|Bob Skelly - April 1985|
I have a lasting and very pleasant memory of an event sometime in early April 1985.
At the time I was working as a freelancer for two city magazines. One was Vancouver Magazine and the other was Equity. Both magazines were published (and owned) by an affable lawyer, Ronald Stern.
He may have been approached by the scion of the Southam Publishing Empire, Harvey Southam with the idea of launching a city business magazine. And so Equity was born.
In that early April and in the morning Harvey Southam and I boarded a helicopter to Victoria where he was going to interview the new leader of the NDP, Bob Skelly. When we landed Southam insisted in carrying my very heavy Ascor studio lighting.
Of the man faced I now remember little except that he was handsome, wore a beautiful suit but somehow was low key. This latter quality (a quality it must be) may be the reason why he never became premier.
There is another reason why I remember that trip to Victoria. Even though I was earning freelancer money (not the best) I told Southam that I wanted to invite him and that I would pay high tea at the Empress. This we did. I told him that someday I would boast about it as I am now!
|Yours truly & Harvey Southam|
I had a very pleasant and most interesting relationship with this all-powerful man. He told me stuff that I believe he would not tell anybody else. One day he said, “Accompany me to the Bentall Centre. I want you to take a picture of the gathering. We are going to decide today who is going to head Simon Fraser University."
On another day I told him that I had had lunch with Alderman Bill Yee and that I thought that he would make a good and first ethnic mayor for our city. His startling answer was, “Not while we are around.”
In spite of his patrician ways, Harvey Southam was an authentic journalist. I remember that he hired Adrian du Plessis to write about the shenanigans at the Vancouver Stock Exchange. Duplessis, who was a top notch white crime investigative writer fed lots of information to David Baines at the Vancouver Sun. I believe that the Equity cover article and Baines in the Sun was the death knell for the notorious Vancouver Stock Exchange. One of my fave features of Equity were two pages. One was On The Left and the other On the Right. Good writers would write about the same topic from a different political perspective.
Southam died of suicide in 1991. I toyed about going to his memorial service at Christ Church Cathedral. The night before I decided I had to go for one reason. The reason was made evident from my back corner at the end of the church. An Anglican pastor talked about summers in Qualicum Beach. There was not one person in that congregation that was not white. For me that day represented the time when anthropologists will determine that our city changed. It was on that day.
But some things do not change. For this Argentine I appreciate the low-level corruption of Canadian politics. I appreciate that I have managed to meet and photograph so many of these politicians. Most I liked, even one I was not prepared to do so.
So today Ron Johnson of the NDP informed that Skelly died today. I knew that I would have to write this. I really did not know that man well but he did leave that impression that he was a cool man with ethics.
Ethics, the good ones, are at a poor supply these days. We in Canada and in Vancouver are lucky.
|Ron Johnson making Shake 'N Bake Chicken|