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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Where’s St. George when you need him?

What is it about TV personalities that makes print journalists go all weak at the knees? The profile in Saturday’s Globe and Mail about Arlene Dickinson, a panelist on CBC-TV’s Dragons’ Den, is positively fawning. Yet it’s written by Jackie McNish, one of the paper’s hardest-hitting investigative journalists. Dickinson is so deft at what she does that she cries while telling McNish about helping an entrepreneur. The article ends focussed on Dickinson’s napkin, still moist from the tracks of her tears about someone else’s travails.  Gad. Nowhere in the profile does it say that precious few of the “deals” that...

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Three’s not even a crowd

I saw a statistic recently that between 1892 and 2012 the stock market rose 9 per cent a year. I thought that was a huge annual increase, far beyond what I’d ever heard before, so I asked a group of friends who have worked on Bay Street for their thoughts. Yes, they said, that sounds about right, but don’t forget that’s a gross number. You have to subtract fees, take account for inflation and pay taxes. The real number, net, net, net, as they said, is more like 3 per cent annually. Three per cent! Such a low result came...

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Scots wha hae

Flush with success in the early going of his mission to Israel, Stephen Harper has announced that his next sortie will be to Scotland. “There are five million Canadians of Scottish origin. We hope to snare all of their votes,” said a spokesman for the prime minister who asked for anonymity because of his Irish roots. Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, not wanting to fall behind in the global quest for popularity, said he will travel next week to the Philippines to shore up support through the families of nannys working in Canada. The prime minister’s trip to Scotland will include...

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A horror story

I’ve just been reading a horror story and it’s not by Stephen King. The title is “The State of Ontario’s Indebtedness: Warning Signs to Act.” Published by the Fraser Institute, you can read it here. Let me summarize it for you. Every year Ontario runs a deficit and that loss does not go away. It gets added to the debt. No surprise there, but no one seems to be paying attention. Certainly Ontario Minister of Finance Charles Sousa seems content with the way things are. But compared to California, which is supposedly a basket case, we’re far worse off. Ontario’s...

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Hopes, dreams and aspirations

Rather than make foolish predictions this year, here’s the top seven things I’d like to see:  1. The Ontario Securities Commission charge some high mucky-muck we all know with a criminal offence, rather than just the usual passing parade of small-fry pump-and-dump artists. 2. The rear-end of Rob Ford in this fall’s mayoralty race. No apology required when he exits public life. 3. Prime Minister Stephen Harper offer the same loyalty to staff and MPs that he expects from them. 4. Well-written stories worth reading in my local papers. 5. Tolls on major Toronto roads to raise revenue and reduce...

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