Going home

A man I know, who was born in the Caribbean but has lived in Canada since he was eleven, was telling me about his recent Caribbean holiday. He said that the wind on his cheek and the smell of the sea felt like home to him.  A few days later I was shovelling my driveway. The snow had stopped, the stars were sparking in the night-time sky and tires squeaked as cars passed by. I thought: Winter is home to me. Toronto has had the sort of winter we used to have in Guelph when I was a boy. I...

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Speakeasy

Everybody’s got their shirt in a knot about a speech Peter Mansbridge gave to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. I know everybody’s got their shirt in a knot because a lot of journalists are telling me so. Of course, it’s only other journalists who have their shirts in a knot, but it’s news because Mansbridge was paid, do you hear me, paid, to speak to this group. Because he took their money, he’s supposedly now in bed with those dirty hucksters who run the oil sands and can’t possible read the news anymore because he’s tainted goods.  Maybe the...

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It’s the mayors, stupid

I won’t be watching Rob Ford on Jimmy Kimmel tonight but I can imagine how it will go. As usual, Ford will mistake notoriety for renown and a high-profile appearance with appreciation. Even so, I don’t know why we’re all so fussed about our current mayor, he joins a long line of officeholders who accomplished little and didn’t go on to do much after they left. My memory of modern mayors begins with Nathan Phillips (1955-1962). The best story about him is what he missed. In the dying hours of his time as Prime Minister, John Diefenbaker told his staff...

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Fathers and sons

Dear Steve Paikin: I read your blog about you and your son and I agree, you have a serious problem. As a high-profile journalist covering politics and public issues on TVO, how do you deal with your son Zach’s plan to seek the Liberal nomination in the federal riding of Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas? As you rightly ask, can you continue to be seen as neutral, do you have to stop covering Liberal politics, or are you exaggerating your concern? The last question is the simplest. No, you are not exaggerating. But how do you balance being a father with being a journalist?...

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Plug me into something

Notice anything about your hydro bill recently? Prices are up, year-over-year, anywhere between 9 per cent and 14 per cent depending on time-of-day usage. The biggest increase, 14 per cent, is for off-peak. So much for doing a load of laundry at 10 p.m. to save money. And it’s only going to get worse. Ontario used to have a ready supply of the cheapest power in North America. Soon we’re going to be among the jurisdictions at the top end. The cause? Decades of poor management and worse political oversight. The original goal of Ontario Hydro, back in 1906 when Adam...

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My groupies

In the bird world, there are wonderful descriptions of groups and flocks. Just to cite three examples: a murmuration of starlings, an exaltation of larks, and my personal favourite, a charm of hummingbirds. Why not apply the same possibilities to human gatherings? So you’d get a tribulation of politicians, a banality of sportscasters, a trepidation of lawyers, a pugnaciousness of hockey players, an exhaustion of Olympics and a reach of bloggers.

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The secret’s out

Whatever happened to budget secrecy? Here we are on the day Finance Minister Jim Flaherty brings down his budget and we already know that he will announce an end to the immigrant investor plan, legislation for better consumer prices in Canada versus the U.S., as well as more money for skills instruction, infrastructure projects and the auto sector. And, oh yes, there will be an overall deficit, supposedly the last for the Harper government.  And I read all this in my morning paper, as supplied by officials in the know and the minister himself. Time was when a journalist who...

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Funny money

We’re all trying to get used to the new polymer currency, battling with bills that stick together, and worrying about them melting in a parked car if summer ever comes. For my part, I’ll accept the Bank of Canada’s claims that the bills last 2-1/2 times longer than the old cotton-paper series. Over time, we’ll learn if they really are difficult to counterfeit. And yes, we’ve joined some 30 other countries using polymer. I’m fine with all that. What bothers me is that we’re stuck with portraits of people that can only be described as duds on each of the five...

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