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Jim Flaherty, Oleg Deripaska and Maureen Sabia (Anthony Jenkins/The Globe and Mail)
Jim Flaherty, Oleg Deripaska and Maureen Sabia (Anthony Jenkins/The Globe and Mail)

Interviews

The Lunch: The tastiest of 2011 Add to ...

Because he knows I am Canadian, he tells me how Peter has developed a passion for Canadian maple syrup. I wonder where he gets the stuff and before I can ask, he explains that his son was given a load of syrup by Barrick Gold chairman Peter Munk. The booty formed part of the cargo of Mr. Munk's yacht and was transferred to the Deripaskas’ in Montenegro, where the two billionaires are developing a superyacht marina. As it turns out, maple syrup is not the only bit of Canadiana on Mr. Deripaska's mind. Two others are the Vancouver Olympics and Hydro-Québec. ....

THE REALIST

“I would say: ‘Next Thursday you are going to get your paycheque deposited in your bank account. ... This is your moment to get committed.’ ”

– Mining executive Jacynthe Côté on the tough-love message she gave to “suffering and whingeing” Alcan employees after the company was bought by global mining outfit Rio Tinto

I’VE SEEN WHAT’S WRONG WITH EUROPE, AND IT’S MY FAMILY

“Europe has a bit of not wanting it badly enough. I still have relatives there and you can see that the dominating mindset there is to satisfy, not to optimize. I'm 63 now and all my siblings are younger and they all want to retire way before 63, I can tell you. ... People want to be comfortable and if getting to a higher level means you have to work harder, the choice they've made is not to do that.”

– Leo de Bever, head of Alberta’s public pension fund, explains how Europe’s economy got into such trouble, and ensures a lively debate at the de Bever family Christmas gathering.

AWKWARD MOMENT

“I lived in the U.S. for 15 years, and 11 years in Europe, and I've always thought it was bordering on bad manners to ask people about their incomes or how much they earned.”

– Economist Dambisa Moyo, author of How the West Was Lost, chides Simon Houpt for asking if Goldman Sachs, Ms. Moyo’s former employer, paid well.

AND THAT WILL BE UNCOMFORTABLE

“Whoever wins will be seen to have lied to the public.”

– David Dodge, the former governor of the Bank of Canada, warns that each of the three main party leaders in Ontario’s provincial election is promoting “impossible” economic plans that promise lower taxes and improved services.

PICKY, PICKY

‘They may order food, but that doesn’t mean they want to eat it:

“ ‘What can I say? I expect a lot,’ [Melanie Aitken]says, picking at a salad she ordered as a safe meal after a bout of food poisoning brought on by dried apricots.”

“True to form, Azim Premji has an austere meal in front of him. ... His company, Wipro Ltd., has laid out an array of decadent pastries, hot drinks and a rainbow platter of fruit for our interview at his new Canadian office. Mr. Premji, India's third-richest man, has selected seven strawberries and a cup of tea.”

“A cold [Dambisa Moyo]had picked up along the way was sapping her energy and appetite, leaving her poking dutifully but without enthusiasm at a goat cheese omelette.”

“Anyone who plans to share a meal with [David]Dodge should probably eat first. He unleashes such a torrent of thought-provoking and passionate arguments that food becomes an afterthought. Which is another way of saying that muffins prepared for our morning meal will remain wrapped on his desk and the fighter pilot black coffee mostly untouched.”

BLOCKHEADS

“These guys are like sheep to the slaughter. How do I know? I once was one. ... I've lost the kind of money in China that might make some of these guys throw themselves off a building. That's how I understand what is going on.”

– Carson Block, the short seller whose report helped spark multiple investigations of TSX-listed Sino-Forest Corp., explains why he has an edge over the Canadian research analysts who had recommended the stock

IRON WILL

One of the most surprising profiles to come out of the Lunch series was that of Maureen Sabia, the chairman of Canadian Tire. Here is how writer Marina Strauss began her look at the woman:

TORONTO – Maureen Sabia is on a diet of protein and strict self-discipline.

The first of these, an eating regimen that consists mainly of meat and fish, has allowed her to shed 10 pounds in six weeks. The second – the self-discipline – is a lifelong habit. Ms. Sabia preaches and practises a life of extreme structure, self-restraint and hard work, propelling her to the head of the boardroom table at Canadian Tire, one of the country's most iconic retail chains. In the process, she has become one of just a handful of women to hold such a position at a major Canadian public company.

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