Monthly Archive: March 2013

Justin time

Justin Trudeau’s Empire Club appearance today at Toronto’s Royal York Hotel had both historic resonance and forward thinking. According to organizers, Trudeau was the first speaker ever who had been preceded at the podium by both parents. Trudeau’s father, Pierre, spoke to the club in 1972 and in 1968 he also appeared in the Ontario Room next door to the Canadian Room where Justin was today. That 1968 event, a meeting of the Liberal Party of Ontario, saw the first stirrings of Trudeaumania. A week later he declared his candidacy for leadership. Justin Trudeau’s reception didn’t have quite the same...

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Grapefruit gripes and grins

I’m just back from watching some Grapefruit League games and I can say that the Blue Jays don’t look as good as they should. I saw three games – against the Orioles in Sarasota, the Rays in Port Charlotte, and the Red Sox in Dunedin. Jays won two of those but after today’s loss to Minnesota, they’re 11-16, second last in the American League, ahead of only the beleaguered Angels. The good news is that Jose Bautista seems to be over his wrist problems and is hitting home runs. I saw him hit his fifth in spring training over the...

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Red Ed for Governor

Howard Green’s new book on TD Bank, Banking on America, is an excellent read. Rather than take the usual route and focus on the CEO, Ed Clark, Green also gives credit for the successful U.S. strategy to Keith Gray who put together the deal to buy the New York-based discount broker Waterhouse Securities in 1996. That acquistion became a platform for all that followed at TD. The anchor of BNN’s Headline with Howard Green has been close to Gray for years and the relationship gives the book an insidery feel. Although this is not an authorized book, TD gave Green...

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Habemus Papam

The last time the world lost a pope and then welcomed his replacement, my late wife and I were living in Florence. We learned the news of both events in April 2005 by the pealing of church bells. The death of John Paul II was announced by the bells at about 10 p.m. on a Saturday night as we walked home from a restaurant. We knew without asking what the sound meant. In recent days, everybody’s favourite pope had been little more than “a soul pulling a body” in the words of a Vatican spokesman. Two weeks later, I was...

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If we only had a brain

As the grandfather of a tyke hockey player, I worry about injuries, particularly to the head. I have been following with interest the one-man campaign by Roy MacGregor in the Globe and Mail against excessive body-checking and fights that cause concussions. I was disgusted by the Globe editorial on the topic that said we should not rush to abolish body-checking in minor hockey. Expose young players to risk and experience, the editorial argued. What a ridiculous stance. It was as if they hadn’t been reading their own paper. Author Malcolm Gladwell took a much braver position in a February speech...

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Baywatch

The two catalogues from Hudson’s Bay that arrived with my Saturday paper are the finest I’ve ever seen from any Canadian retailer. The photography is equal to Architectural Digest, the layouts are clean, and the design appealing. The recently renamed Hudson’s Bay with its classy new logo has been improving since 2008 under American ownership and Bonnie Brooks as president and CEO. Her pre-Christmas radio and newspaper ads, focusing on daily specials with up to 70 per cent off, were disruptive and good for consumers. Sales in the last quarter of 2012, the most recent numbers available, were up year-over-year by...

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Any Given Sunday

The other day I saw a sign in the window of a Yonge Street store that read: “Sunday is the new Saturday.” I stopped in my tracks, reread the words several times, and have been pondering them ever since. On one level, the meaning is clear. On Sunday all shops are now open, leisure choices are endless, and there’s no difference between the two days of the weekend any more. When I was growing up, Sunday was special. I was taken to church wearing a blazer and flannel pants that felt funny against my finger nails clipped on Saturday night...

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If that’s for me, I’m cleaning my ducts

If there’s anything more foolish than the National Do Not Call List, I’d like to hear about it. But not by phone, thank you. Run by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the list works like this: you register your phone number and thereby reduce the quantity of telemarketing calls you receive. No one I know believes this really works. First, there are far too many groups permitted to make telemarketing calls. Those with a hall pass include registered charities, political parties and candidates, market research firms, and newspapers seeking subscribers. In the latter group, the Toronto Sun and...

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