The play’s the thing

My daughter Alison celebrates Father’s Day by taking me to Stratford for lunch and a play. This year it was Breath of Kings: Rebellion, a melding of Richard II and Henry IV Part 1. Such Shakespearean combinations are new to me but worked particularly well in this case because Richard II is a play rarely presented. And because it leads inexorably to the dethroning of the old and the uplifting of the new, the edited pair fit together well. Just as I’d never seen a play of this genre, nor had I previously been to the Tom Patterson Theatre, the perfect...

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Cast of thousands

I hate to draw attention to this one particular institution, but a full-page ad in my morning paper from the faculty of business at Athabasca University announced the graduates from its MBA program. There were 172 of them! A string of universities, some of them better known, have recently run similar ads. The Financial Post published an article saying 4,000 international students come to Canada annually to do graduate work in business management and administration at Canadian universities. Not all are taking MBAs, but whatever the proportion is, when you add Canadian MBA grads, the annual total must be in the thousands. Time was when an MBA was a real cachet....

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A missed opportunity

The Parliamentary Press Gallery is celebrating its 150th anniversary with a book entitled Sharp Wits & Busy Pens. Not the best title one might imagine, but it’s not the best book, either. It’s a collection of essays by current and former gallery members as well as words from a few politicians all accompanied by photos, historical and otherwise. Topics include the fire of 1916, the war years, treatment of women and Jews, the power of the press and the advent of social media along with a series of brief oral histories. Some interesting facts are unearthed but I was disappointed there...

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When elephants die

The news that yesterday was Canada AM’s final day came as a shock. Then, my next thought was: When was the last time I actually watched the morning show? I couldn’t remember. It was reminiscent of the announcement in 2012 that Newsweek would stop publishing its print edition. Again, on reflection, I realized I hadn’t read it in years. There was a day when both Time and Newsweek were must-reads. According to Globe writer Simon Houpt, the average Canada AM audience had fallen to 300,000 with only about one-quarter in the 25-54 age group most desired by advertisers. So three-quarters of the...

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The future may (or may not) have arrived

The year’s not yet over but I believe the 2016 award can be given for The Most Pretentious Seven-Paragraph Story in any newspaper. It appeared here in my morning paper. I’m providing translations for those who can’t read pretentious. Paragraph one sets the tone. “The Globe and Mail has forged a deal that will make it the largest North American news organization to adopt the Washington Post’s custom-built publishing platform.” (Translation: We gave up trying to figure this out and bought something off the shelf. It’s American; it must be good.) Called Arc, “the suite of publishing and storytelling tools [were] crafted...

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The morgue is dead

Postmedia, Canada’s largest newspaper publisher, is on a cost-cutting binge. Assuming Postmedia completes its current $80 million plan, the company will have slashed expenditures by more than $200 million since 2012. With debt still close to $800 million, it’s hard to see progress. But for all the jobs gone, lives disrupted and communities poorly served, there is one disappearance that Postmedia has not announced – The Financial Post library – with its newspaper clippings dating back to 1912. Maintained by librarians and journalists alike for decades, the library – AKA “the morgue” – was tossed into the garbage. During my time at The Financial Post...

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Fuddle-duddle Part II

Who was that unmasked man who beat up on MPs in Ottawa this week? Why it was none other than our own prime minister, a legend in his own mind, with his mind gone AWOL. What was he thinking, people ask as he frogmarched Conservative Whip Gord Brown and caused collateral damage to NDP MP Ruth Ellen Brousseau. Safe to say, Justin Trudeau wasn’t thinking at all. Images from the floor of the House of Commons have been aired on every major newscast in every major country around the world. The scene was reminiscent of fisticuffs in other legislative bodies that until...

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Homeless in Toronto

This week, for a few days in a row, I took a different route than usual. I found myself noticing the panhandlers and realized the folks with their Tim Hortons cups that I normally pass had become such a part of the urban wallpaper that I no longer paid any attention to them. Shame on me. Some among the members of this new group seemed more creative than most. One had a hand-lettered sign on a battered piece of cardboard saying, “Not a bad person.” Another had written, “I’m trying.” In my neighbourhood there are two regulars I walk by all the time, a...

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