000 helicopters a month if demand picks up. That would boost employment at the company from about 100 people now to about 250.

MBB’s parent has already begun worldwide marketing for the new model, concentrating on the Middle East as well as Latin America and the Far East. The model will be sold in commercial and military versions, with the military helicopter intended for an observation and reconnaissance role.

Most of the production from Fort Erie will be shipped abroad, with the Canadian military being the most likely domestic customer.

Bell Helicopter also expects to export at least 85 per cent of the production of its Mirabel plant. The two largest groups of option-holders come from the United States and Britain, and few expressions of interest have emerged from potential Canadian customers.

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Liberal ridicules ‘kiddie tax’ Sales levy extended in N.S. in bid to cope with health bill

Nova Scotians will be dipping into their pockets for an extra $55-million, including what the opposition is calling a ”iddie tax,”as the Conservative Government wrestles with increasing health-care costs.

After introducing his $3.25- billion budget in the Legislature yesterday, Finance Minister Greg Kerr told reporters that, since federal- provincial sharing of health costs began, the shortfall between actual costs and related revenue has reached $1-billion.

To help make up the difference, Nova Scotians will now be paying eight cents more for a pack of 20 cigarets as well as losing tax exemptions in a number of areas.

Mr. Kerr said the cigaret tax is the only new levy. But there will now be a 10 per cent sales tax on the labor component of the cost of repairs and maintainence for what the minister called ”angible personal property.” Mr. Kerr said that, while the full definition of tangible personal property has yet to be worked out, the tax will cover repairs to such items as automobiles and appliances, but not homes.

Officials from Mr. Kerr’s department predict the Government will take in an additional $30-million by dropping the exemption on labor involved in such repairs. There is already a 10 per cent tax on parts involved in such maintenance work.

The Government also has lowered the threshold under which purchases are exempt from sales tax to 26 cents from 51 cents, prompting Liberal financial critic William Gillis to quip, ”hey’re now hitting the kids. Nova Scotia becomes the first jurisdiction to have a kiddie tax.” There will be a 10 per cent sales tax on articles of clothing costing more than $300 and footwear in excess of $150. Previously, there was no sales tax on these items. Nova Scotians pay no direct health-care premiums; the province pays for its share of medicare with sales tax revenue.

The Conservatives did little to cut the provincial current account deficit, which amounted to $192.3-million last year. The Government’s operating deficit for the current fiscal year is forecast to be $7.7- million less than last year’s.

Premier John Buchanan’s Government is saddled with a $3-billion total debt this year, up from $2.68-billion last year. Mr. Kerr noted that Nova Scotia has suffered a net loss of $32-million in equalization payments from the federal Government.

There was no increase in the price of electricity to consumers, but the 9.5 per cent power rate subsidy to consumers, which cost the Government $37-million this year, will be dropped on April 1, 1986.

There was no mention of job creation in the budget. Nova Scotia has the third worst unemployment rate in the country, with 65,000 people – 14.7 per cent of the available work force – looking for work.

New Democratic Party Leader Alexa McDonough called the budget ”he ultimate in political cynicism,”charging that, by its failure to stimulate the economy and create jobs, the Government had concocted ” recipe for disaster.” Mrs. McDonough decried the lack of job creation measures and charged that in the very areas where job creation could have been stimulated – the departments of development and housing – there were actually cuts. ”t’s worse than a do-nothing budget,” she said. “There’s not one trace of acknowledgment that this province has any economic problems, least of all unemployment.” Dr. Gillis, the Liberal critic, ridiculed the Government for ”ailing the kids”by lowering the sales tax threshold and said that taxing repairs for appliances and cars would hurt low- income people the most.

He also struck out at the Government for breaking Mr. Buchanan’s promise during last fall’s election campaign that there would be no new taxes.

Dr. Gillis said the Government should have examined the possibility of raising corporate income tax instead of adding to the consumers’ tax burden. Neither corporate nor personal income tax was increased.

Mr. Kerr told reporters that Nova Scotia either has to cut services or expand the revenue base to protect the existing level of services. The minister said he was confident Nova Scotians would understand why the Government opted to raise new revenue.

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Charting A Family Empire

He was no doubt a man one would have been richer for knowing: Salvatore Ferragamo, master shoemaker, founder of a world-wide empire that, despite its size, clings fast to his principle of never sacrificing quality to expediency.

He was one of those rare spirits who managed to wed his fantasies of footwear to the sanity that all of us must walk. In his mind, no matter how frivolous the garb of the feet, comfort – the result of proper fitting – was paramount.

In his book, Shoemaker of Dreams, he explains how, at 9, still a child himself, he sat up all night making shoes so his tiny sisters would be properly shod for their first communions. The family was poor, the cost of the shoes was beyond their means, but anything less than white kid would have been a disgrace intolerable to Italians.

Salvatore Ferragamo believed that he was born to his calling, he explains an almost mystical connection with his craft which he believed came to him full-blown from some previous existence. Maybe he was right because, though he trained with shoemakers of merit, his shoes were always beyond their skills.

He was born in 1898, at 16 he left for the United States and within a few years was producingfootwear for the likes of Lillian Gish, Mae West, Greta Garbo and Eva Peron. He opened operations in Italy in 1926 believing that it was only in his native land that the skills existed to produce quality shoes in quantity.

Every pair had to incorporate his principles of last design and arch support – those are still part of every Ferregamo shoe – because he firmly believed “If you have a headache, your shoes don’t fit properly.” He pioneered the idea of making shoes of various widths but once the practical criteria were met, there was no limit to his imagination. He invented the wedgie, the “invisible” shoe of clear plastic, shoes of snail shells and silk, kangaroo and seaweed, even the pleated paper used to wrap candies.

A retrospective of his creations, dating from 1929 to 1960 when he died, opened April 4 in the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence. Plans are to move it later to Milan and New York.

He was nearly ruined when the world economy crashed in the great depression but, charactaristically, he started all over again. “He was a man of great gentleness and great strength,” his widow, Wanda, can now say calmly. She’s no slouch herself. Married at 18 to a man more than twice her age, she bore him six children, lived a full life as wife and mother till his death, then – as if nothing could be more natural – took over as president of his empire.

The children are all part of it now: Fiamma in charge of the design and creation of women’s shoes, handbags, small leather goods and luggage; Giovanna who organizes of women’s ready-to-wear; Ferruccio, general manager; Fulvia, who oversees accessories; Leonardo, who runs the men’s division; Massimo, U.S. marketing.

Each month, the company produces some 70,000 pairs of shoes, 7,000 to 8,000 outfits for men and women and about 4,000 handbags which are sold throughout the world.

Creeds has placed a substantial order for this fall’s ready-to-wear which, along with shoes, is also carried at Via Condotti in Toronto. The clothes were on the runway in Milan but everything is masterminded out of the thirteenth century Palazzo Feroni-Spini in Florence where Fiamma tries to explain the extraordinary man who, 25 years after his death, still dominates his family. “I had a sudden friendship with my father when I was about 15 years old. He was severe, very good, I was a little afraid of him. But we had the same personality, the same mentality and way of working, kind of an affinity of temperament. “I was 16 1/2 when I started working with him, doing a little of everything. He believed in responsibility, that people needed to have faith in what they were doing. Even if I did something wrong he would say: ‘That’s fantastic but remember the next time …’ and then you’d want to do better.” There are already 15 grandchildren and she can see at least some of them entering the company; a few are already putting in a week or two each summer in the factories, checking for scratches, introducing shoes to boxes, “so they get the idea of what work is. It is the base of everything, in a good culture.” She’s the Marchesa Fiamma di San Giuliano-Ferragamo and – like most of the other family members – lives in a palace. But she will have no truck with the idea that her father was lowly born. “They were simple people but having no money doesn’t mean that you’re not a gentleman or a lady. You have that inside yourself. “Florence is a lady town; the refinement of the arts, the culture, they help you form yourself. My father was a great innovator in look and technique. We continue his principles: never sacrificing, never compromising. That is the heart of what he found. We are the protectors of his tradition.”

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Romania may raise Candu sales

A Romanian decision to expand its nuclear energy program could mean more business for the beleaguered Canadian nuclear industry, according to Romanian officials.

The Communist Party Congress in November decided to increase the number of power stations it will build and to accelerate their construction. Romania now plans to raise its nuclear generating capacity to 12,000 megawatts by 1993.

Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. has a contract for two 600- megawatt Candu reactors that are now under construction and Export Development Corp. has enough financing approved to pay for two more.

The officials said only 3,000 megawatts of the planned nuclear capacity will be built with technology from the Soviet Union. The other 9,000 megawatts of capacity will conform to the Candu design, which uses natural rather than enriched uranium as fuel.

The 1978 and 1981 deals between Canada and Romania were intended to result in a transfer of technology that would eventually allow Romania to build its own Candu reactors. Romania must pay a royalty for the first 15 reactors it builds.

Romania would like to absorb all the technology, but although the Canadian content in the third and fourth units would be lower than that in the first two, there should be plenty of room for further Canadian exports.

Indeed, if the two countries can agree to specialize in different parts of the reactor, Romania will probably still be buying Canadian equipment by the time it builds its tenth reactor, a senior official said.

Romania is also interested in co-operating with Canada in selling Candu reactors in other countries, and officials suggested that its help could be particularly useful in Communist countries and others with which Romania has good relations.

Nuclear co-operation will be one of the topics on the agenda for Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu as he begins a four-day Canadian visit tomorrow.

Although the first two Candu deals have been marked by Romanian demands that Canadian suppliers accept Romanian goods instead of cash, officials said Romania is philosophically opposed to countertrade practices.

However, Romania also wants to keep its bilateral trade in balance, and admits it has a shortage of hard currency to pay for expensive imports such as nuclear reactors.

As a result, the $200- million in contracts awarded to Canadian suppliers last year have been matched by agreements to take $200-million worth of Romanian goods in lieu of cash over the next six or seven years.

In the future, Romania wants to sell more manufactured goods to Canada, including cars, tractors, electrical equipment, machine tools, clothing and footwear. What it wants from Canada are raw materials such as uranium, coal, mineral ores and asbestos.

In 1984, Canada exported $23-million worth of goods to Romania, including $11-million worth of turbines and $8-million worth of sulphur. It imported $47-million worth of Romanian goods, with clothing, aluminum and tractors heading the list.

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Having it both ways

In the stampede to the public trough, the deserving are often elbowed aside by those who decry the very existence of the trough.

We speak, of course, of some of Canada’s businessmen. Wind them up and hear their lamentations about excessive regulation, huge deficits and bloated government.

Fortunately, some of these distinguished citizens have recently demonstrated with persistence and clarity why such lamentations should be taken with more than a grain of salt.

Consider Jim Smith, president and chief executive officer of Domtar. Very categorical he sounded last August about Ottawa’s deficit. He and his friends at the Business Council on National Issues suggested that Ottawa slash spending by between $5-billion and $10-billion a year, per year, until 1988, using most of the savings for deficit reduction. ”Further expansion in the deficit . . . will be detrimental to the Canadian economy,” they declared.

As for industrial incentives, well, Mr. Smith and Co. couldn’t find anything positive to say. ”here is little evidence to suggest that government grants are needed to support viable industries and investment activity,” declared the BCNI task force of which Mr. Smith was a member.

Yet here we are in April, and guess who’s at the trough? The friendly deficit-slasher and scourge of industrial subsidies himself, Jim Smith.

Last month, Mr. Smith’s company announced it needed $200-million from the federal and Quebec governments. Without the money, Domtar could not proceed with a $1.2- billion modernization of its plant at Windsor, Quebec. Without modernization, the plant would fail and 700 jobs would be lost.

This galling prospect galvanized groups in Quebec to jump all over Sinclair Stevens, the minister in charge of industrial grants. Mr. Stevens had vetoed aid to Domtar because the company boasted a healthy balance sheet, possessed excellent financial backing and could probably finance the remaining 18 per cent of the deal it demanded of government.

Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, however, bids above all else to secure his party’s position in Quebec, an elementary observation presumably not lost on Domtar. Reducing Mr. Stevens’ credibility to a pulp, Mr. Mulroney reopened the dossier. The result – a $159- million, 10-year loan whose interest will be absorbed by Ottawa and Quebec. The estimated cost to the federal treasury is $38-million.

This deal certainly beats giving Domtar the $117-million it originally demanded of Ottawa. But the deal means that money cannot be used for other industrial projects whose backers may legitimately have needed federal help. It will also encourage other paper producers to seek federal subsidies, a ripple effect seldom considered by the groups demanding immediate help.

In fairness to Mr. Smith, his company has not been alone in clamoring for federal assistance. The car industry wants continued quotas on Japanese imports, the Canadian Commercial Bank was recently bailed out, the textile and footwear industries are screaming for continued protection, Petrosar’s new owner, Polysar, will soon seek federal money, Rolland (a Domtar competitor) may want federal help, and the list runs on.

If businessmen – and their tubthumpers on the financial pages of the nation’s newspapers – admitted they might need government help and dropped the deficit-slashing stuff, or if they preached deficit reduction but stayed clear of the trough, it might do wonders for their credibility.

As things now stand, free enterprise for the big corporations with political clout seems to mean the right to succeed in the good times and to demand and receive government help in the bad.

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