Cedric Ritchie 1927-2016

The citizens of Toronto have recently focused on the death of former Mayor Rob Ford, but there was another passing last week of a man who had a far more profound impact on Toronto and Canada: Ced Ritchie, chairman and chief executive officer of the Bank of Nova Scotia from 1974-1995. I worked for Ritchie for two years after I left Ottawa in 1976. I thought I had seen power in the nation’s capital but I quickly realized that was nothing compared to the raw power in the hands of a bank CEO. I don’t think in all my years I’ve known anyone who...

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In the depths

Ian Brown’s fascinating piece in Saturday’s Globe and Mail was both a bit of nice writing and the kind of reportage too often missing these days. Brown sought to find out why Stephen Harper has been invisible since he lost the October election to Justin Trudeau. But did Brown succeed? I think not. After travelling to Ottawa, Calgary and Edmonton in search of the elusive Harper, Brown was finally standing a few feet away from his quarry but let a Harper aide dissuade him from approaching the man for a conversation. Normally, Brown is sufficiently vigorous to not let anyone stop him...

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Good fences make good neighbours

Read everything I could, talked to anyone who hoved into view, and try as I might, I’ve been unable to discover anything of substance actually accomplished during the recent visit of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Washington. No Keystone approval, no sharing of costs on the Gordie Howe Bridge, just some far-off-in-the-future nod to reducing cow herds in Oxford County to lower methane gas levels. The Canadian media was agog about the bromance between Trudeau and U.S. President Barack Obama. All that got us was a free dinner for Mike Myers who forgot his hair dye that day. Coverage in the Washington...

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Ex libris

I love books. I love reading them, I love writing them, I love what books do inside my head. The trouble is I’ve ended up with more than 1,000 volumes and that’s after donating about 300 (half a dozen at a time) to the used book store at the Toronto Research Library over the last few years. I’ve got some of the first books I ever read such as The Adventures of Danny Meadowmouse by Thorton W. Burgess and Now We Are Six by A. A. Milne. I’ve got the first book I ever bought, How The Great Religions Began by Joseph Gaer...

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A new face for The National

There’s a piece in the Globe and Mail this morning on the sports pages extolling the talents of a competitor, TSN’s Bob McKenzie, saying how solid his information always is. Setting aside the unusual pastime of a newspaper journalist complimenting a broadcaster, let’s focus on the praise. Solid. Shouldn’t every sportswriter have solid information? I assume from this paean that some do not. It’s all so reminiscent of broadcaster Brian Linehan who used to interview all the movie stars swanning through town. People were always agog that Linehan actually conducted research in advance. He didn’t just ask simpleton questions such as, “What’s Julia Roberts really...

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Quickie books

Time was when a non-fiction book would take at least two years to research and write. No more, if a recent release from Simon & Schuster is typical. The title is How Can I Help? A Week in My Life as a Psychiatrist. A week? Too bad Samuel Pepys wasted all those years writing his diary when a few days of scribbling would have been enough for him to achieve immortality. In keeping with this new fast-paced approach, herewith are ten book titles that could be in your bookstore very soon: One-Minute Stand: Pickup Lines for the Attention Deficit Disordered Sunny...

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No Saks please, we’re Canadian

Saks Fifth Avenue opened its first store in Canada today and while I missed the ribbon-cutting I did do a walkabout and can report that it is a bizarre bazaar. First off, it isn’t really a store. It’s 180,000 square feet on three floors within The Bay. There are goods from The Bay below in the basement as well as above on the fourth floor and to the west on all floors. Let’s call it a nestling. Much of the first floor is boutiques run by other marques. Positioned in niches around the perimeter are numerous well-known names such as...

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Word on the street

You’re in your office. It’s noon. Someone sticks their head in the door and asks, “Jeet jet?”  If you read that as a lunch invitation, English is likely your mother tongue. No other language has more words; English has one million. There are only 200,000 French words. That’s why French was traditionally used in treaties. Everybody could take a different shade of meaning from the agreement they just signed. Denizens of England will tell you they know best. I once attended a dinner at London’s Dorchester Hotel in honour of Cliff Thorburn, a Canadian who played professional snooker in Britain. In Canada, the game’s...

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