The people are speaking

There was some confusion at the advance poll where I voted. Like a lot of people, I hadn’t received my “vote at” card in the mail so we were all lined up to go through the ID process and be verified. The wee woman behind me had white hair. She said to no one in particular: “We’ve got to get rid of the F boys.” The way she said “F boys” made the phrase sound like an expletive. Once we got sorted away, each of us was handed a ballot the size of a kitchen-cupboard door. The ballot was further...

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Thumper launch

Last night was the official launch of Thumper: The Memoirs of Donald S. Macdonald (McGill-Queen’s University Press). Of all the cabinet ministers in the Pierre Trudeau government, Don was the most powerful. His portfolios included House Leader when the rules changed, Defence during the War Measures Act, Energy when oil costs quadrupled, and Finance when he imposed wage and price controls. After leaving government, he chaired the Royal Commission that led to free trade, was High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, and served on a number of corporate boards including Scotiabank and Sun Life. Don and his wife Adrian both spoke,...

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Just asking

Why can’t baseball players who win a big game or a best-of-something series devise some other celebration rather than dance in a circle with heads down and arms around each other’s shoulders?  Why are we sending CF-18s to battle ISIS when the humanitarian aid we promised in August has yet to arrive and the last I heard we’ve welcomed less than 100 of the 1,000 refugees we promised to take from Syria. Why are we not accepting thousands of refugees as we have done ever since the Hungarian Revolution in 1956 through Uganda and Vietnam to Somali and Sri Lanka....

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Feel the heat

With only one game left in the regular season, it’s time to look ahead at the 2015 Blue Jays. Who to keep, who to dump and who to go after. First, the easy part, who to let go: Colby Rasmus, who should be playing wherever they sell barbecue; Juan Francisco, a happy presence in the dugout, but a lug on the field; and R. A. Dickey, whose future is behind him. And if Dickey goes, catcher Josh Thole is sure to follow. Get rid of Casey Janssen. Aaron Sanchez or Brandon Morrow could be the closer. Or, either of them...

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Talking heads

Two weeks of hearings by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) called Let’s Talk TV are over. With the exception of a contretemps with a Netflix official, the proceedings were predictable. Everyone from the Harper government to consumers is in favour of pick-and-pay rather than the lump-and-allow preferred by the cable companies but we have to put up with months of delay before any CRTC decision, let alone action. Cable television is the last great monopoly in Canada. If you move into a neighbourhood and want cable, you only have one choice. Ridiculous. What if you were told you...

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The rebound of Rob Ford

The news that Rob Ford has an abdominal problem changes everything about the Toronto mayoralty race. There he was, a confessed addict, vituperative night owl and bad-assed coach, yet one-quarter of the population was still behind him. Imagine the bump in the polls this recent diagnosis will bring him. It could be a sympathy vote, but any politician would happily accept such an outpouring. In his biography of Thomas D’Arcy McGee, the father of Confederation who was assassinated in 1868, author David Wilson says that McGee’s death was his best career move. Before that, McGee had been in poor health...

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Books for life

A reader has written to say how tough it is to find good business biographies. He’s enjoying Driven to Succeed, the book about Frank Hasenfratz I co-authored with Susan M. Papp, and wondered if I could recommend others. Here are six of my favourites: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson; Harrison McCain by Donald Savoie; The Reichmanns by Anthony Bianco; A Gentleman of the Press by Floyd Chalmers; Titan, Ron Chernow on John D. Rockefeller; and Iacocca, the 1984 book by William Novak that set the standard for ghost-written business memoirs. Books have deep meaning in my life. I was lucky enough to...

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The merits of mediocrity

A year ago, there were six female premiers in Canada. Now, for various reasons, there are only two. Life remains tough at the top for women in the professions, too. Of the 193 Lexpert Ranked Lawyers pictured in the ROB Magazine distributed today, only 15 per cent are women. And this in a field where for two decades women have comprised 50 per cent of the law school graduates. Some of the banks and other corporations are making progress with female director appointments following a push by the Ontario Securities Commission, but full boardroom equality remains a distant, forlorn hope....

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