Flora MacDonald 1926-2015

There aren’t many people you can call pathfinders, but Flora MacDonald was certainly among them. Born in North Sydney, Nova Scotia, she worked her way up through the ranks of the Progressive Conservative Party in an era when women were not accepted as equals to men in political back rooms. Flora achieved great heights because she was smart, hard-working, principled and a consensus-builder. Of all the people in the party over the years, she’s one among a very small number who was known to everyone by her first name alone. Hired to work as secretary in the national office of the party, Flora...

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Slugging it out

With the PanAm games more than half over, what will be the legacy beyond a few new buildings and some additional housing on the waterfront? Why not take this opportunity to change forever the traffic patterns that have been clogging Toronto by making permanent the temporary HOV lanes? Toronto must be one of the last major cities in North America without HOV lanes. Now that drivers have had to deal with them on the Don Valley Parkway, Gardiner and Queen Elizabeth Way, let’s continue HOV and press on with forced driver retraining. Otherwise, traffic woes will only get worse. For me it...

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The road to immortality

One of the best definitions of immortality I’ve ever heard was told to me by Bill Mulholland, CEO of Bank of Montreal in the 1980s. “The question is, can you mass-produce? Do you want to achieve a self-perpetuating process, one that goes on after you walk out? The ultimate accolade is when they say, ‘Mulholland, we don’t need you anymore.’ Like man’s earliest effort, you have created a tool that can be used over and over again. In fact, there’s no way of knowing how you did until after you’ve left.” Mulholland rescued the bank from oblivion, launched ATMs in Canada...

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The dining room revolution

Bad enough for the Conservative Party to run an ad showing Justin Trudeau wearing a singlet at a fund-raiser and pass him off as some sort of pervert. My grandchildren certainly took a scunner to him as a result and are forever asking me what I see in a man who would act so foolishly. These days, I must admit, I see more faults. Trudeau’s a good retail politician but he can’t tap-dance. By that I mean he comes poorly prepared for major speeches and media scrums. I put it down to bad staff work. But no one in public life deserves...

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Good will hunting

Earlier this month I received a notice from the Globe and Mail telling me there would be “a change in the terms and conditions” of my print subscription. Beginning on June 29, if I suspended delivery while away for a weekend or a longer holiday, I would not receive a credit for that period, I would continue to pay just as if I had received the paper. I was apoplectic. Ever since I could read, I’ve been reading the Globe. It’s one thing to sign up for Netflix and understand that whether you watch 100 hours a month or zero,...

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Parliamentary privilege

Some of Mike Duffy’s Senate expenses certainly look suspect, e.g. $8,000 billed for four days in Vancouver visiting family with one business lunch. A so-called principal residence in his home province of PEI that was snowed in for months at a time. Is it fraud? This current court case, which seems mired in minutiae, will eventually rule. But to understand how we got here, you have to go back to 1971 when Duffy arrived in Ottawa to work as a radio reporter for the CHUM Group. The Parliamentary Press Gallery was the peak of a journalistic career. Some of his elders...

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The sounds of the sea

For the second year in a row, my daughter and I headed to the Shaw Festival to see a play that the critics had lambasted. Last year it was The Philanderer; this year You Never Can Tell. The latter was scorned as “over-the-top antics” by The Globe and Mail; The Star knocked it down for having an “overenthusiastic design team.” Both years the critics were wrong. The plays were a great success. George Bernard Shaw still succeeds at what he set out to do more than a century ago. And that is shock the audience with non-conventional thinking and presentation. Director Jim Mezon ably...

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Petering out

I was never much impressed with Peter MacKay who has announced he will not be running in the October federal election. My lack of enthusiasm dates from the deal he struck in May 2003 to become leader of the Progressive Conservative Party. After the third ballot, MacKay was in first place, Jim Prentice (who went on to lesser things) was second, and David Orchard third. To obtain the support of Orchard and win the leadership on the fourth and final ballot, MacKay signed a four-point agreement with Orchard that included a promise not to merge the PCs with the Alliance, then headed by one...

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