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ROD MICKLEBURGH

Gordon Campbell, raise your red mitten-clad hands! Add to ...

He’s b-a-a-a-ck! Just when you thought it safe to download a Canadian Olympic photo, there he was. King of the Red Mittens. That trademark big grin, mitten thrust high – the pose that launched a thousand pics during the run-up to the Vancouver Winter Olympics. Was it really only two years ago?

These days, Gordon Campbell combs his distinguished, silvery hair at Trafalgar Square, presiding over what could be the best chunk of real estate in central London as Canadian High Commissioner to the United – don’t mention Scotland – Kingdom.

But that didn’t stop Mr. Campbell’s Pavlovian tendencies when COC president Marcel Aubut came calling this month to see how Canada House was preparing for the summer’s Olympics north of the Thames.

Mittens were donned and photos snapped before you could say Ben Johnson.

This throwback to a sunnier, pre-riot time in Vancouver brought a song to my lips. To the tune of that grand frontier hymn, The Ballad of Davy Crockett.

Born in a hospital in fab B.C.

Greenest prov in the land of the free

Brought in a tax called the HST

That cost him all his popularity.

Gordie, Gordie Campbell. King of the Red Mittens.

Burns Lake explosion cuts deep into a 40-year legacy

As many have pointed out, the tragedy that wiped out the Babine Forest Products sawmill in Burns Lake – quite apart from the deaths and injuries – was more than just an economic loss to the town. It was a calamity for the local aboriginal community as well.

The mill employed about 100 native workers, and the Burns Lake Native Development Corporation holds an 11-per-cent stake in the operation.

Less well known is the fact that first nation involvement in the region’s forest industry goes back nearly 40 years, one of those many legacies left behind by the wild and woolly NDP government of Dave Barrett. Things like ICBC, the agricultural land reserve, the B.C. ambulance service, a women’s ministry … okay, not the last one.

The person who signed the documents establishing the BLNDC, fuelled by an injection of government cash, was none other than Bob Williams, as powerful and controversial a cabinet minister as this good old province has ever had.

When I talked to him last year, Mr. Williams was still emotional about a project he considers among his proudest achievements during those three turbulent years of NDP rule in the 1970s.

And it has stood the test of time. Until, sadly, perhaps now.

Oh, what’s her name – the blonde one?

There was the classic Hollywood musical romp, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. And now, live on the stage of the Tax Court of Canada in Vancouver this week, we’ve had Twenty-One Brides and Winston Blackmore.

“We don’t usually see the media,” Judge Diane Campbell observed wryly, as proceedings began on Mr. Blackmore’s contention that he of the many families is being treated unfairly by the tax system.

And it’s a safe bet that the judge had never before heard a tax witness struggle, as the prominent member of the polygamous community of Bountiful did, to name all of his one score and one wives.

As recounted by The Globe’s Wendy Stueck, Mr. Blackmore gave Department of Justice lawyer Lynn Burch an emphatic “thank you” for providing him with a list, after he bogged down on the name of Wife 14.

Ms. Burch subsequently asked him how many children he had, adding she would not hold him to a number. “Please don’t,” responded Mr. Blackmore, who eventually gave his assent to an estimate of “at least 67.”

The next day, it turned out that one wife had been forgotten. The count was now 22. Could happen to anyone.

The hearing continues in Vancouver.

Extra! Extra!

There aren’t many relics still in this crazy business who, like your cranky correspondent, started out during the Precambrian era of typewriters and copy runners.

But they were exciting times, when papers hired colourful characters who hadn’t been processed in journalism schools and before computers took most of the fun out of big city newsrooms.

Hollywood used to love making movies about reporters and newspapers. So much Damon Runyon material to put up there on the big screen. Many of the films were good.

Starting Friday, the VanCity theatre, with the help of reporters James Keller, Sunny Dhillon, Ian Bailey and me, and the sponsorship of The Globe and Mail, is staging a week-long festival of some of the best newspaper movies ever made. Some are even in colour. One ( Why Rock the Boat?) is actually Canadian.

You won’t regret seeing them all.

Follow on Twitter: @rodmickleburgh

 
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