Choiceless choices

A couple of years ago, when I got sick of the trouble Bell was having updating its Internet server, I fled to Rogers. The young man who signed me up assured me that Rogers had its own server and was constantly updating it. Of course, he was lying. Once aboard I could see that Rogers did not have its own server, they used Yahoo. I should have known one telecom was no better than another. My service has been OK, just the usual blips and hiccups, until a few days ago. Those of you with Rogers will have seen the pop-up declaring that Yahoo and AOL...

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Eternal sunshine of the thoughtless mind

Am I the only one who thinks Drake was showboating the other night when he wore that Humboldt Broncos hoodie to the Raptors-Wizards basketball game? You know Drake, don’t you, the Toronto boy who became famous as a rapper, the first music invented in my lifetime that I don’t like. But there he was, to the cheers of 20,000 fans, paying his respects to the sixteen hockey players and staff killed in a collision with a transport truck. These days, lots of people are wearing hockey jerseys as a tribute to the team. I was in the underground Path one day last week and many passers-by wore...

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The fifty-first state

I was writing a postal code, got to the Z, and said to myself “Zee” … not “Zed.” Has it come to this? Have I finally been totally Americanized? Little wonder, when you consider the inundations that daily roll into our country from across the southern border. Or as Derek Burney, the former Canadian ambassador to the U.S., used to call it, “The world’s longest undefended cliché.” Look at retail. U.S. banners from Amazon to Walmart dominate the Canadian shopping landscape. Eaton’s is long gone. The Bay seems to have been taken over by Saks Fifth Avenue, not vice versa. And there’s a Nordstrom...

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Black and white and gone all over

Pardon me for writing about newspapers two weeks in a row, but this is too much. In the Globe and Mail today, there’s a story about a man who has quit using toilet paper. Instead, he takes a short shower after every ablution and urges the rest of us to do the same in order to save trees, electricity and the free world. In yesterday’s New York Times, there was a piece about a man who’s gone cashless. So far, in 2018, he says he has managed to touch hardly any paper money or metal coins. When I went on cbc.ca on...

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Trading places

Once upon a time, long ago, there was a country where factories hummed, pipelines gurgled, and newspapers flourished. Yes, my son, newspapers flourished, it was that long ago. But then something called the Internet arrived. Everyone wanted to play Candy Crush and take selfies. No one wanted to read exclusives anymore. Why not just look at an aggregator that steals stories from hither and from yon? Poster Boy and Thor Moon were two among the downtrodden in the business despite having dozens of different outlets. Trouble was, most titles were doing poorly. Readership, ads, everything had gone blooey. So Poster Boy and Thor Moon came up with a...

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Sheltered from the storms

In a world where most countries are clamping down on migrants or kicking foreigners out, I’m happy to live in Canada, a land that takes all comers. Economically, there are good reasons; we get workers who pay into the Canada Pension Plan so it doesn’t go bust. Morally, there are better reasons; who are we to keep anyone out? We’re all immigrants here. My father came with his family when he was three. On my mother’s side, I’m fifth generation Canadian. These days, Toronto is certainly changed from the burg I visited as a boy to see my grandparents. Today, more...

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Constant craving

Now that all legal challenges have been abandoned, Doug Ford is officially leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario. I can’t think of a worse outcome. When his brother Rob was mayor of Toronto, Doug was supposedly the brains of the pair, which wasn’t saying much. To my mind, Doug Ford doesn’t deserve to be leader. Should someone be allowed to become leader when previously he wasn’t even running to be a member of the legislature? Still, the election of Ford puts Ontario in lockstep with other jurisdictions where populism triumphs over ideas and ideals. That’s what’s sweeping the western world...

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The sun has set

John McNeil was one of the very few senior Canadian business executives with a world view. During the last few decades of the twentieth century, most of our big-league CEOs were born in small-town Canada. They’d find their way to Vancouver, Toronto, or Montreal, and then slog their way to the top. Not McNeil, who died February 26, at eighty-four. The former chairman and CEO of the Sun Life Assurance Co. of Canada had grown up and lived in England, Africa and Scotland before emigrating to Canada. For McNeil, that broadband heritage was both a strength and a weakness. Because he was so strong-willed,...

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