29 January 2010

Some Senators Write (or Say They Do)

News this morning of five more Tory senate appointments, including yet another published author. This time the honour goes to Pierre-Hughes Boisvenu, whose Survivre à l'innommable is, perhaps, the best book penned by a Harper appointee. Not to slight skier and Mars Bar pitch queen Nancy Greene, but her autobiography, published when she was 25, was a tad premature. For one, it contains nothing of her decades of battle against biologists, environmentalists and native groups.

(Honestly, all this fuss over watersheds and endangered species when our millionaires are suffering long lift lines.)

Of the authors the prime minister has sent to the upper chamber, Pamela Wallin is the most prolific. She's also a publicist's dream. Her link at the senate homepage is unique in that it leads away from things governmental to a commercial site: pamelawallin.com. There you can read all about the senator's career, including her three books. You'll remember the first, Since You Asked, which appeared in 1998, at about the time she and the CBC gave up on each other. It seems that a few years later, we were offered something called Speaking of Success: Collected Wisdom, Inspiration and Reflection.

Doesn't ring any bells?

Publisher Key Porter says the book was a bestseller. In fact, they trumpet the accomplishment on the cover of her 2003 The Comfort of Cats, which "explores the bond between Kitty, a creatively named Siamese cat, and the woman who lives with her, Pamela Wallin."


The senator provides convenient links to amazon.ca and amazon.com.

(Senator, why do you snub Heather Reisman? After all, how much money has Jeff Bezos given to your party?)

Fellow author Linda Frum can learn a lot from her enterprising colleague. Frum's senate website has nothing about Linda Frum's Guide to Canadian Universities or Barbara Frum: A Daughter's Memoir, and nearly six months after her appointment, her pages seem such skeletal things. Sure, there's that strange speech she gave about her grandmother having been born at home, the recent "Grey Cup match" and other stuff, but the rest is nothing more than a bunch of links. That said, I was interested to see that she presents four that concern Parliament. In these dark days of prorogation, what reassuring words does Senator Frum recommend we read? Well, there's an intriguing sounding article titled "The Parliament of Canada — Democracy in action", but clicking on the link only takes you to this page:

Anyone looking to bring this to the senator's attention will find that her contact page says, simply, "Contact Us".


The senator offers no hint as to the identity of this mysterious group, but then she offers no address or phone number either.

Senator Frum may be reached by writing:
The Honourable Linda Frum Sokolowski
Senate of Canada
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A4


  1. Hi Brian,
    This comment is not directly related to your SOME SENATORS WRITE (OR SAY THEY DO) post, it's just indirectly related. When I read what you wrote about Pamela Wallin's book THE COMFORT OF CATS, my memory was jogged.
    What do you know about Phillip Schreibman? He certainly fits the description of a suppressed, ignored, and forgotten Canadian. He wrote an autobiographical book in 1998 called MY CAT SAVED MY LIFE, about how his cat, Alice, helped him pull through a bout of depression. It was published by Dog's Bark Publishing in Toronto. What else has he done? Well, apart from his book, I also own his album from the late 70s, THE NAME IS SCHREIBMAN- SYMPATHETIC EAR by his then band FLIVVA, also based out of Toronto. I wrote him a fan letter after I bought that album, and he wrote back and sent me a copy of a single he had just recorded under the name BIG RED, which was either a band or a duo he was a part of, I forget which. The songs on the BIG RED 45 were GIVE ME LIES and VACUUM OF LOVE. What else did Phillip Schreibman do? Well, he was responsible for the theme song for the Canadian TV series, SEEING THINGS, starring Louis Del Grande, which ran from 1981-1987. You can hear this on youtube... just look up "seeing things opening theme" and you'll get it. Apart from that youtube video, there's pretty much no information out there about this Schreibman guy. I find this strange because he has done a lot of stuff!
    Marion Whyte
    P.S. I bought the FLIVVA album after reading a review on it in one of those Montreal fanzines that were floating around at the time. You probably have it. RED SHE SAID? SURFIN' BIRD? I don't remember.

  2. Marion,

    An admission:

    Twelve ago, in a previous incarnation, and with a different haircut, I was a national buyer for... umm, a large chain of bookstores. Though few, the most memorable encounters I had were with self-published authors... and, of these, Phillip Schreibman was the most memorable. Why? Because his book was nicely designed, nicely produced and, more than anything else, was very well-written. In fact, I was so impressed by My Cat Saved My Life that I fought to have the book included in a monthly promotion the company was then offering. Sadly, I failed. This all lead to an uncomfortable phone call during which I gave Mr Schreibman the bad news. He deserved better.

    The following year I noticed that Tarcher had picked up the book. The reviews that followed were glowing. See what great taste I have...

    I've seen nothing since by Mr Schreibman, though I do keep an eye out for his name. That said, I note that he seems to run a website through which one can order the book (and write to the author directly).

    By the way, I do remember The Name is Schreibman - Sympathetic Ear, the Big Red single and, of course, the theme to Seeing Things. All wonderful.