Category: General

A man for all seasons

If my grandmother were alive, she’d say, “The back of winter has been broken.” Of course, she also maintained, “Winter hasn’t gone until the snow is out of the bush.” Still, there are positive signs, Nanna. Daylight saving time arrived over the weekend and the rest of this week is supposed to get warmer, reaching a balmy 13C in Toronto on Thursday. But there were other, earlier aspects of spring, particularly in the bird world. Cardinals started singing on territory three weeks ago as they announced their nesting sites and fended off other males of the species. A week ago today, I saw an American Robin...

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Don’t get fooled again

If Jody Wilson-Raybould is to be believed, and she certainly seems credible, the minister was under extreme duress to change her mind about prosecuting SNC-Lavalin. I’m not going to detail her testimony in this blog, everyone is now all too familiar with the ongoing efforts made by her colleagues on behalf of the Quebec-based firm. None of that activity seems to fall under the “rule of law” rubric so beloved by Justin Trudeau. While multiple participants have supplied facts (as they see them), the Globe and Mail is to be congratulated on first raising this matter last month. Turns out the original piece written by...

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Last of a line

The play, 1979, by Michael Healey, is regularly described as a satire, but it is more than that. It is also a paean to Joe Clark who forty years ago lost a confidence vote and his job as prime minister. At the time, Clark was seen as a bumpkin and a fool. He was neither, as the play that recently finished a Toronto run, reminds us. The play is also a comedy filled with great lines. “I’ve got Peter Lougheed riding me like a pony and it’s the last day at the Ex,” says Philip Riccio who stars as Clark and...

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Leaders and lessers

There’s an ad running in my morning paper that trumpets a one-day conference next month that’s entitled “Cultivate Leadership Charisma.” The seven speakers listed are unknown to me but that may be my fault. I guess I hang out with the wrong crowd. This bunch promises charisma like Tony Robbins, a more famous name on the lecture circuit, claims he can teach anyone selling skills. I went to a Robbins performance once, just to see how it all worked. Hundreds of people, many of them real estate agents, had paid big bucks to have their egos rebuilt, techniques burnished, and confidence restored....

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Gotta light?

When we returned from Washington, D.C. in May 1993, Canada was in a shambles. There was a recession, the government of the day was at a nadir, and housing prices had fallen 50 percent. I no longer smoked, but my late wife did, so I was in a corner store to buy cigarettes. Asked the clerk, “How much do you want to pay?” Turns out he had legitimate packages where the taxes had been collected but also gray market items that cost much less. Eventually two cigarette companies were fined $1.15 billion for their part in that contraband market. I don’t know who is running...

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Celebrating a celebrity

One of the fluffiest puff pieces ever written is floating on page one of today’s Globe and Mail. The focus is Timothy Caulfield, Edmonton author and academic at the University of Alberta. In the first few paragraphs we learn he can’t sleep for fretting about his projects, by day he is pensive, and in the evening he worries about the health and welfare of the world. Even the professor can’t fully explain why he is so wired, saying, “I can honestly say I don’t know why I care so much.” For a best-selling author, star of a new Netflix show, and...

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Let there be light

On a Tuesday afternoon, the Ontario legislature is brightly lit by massive chandeliers. That’s what the debate is all about: light and the electricity to run the province. MPPs have gathered to debate Bill C-67 that will prevent the 6,000 members of the Power Workers Union from going on strike. Without this bill, there could be rolling blackouts as workers shut down nuclear and hydro facilities. But there is also a strict legislative process that must be followed. With unanimous consent, the bill could pass immediately. The NDP has refused such consent saying it would never halt collective bargaining. As a result, even with a special sitting last night,...

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Retail retrogression

The Runnymede Theatre started life in 1927 offering vaudeville in a 1,400-seat auditorium and then adopted various guises that reflected the changing times: a bingo hall, movies in a twin-screen format, a Chapters bookstore, and now – ta-da – a Shoppers Drug Mart. The latest incarnation of this West Toronto location is an ignominious pratfall from what once was known as “Canada’s Theatre Beautiful.” Oh, the walls and mouldings have been restored, but the entire ground floor is foodstuffs and beauty products with at least 100 running feet of freezers, soft drinks and cold-food displays. There’s countless kinds of chocolates, canned fish galore, and cereal...

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