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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Hope and, ah, hard work

He was the only global leader mentioned by Barack Obama in his speech at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. He pals around with Prince Harry. The host of The Daily Show, Trevor Noah, says he is “completely in love” with him. I’m talking, of course, about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the best thing to happen to Ottawa since they let people skate on the Rideau Canal. Like a lot of Canadians, I liked the new tone in Ottawa. And I have freely admitted to voting Liberal for the first time in years. But something has developed that’s driving me crazy....

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Barbarians at the gate

I first met Peggy (as she was called in those days) Wente thirty years ago when she was editor of Canadian Business. To be young, female and a magazine editor, particularly one that covered business, was unusual to say the least. Wente was an excellent editor who had been spotted by the legendary Sandy Ross after he’d turned the former official publication of the Chamber of Commerce into an exciting product. I had just left Maclean’s, was freelancing, and Canadian Business became one of my main outlets. I’d do four or five 5,000-word pieces annually for them. Those were the days of long-form journalism and...

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Uneasy lies the head

If I were the Attorney General of Ontario, I would personally be investigating the qualifications of all Crown Attorneys under my jurisdiction. Crown Attorneys are responsible for prosecuting most of the criminal offences in the province, and if recent high-profile cases are are any example, they are doing a poor job of it. Time and again in his 308-page decision on the 31 charges against Senator Mike Duffy, Justice Charles Vaillancourt repeated the phrase, “I am not satisfied that the Crown has proven the guilt of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt.” Duffy’s vindication will most likely mean the end of any...

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The Duke of Kent

Darcy McKeough, Treasurer in the Bill Davis government, both praised and poked fun at politicians last night. During a brief speech to a crowd of more than 150 at the official launch of his memoirs, McKeough referred to his fellow “statesmen” from the Ontario Legislature while calling his federal counterparts mere “politicians.” Attendees at the reception held at the Albany Club represented all parties and included Liberals such as Prime Minister John Turner, NDP leader Stephen Lewis and Progressive Conservatives from Queen’s Park: Premier Ernie Eves, Roy McMurtry and Gordon Carton. Federal PCs on hand were Michael Wilson and Barbara McDougall. Among the business leaders were...

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Bird is the word

I’m a birder. There, I’ve finally confessed publicly what I’ve been doing privately. I make this admission because birding has officially been declared “creepy” in an academic study by Francis T. McAndrew and Sara S. Koehnke of the Department of Psychology at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. Never heard of it? Me neither. Apparently, there had not previously been an empirical study of creepiness. So they did an international survey of 1,341 people and found more creepy men than creepy women. No surprise there. They also discovered that the creepiest vocation of all was clown. Does this result sound valid to you? Me neither. I’ve been a...

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The crack of dawn

I don’t get much sleep. Four or five hours a night is tops for me. This all started in the early 1980s when I began writing my first book. I had a day job so I got up at 4 a.m. to reach my daily target of 500 words before leaving the house. Eighteen books later, even though I no longer have a day job, my circadian rhythm remains the same. Everything I read says you need eight hours sleep a night. If I slept that long I’d be in a coma. I’ve tried many devices that people claim will help – no screens for the...

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