Sir John to the rescue

As someone who writes for a living, you want your words to satisfy the editor of a book or a politician if you’re a speechwriter. But wordsmiths can sometimes suffer. Joe Clark once told me that when he was an aide to Robert Stanfield, then leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, he became fed up by Stanfield’s consistent refusal to use speech material that Clark wrote for him.
As a result, Clark quit his job to run for Parliament in 1972 in order to champion his own ideas. Just as well for me that Clark left – I replaced him in Stanfield’s office. I did some speechwriting but for the most part acted as press secretary.
I did, however, inherit the typewriter, a sturdy Royal upright, that Clark had used. When I left Parliament Hill in 1976, I asked if I could buy the machine for personal use. The House of Commons charged me all of $5. I used that device to write my first book, The Moneyspinners.
Clark did well on the hustings, first as an MP, and then as Prime Minister in 1979, but never seemed to lose his naivete. As PM, Clark met with Ontario Premier Bill Davis at the Ontario Legislature. Davis staffers thought they’d have a little fun. The meeting room was tricked up as if it were a full-fledged federal-provincial conference. Canadian and Ontario flags were placed near the two chairs as were plaques and lapel pins saying “Ontario” and “Canada.” A bust of Sir John A. Macdonald, the party’s patron saint, was pulled in close as if he were a delegate. Clark had no reaction to all the nonsense.
After Clark later lost the leadership, I read that there was to be a museum in Alberta dedicated to the former prime minister. I brought Clark’s Royal upright typewriter out of storage so it could become part of any such tribute. I didn’t have any contact information for Clark, so tracked down his daughter, Catherine, who was working in Ottawa. I dispatched the typewriter to her at a delivery cost to me of $75. I also included a note saying that when the museum was established, maybe I could at least receive a tax deductible receipt to cover my expenses.
I’ve never heard anything from anyone. I just happen to have a bust of Sir John. If I sent that along, maybe this time it would attract Clark’s attention.



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