Monthly Archive: June 2007

All sails set

I see Galen Weston the Younger is planning to launch an ad campaign next week in which he will be front and centre as the official Loblaw spokesman. There’s been a lot of foofaraw comparing him to Dave Nichol, but the more interesting comparison is familial. If G2, as he is known around the office, wanted to set himself apart from the previous generation, he couldn’t have chosen a better way to do it. For years G2’s father, W. Galen Weston, kept a low profile, and for good reason. In 1983, seven armed members of the IRA showed up at...

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The gift that keeps on giving

Hurrah for Frank Giustra! Not only has the Vancouver merchant banker set a new standard for corporate giving – US$100 million plus half what he earns from resources for the rest of his life – he has twisted a lot of competitors’ arms to join him in fighting poverty in the developing world. Philanthropy used to be more commonplace at the end of a corporate career. Geezers would see the face of death and then try to redeem a lifetime of greed by lavishing money on something, anything, at the last minute. Like a lot of young people in North...

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The end of the beginning

As the Conrad Black trial comes to an end, the question arises: has the prosecution proved its case? Certainly, David Radler was not the star witness he was meant to be. Some of his answers contradicted his earlier recollections and, in particular, he was made to look well aware of his sentencing arrangements even though he said he was in the dark when he cut his deal. Yes, Black’s lawyer Eddie Greenspan seemed to score points making Radler look like a liar, but did he go too far? Did the jury tire of the tactic? Still, nobody likes a rat....

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Out of body

The previous post about my honorary doctorate was the “news” story. But, as the sports writer asked the pitcher who just threw a no-hitter, how did it feel? I can only say that Monday’s ceremony was truly an out of body experience. I’ve never had such a sensation before, but as I sat on the platform and heard the citation, everything sounded familiar – ?yes I’d written that book, won that award, or lived in that country – but it couldn’t have been me. It seemed like me watching someone who had lived my life. But, it must have been...

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As good as it gets

There was pomp, a brass band, and the pageantry of medieval garb as the official party entered Alumni Hall that was packed with more than 2,000 graduates, friends and family members at The University of Western Ontario yesterday. And there I was, wearing a black gown and floppy purple hat with gold tassel, among the faculty in their colorful robes from Canadian universities and such far-off institutions as Oxford. The occasion was most memorable; I received an honorary degree, Doctor of Laws. To be exact, Doctorem in Legibus (honoris causa), according to the Latin parchment I was given along with...

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No house calls

Next Monday will be one of those lifetime days. I’m being honored by my alma mater, The University of Western Ontario, with an honorary degree. First word came in March with a phone call from Paul Davenport, president of Western, to tell me that the selection committee had picked me to receive an LL.D, doctor of laws (honoris causa). I have to admit I was astounded. Honorary degrees always seem to be given to famous people or philanthropists who donate large amounts of money. I was neither of those. I even get to deliver a speech at the 10 a.m....

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The Argus Grab

Yesterday’s testimony at the Conrad Black trial by his long-time secretary, Joan Maida, brought back memories of my dealings with a previous office-holder. It was 1978, and I had just joined Maclean’s as business editor. Conrad, then 33, had recently bought Argus Corp. but no one had interviewed him on the topic. I phoned his secretary, lodged my request and got nowhere so I used one of the oldest techniques in the journalism handbook, the campout. At 2 p.m., I showed up at his borrowed digs at Dominion Securities and asked his secretary if I could see him. She said,...

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