And how many pairs of shoes do you have in your closet?

The truth is that many otherwise disciplined men and women suffer from Imelda’s footwear fetish, albeit to a lesser degree. Shoes are a perfectly comprehensible passion, and many of us display cupboards full of the most delicious examples, bearing mute testament to our past footwear follies.

The world is full of shoe fanatics, whose personal Achilles heel (if you’ll forgive the pun) is the apparently unending pursuit of the perfect piece of shoe leather. Many who can cheerfully pass up any number of other temptations, who can dismiss furs, fashions and jewelry with nary a covetous glance, who can bypass caviar, champagne or South Seas vacations, and who are capable of virtuously sticking to their budgets, are totally undone by a great pair of shoes.

Show them a new shape, a different heel or a sexy vamp and that tell- tale gleam of cupidity will soon light up their eyes. Zip goes the will power and out comes the credit card – all for the instant gratification of yet another pair of shoes.

Curiously enough, mere possession is often half the thrill. Frequently, we don’t even wear the shoe swe buy. We just like to look at them. They’re reassuring in some inexplicable way.

Says fashion designer Alfred Sung, a noted connoisseur, “I have all kinds of shoes, all fabrics and all colors. Price is never a factor – they’re just nice to have. Even if they’re not comfortable, if I love them, I’ll buy them and wear them only a few hours, or I’ll just keep them to look at. If I don’t buy a particular pair of shoes, I know I’ll regret it, so I always do.”

Model Enid Rose: “Comfort? It’s a bonus, as far as I’m concerned. If I really love the shoe, I’ll just wear it and suffer.”

Special events co-ordinator Barbara Hershenhorn: “I have over a 100 pairs of shoes. It was much worse, but I cleaned out my closet. I treat my shoes like my best friends – I look after them, polish them and take them in for refurbishing.”

Model agency owner Linda Hill: “I have hundreds and hundreds of pairs of shoes. I’m compulsive – it’s like an addiction. If I see a pair I like, and they’re even slightly different from a pair I already own, I buy them. Sometimes I don’t even try them on. Comfort? I don’t care. I’m surprised my feet haven’t given way – I’ve been suffering for years and there’s no end in sight. Imelda, I understand]”

Fashion director Noreen Berg: “I love shoes. I don’t need any excuse to buy them. No, I won’t tell you how many pairs of shoes I have. Yes, I’ve made shoe mistakes. I have them stashed away in the back of the closet. What can I say? The emotion wore off, I realized they were too tarty or too boring, and just didn’t like them any more.”

Publicist Signy Stephenson: “I have six pairs of evening shoes that I bought because they were so cute. I never wear them, but if I did, they would go with everything.”

We use shoes to shore up our fragile psyches. Says corporate relations director Chris Yankou, “I love shoes. Most women love shoes. They can make you feel happy. If you’re feeling unhappy or pathetic, they’ll always give you a lift. The good thing about best running shoes for bunions is that whether you lose your job, or get too fat or too thin, or your hair is a mess – your shoe size stays the same.”

Shoes also denote a certain social consciousness. Says writer Winston Collins, “Shoes are a barometer of social status. If you go to a fancy restaurant, watch the snooty maitre d’hotel. He’ll invariably check out your shoes and, depending on their condition, will seat you accordingly. Take my advice, if you don’t want to be seated beside the kitchen or men’s room, wear your best shoes.”

Illustrator Donald Robertson agrees. “You can dress like a slob, but if you’re wearing a really good pair of shoes, you’ll get by.”

Chris Yankou: “You want to know how important shoes are? A good friend of mine recently broke up with a man because he came to pick her up for a date and he was wearing toe rubbers. Yes]”

We also have very specific and individual preferences. Alfred Sung says, “Right now, I’m addicted to running shoes. I just keep buying them.”

Signy Stephenson: “I have about 25 pairs of shoes in different colors, although most of them are red. I just love red shoes.”

Multi-media personality Micki Moore agrees. “I’ve branched out into color. I think great colors make you feel happy.”

Most people are adept at justifying their best shoe for plantar fasciitis purchases. Says Donald Robertson, “I hate feet. I think they’re ugly, and toes are even worse. Therefore, shoes are a necessary solution to the foot problem – they cover them up. Anyway, you can rationalize buying new shoes, because feet are very important. Besides, shoes perk you up, they make you feel good. Children always get new shoes on special occasions – Christmas, Easter, back-to-school – so shoes are always associated with holidays and other good times.”

Another confirmed shoe lover, who would rather remain anonymous, reveals, “Shoes are great because they’re so easy to get past customs . . . you just scuff up the bottoms.”

One of Toronto’s most shoe- conscious executive secretaries, who prefers to be known as “Deep Shoe,” says, “I find that if I rotate my shoes, they last a lot longer. Isn’t that a good excuse for buying lots of shoes?”

Having a tough foot to fit is a great excuse. Linda Hill’s size 6 1/2 foot warranted hundreds of purchases during her modelling days, “Because most models have big feet and they never had my size, so I just had to buy them.”

Enid Rose also looks to her foot size for justification. “I’m always buying new shoes. I keep hoping people will concentrate on how lovely the shoes are, and not notice my big feet.”

Modelling itself is a great rationale for collecting shoes. Says model June Round, “Although I do honestly love shoes, remember the business I’m in. Clients often request a selection of shoes for a shoot or a show, and I have to be prepared.”

Seasonal sales are another terrific excuse. Chris Yankou: “I’m addicted to expensive suede shoes in bright colors, but I refuse to spend more than $200. I wait for a sale, and pray nobody else buys them.”

Micki Moore: “I like to buy on sale. You have to remember that a $300 pair of shoes wears out and scuffs just as quickly as a $90 pair and, if you buy really expensive shoes, you’re paying for the high style and it will be out of fashion in no time.”

Enid Rose, who may qualify as the quintessential shoe-seeker, says, “If I’m somewhere like the Eaton Centre, I’ll hit every shoe store. I’m always telling friends about great buys on shoes. Recently, I bought nine pairs of shoes at once, all different. It was a good buy – they were 50 per cent off, so how could I resist? When I came out of the store, clutching my bag of bargains, I found that my car had been towed away] So I spent what I’d saved on shoes to get my car out of the pound. What can I say? I love shoes.”

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I just have to go and buy a pair of shoes.

L’Elegante keeps 45 per cent of the proceeds of sales, not 55 per cent as was reported in last week’s column.

China goes shopping

The Chinese went on a spending spree last year, laying out a record $107-billion for consumer goods, and demand for luxury items is increasing, the Commerce Ministry said Thursday.

Retail sales rose 17 per cent in 1984 and could go up by nearly 20 per cent this year, the ministry told the New China News Agency and the newspaper China Daily.

It said luxury goods, clothing and better food were in demand.

The ministry said sales of food last year increased by 18 per cent, clothing by 16 per cent and household goods by 20 per cent.

This year refrigerators, television sets and high-protein foods are expected to be popular.

Fancy electrical goods have replaced the three status symbols of only a decade ago – bicycles,watches and manual sewing machines.

Western economists said the spending spree, while reflecting the success of an incentive-led economic boom, could also cause inflation. They said the Government would have to tread very carefully with its far- reaching economic reforms.

China has announced that during 1985 it will adjust prices to even out the distorted state- set price system, but workers’ real incomes will be protected where needed by wage increases.

This means more money will be chasing a limited number of consumer goods. Light Industry Minister Yang Bo said recently that supply might sometimes fail to meet demand.

Humans as a “pest” species

In July of 1990, a federal ‘Review Team’ released its preliminary report A Proposal for a Revised Federal Pest Management Regulatory System. The discussion taking place across Canada concerning this proposal, brings out a number of the issues concerning pesticide use in pulpwood forestry. The Proposal, we are told, has been developed “by an independent multi-stakeholder team, assembled by the minister of Agriculture to recommend improvements to the existing federal pesticide regulatory system.” Members of the ‘team’ included, among others, representatives from the Canadian Manufacturers of Chemical Specialties, Crop Protection Institute of Canada, Crop Protection Advisory Committee, and the Forestry Sector. All the members of the team signed the Proposal, except for the Canadian Labour Congress representative.

In its Minority Report, the CLC stated: “Unfortunately, we believe the proposed model will result in more rather than less chemical pesticides.” (The CLC Report does accept some pesticide use and fosters illusions about the ‘high level’ of the Canadian registration process.)

Two members from the Canadian Environmental Network Pesticides Caucus signed the Proposal, showing not only that working for the Review Team meant assimilation, but on this particular issue, mainstream environmentalism is tailing organized labour. (The Canadian Environmental Network, as an NGO organization, is funded by the federal government. In August of 1990, the Network submitted to Environment Canada, a request for $14 million to cover projected expenses from 1991 to 1996.)

Basic assumptions

Anyone concerned about the use of pesticides in forestry — forest spraying, tree nursery pesticide use, wood preservatives, anti-sapstain chemicals, etc. — has to be alarmed about A Proposal for a Revised Federal Pest Management Regulatory System. One of the ‘six fundamental principles’ guiding the Review Team was: “support for the development of policies that assist economic viability/competitiveness of farming/forestry/fisheries.”

Economic viability and competitiveness are codes for the use of pesticides. So the basic assumption is that pesticides should be used. In a similar way, the basic assumption underlying The Green Plan: A Framework For Discussion On The Environment, is support for ‘sustainable development,’ i.e., more economic growth. In my view, once either assumption is conceded, the environmental battle is lost, and only a rear-guard delaying action can be conducted. From the point of view of non-human life forms, the growing chemical contamination of the Earth has shown that humans have become the only real ‘pest’ species. We have denied the right to other species to have clean air, clean water, and clean soil, uncontaminated by pesticides. (The Proposal takes as a given, the ‘right’ to carry out animal tests on birds, mammals, and aquatic organisms, for the registration of pesticides in Canada.) Environmentalists need to articulate the perspective, in opposition to that given in the federal pesticide Proposal, that all pesticides used in farming, forestry and fisheries — and personal use of pesticides — must be banned in Canada. Pesticide use is a criminal activity, no matter what fraudulent ‘science’, is brought forth as justification by pesticide promoters.

Public meetings

In September and October 1990, public meetings were held across the country to ‘discuss’ the Proposal. At the meeting arranged for Halifax, on September 27, a number of environmentalists were graciously offered ten minutes to air any concerns they might have. Prior to the commencement of the meeting, three representatives of the mainstream environmental trend in the province, held a press conference and distributed a press release. The release expressed sentimentsl like we “welcome the positive steps Agriculture Canada’s pesticide review report has taken”, and “This report serves as a wedge which opens the door to changes needed to get Canada off the chemical treadmill,” etc. On the street, about a dozen representatives of the radical environmental trend in the province, expressing total opposition to pesticide use, held a demonstration. A leaflet distributed, Pesticide Pushers Streamline For Increased Use, said that the Proposal was designed for “optimizing do it yourself pest control,” i.e., speeding up pesticide regulatory decisions, while seeming to respond to various criticisms that have been raised of the federal registration process. These responses uphold corporate interests. This is shown, for example, by the Proposal stating that a member of the public must sign a so-called “Confidentiality Undertaking Form,’ with “substantial penalties’, in order to see company pesticide data. This stops public discussion.

Donwstream

We all live downstream. Pesticides don’t ‘disappear.’ Pesticides not only end up in the environment and wildlife, they end up in people. The August 8/90 issue of Rachel’s Hazardous Waste News #193, a weekly American research publication, ‘Providing news and resources to the Movement for Environmental Justice,’ points out:

“If breast milk from American women were bottled and sold commercially, it would be subject to ban by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) because it is contaminated with more than 100 industrial chemicals, including pesticides. FDA has set limits on contamination of commercial milk by pesticides, and human milk routinely exceeds those limits by a wide margin.”

It could be argued that one of many ‘Canadian’ contributions to the above situation, is our growing of those ‘natural’ Christmas trees, many of which are exported to the United States. Christmas trees, which are often cultivated on cut-over pulp land, if not organically grown, can have a variety of pesticides used in their cultivation. The Christmas Tree Growers Manual: Atlantic Canada 1987, a government-funded publication, recommends the use of over 40 pesticides — herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides. A number of the recommended pesticides are known to be toxic to fish, birds, honey bees and other insect pollinators. Nova Scotia, which has about 30,000 acres of Christmas trees, and about 3,000 growers, exports about 95 per cent of its trees to the States.

A new politics

We are poisoning the Earth and ourselves and no economic goal can be allowed to justify this. People are victims of a system that promotes pesticides, yet all of us have to take responsibility for our own actions. No one is ‘forced’ to use pesticides, as no one is forced to clearcut old-growth forests, mine asbestos, work in a nuclear poer plant, or fish herring just for the roe. Those who do these things are part of the problem.

Green politics cannot accept ‘reforms’ of practices which are Earth-destroying. The new politics means to really put the Earth first in our thinking and actions. For me, this means to adopt a biocentric, not a human-centered world view, which takes the preservation of the ecological integrity of the planet as the primary concern. Potential allies in any coalition-building, need to share this primary concern, otherwise the politics are old style, and essentially defeat the task at hand. Social justice is only possible in a context of ecological justice.

How the Canadian Forces saved four of their own

Capt. Wade Pelly knew his right foot was frostbitten, but just how bad it was, he could not tell. A day and a half earlier, Pelly and three fellow crew members aboard a Canadian Forces Griffon helicopter were summoned to rescue a severely ill fisherman aboard a trawler in the Labrador Sea. But something went terribly wrong during a blinding blizzard and the Griffon crashed into the frigid waters off Killinek Island near the northernmost tip of Labrador. The best drone helicopter rolled, trapping the four men-who wore heavy parkas and mukluks but no survival suits-below the water’s surface. Acting quickly, they clambered out onto the bobbing belly of the disabled Griffon. Soaked to the bone, and with Pelly losing a mukluk during the ordeal, they waited as their craft floated towards the island. Within five metres of shore, they swam for it, through waters so cold that fatal hypothermia could set in within minutes. They then slogged for four kilometres amidst heavy snow and wind chills that dipped to -37* C, eventually taking refuge in an abandoned shack.

Some 36 hours later, still soaking wet and freezing cold, the men were relieved to hear the thudding twin rotors of a canary yellow Labrador rescue helicopter. Now, with help at hand, Pelly wanted to know about his condition. “He looked at me and said, ‘Am I going to lose my foot?’ ” said Sgt. Yves (Ziggy) Carignan, a search-and-rescue specialist who arrived aboard the Lab. “I down and right lied to him and told him, ‘No, no, it doesn’t look that bad. It should be all right.’ ” Whether Pelly’s foot could be saved remained in doubt at week’s end. What was certain, though, was that the 25-year-old first officer and co-pilot from Princeton, B.C.-along with pilot Capt. Karim Krey, 26, of Nelson, B.C., flight engineer Sgt. Scott McCoy, 37, of St. Catharines, Ont., and Master Cpl. Andre Daigle, 35, a search-and-rescue technician from Ste-Foy, Que.-had survived the kind of northern nightmare that can easily end in tragedy. That it did not end that way this time is a testament to the ingenuity and everyday heroism of those who patrol the air and seas in one of the most forbidding corners of the planet.

The drama began at 5:58 a.m. on Nov. 12 when the Danish-registered trawler, the Vesturvon, radioed the Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Halifax that Joshua Alookee, an Inuit fisherman from Broughton Island, was vomiting blood and had a history of bleeding ulcers. At the time, the ship and its 34 crew members were about 100 miles east of Resolution Island at the southeastern tip of Baffin Island. The centre radioed Canadian Forces Base Goose Bay from which the ill-fated Griffon was dispatched. A Hercules aircraft based at CFB Greenwood in Nova Scotia was also ordered to help. The Griffon and the Hercules were to rendezvous with the Vesturvon at Resolution Island, where Alookee, a father of five, was to be airlifted out. But it didn’t happen that way.

On route, the crew aboard the Griffon-one of the Canadian military’s newer aircraft, known commercially as the Bell 412 helicopter-had to set down in Labrador “for a problem with one of its engines,” said Master Cpl. Bryan Pierce, who was aboard the Hercules with Master Cpl. Keith Mitchell. A short time later, the Griffon was airborne again, but now it was low on fuel and buffeted by bad weather. By this point, the Hercules had joined the Griffon, and dropped flares to light a landing site. “This was when we had our last conversation with them,” Pierce said. “And they said, ‘We don’t have enough fuel to fool around with the weather any more, so we’re just going to put down.’ “

The Hercules went on to make visual contact with the trawler early Tuesday evening. The waves were up to two metres high, the air temperature -16 C and the water near zero. Pierce and Mitchell had no option but to parachute into the rough seas. Wearing wet suits, the men were sweating so profusely that their sweat ran over their boots and swimming flippers, onto the now-open exit ramp of the Hercules, where it froze. “The ramp turned into a skating rink,” Pierce said.

The plan was to jump from 2,000 feet, land on the leeward side of the ship and take shelter from the heavy winds. “I ended up a little further from the ship than I wanted to be, so I was in the full force of the wind,” Pierce says. “When I hit the water, my parachute stayed inflated and it started pulling me across the top of the waves.” He pulled a red emergency handle to release the parachute. Bobbing in the water, Pierce and Mitchell were picked up by an inflatable zodiac piloted by two of the Vesturvon’s crew. All the while the sea spray froze to everything it struck-zodiac, helmets, men.

Once aboard the trawler, Pierce and Mitchell administered fluid intravenously, stabilizing Alookee, who had abdominal surgery three years ago and was taking medication, which he ran out of 2 1/2 days earlier. He was semi-conscious and dehydrated. Twelve hours later, the ship arrived in Iqaluit where he was taken to hospital. “I’m very happy those two guys parachuted to the boat,” Alookee said. “There were a lot of waves. They were pretty brave.”

No sooner had they dropped Alookee at the hospital than the news arrived that the Griffon was missing. Although both Pierce and Mitchell had had only one hour’s sleep each over the past 36 hours, they immediately boarded a Hercules aircraft and returned to Killinek Island. They were able to establish the Griffon’s last known position, but their air search of the area was without success. Meanwhile, the Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Halifax had ordered a Labrador best quadcopter with camera from CFB Gander, as well as an Aurora aircraft, another Labrador and another Hercules from CFB Greenwood, to find the Griffon.

What caused the Griffon to crash will be the subject of a military investigation. It appears, however, that the crew tried to make it to a fuel cache at Port Burwell after advising the original Hercules to fetch Alookee. The subsequent crash left the men soaked and freezing. Their tiny shelter turned out to be a rickety and wind-porous plywood shack without a stove. They survived by building a fire inside, but the wood only smouldered, giving off a choking smoke.

At about 5 a.m. on Thursday, the Aurora spotted the stranded men’s emergency flares. The Hercules from CFB Greenwood circled nearby, but any parachuting would be tricky in the high winds-especially since the shack was perched near a 2,000-foot-high cliff. Still, Sgt. Kevin Elliott and Cpl. Darcy St. Laurent parachuted from their Hercules and made their way towards the downed men. They never got there.

While on the ground making their way to the shack, Elliott and St. Laurent got word that the Labrador from Greenwood had reached the vicinity and would be able to land at the site. The two took shelter in a snow cave. (They were airlifted out three hours later.) It was now up to Carignan and Cpl. Darryl Cattell, who also spotted the flares with his night-vision goggles. In the distance, they could make out a survivor holding two sticks with burning embers-he was striking them together, sending sparks flying to attract help.

The Labrador set down on a rocky outcrop about 25 m from the shack during a brief lull in the blizzard. The men were taken to the chopper and flown to a clinic in Kuujjuaq, Que. Later, Pelly and Krey were sent to the Montreal General Hospital, while McCoy and Daigle, who suffered lesser injuries, returned to Goose Bay, 725 km south of the crash scene. All four men suffered from smoke inhalation, were dehydrated and frostbitten. They also suffered whiplash and lacerations. But the fact that they were alive at all struck many as a miracle. As Carignan, a 11-year veteran of the search-and-rescue business, put it: “The whole ordeal is a tribute to the human ability to survive in almost any condition.”