Mitchel Raphael on Jack Layton’s ties and Olivia Chow’s dresses

Mitchel Raphael on Jack Layton’s ties and Olivia Chow’s dresses

Joe Bryksa

Shooting began last week in Winnipeg on Smilin’ Jack: The Jack Layton Story, a movie to air on CBC in 2013. The relatively quick turnaround in making the film just a year after Layton’s death has had its advantages for the prop department, since it’s been easier to get authentic material from Layton’s family. The trademark cane Layton wielded in his last election is just one of the items the family has donated. Other items include his favourite black fedora hat, nine ties with stitched-in labels that say “Jack Layton,” a trench coat and lapel pins. Layton’s widow, Toronto MP Olivia Chow, also donated some of her jewellery, as well as the dress and blazer she wore at the July 2011 press conference at which Layton announced he was stepping down temporarily as leader. Sook-Yin Lee is playing Chow in the movie.

Chow also provided filmmakers with photos of the couple’s wedding rings, which the prop department has copied. The couple’s tuxedo and wedding dress are also being recreated for the film. The special effects department have made five Layton moustaches, which actor Rick Roberts will sport in addition to much makeup and prosthetics to play the role of the former NDP leader.

Executive producer Laszlo Barna says the film will cover Layton’s life from 1985 until his death in 2011. The characters of Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff will not appear in the film. Aside from Chow, no other MPs will be featured. Actors will play some of the key figures in Layton’s political life, including former NDP leadership candidate Brian Topp, chief-of-staff Anne McGrath and press secretary Karl Bélanger. Actress Diana Ho will play Chow’s mother Ho Sze Chow, who lived with her and Layton from the time they were married.

Nunavut arctic amigos tackle trade and travel

Last week, two political leaders met to discuss trade, resource development and cross-border travel. At the summit’s end, both agreed to increase their political and economic ties and then returned to their respective capitals—Iqaluit and Nuuk, Greenland.

With Alberta opening an office in Washington and politicians from Ontario and B.C. regularly jetting off on trade missions to Asia, the provinces are increasingly pursuing their own interests abroad, independent of Ottawa. So as global warming opens up the Arctic Ocean to new trade and development, Nunavut Government Leader Eva Aariak hosted Kuupik Kleist, premier of Greenland, for a three-day tour across the territory, the first official meeting of leaders from the two regions.

With their geographic proximity and common Inuit culture, Nunavut and Greenland, a self-governing country within the Kingdom of Denmark, have always had much in common. Now there’s even more incentive with the potential for developing offshore oil reserves. Aariak told the Nunatsiaq News that the territory lags behind Greenland economically because local development projects haven’t gotten beyond the exploration stage. “We talked about sharing ideas . . . and learning from one another,” she said.

Nunavut and Greenland also share a desire for more independence. Kleist, the leader of the left-leaning Ataqatigiit party, has pushed for complete independence from Denmark. Meanwhile, this spring Aariak’s own government entered into devolution talks with Ottawa, hoping to reach an agreement that would give Nunavut more control over its natural resources.

The meeting was just the latest step in deepening relations between the two regions. This summer Greenland Air introduced direct flights between Nuuk and Iqaluit, encouraging people from Nunavut to spend their weekends shopping in Greenland’s capital, which boasts a new $100-million mall. As one passenger told a reporter at the time, Greenland’s capital is “Iqaluit’s Las Vegas.”

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