Scotland the forgotten

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer had been pushing for a Canadian peacekeeping force in Ukraine, but when the Prime Minister made his announcement yesterday, no particular destinations were cited, there was just a grab bag of offerings of troops and equipment. Maybe it’s just as well the location of any eventual contribution is being left to the United Nations. Otherwise it could all come down to vote-pandering. Scheer, of course, was trying to get on the good side of the 1.3 million Canadian voters of Ukrainian descent. But if ancestral echoes matter so much, what about the 5 million Canadians of Scottish descent?...

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Not quite ready for prime time

As someone who has been watching CBC television news since the days of Larry Henderson, Earl Cameron, and Stanley Burke, I was looking forward to the launch this week of the new National. Certainly it was long past time to retire Peter Mansbridge, but four nights of dipping in and out of the National with its quartet of hosts has left me unable to decide if the package works or not. With all the time they’ve had to plan, the show should have been more polished and professional. As far as I could tell, there was no discernible core to the news judgment. One...

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Vive la différence

Tales of inappropriate groping and worse that happened in the past are falling like leaves from the trees. Women are coming forward in droves, finally feeling free to tell about the time they were accosted by some famous name. The kind of behaviour that’s being reported is offensive and abusive, but it also demonstrates a basic difference between men and women. It all depends on who is making the moves. Every man has a few treasured moments that are stashed away in his memory about approaches by women. In my case, there are three such stories, none of which came to...

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Conflicts and character

Finance Minister Bill Morneau is exactly the sort of person who should be in Parliament. He’s a successful and well-educated business leader with an INSEAD MBA and a master’s from the London School of Economics. He’s worth millions and in his fifties could take the time to run for office. Morneau is also a member of the lucky sperm club. He joined the actuarial firm founded by his father and eventually became CEO of Morneau, Shepell. Until very recently, Morneau had made no mistakes and was a star in Ottawa. Last week, you could see how far he’d fallen when a reporter’s questions about Morneau’s financial affairs...

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Walking the line

During the 1950s and 60s in my hometown of Guelph, Ont., you made your own fun. There were no touring orchestras or theatrical groups, just the local light opera company doing The Gondoliers or the little theatre presenting The Importance of Being Earnest. The boffo offering was always the annual minstrel show by the Kiwanis Club with a row of ten men called names like Rastus and Bones who sat on the high school auditorium stage telling cornball jokes and singing. The highlight was “Old Man River” crooned by the owner of Kelly’s Music store. They all wore white gloves and blackface until the civil rights movement was launched in the...

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Things to give thanks for

Every day that dawns. The Harvest Moon this past week. The fact that Monarch butterflies, blue jays and crows are making a comeback in Toronto. Lots of laughter. Curiosity. A civil society with few guns. Yoga. Any book about LBJ or Winston Churchill. The lyricism of A Shropshire Lad by A. E. Housman. The authority of the New Yorker and the quirkiness of the London Review of Books. Reading The Great Gatsby or The World According to Garp every few years.  My daily giornata. Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. Church bells and familiar hymns. Crisp McIntosh apples. Cranberry sauce. Butter tarts from The Bakery in Flesherton....

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A sorry state

There was a time when governments never apologized, neither for what they did, nor for past transgressions. Pierre Trudeau comes to mind. He always said he was looking forward, not back. But, as time has passed, other prime ministers have taken a different approach. Brian Mulroney, for example, apologized for the internment of Japanese-Canadians during the Second World War. Stephen Harper apologized for what was done to young aboriginals at residential schools. No prime minister, however, has been such a profuse apologist as Justin Trudeau. Being Canadian has come to mean always having to say you’re sorry. His list already includes:...

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Sitting room only

All this foofara caused by President Donald Trump over a White House invitation to the Golden State Warriors has gotten out of hand. LeBron James is now calling Trump a “bum,” some NFL players are kneeling during the national anthem, and other teams are avoiding controversy by staying in the locker room until the Star Spangled Banner is over. Trump’s strategy is obvious. His main talent is to be a divisive force who plays one group off against another. Even on Capitol Hill, he’s cosying up to Democrats on fiscal matters while whipping his own Republicans toward impossible goals on healthcare. I believe this presents...

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