Newsmakers: Oct. 13-Oct. 20, 2011

Big bird gets bullied, Gilad Shalit goes home, and all eyes turn to Kate


Samir Hussein/Wireimage/Getty Images

A royal fuss

Now that Kate is married to Prince Will and the wedding is out of the way, royal watchers and tabloid scribes can devote their full attention to her uterus. Prime Minister David Cameron has even taken an interest, proposing changes to allow any first-born child to ascend to the throne. Could the amendment have been quietly requested by Will and Kate, the tabs wondered (some noting Wills’s “thrill” with his pin-thin wife’s apparently “curvier” figure)? The Queen, according to royal sources, has meanwhile “let it be known” she is fully behind moves to repeal the primogeniture law. So is Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, despite saying, during the spring election campaign, he didn’t believe the law should be revised.

Rookie sensation

The Oilers’ Ryan Nugent-Hopkins—fondly known as “The Nooge” to Edmontonians—broke Dale Hawerchuk’s 1981 record for the earliest career hat trick by a first-round draft pick last Saturday, leading to a shower of over 100 hats at Rexall Centre, where the Oilers were edged 4-3 by Nugent-Hopkins’s hometown Canucks. Speaking with reporters after the game, the 18-year-old B.C. boy—who doesn’t look anywhere near his listed 175 lb.—shared credit with his linemates: last year’s No. 1 pick Taylor Hall, 19, and Jordan Eberle, 21. Granddaddy of hockey contentiousness, Don Cherry, meanwhile, finally caved to widespread calls for an apology to Stu Grimson, Chris Nilan and Jim Thomson after labelling them “pukes” during a characteristic rant earlier this season. Cherry, 77, withdrew his criticism of the retired NHL enforcers, who had expressed support for a ban on hockey fighting.

Danny who?

Kathy Dunderdale quarterbacked a landslide victory for the Progressive Conservatives in Newfoundland and Labrador. Dunderdale, the province’s first female premier, is incredibly popular at home, having successfully channelled predecessor Danny Williams’s Newfoundland nationalism and down-home populism. The 59-year-old takes office in an auspicious, oil-fuelled period in Newfoundland’s history, and has pledged to increase social spending. Dunderdale and Alison Redford, the newly sworn-in premier of Alberta, build on the diversity that’s challenging Canada’s male-dominated provincial political class.

It’s a Myracle she didn’t sue

Last week, Lauren Myracle, a 42-year-old author whose novels for young people have elicited praise and controversy for their treatment of sexuality, got a call from the National Book Awards Foundation saying Shine, her book about the violent attack on a gay teen, was one of five nominated in the young lit category. Another call quickly followed, saying there had been a mistake. Franny Billingsley’s Chime—not Shine—was getting the literary nod. Then, hours later, a solution: six books would be nominated, including both Chime and Shine. The final indignity arrived Friday, when the foundation did yet another about-face: this time asking Myracle to withdraw altogether.

The Zuck takes Vancouver

News that Mark Zuckerberg was visiting Vancouver set the tech world abuzz. After a Twitter user took a pic of the Facebook founder at a downtown Japadog stand, rumours suggested he was there to snap up HootSuite: a Vancouver start-up that makes a program for posting content to Facebook and Twitter. When HootSuite CEO Ryan Holmes quashed it—“Facebook isn’t buying HootSuite anytime soon,” he tweeted—others speculated Zuckerberg may be in talks with a local gaming company about creating a Facebook site modelled after the new EA Online Store. Still others speculate he could be buying an oceanfront hideout in tony West Van. The mystery continues.


Looking gaunt, pale but unhurt, Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was released by Hamas after five years in captivity this week. He’d missed his family terribly, Shalit told an Egyptian TV crew before crossing to Israel, and he’d feared the deal might fall through, and that he would remain in captivity for “many more years.” Shalit, whose release became something of a national obsession, came home a hero, but his release was secured with the exchange of over 1,000 Hamas sympathizers jailed by Israel—a large, and potentially destabilizing, price to pay for a lone soldier.

Plus ça change

Tony Tomassi was a stalwart of Quebec Premier Jean Charest’s cabinet. Now he may be off to jail. Last week, the Sûreté du Québec indicted the former minister on fraud and breach of trust charges stemming from his involvement with businessman Luigi Coretti. The 40-year-old MNA was dumped from the Liberal caucus last year, after he was found to have been using Coretti’s credit card, but still sits as an Independent. Chantal Rouleau, mayor of the Montreal borough of Rivière-Des-Prairies, meanwhile, became an unlikely crusader in Quebec when she decried the fact that her administration was forced to give contracts to a construction firm with Mafia ties because of the province’s lowest bidder clause. Construction Mirabeau, owned by alleged Rizzuto clan associate Dominico Arcuri, has received upwards of $24 million in contracts from the City of Montreal in the last 10 years, according to Radio-Canada. “It’s intolerable,” Rouleau told Radio-Canada. “We can’t continue like this.”

The darkness never lifted

The 33 miners were a testament to the strength of the human spirit the moment they emerged from beneath Chilean soil a year ago, last week. But for many, the trials continue. Dario Segovia still can’t kick the nightmares and sleeplessness, while Alex Vega can’t explain why he felt compelled to build a wall around his house. Edison Peña is battling drug and alcohol problems, and half have yet to find work. Segovia now sells fruit on the streets of Copiapó, the oasis town in the Atacama desert nearest to the site of the disaster. Survival, it seems, is proving as daunting as their once-certain death five kilometres under the ground.

Prince of vice

After beating his second rape investigation just last week, Dominique Strauss-Kahn is making headlines again, facing yet another round of questions over his lively sex life. The former IMF head, and one-time shoo-in for the Socialist party presidential nomination, is now facing allegations he was a client in a hotel prostitution ring. The French newspaper, Le Journal du Dimanche, alleges that a high-ranking French police officer organized orgies at a luxury hotel for Strauss-Kahn. French socialists, who elected François Hollande to helm the party over the weekend, must, meanwhile, be breathing a sigh of relief over having dodged that bullet: Hollande, modest, well-meaning and notably dull, appears to do little more controversial than ride a scooter to work.

A new dawn

The king of Bhutan is proving positively progressive: not only did the 31-year-old marry a commoner, but Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk made clear he will not take any more wives, a marked change for the remote kingdom, where citizens are still required to wear traditional dress in public. After a ceremony attended only by royal family, monks and baby elephants, the bride and groom—who have known each other since they were children—kissed publicly. “Wherever he goes he holds her hand,” 16-year-old Jurme Choden told AFP. “Now young people are starting to copy.”

A mile in his shoes

For some, going bankrupt might lead to a paralyzing depression. For Jean Beliveau of Montreal, the collapse of his business in 2000 launched him on an around-the-world pilgrimage. For 11 years, Beliveau walked 75,000 km—through 64 countries and 54 pairs of shoes. On Sunday, he was greeted to a hero’s welcome, and the warm embrace of his partner Luce Archambault, in his hometown Montreal. “We are all different,” the 56-year-old said, “and that is what is beautiful about life on Earth.”

B is for bullying

Big Bird is so nice and friendly you’d think he knows nothing about being bullied. Elmo, that red fuzzy runt with a squeaky voice, would seem to know a lot. So it’s fitting the Sesame Street stars are joining forces to educate kids on bullying. A key part of their message is the difference between reporting bullying and tattling: if someone gets hurt, let an adult know. If not, then don’t. Sesame Street has never been safer.

The curse breaker

The Boston Red Sox traded Babe Ruth to New York in 1919—and for the next 86 years, the Fenway faithful endured the most legendary losing stretch in sports history. But the “Curse of the Bambino” proved no match for Theo Epstein, who, at the tender age of 28, took over as general manager and promptly led the squad to two World Series titles. This week, after an epic late-season collapse fuelled by clubhouse boozing and infighting, Epstein said goodbye to the Red Sox—and hello to an even bigger hex. His new team, the Chicago Cubs, haven’t won a championship in 103 years.

Cool runnings

On a blustery, cold Sunday in Toronto, Reid Coolsaet and Eric Gillis became the first Canadians in over a decade to qualify for an Olympic marathon. Coolsaet ran a personal best of 2:10:55—despite a bathroom break—while Gillis made the cut for the London Games by single second, clocking 2:11:28.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.