Transcript: Allan Fotheringham | Mar 15, 1998

(Rhythmic string and wind music plays)

In animation, a word in pink slides by against a gray background as hands paint strokes using paintbrushes, play a piano, and touch as in a ballet performance.

The title of the show reads “Dialogue. With Allan Fotheringham; Columnist.”

Richard Ouzounian and a guest sit in a television studio with a black floor and black walls, decorated with blue lighting. They both sit on comfortable-looking chairs next to a small table with two glasses of water.

Then, Richard appears facing the screen. He's in his late forties, clean-shaven, with short side-parted blond hair. He's wearing rounded glasses, a dark blue suit, and a black mandarin-collared shirt.

He says WELCOME TO
DIALOGUE.
I'M RICHARD OUZOUNIAN.
HERE'S SOMETHING THAT
THOUSANDS OF CANADIANS DO
EVERY WEEK.

He shows a copy of a Maclean’s magazine which reads “Murder mysteries.”

He continues THEY GET THEIR COPY
OF MACLEAN'S.
AND THEY IMMEDIATELY OPEN IT,
NOT TO THE FRONT, BUT TO THE
BACK PAGE BECAUSE THEY WANT
TO HEAR WHAT THIS MAN
HAS TO SAY ABOUT THE COUNTRY
AND THE WORLD THEY LIVE IN.

He shows the back page, which reads “Allan Fotheringham.”

He continues SO DO I.
THAT'S WHY THIS
DIALOGUE
IS WITH ALLAN FOTHERINGHAM.

Allan is in his late fifties, clean-shaven, with short white hair. He’s wearing rounded glasses, a gray suit with a red handkerchief in the front pocket, and a striped red shirt.

Richard continues NOW, ALLAN, AT TIMES IT SEEMS
LIKE YOU'VE BEEN AROUND
FOREVER LIKE HOCKEY NIGHT IN
CANADA, AND CANADIAN TIRE,
BUT YOU HAD TO HAVE
BEGUN SOMEWHERE.
NOW I UNDERSTAND YOU ACTUALLY
SHARE ROOTS WITH PAM WALLIN.
AND I DON'T MEAN
THE HAIR KIND.
IS THAT TRUE?

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Allan Fotheringham. Columnist."

Allan says ALL THE GREAT ONES
COME FROM SASKATCHEWAN.
PAM WALLIN WAS BORN IN
WADENA, WHICH, I UNDERSTAND,
IT'S UP BY SASKATOON SOMEWHERE.
AND IT'S EVEN BIGGER THAN
HEARNE, SASKATCHEWAN.
I WAS BORN IN
HEARNE, SASKATCHEWAN.
PEOPLE FROM HEARNE ARE
CALLED HEARNIANS, RIGHT?

Richard says HEARNIANS, OKAY.

Allan says AND AS WE SAY, THE TOWN WAS
SO SMALL, WE COULDN'T AFFORD
A VILLAGE IDIOT, WE ALL
HAD TO TAKE TURNS, RIGHT?

Richard says IT WAS GOOD TRAINING
FOR YOUR WORK LATER.

Allan says YES, IT WAS GOOD TRAINING.

Richard says NOW, WHAT MADE A BOY IN A
SMALL TOWN DECIDE HE FINALLY
HAD TO GET OUT AND WRITE?
DID YOU WANT TO
WRITE AS A KID?

Allan says I CAN'T REMEMBER IN DOWNTOWN
HEARNE, BUT I GUESS IT
STARTED IN HIGH SCHOOL.
I HAD MOVED -- IT'S THE OLD
STORY, MY PARENTS MOVED TO
BRITISH COLUMBIA, AND I WAS
SEVEN, SO I DECIDED TO GO
WITH THEM, RIGHT?
CHILLIWACK.

Richard says OH, ANOTHER ENORMOUS TOWN.
ENORMOUS TOWN.

Allan says WELL, IN FACT, IT
WASN'T EVEN CHILLIWACK.
IT WAS SARDIS.
IT WAS A LITTLE
TOWN CALLED SARDIS.
AND SARDIS IS THE ONLY PLACE
YOU'VE EVER HEARD OF THAT'S
BEEN IN BOTH THE BIBLE
AND IN SHAKESPEARE.
SARDIS WAS THE PRECURSOR OF
SODOM AND GOMORRAH IN ASIA
MINOR, WHICH IS NOW TURKEY.
AND APPARENTLY, COMPARED TO
SARDIS, SODOM AND GOMORRAH WAS
A CGI PICNIC, RIGHT?

Richard says BUT NOT THE SARDIS
THAT YOU GREW UP IN?

Allan says NO, NO.
BUT, ALSO, YOU WOULD KNOW
THIS BEING A STUDENT OF THE
THEATRE, IN HENRY VI, THE
WHOLE BATTLE IS PLACED
IN SARDIS.

Richard says RIGHT.

Allan says SO I ALWAYS TELL PEOPLE,
IS TOKYO IN SHAKESPEARE
AND THE BIBLE?
IS NEW YORK, IS TORONTO?
NO.
BUT SARDIS IS.

Richard says SARDIS.

Allan says AND SARDIS IS A
TINY LITTLE TOWN.
IT'S THREE MILES FROM DOWNTOWN
CHILLIWACK WHERE I WENT TO
HIGH SCHOOL.
AND THAT'S WHERE I STARTED
WRITING IN THE SCHOOL PAPER.

Richard says WAS IT A FEELING OF
POWER TO DISCOVER THAT
YOU COULD WRITE THINGS?
DID YOU MAKE PEOPLE
QUAKE AT THAT AGE?

Allan says WELL, I'LL TELL YOU THE FIRST
PIECE I EVER WROTE, I GUESS
THIS WOULD BE IN THE
LATE '40s OR SOMETHING.
I GRADUATED HIGH SCHOOL IN 1950,
AND JOHN L. LEWIS WAS
THE
MOST
POWERFUL UNION LEADER
IN THE UNITED STATES.
HE WAS HEAD OF THE UNITED
MINE WORKERS AND EVERYTHING.
AND HE ALWAYS HAD THE GOVERNMENT
IN TURMOIL WITH SHUTTING DOWN
ALL THE MINES IN
THE UNITED STATES.
SO I WROTE A PIECE IN THE
CHILLIWACK HIGH SCHOOL TATTLER,
I THINK IT WAS CALLED.
A SATIRE ON THAT, THAT THE
KIDS HAD GONE ON STRIKE
BECAUSE OF THE LOUSY
CAFETERIA FOOD.
IT WAS THE SATIRE ON THE
JOHN L. LEWIS THING,
THE BIG HEADLINES AT THE TIME.
AND I LOOKED AT IT.
I FOUND IT THE OTHER DAY
IN A SCRAPBOOK OF MINE
ONE OF MY KIDS GAVE
ME, AND I'VE JUST BEEN
DOING THE SAME
THING EVER SINCE.
I'M A ONE-TRICK PONY.

Richard says DID IT GET THE SAME RESPONSE
THAT YOU GET NOWADAYS, WHICH IS
HUMOUR FROM SOME, OUTRAGE
FROM OTHER, DEATH THREATS FROM
THE THIRD GROUP?

Allan says YEAH, YEAH,
BASICALLY THE SAME.
THE SAME, MY MAIL TODAY, HALF
OF THEM THINK I'M A MORON OR
IDIOT OR SHOULD BE JAILED,
THE OTHER HALF WORSHIP ME.

Richard says NOW, THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO SAY
IF SOMEONE WANTS TO WRITE
SATIRE, IT MUST COME OUT OF
SOMETHING DEEPLY TWISTED
INSIDE OF THEM.
LIKE YOU HAVE TO
BE ALEXANDER POPE.
WHAT WAS THE TEENAGE
ALLAN FOTHERINGHAM LIKE?

Allan says I SUPPOSE PAGLIACCI, ISN'T
THAT THE THING OF THE CLOWN IS
SECRETLY TWISTED DOWN
DEEP A VERY SAD PERSON?
MOST HUMOURISTS ARE
INHERENTLY TROUBLED PEOPLE,
OR VERY SAD INSIDE, RIGHT?

Richard says RIGHT.
YOU, TOO?

Allan says WELL, PEOPLE, WHEN STRANGERS
MEET ME, OR GO FOR LUNCH OR
SOMETHING, AND THEY THINK, YOU
KNOW, I'M GOING TO GET UP AND
TAP DANCE AND JUGGLE, YOU
KNOW, AND BE MILTON BERLE AND
ALL THIS, AND THEY SAY, YOU'RE
REALLY NOT TERRIBLY FUNNY
IN PERSON.
WELL, I CAN BE FUNNY ON A
TYPEWRITER, ON THE COMPUTER.
I'M NOT TERRIBLY
FUNNY IN PERSON.
YOU KNOW THAT.

Richard says I WOULD BEG TO DIFFER.
I WANT TO GO BACK TO
THE YOUNGER ALLAN.
AFTERWARDS IT WAS THE
UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA?

Allan says YEAH.

Richard says AND WHAT WAS THAT LIKE,
DURING THAT PERIOD?
WERE PEOPLE READY FOR
POLITICAL SATIRE?
OR WAS UBC A FAIRLY
SLEEPY PLACE AROUND THEN?

Allan says I'LL TELL YOU WHAT
HAPPENED AT THE
UNIVERSITY OF
BRITISH COLUMBIA.
I HAD STARTED WRITING THIS
COLUMN IN HIGH SCHOOL.
AND THE EDITOR OF
THE
CHILLIWACK PROGRESS,
WHICH WAS THE LOCAL
WEEKLY, HE NOTICED IT.
SO HE CALLED ME DOWN AND SAID,
WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO A WEEKLY
COLUMN FOR US ON
HIGH SCHOOL STUFF.
SO I DID THAT.
SO I WENT TO THE UBC, THE MOST
FAMOUS UNIVERSITY NEWSPAPER
IN CANADA.
IT HAS PRODUCED PIERRE BURTON,
AND RON HAGGARD, AND WHAT'S
HIS NAME WHO DOES IDEAS...?

Richard says Mr. SINCLAIR.

Allan says Mr. SINCLAIR, AND
SUPREME COURT JUSTICE,
AND ALL THIS SORT OF THING.
SO I WENT DOWN TO WORK FOR
THIS JOHN TURNER WHO WAS
THE SPORTS EDITOR.
AND I WENT DOWN TO WORK
FOR THIS FAMOUS PAPER,
AND THEY SENT ME OUT
TO COVER A STORY.
I CAME BACK THE NEXT DAY.
THEY SENT ME OUT TO
COVER ANOTHER STORY.
AND I SAID TO
HELL WITH THIS.
I WENT HOME AND I WROTE, I
REMEMBER THIS, IN LONGHAND,
WITH PENCIL, A SATIRE ON
THE ENGINEERING FACULTY.
YOU KNOW, THESE MACHO GUYS.
AND I PAINTED THEM AS WIMPS
AND EVERYTHING, COULDN'T GET
IT UP, AND ALL
THIS SORT OF STUFF.
AND I JUST WENT
AND HANDED IT IN.
AND THE NEXT DAY, I WENT
DOWN, AND THEY HAD IT
ON THE FRONT PAGE
AS A COLUMN.

Richard says AND YOU ACTUALLY CONTINUED
AT UBC AFTER THAT POINT?

Allan says YES.

Richard says BECAUSE EVEN WHEN I WENT
THERE IN THE 1970s,
THE ENGINEERING STUDENTS WERE
A FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH.

Allan says YES.
THEY TOOK ME AND THEY THREW
ME IN THE POND, AND ALL THAT
SORT OF THING, AND THEY
KIDNAPPED ME AND CHAINED ME
TO BURKE'S CLOCK DOWNTOWN AT
5 O'CLOCK ON FRIDAY AFTERNOON.
AND THE FIREMEN HAD TO
COME WITH THE CLIPPERS.

Richard says THEY REALLY DID THAT?
WELL, NOW I KNOW WHY BRIAN
MULRONEY HELD NO TERROR FOR YOU.
I MEAN, HE WASN'T GOING TO
CHAIN YOU TO RIDEAU HALL,
WAS HE?

Allan says NO, THAT'S RIGHT.

Richard says WHERE WAS THE LEAP FROM BEING
THE UNIVERSITY SATIRIST TO
THE PROFESSIONAL JOURNALIST?
DID YOU START
SLIDING INTO THAT?
OR WHAT HAPPENED?

Allan says WELL, I'LL TELL
YOU WHAT HAPPENED.
I PAID MY WAY THROUGH
UNIVERSITY BY WORKING,
WRITING SPORTS FOR
THE
VANCOUVER SUN
EVERY NIGHT.

Richard says I CAN'T SEE YOU
AS A SPORTS WRITER.

Allan says WELL, I WAS A GREAT ATHLETE.
I WAS A GREAT JOCK
IN MY DAY, RIGHT?

Richard says FAVOURITE SPORT?

Allan says TRACK.
I WAS GOING TO THE OLYMPIC
GAMES AS A HALF MILER.
I WAS.
I HAD A TRACK SCHOLARSHIP TO
THE UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON.
AND I WENT TO AN ILLEGAL
BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT WHICH MY
PRINCIPAL WARNED ME NOT TO
GO, AND I WRECKED MY GOD DAMN
KNEE, AND MY TRACK
CAREER WAS OVER.

Richard says SO NOW YOU JUST RUN
FROM PROCESS SERVERS.

Allan says THAT'S RIGHT.
THAT'S RIGHT.
SO I PAID MY WAY
THROUGH UNIVERSITY.
I WAS WORKING FOR A GUY
NAMED IRWIN SWANGARD.
HE WAS THE FAMED SPORTS
EDITOR AT
THE VANCOUVER SUN.
THE LAST ISSUE OF THE UBC
WHICH I WAS THE EDITOR
WAS ALWAYS THE GOON ISSUE.
AND YOU DID SOMETHING CRAZY.
SO WE DID A SATIRE ON ALL
THE THREE DOWNTOWN PAPERS.
MOST OF US WORKED FOR THEM,
SO WE STOLE TYPE OUT OF THEIR
COMPOSING ROOM AND
CHANGED THE NAME.
YOU KNOW, THE
VANCOUVER S-O-N SON.
AND WE HAD A COLUMN BY
SQUIRMING S. VANGUARD,
RATHER THAN IRWIN SWANGARD.
SO HE COMES OUT TO UBC, AND
I'M COVERING THE UNIVERSITY
OF CALIFORNIA VERSUS THE
UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA
RUGBY FINAL.
AND HE WALKS UP.
I SEE HIM COMING.
I'M IN THE PRESS BOX.
AND I SEE HIM WALKING
UP THE LONG STEPS.
AND I THOUGHT, OH, CHRIST.
HE SAID, OKAY, KID, THAT'S IT.
IF THAT'S THE WAY YOU WANT TO
PLAY, HE SAID, I'M SUING YOU.
I'M SUING THE UNIVERSITY,
AND I'M SUING THE PAPER.
I'M IN THE MIDDLE OF EXAMS.
I'M THREE YEARS IN DEBT.
NOW I DON'T HAVE A JOB.
AND THEN, A LETTER
ARRIVES FROM DON CROMIE
WHO IS THE OWNER AND
PUBLISHER OF
THE VANCOUVER SUN.
HE'D SEEN THIS THING.
HE THOUGHT IT WAS HILARIOUS.
HE WROTE ME A LETTER SAYING
OUR LEGAL AUTHORITIES HAVE
SEEN THIS PAPER, AND IT'S
CLEARLY LIBELOUS OF ALL OUR
EDITORS AND WRITERS, AND WE
WANT TO KNOW THE NAME OF
THE PERSON RESPONSIBLE.
SIGNED DON CROMIE.
AND SAYS, P.S., AN INDIVIDUAL
CAPABLE OF SUCH VICIOUSNESS
OBVIOUSLY HAS A FUTURE, AND
WOULD YOU LIKE A SALARIED
POSITION ON OUR NEWSPAPER?

Richard says SO ONCE AGAIN, JUGGLING
BETWEEN LIBEL AND PRAISE.

Allan says YEAH, YEAH.
SO I STILL DON'T KNOW
WHETHER THIS WAS A JOKE.
AND I WENT DOWN TO SEE HIM.
HE SAT THERE.
HE WAS A CRAZY,
ECCENTRIC MILLIONAIRE.
AND HE SAT MOST OF THE
INTERVIEW TRYING TO FLIP
PAPER CLIPS INTO
THE OVERHEAD LIGHT.
AND HE TOLD ME,
YEAH, HE WAS SERIOUS.
SO AS A JOKE, HE SENT ME
TO WORK FOR SWANGARD,
THE GUY WHO WAS SUING ME.
SO FOR THE FIRST SIX MONTHS,
SWANGARD WOULDN'T TALK TO ME.
AND EVERY MONDAY MORNING WE'D
HAVE A STAFF CONFERENCE, AND
HE'D TURN TO MERV PETERS, WHO
WAS THE ASSISTANT EDITOR,
AND HE'D SAY, TELL
FOTHERINGHAM TO COVER THE
LACROSSE IN NEW
WESTMINSTER TONIGHT.
AND MERV PETERS WOULD
TURN TO ME AND SAY,
FOTHERINGHAM,
COVER LACROSSE.

Richard says WHAT FINALLY
BROKE THE IMPASSE?

Allan says WHAT FINALLY BROKE THE
IMPASSE WAS THAT -- I DIDN'T
LEARN THIS UNTIL YEARS LATER --
BUT CROMIE CALLED HIM IN
AFTER SIX MONTHS AND SAID,
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THAT
SMART ASS KID WE
HIRED FROM UBC?
AND SWANGARD SAID -- CROMIE
TOLD ME THIS YEARS LATER.
HE SAID, WELL, HE'S
A TROUBLEMAKER.
HE'S LATE FOR
WORK EVERY DAY.
HE'S A GOSSIP.
HE STIRS UP TROUBLE.
HE WON'T TAKE
DIRECTION FROM ANYBODY.
AND CROMIE SAID, WELL, FOR
CHRIST SAKE, FIRE HIM.
DON'T KEEP HIM AROUND JUST
BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, I HIRED HIM.
SWANGARD SAID, NO,
NO, HE'S BRILLIANT.
HE'S THE BRIGHTEST GUY
WE'VE GOT ON THE STAFF,
AND HE HAS A GREAT FUTURE
IN THE NEWSPAPER BUSINESS.

Richard says SO THAT'S IT.
BEING LATE FOR WORK, A
GOSSIP, STIRRING UP TROUBLE,
ALL THOSE THINGS YOU NEEDED.
WHAT YEAR ARE WE TALKING?

Allan says THIS WOULD BE 1954.

Richard says '54.

Allan says I GRADUATED FROM UBC IN 1954.

Richard says NOW, BY THE TIME I FIRST GOT
OUT TO VANCOUVER IN 1970,
FOTHERINGHAM WAS
AN INSTITUTION.
YOU HAD YOUR COLUMN.
YOU WERE THE PERSON BEFORE
WHOM POLITICIANS IN
BRITISH COLUMBIA QUAKED.
HOW DID THAT EVOLVE
FROM '54 TO '70?
WHERE DID YOU BECOME 'FOTH'?

Allan says I'LL TELL YOU
HOW IT EVOLVED.
WHEN I GRADUATED IN '54,
RICHARD, I SET MYSELF AN
UNNAMED GOAL THAT I
THOUGHT, IN THREE YEARS
I WASN'T IMPRESSED BY THE
NEWSPAPER BUSINESS BECAUSE
IT DIDN'T PAY ANYTHING.
I STARTED AT 45 BUCKS
A WEEK, I THINK.
AND I SAID TO MYSELF, IN
THREE YEARS, IF I HAVEN'T
PROGRESSED TO A CERTAIN
POINT, I'M GOING TO LEAVE AND
GO BACK AND GO TO LAW SCHOOL.
AND ABOUT FOUR MONTHS BEFORE
THE SIX MONTHS DEADLINE CAME
ALONG, I'D PRETTY
WELL GIVEN UP, RIGHT?
AND THEN, THEY ASKED ME
TO BECOME SPORTS EDITOR,
AND I WAS 24.
IN THOSE DAYS, TO ASK SOMEONE
24 TO BE SPORTS EDITOR WAS
UNHEARD OF.
SO I IMMEDIATELY QUIT
AND WENT TO EUROPE
BECAUSE I KNEW I'D MADE IT.
I SAID, I CAN BE A
SUCCESS IN THIS BUSINESS,
SO I DIDN'T NEED IT.
I WENT TO EUROPE, AND BUMMED
AROUND, AND CHASED GIRLS AND
DRANK WINE FOR THREE YEARS.

Richard says AND THEN YOU CAME BACK
AND WAS THE JOB WAITING?

Allan says AND THEN I CAME BACK,
AND THEY SORT OF SAID,
ANYTHING YOU WANT, RIGHT?
AND THEN I GOT
THE COLUMN IN '68.
I WAS 36.
AND ONE OF THE REASONS I WAS
CONTEMPTUOUS OF THE NEWSPAPER
BUSINESS BECAUSE WHEN
I GRADUATED FROM UBC,
I THOUGHT I SHOULD'VE
HAD A COLUMN RIGHT AWAY.
BECAUSE, FIRST OF ALL, I
WAS A COLUMNIST FOR THE
AND
THE CHILLIWACK PROGRESS,
THEN THE UBC, AND I THOUGHT
I SHOULD HAVE GOT A COLUMN
RIGHT AWAY.
AND I WAS PUT OFF WITH IT.
BUT I GOT IT WHEN I WAS 36,
AND IT WAS EXACTLY WHEN
I SHOULD HAVE GOT IT
BECAUSE I HAD CALMED DOWN,
GOT A LITTLE LESS EGOTISTICAL.
I TRAVELLED THE WORLD AND HAD
MATURED ENOUGH, AND I GOT IT
EXACTLY THE TIME
THAT WAS RIGHT.

Richard says SO YOU COME IN, AND IT SEEMED
LIKE BENNETT HAD BEEN RUNNING
BRITISH COLUMBIA FOR, WHAT,
FIVE CENTURIES AT THAT POINT?

Allan says YEAH.

Richard says DID YOU TAKE AIM?
DID YOU DECIDE THIS WAS
GOING TO BE YOUR CRUSADE?

Allan says OH YEAH, SURE.
OH YEAH, SURE.

Richard says HOW DID HE LOOK ON YOU?

Allan says I'LL TELL YOU SOMETHING
VERY INTERESTING ABOUT
WHACKY BENNETT.
I USED TO CARVE HIM UP,
DOWN, AND ROUNDABOUT,
A NEW ORIFICE, YOU KNOW,
EVERY WEEK, AND EVERYTHING.
AND WHEN I WOULD ASK TO GO
OVER AND INTERVIEW HIM,
HE, HIS FLACKS WOULD SAY,
WELL, YOU KNOW, 15 MINUTES,
FOTHERINGHAM, BECAUSE WE DON'T
LIKE YOU AND ALL THIS STUFF.
AND WHEN I ENTERED HIS OFFICE,
HE NEVER ONCE ACKNOWLEDGED,
NOT ONLY THAT HE'D EVER
READ ANYTHING, HE DID NOT
ACKNOWLEDGE THAT
HE KNEW WHAT I DID.
HE JUST TREATED ME LIKE
I WAS SOME LOBBYIST
OR ALUMINUM SIDING SALESMAN.
AND HE'D JUST BABBLE ON IN
THIS 15-MINUTE INTERVIEW.
AFTER TWO HOURS, I'D SORT OF
DRAG MYSELF TO THE DOOR AND
SAY, EXCUSE ME SIR,
I'M TIRED AND ALL THIS.
HE TREATED ME AS IF HE
DIDN'T KNOW WHAT I DID.
A SUPREME SMART POLITICIAN.
AND JOHN TURNER ONCE
TOLD ME THAT HE LEARNED THIS
FROM WHACKY BENNETT.
AND HE SAID, WHEN JOHN WAS A
YOUNG ASPIRING POLITICIAN,
HE SAID, NEVER ANSWER
BACK TO THE PRESS.
YOU CAN'T WIN.
BECAUSE WE ALWAYS -- AND JOHN
TURNER, IF YOU LOOK BACK AT
HIS CAREER, HE NEVER WHINED, HE
NEVER COMPLAINED TO THE PRESS.

Richard says BUT YOU FINALLY, AROUND 1972,
NOT YOU SINGLE-HANDEDLY,
BUT THE BENNETT GOVERNMENT
FINALLY SWITCHED OVER.
AND I THINK, LOOKING BACK ON
IT, NO MATTER HOW PEOPLE IN
ONTARIO HERE THOUGHT ABOUT
SUDDENLY BOB RAE AND AN NDP
GOVERNMENT COMING INTO
ONTARIO, WHAT WAS IT LIKE WHEN
JESUIT-EDUCATED, NDP DAVE
BARRETT SUDDENLY TOOK OVER?
DID THAT MAKE YOU HAPPY?

Allan says I'LL TELL YOU, AS A MATTER
OF FACT, IT WAS AUGUST 30th,
I THINK, IN 1972.
AND I HAD GONE TO CHINA.
MITCHELL SHARP WAS -- TALK
ABOUT THIS TEAM CANADA,
IT WAS YEARS BEFORE.
AND TRUDEAU WAS GOING TO
RECOGNIZE CHINA BEFORE
THE AMERICANS, OF COURSE.
AND HE SENT MITCHELL SHARP,
WHO WAS THEN THE FOREIGN
AFFAIRS MINISTER, WITH 300
CANADIAN BUSINESSMEN TO,
WHICH WAS THEN PEKING,
FOR A TRADE FAIR.
IT WAS TWO OR THREE WEEKS.
AND I THOUGHT, THERE'S
NOTHING GOING TO HAPPEN.
GOD DAMN ELECTION, AND WHACKY
BENNETT WILL GET BACK IN
AND EVERYTHING.
SO I WENT TO CHINA.
AND I CAME OUT ON AUGUST
31st, AND I PHONED MY WIFE.
ANNE, I SAYS, WHAT'S HAPPENED?
SHE SAID, THEY'RE GONZO.
WHACKY'S GONE, PHIL
GAGLARDI'S GONE.
I WENT TO CHINA, AND THE
REVOLUTION WAS IN
BRITISH COLUMBIA.
I BLEW IT.
SO MUCH FOR MY JUDGMENT.

Richard says BUT WHEN YOU DID GET BACK,
WAS BARRETT WHAT YOU WANTED?
OR WAS HE JUST --

Allan says LITTLE FAT DAVE?
I KNEW HIM QUITE WELL, RIGHT?
SO AS USUAL, WHEN YOU KNOW A
GUY, AND HE'S IN OPPOSITION,
HE'S AN UNDERDOG.
SO WE USED TO SIT AROUND
AND DRINK AND CHINESE FOOD
AND ALL THIS STUFF.

Richard says ALL UNDERDOGS ARE
ATTRACTIVE, RIGHT?

Allan says YEAH, OF COURSE.
JOURNALISTS ALWAYS
LOVE UNDERDOGS, RIGHT?
SO THEN HE GETS INTO POWER,
SO YOU'VE GOT TO START...
AND THEY WERE A DISASTER.
TALK ABOUT THE STUPID
SCANDALS AND EVERYTHING
LIKE BOB RAE AND EVERYTHING.
SO AFTER A WHILE, HE
WASN'T TOO HAPPY WITH ME.

Richard says SO YOU'VE GOT ALL THIS
GOVERNMENT STUFF GOING ON
IN B.C.
IT'S STILL AN INTERESTING
SCENE TO WRITE ABOUT.
WHAT THOSE OF US SITTING IN
VANCOUVER WERE WONDERING
ALWAYS IS WHEN THE
ACCESSION WOULD COME OVER,
AND IN ADDITION TO KEEPING HIS
COLUMN, Mr. FOTHERINGHAM WOULD
BE MADE IN CHARGE OF
THE VANCOUVER SUN.
DIDN'T HAPPEN.
WHAT HAPPENED?

Allan says WHAT HAPPENED WAS YOU GUYS
IN TELEVISION, YOU KILLED ME.
YOU'VE HEARD OF A CHAP
CALLED RON HAGGARD WHO IS
IN CHARGE OF
THE FIFTH
ESTATE
AT THAT TIME.
AND HE CAME OUT AND HE
HAD SOMEONE COME OUT
AND INTERVIEW ME.
AND I WAS SORT OF THE
TEACHER'S PET OF THE
PUBLISHER, AND EVERYONE
THOUGHT I WAS GOING
TO BE MADE PUBLISHER.
AND HE TOLD ME HE WAS GOING TO
RETIRE IN THREE YEARS, AND AT
THE END OF THE THREE YEARS,
WHEN HE WAS 65, I GUESS,
HE WOULD RECOMMEND TO THE BOARD
OF DIRECTORS, IF I SHAPED UP,
THAT I WOULD BE HIS SUCCESSOR.
AND RON HAGGARD'S MINION, I
FORGET WHO IT WAS THAT CAME
OUT, AND THEY ADVERTISED ME ON
THE SCROLL, OR WHATEVER YOU
CALL IT, AS EDITOR OF
THE VANCOUVER SUN.

Richard says UH-OH.

Allan says WELL, THE REAL EDITOR
OF
THE VANCOUVER SUN
WENT
INTO THE PUBLISHER'S OFFICE
THE NEXT MORNING AND SAID,
FOTHERINGHAM IS ADVERTISING
NATIONALLY THAT HE IS THE
EDITOR, AND THE PUBLISHER
SAID, THAT'S IT.
THAT'S IT.
SO I WAS FLYING, AS A MATTER
OF FACT, TO THE CONSERVATIVE
CONVENTION IN OTTAWA THAT
CHOSE JOE CLARK AS LEADER,
FEBRUARY 13th, 19... WHATEVER
IT WAS, '76 OR SOMETHING.
AND WHILE I WAS ON A PLANE,
35,000 FEET OVER MOOSE JAW,
THEY HAD A PRINTER DANGLE HIM
BY HIS FEET OVER THE PRESS,
WITH A CHISEL, CHIP MY
NAME OFF THE MASTHEAD.
THIS WAS IN THE DAYS OF LEAD.

Richard says DID YOU LEAVE
RIGHT AWAY THEN?
I MEAN, WERE YOU GONE?
WERE YOU HISTORY?

Allan says NO.
I WENT INCOMMUNICADO IN A
HOTEL IN OTTAWA WHILE I
COVERED THE CONVENTION FOR
ABOUT A WEEK AND EVERYTHING.
AND A PUBLISHER SENT ME A
WIRE SAYING WILL YE NO
COME BACK AGAIN.
AND I REFUSED TO ANSWER.
SO I SULKED AND ALL
THAT SORT OF STUFF.
AND THEN WENT BACK.
THEN JUST WROTE A COLUMN,
REVERTED TO A COLUMN,
THEN STARTED DOING
MACLEAN'S
AND TELEVISION.
AND IN THE NEXT YEAR
MY INCOME DOUBLED.

Richard says I WAS GOING TO SAY, I
REMEMBER YOU AND I SITTING
DOWN AROUND 1978, AND I WAS
DEBATING WHETHER TO STAY IN
VANCOUVER, AND YOU URGED ME.
YOU KIND OF KICKED ME OUT
OF THE CITY AND SAID,
ONE MUST LEAVE THIS PLACE.

Allan says THAT'S TRUE.

Richard says NOW, YOU STILL STAYED AROUND
A WHILE MORE BEFORE YOU
FINALLY LEFT.
WHAT PROPELLED ALLAN
FOTHERINGHAM AWAY FROM THE
NEST, THE SAFETY OF THAT
BRITISH COLUMBIA COLUMN AND
THAT BRITISH COLUMBIA HOME?

Allan says WELL, MY WIFE DIDN'T
ENJOY GOOD HEALTH, RIGHT?
AND SHE DIDN'T WANT TO MOVE.
SHE HATED THE EAST, ANYWAY.
SHE'D HAD A BAD EXPERIENCE HERE.
AND I HAD OFFERS FROM
THE
TORONTO STAR
AND THE CBC
AND
MACLEAN'S, AND ALL
THIS SORT OF THING.
AND PETER NEWMAN OFFERED
ME A JOB OF MY CHOICE AT
MACLEAN'S
WHEN HE TURNED IT
INTO A WEEKLY NEWS MAGAZINE,
PREFERABLY THE BUREAU
CHIEF IN OTTAWA.
AND I TOLD HIM THAT I COULDN'T
MOVE, BUT I'D WRITE A
NATIONAL COLUMN FOR
HIM FROM VANCOUVER.
AND I CAME DOWN AND TOLD
HIM THIS, AND HE CALLED
ALL HIS EDITORS IN.
WALTER STEWART, I REMEMBER,
WAS THE MANAGING EDITOR,
AND ABOUT SIX GUYS.
I KNEW THEM ALL.
I WAS FRIENDS
WITH ALL OF THEM.
AND HE SAID, WHAT
DO YOU THINK?
AND ALL OF THEM SAID, NO WAY,
WE LOVE FOTH, BUT THERE'S
NO GOD DAMN WAY YOU CAN
WRITE A NATIONAL COLUMN
FROM VANCOUVER.
NEWMAN LISTENED TO THEM
ALL, SAID YOU'RE WRONG.
HE SAID, ALLAN, FILE
A COLUMN NEXT WEEK.
I WENT BACK TO VANCOUVER,
AND I FILED A COLUMN, AND I
RUSHED DOWN, OF COURSE, WHEN
THE MAGAZINE, I THINK IT WAS
TUESDAY MORNING,
GOT TO VANCOUVER.
AND A MAN OF SMALL EGO, OF
COURSE, I OPENED IT TO THE
FIRST PAGE, SECOND PAGE.
I THOUGHT IT SHOULD BE
UP THERE SOMEWHERE.
THIRD PAGE, FOURTH PAGE, I'M
THUMBING THROUGH THE WHOLE...
AND I THOUGHT, CHRIST, THE
THING WASN'T GOOD ENOUGH.
I GOT TO THE BACK PAGE, BINGO.
THE MOST BRILLIANT
POSITIONING, AS YOU'VE SAID,
IN CANADIAN JOURNALISM.
EVERY SINGLE JOURNALIST I KNOW
WOULD GIVE THEIR LEFT ONE
IF THEY COULD GET THAT.
PETER NEWMAN WAS
BRILLIANT IN WHAT HE DID.
AND ABOUT THREE OR FOUR YEARS
LATER,
TIME
AND
NEWSWEEK
OPENED COLUMNS
ON THE BACK PAGE.
HE DID IT BEFORE THEY DID.

Richard says WHAT I FIND INTERESTING, NOW
YOU GOT INTO THIS NATIONAL
KIND OF BULLY PULPIT, AS IT
WERE, AND YOU WERE WRITING
EVERYWHERE, NOW THAT YOU
BECAME INVOLVED WITH TRUDEAU,
AND WITH MULRONEY, AND FOR A
WHILE DOWN IN WASHINGTON,
ONE OF THE GAMES THAT EVERYONE
LOVED TO PLAY IS WHAT DOES
ALLAN FOTHERINGHAM REALLY
BELIEVE IN POLITICALLY.
OH, I KNOW HE'S A
TRUDEAU LIBERAL.
NO, NO, I KNOW HE'S REALLY
A MULRONEY CONSERVATIVE.
ALL RIGHT, WE'RE SITTING HERE.
WHAT ARE ALLAN
FOTHERINGHAM'S POLITICS?

Allan says I BELIEVE IN
DEMOCRACY, RICHARD.
AND YOU KNOW THE
BASIS OF DEMOCRACY?
IT'S THE SECRET BALLOT.
AND I VOTE EVERY ELECTION.

Richard says AND YOU DON'T TELL ANYONE
WHO YOU'RE VOTING FOR?

Allan says OF COURSE NOT.
OF COURSE NOT.

Richard says BUT YOU'VE SEEN
ALL THESE PEOPLE.
LITTLE CAPSULE SHOTS FIRST.
PIERRE TRUDEAU.
THERE IS NOW A LOT OF
REVISIONIST HISTORY.
PEOPLE ARE MOCKING
HIM ENDLESSLY.
ALL THOSE PLAYS ARE COMING
BACK,
MAGGIE AND PIERRE.
AND THEY ARE SAYING HE REALLY
WAS A CHARLATAN AND A FRAUD,
AND HE WASN'T THE GENIUS
WE ALL WANTED HIM TO BE.
WAS THAT THE CASE?

Allan says YOU KNOW THE THREE MOST
BRILLIANT MEN, MOST BRILLIANT
PERSONS I'VE EVER MET,
ZHOU ENLAI, PIERRE TRUDEAU,
AND MUHAMMAD ALI.
THOSE ARE THE THREE MOST
IMPRESSIVE MEN I'VE EVER MET.
MUHAMMAD ALI WAS THE MOST
INTELLIGENT, UNEDUCATED PERSON
I'D EVER SEEN.
TRUDEAU WAS
BRILLIANT, OF COURSE.
ZHOU ENLAI WAS BOTH BRILLIANT
AND EDUCATED, YOU KNOW?

Richard says BUT WHAT ABOUT TRUDEAU'S
ACHIEVEMENTS AS PRIME MINISTER?

Allan says HISTORY WILL TREAT HIM A LOT
BETTER THAN DALTON CAMP DID
THE OTHER DAY ON THE BACK
PAGE AS A GUEST COLUMNIST
IN
MACLEAN'S.
HE'S RIGHT ABOUT
QUEBEC, YOU KNOW?
HE'S RIGHT ABOUT QUEBEC.
THEY WHINE AND COMPLAIN.
AND ONCE THEY ARE RECOGNIZED
AS SOMETHING DIFFERENT,
THERE AIN'T NO COUNTRY.
THEY'RE AS GOOD OR
AS BAD AS SASKATCHEWAN
OR NEWFOUNDLAND, RIGHT?

Richard says RIGHT.

Allan says AND WE'RE ALL OF A PART.
AND ONCE YOU START DIVIDING --
YOU KNOW, BRITISH COLUMBIA,
YOU KNOW AS WELL AS I DO,
BRITISH COLUMBIA THINKS
THEY'RE A DISTINCT
SOCIETY, RIGHT?

Richard says THEY'RE PARADISE.

Allan says OF COURSE.
LOTUS LAND.
NEWFOUNDLAND.
THEY ARE COMPLETELY
DISTINCT, RIGHT?

Richard says RIGHT.

Allan says SO ONCE YOU START DESIGNATING
ONE PROVINCE AS A DISTINCT
PROVINCE, IT AIN'T GONNA WORK.

Richard says THAT'S PIERRE TRUDEAU.
BRIAN MULRONEY.
SAME THING.
WAS HE A SMART MAN?
WAS HE A JOKE?
WAS HE A CROOK?

Allan says HE'S A VERY SMART MAN.
HE WASN'T A CROOK.
HE'S TOO SMART TO BE.
YOU KNOW, THIS
STUPID AIR BUS THING.
IF ANYONE THINKS BRIAN
MULRONEY WAS SO DUMB WHILE
IN OFFICE TO TRY AND FIDDLE.
HE KNEW HE WAS GOING TO BE A
MILLIONAIRE AFTER HE LEFT.
AS HE IS NOW.
HE GETS 50,000 BUCKS A SPEECH.
ALL THROUGH THE STATES.
HE'S ON THE BOARD OF ABOUT
TEN COMPANIES, YOU KNOW,
EVERYTHING FROM
BARRETT GOLD ON DOWN.
HE'S A VERY RICH GUY.
HE KNEW HE WAS GONNA DO THAT.
HE WASN'T NEVER SO STUPID AS
TO TRY AND FIDDLE MONEY WHILE
HE WAS IN OFFICE, NO.
BUT HE JUST HAD
THIS UNFORTUNATE...
HE WAS REALLY THE FIRST PRODUCT
OF A WORKING-CLASS BACKGROUND
TO BECOME PRIME MINISTER.
AND HE GOT UP THERE, AND EVERY
TIME HE WENT ON TV WITH A
SWEATER THAT MILA HAD BOUGHT
FROM NEW YORK THAT COST 350 dollars,
PEOPLE JUST LOOKED AT
HIM AND SAID, 'UH-UNH.
WE DON'T LIKE THAT'.
HE RUINED IT WITH
HIS PERSONALITY.

Richard says ALSO, THE LINKS WITH REAGAN.
YOU WERE IN WASHINGTON
AT THE TIME, RIGHT?
IN FACT, YOU DID A BOOK ON
THE PERIOD CALLED, I BELIEVE,
MALICE IN BLUNDERLAND.
WAS THE SHAMROCK
SUMMIT A SELLOUT?
DID IT DO US MORE
HARM THAN GOOD?

Allan says YOU KNOW, ONE OF THE GREAT
FALLACIES, RICHARD, OF THE
SHAMROCK SUMMIT, EVERYONE
TALKS ABOUT WHEN MULRONEY AND
REAGAN SANG
WHEN IRISH
EYES ARE SMILING.
YOU CAN TAKE A LOOK AT IT.
MULRONEY TRIED TO
PULL A TRICK ON HIM.
AND HE STARTED THIS BECAUSE
MULRONEY HAS A GREAT VOICE,
AND HE LOVED TO SING.
AND YOU LOOK AT THE TAPE, AND
REAGAN SORT OF STANDS THERE
WITH HIS MOUTH OPEN.
HE NEVER SANG A NOTE.
HE KNEW HE'D BEEN SANDBAGGED.

Richard says SO YOU THINK MULRONEY
WAS SMARTER THAN REAGAN.

Allan says EVERYONE IN THE WORLD
IS SMARTER THAN REAGAN.

Richard says AND NO LASTING DAMAGE HAS
BEEN DONE TO CANADA BY THAT
LIAISON, SUCH AS IT WAS?

Allan says WELL, IT PUSHED US FURTHER
INTO THE MIASMA OF THE
AMERICAN THING WHICH IS
GETTING WORSER AND WORSER,
YOU KNOW, NAFTA AND EVERYTHING,
FOREVER HOW ALL OUR FILM
SCREENS, AND BOOKSTORES
AND EVERYTHING IS
FULL OF AMERICAN JUNK.
SHEILA COPPS IS
TRYING TO DEFEND.

Richard says LET ME HAVE THE FAMOUS
Dr. FOTH LOOK INTO
HIS CRYSTAL BALL.

Allan says YES.

Richard says I'D LIKE YOU TO COME UP
WITH TWO THINGS FOR ME.
A CANADIAN LEADER AS PRIME
MINISTER WHO WOULD PROVIDE YOU
THE MOST CANNON FODDER AND
THE MOST FUN, IF HE WERE
PRIME MINISTER, OR
SHE
WERE PRIME MINISTER.
TAKE THAT ONE FIRST.

Allan says WELL, RALPH KLEIN.
HE APPARENTLY NOW HAS
ASPIRATIONS ON THE TORY
LEADERSHIP AFTER CHAREST
FALLS ON HIS SWORD THIS NEXT
ELECTION AND EVERYTHING.
AND I'D LOVE TO SEE RALPH
KLEIN'S FRENCH AND BE EQUAL
TO DIEFENBAKER'S.
HE'D BE FUN TO COVER.

Richard says HE'D BE FUN TO COVER.
AND IS THERE ANYONE YOU'D
REALLY WANT TO SEE SITTING
IN OTTAWA?
WHO YOU THINK WOULD MAKE
A POSITIVE DIFFERENCE?

Allan says YES.

Richard says WHO?

Allan says HE'S GOING TO RUN
IN PARRY SOUND.
HE'S SEEKING THE
TORY NOMINATION.
AND HIS NAME IS GENERAL
LOUIS MACKENZIE.
AND I THINK THAT CANADIANS
WANT A GUY, LIKE TRUDEAU,
YOU KNOW, I DON'T GIVE A
SHIT, THIS IS, YOU KNOW,
BLACK AND WHITE, NOT GREY.
AND LOUIS MACKENZIE, I
THINK, WOULD REALLY
EXCITE CANADIANS.

Richard says YOU HEARD IT FIRST
FROM Dr. FOTH.
ALLAN FOTHERINGHAM, THANK YOU
FOR ALL THE YEARS OF GIVING
US LAUGHS, AND ADVICE, AND
MANY MORE TO COME, I HOPE.

Allan says THANK YOU.

Richard says THANK YOU.

He faces the screen and concludes
FOR
DIALOGUE,
I'M
RICHARD OUZOUNIAN.
GOOD-BYE FOR NOW.

Music plays as the end slate reads “Dialogue.”

A production of TVOntario. Copyright 1997, The Ontario Educational Communications Authority.

Watch: Allan Fotheringham