Monthly Archive: July 2014

Shavian success

Never take seriously what a theatre critic says. That’s never been more true than it is about The Philanderer, now playing at the Shaw Festival. Robert Cushman of the National Post tells chapter and verse about the plot but never quite gets around to saying whether he likes the play or not. At one point he even says he’s going to plagiarize himself from a 2007 review by joking he “would never have joined any club that would have me as a mentor.” Of course, Cushman is also sampling Groucho Marx, not just himself.  Globe and Mail critic J. Kelly Nestruck’s...

Read More ....

Make mine sugar-free

My problem with Sugar Beach is not the three dozen pink umbrellas that cost $11,000 each or the $500,000 spent on decorative rocks. No, my problem is that you feel like an idiot sitting in one of those white Muskoka chairs with nothing much to do and even less to look at. Mind you, I’m fair-skinned so sun tanning is taboo, but what kind of a beach has no access to nearby Lake Ontario for wading or swimming? Moreover, since there’s no place to walk, there’s no way to admire bikinis going by, either. Depending how early you arrive, your...

Read More ....

Consider the alternative

A while back, when Kentucky Fried Chicken updated its logo and began calling itself KFC, they also altered the presentation of founder Colonel Harland Sanders. He now wears a chef’s apron and, I swear, looks younger than he used to. Or maybe it’s because I’m getting older. I recently celebrated my 70th birthday so I’ve now had my biblical three score and ten. I know I’m no spring chicken, but I don’t feel 70, either. Until some young man in his early 20s offers me his seat on the subway. I always accept. Might as well enjoy the fruits of...

Read More ....

Right time, right place, good luck

Donald J. Savoie has written an excellent book about an entrepreneur who deserves to be celebrated. The book, Harrison McCain: Single-Minded Purpose (McGill-Queen’s), tells how Harrison and his brother Wallace, built McCain Foods from a rural startup in backwater New Brunswick to a global powerhouse that makes and sells one-third of all the french fries in the world. “One world, one fry,” was the company motto. From a profit of $1,822 in its first year of operation in the 1950s, McCain Foods has annual revenues of more than $6 billion today. Savoie, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Public...

Read More ....

Borderline personality

I have a confession to make. When I was bureau chief (and all the Indians) for The Financial Post in Washington, D.C. from 1989-93, there were occasions when I would make news happen. Here’s how it would work. If by 11 a.m. I couldn’t see an obvious story that would interest my editors, I’d phone around. There were three sure-fire calls. One was a guy I knew at a U.S. organization that had a long-standing trade fight with Canada. I won’t name him. It’s OK to embarrass myself, but I’m not going to snitch on someone else. I’d ask him...

Read More ....

Direct import

There must be no other country in the world that publishes and broadcasts more news and feature articles holus-bolus from a single foreign source than Canada does from the United States. If KOCO-TV in Oklahoma City has footage of a tornado near the tiny town of Broken Arrow, CBC and CTV will run it on their national broadcasts. Wildfires in the Hollywood Hills are another favourite. The footage is so easy; the fires just keep burning. And the cost is low to fill one-minute-thirty in the newscast. Some Canadian newspapers even have special package deals. The Sunday edition of the...

Read More ....