EVER the politician, former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev chuckled Monday evening that Canada and the Soviet Union playing to a tie in Winnipeg during the 1972 Summit Series was "good, that's a good result."
Gorbachev met briefly Monday evening with several members of the Free Press, one of the major sponsors of today's We Day, which features Gorbachev as the keynote speaker to 18,000 students from 396 schools.
Gorbachev is the first guest editor the Winnipeg Free Press has had, and editor Paul Samyn presented the Nobel laureate with today's front page for his approval.
"You told our reporters what you wanted to see, and we tried to have our paper reflect that," Samyn told Gorbachev through a translator.
Gorbachev seemed to approve, nodding as the translator explained the headlines and story outlines.
Samyn also gave Gorbachev framed reproductions of several editorial cartoons that featured Gorbachev at the height of his power. Perusing them, Gorbachev quipped, "For the first time, I was shown as someone serious."
Gorbachev will also take home copies of two Free Press books, The Way We Live, about life in Manitoba, and Back in the Bigs, the story of the return of the Winnipeg Jets.
"We thought you wanted to come to Winnipeg to see the Jets," said Samyn. Gorbachev inquired about Russians who play with the Jets.
"How many people are there in the province?" Gorbachev asked.
Free Press publisher Bob Cox had told Gorbachev his wife, Lena, had once competed in a gymnastics event in the Soviet Union for her native Sweden. Gorbachev joked to Lena Cox that the two countries had put behind them their long-ago battles (in the 1790s): "We respect the Swedes because they work hard -- everything is fine with them," he said.
With that, he was off to a private dinner and a night's rest before his speech today.
Nobel Peace Prize laureate pivotal in ending Cold War
AS leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev had his finger on the nuclear trigger, capable at any instant of ordering the destruction of the world many times over.
Instead, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990 for the pivotal role he played in ending the Cold War.
Under his watch, the dismantling of the Soviet Union began, the Berlin Wall fell, nuclear arsenals shrank and nuclear tensions diminished.
Gorbachev's summits with U.S. president Ronald Reagan have become the stuff of diplomatic legend.
Today, Gorbachev, 81, will speak to more than 18,000 students from 380 schools at We Day at the MTS Centre.
Born into a peasant family on an agricultural collective farm in the North Caucasus in 1931, Gorbachev survived Nazi occupation and was working on a farm by age 14.
He entered Moscow University's law school in 1950, joined the Communist Party, married and quickly moved up the ranks of the Soviet political machine.
Gorbachev became the youngest full member of the ruling politburo -- the inner-circle elite of the ruling Communist Party -- in 1980, the Communist Party's general secretary in 1985 and, finally, president in 1989.
-- source: nobelprize.org