Newsmakers ’09: Comebacks

Tigers Woods, Tim Hortons, and others made their big comeback this year

Tiger Woods
He sank a 15-foot birdie to bag the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament in the spring, making it his 66th PGA victory. It had been nearly a year since the super-athlete had enjoyed a big win, and Woods was ecstatic: “It’s been a while, but God, it felt good.” You can bet his competitors didn’t share the feeling.

Tim Hortons
Tims is officially a Canadian company again. The coffee giant has moved its operations base to Oakville, Ont., from Delaware—where it had been registered since Wendy’s burger chain bought it in 1995 (and spun it into an American subsidiary). But the move isn’t motivated by patriotism. Tim Hortons is taking advantage of Canada’s low corporate taxes. Canuck love comes cheap.

Robert Fowler, Louis Guay and Amanda Lindhout

After four months in al-Qaeda captivity, Canadian diplomat Robert Fowler and his aide Louis Guay were released. The pair had been working in Niger, where Fowler was a UN special envoy. The president of Burkina Faso helped negotiate their freedom, and some speculate a hefty ransom was paid. Another big payout was demanded for Alberta journalist Amanda Lindhout, who was held by Somalian fighters for 15 months. She was freed in November. Her family raised money to appease her abductors.

Whitney Houston
After battling drug addiction and getting a divorce, Whitney Houston has a new album called I Look To You. But all eyes have been on her: the American Music Academy gave Houston the international artist award in recognition of her global diva status. She also recently opened the new season of The Oprah Winfrey Show, where she belted out a moving rendition of Diane Warren’s I Didn’t Know My Own Strength to a blubbering audience. Houston told Winfrey that she got back into singing because “I needed my joy back.”

Kim Clijsters

Belgian tennis player Kim Clijsters came out of retirement to win the U.S. Open. She quit two years ago because of injuries, then got married and had a baby. But Clijsters was invited to the tournament as a wild card. She nabbed the US$1.6-million prize, and became the first mom to take the championship in 29 years. “It’s the greatest feeling in the world being a mother,” Clijsters told the crowd when her 18-month-old daughter ran onto the court for a post-match celebration. Clijsters had planned nap time that day so they could be together. After all the excitement, mom must need a rest too.

Ford Taurus
Can a car whose top-selling days were in the 1980s and ’90s really return Ford to its glory days? CEO Alan Mulally believes the new and improved Taurus will do just that. Among the perks the company touts are that it has more durable paint than a Lexus, a “blind spot information system” that uses radar to detect nearby cars, and an “EcoBoost” engine that delivers more power without chewing through extra fuel. If only Ford could make gas 50 cents a litre again.

For the first time in 90 years, Fabergé—maker of those intricate Easter eggs for Russian royalty—has issued a collection of jewellery. It features a marine theme: there is a seahorse broach, shell earrings and a water-lily bracelet. The 100 gem-encrusted pieces range in price from $46,000 to $11 million. They can only be purchased online or at the Fabergé store in Geneva. CEO Mark Dunhill balks at the idea of multiple retail outlets: “If you are thinking of spending $1 million for a bracelet, why not have the designer come to you and show it to you on your yacht?”

Julia Child
She’s more famous than ever, thanks mostly to the Hollywood hit Julie & Julia. The film has catapulted Julia Child’s 752-page tome, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, to the top of the best-seller lists, 48 years after it was first published. Her other culinary bible, Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom, has been reprinted six times and is the second-bestselling cookbook in the U.S. An autobiography called My Life in France has been reprinted nine times, which makes going for seconds seem restrained.

Horses on Parliament Hill
The RCMP are once again allowed to ride horses in front of the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill. The clip-clopping was banned in 2007 for fear tourists would wind up hurt by suddenly spooked animals. Before that, Mounties on horseback were an Ottawa highlight for 30 years. Now, one officer stays in the saddle while another walks alongside the horse. If only we could control question period so easily.

Lilith Fair
Travelling music festival Lilith Fair will be resurrected next summer, a decade since the last all-female tour. Canadian crooner Sarah McLachlan, who founded the concert in 1997, is behind its revival. No word yet which celebrity songstresses are on the bill, but this time there’s a new angle, the “Lilith Local Talent Search,” to find upcoming stars. Women’s work is never done.

The ’80s
They were the best of times, and they were the worst of times. Here is what’s back: the Winter Olympics in Canada; Petro-Canada’s commemorative Olympic glasses; Michael Jackson’s music; and a remake of The A-Team. But many other remnants of that decade would be better forgotten: provincial deficits, shoulder pads and skinny pants. Thankfully, acid wash has not made a resurgence. Yet.