A nation unaware

Canadians have been clucking a lot lately about Donald Trump and the divided nation that is the United States. How did this happen, we worry? Isn’t it awful, we say? Will many Americans move here, we wonder? Meanwhile, I believe we have our own wide divides. Some of those divides are caused by distance and small populations. A recent article about the seven provinces and territories that have signed health care deals with the federal government noted that the seven contain a grand total of 10 percent of Canada’s population. In my entire lifetime, I’ve only made a handful of visits...

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One thumb up, one down

Two new television series debuted last night; one was disappointing, the other daunting. First, the disappointment, Victoria on PBS. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a dud on Masterpiece. Jenna Coleman does an OK job as the young 18-year-old inheriting the throne. And Lord Melbourne, played by Rufus Sewell, is excellent as her prime minister and special advisor. The rest of the cast is only middling. The goings-on below stairs are almost embarrassing in their silliness. We’ve all come to expect computer-generated imagery to create special effects and Victoria certainly uses CGI for crowd scenes and cityscapes. However, the...

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Life of Brian

Dear Premier Pallister: I’ve been reading about how you’ve pretty much pulled up stakes and moved from Winnipeg to Costa Rica for the next seven weeks. I don’t blame you. As assistant deputy minister in the Manitoba Department of Transportation, I can understand your desire to get away from the snow and the windchill. I’m sick of it all, too. I’ve been living with this weather since I was a boy in Dauphin and now that I’m in charge of snowplows for the province I’ve noticed that my life hasn’t changed that much since I was a tad. Unlike you, I can’t...

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Money for nothing

The gravy train that is Canada’s 150th birthday has left the station and I’m afraid I’m not on it. Ottawa is providing $500 million to celebrate the country’s sesquicentennial through parties, events and other frippery. Among the winners announced is The Red Couch tour where a sofa is hauled across the country so people can sit and say what Canada means to them. There will also be a mobile trio of 20-foot shipping containers to act as studios for local artists and videographers. And La Grande Traverse, a 10-part television series about ten people who cross the Atlantic in conditions similar to their forbears. In the...

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The coming year

Here are my top ten predictions for 2017. The TSE will end the year up 7 percent. The Raptors will make the playoffs but not win the NBA title. The Jays will have a so-so year, win 78 games, but not make the playoffs. WTI crude oil price will rise to US$75 per barrel. Donald Trump will be a better president than many fear. Vladimir Putin will expand his influence and Russia’s territory. The C$ will sink to US68 cents. Kevin O’Leary will be chosen leader of the Conservative Party. Europe will continue to unravel. We will survive. Somehow.

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A seller’s market

Every night on the television news we see horrific footage of young people overdosing in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. They are being attended to in alleyways by firefighters, paramedics and volunteers. They are addicts, hooked on heroin, often laced with fentanyl, which is fatal spelled a new way. In the first ten months of this year, more than 600 people have died of illicit drug overdose in British Columbia. Vancouver has long been home to the highest drug use in Canada. There are supervised injection sites, detox and treatment centres, even a mobile medical unit, all of them stretched so thin by the problem that...

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The spirit of Christmas

The knock on my front door was so light I hardly heard it. But hear it I did. It was 8 p.m., and I don’t usually answer the door after dark, but I did. A young woman was standing there, reasonably well dressed, with a tentative smile. She was wearing a Santa hat. “Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way,” she sang, then stopped and said, “I’m out carolling because I’m a single mom trying to collect money for toys for my children at Christmas. Anything I get I’ll give 20 percent to the Salvation Army.” From nowhere came...

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Shun Shen

Everywhere you turn these days, along with signs of Christmas, you see Shen Yun. If you don’t know the name, you will realize who they are when I tell you that it’s a Chinese dance company. They are inescapable: posters, car cards, broadcast ads, mailed brochures and people on street corners handing out pamphlets. The money behind the show must be amazing. Shen Yun seems to come through southern Ontario more than once a year. They have thirteen performances scheduled between now and early March in Toronto, Kitchener, Hamilton and Mississauga. They are not from China. In fact, the group (there must be several on...

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