War -- columnist- ... Diversity of opinion is still alive and well in at least one corner of the newspaper industry. Sun columnist and editor emeritus Peter Worthington, a former military man and a veteran foreign news and war correspondent, devoted a full-page column in the Dec. 29 Ottawa Sun to describing a litany of dead-wrong predictions and analysis offered to readers by Sun media's foreign affairs analyst Eric Margolis -- dating from the 1990 Gulf War to the post-Sept. 11 campaign in Afghanistan. Mr. Worthington was particularly incensed by a recent appearance by Mr. Margolis on CNN. Mr. Worthington pulled a lot of his punches, but he made it clear he considers Mr. Margolis to be an anti-American, self-promoting, ignorant blowhard of the first order. At one point in the column he challenges Mr. Margolis to verify a claim he made Nov. 4 that a $50,000 bounty was placed on his head by the Taliban regime. Mr. Margolis responded last Wednesday with a two-paragraph putdown of Mr. Worthington, adding insult to injury by tagging it on the end of a column about India and Pakistan, almost as an afterthought. Rather than answer any of the points raised by his critic, he brushed off everything as an outburst of "long-simmering jealousy" resulting in "a long, vitriolic denunciation of me using out-of-context quotes and distortions." Mr. Margolis concluded with: "I'm sorry he's not taken seriously, isn't on U.S. national TV and is not read abroad. Being inconsequential must pain him deeply. He has my sympathies." There is no way "Worthie" will take this snotty insult lying down. This is one war I am looking forward to seeing continued. MCDONALD LEAVES THE HILL TIMES, FRANCOLI MOVES IN Goodbye, hello...Terry McDonald, the only female still photographer in the 350-member Parliamentary Press Gallery and "Hill Climbers" columnist for the past two years, has left The Hill Times for a government job. Ms. McDonald, 31, started a new job in communications in the federal Department of Indian and Northern Affairs last week. Ms. McDonald, who originally hails from Alexandria, Ont., the riding of Government House Leader Don Boudria and home of the famous McDonald clan, said she was looking forward to her new job. Ms. McDonald started as an intern in 1996 here in the newsroom. After completing her internship, she was hired by The Hill Times' then sister paper the Ottawa X Press in 1997 where she worked as news editor before gathering her senses and returning to The Times in 1999 as a junior reporter. Ms. McDonald worked her way up to be news editor. Meanwhile, Paco Francoli, 29, most recently news editor of the feisty weekly, The Low Down to Hull and Back News, has been hired as our new staff reporter. A Sherbrooke, Que., native, Mr. Francoli, who has a master's degree in political science specializing in Canadian public policy, said he's looking forward to his new adventure. He said he's deeply interested in covering federal political news. Mr. Francoli has had some interesting jobs in his career. He's been a junior consultant for the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, a project manager for the Canadian Resource Bank for Democracy and Human Rights in Ottawa, a private English-language tutor for the Geelin Tutors for Academic Excellence and a teaching assistant at Simon Fraser University. He's also been a waiter in British Columbia and Quebec. Welcome Francisco (Paco) Francoli! --Hill Times Staff DAVID COLLENETTE, ALFONSO GAGLIANO EYING EXTRA $25,000? Filling the pension gravy boat... Why are the likes of Transport Minister David Collenette, Public Works Minister Alfonso Gagliano and others resisting the lure of patronage appointments abroad or other comfortable exits from the Hill? Mr. Collenette was supposed to have been off to London a couple of years ago to occupy the High Commissioner's suite overlooking Trafalgar Square. The rumour mill again had him heading there for sure last summer, and some gossips insist such a move is now in the cards for early this year. It has been an open secret since before the last election that Mr. Gagliano is tired of running one of the biggest government departments and serving as the Liberals' main lieutenant in Quebec and it has always been assumed Rome was his for the asking. These and certain other cabinet ministers are not likely to hang on once Jean ChrÃ©tien moves on, assuming he does actually move on. So why are they resisting using a golden parachute now? Is it simply their love of Ottawa and its politics? Or could last year's hefty pay hikes have something to do with them sticking around? The $195,000 a year -- about $40,000 more than the old salary on a taxable income basis -- is nice. In fact, most parachutes are no longer as golden thanks to these big pay raises. Remember, the current practice requires federal politicians who accept patronage appointments to forgo their pension benefits while drawing a public salary. As a result, most patronage appointments for cabinet ministers would involve a drop in income. Of course, Mr. ChrÃ©tien could simply abandon this practice, which he introduced to fend off criticism of "double dipping." But even if he did, there is still the matter of future pension benefits to be taken into account. Here's the math. Pensions are based on the best six years of income. Last summer's hikes were backdated to Jan. 1. If ministers hang on until the summer of next year -- which is when some believe Mr. ChrÃ©tien will step down after marking his 40th year in federal politics, they will have built up 2.5 years at the higher income level. The aggregate effect of this would, I am told by those who work out these things, add at least $25,000 a year to a minister's fully indexed lifetime pension.