And a child shall lead them

I recently attended an open house at my granddaughter’s school. There was a fascinating tour of the school conducted by my granddaughter, who is in Grade Four, that included the library, art room and a computer facility where they can make their own videos. I also saw her math notebooks, heard poetry, inspected a history project and heard a lot of unfamiliar wordage such as “unit of inquiry” that seemed to mean an essay or project. Some of the units of inquiry looked pretty complicated for her age, but she pulled everything off with aplomb. What an education our young...

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Every inch a king

Colm Feore is a magnificent King Lear at Stratford. My daughter Alison and I attended the first of the preview performances today and came away overwhelmed by his portrayal of the character. The play doesn’t officially open until May 26 and runs until October. My only concern is that it will be difficult for Feore to maintain the intensity that he displayed today over such a sustained period of almost 50 outings.  Scott Wentworth’s Gloucester is also excellent as is Edgar, his legitimate son, played by Evan Buliung. The rest of the cast is good too and the costuming is...

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Priming the pump

There’s long been a debate about public incentives for private sector projects. Otherwise profitable companies come to governments, cap in hand, demanding funds or they’ll build a new plant in some other more favourable jurisdiction.  Automotive is a prime example. In 1978, Ford President Roy Bennett tracked down Ontario Premier Bill Davis and Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, who were both attending the Calgary Stampede. Bennett convinced them to invest $68 million in an engine plant in Windsor, Ont., that might have gone to Ohio instead. In 1986, Toyota got $50 million from Ontario Premier David Peterson for a new assembly...

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The gang that couldn’t shoot straight

The sudden announcement by Gerry McCaughey yesterday that he’s stepping down as CEO of CIBC should come as no surprise. In fact, life at the top of Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce has always been about as unpredictable as it has been unproductive. Despite all the modernization CIBC has gone through in the last four decades the corporate culture of the place remains unchanged. All banks are political, but CIBC is like the Vatican.  The story begins in 1969 when Gordon Sharwood was reading his morning paper and discovered that his colleague Russ Harrison had been named to the number two...

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The meaning of death

The recent deaths of Jim Flaherty and Herb Gray tell us something about the state of politics in this country. Flaherty was unique in the Stephen Harper cabinet. He was someone who cared about his role as finance minister, gave his all, and didn’t take himself too seriously. When I look at the rest of the cabinet, I don’t see very many others with Flaherty’s breadth or gravitas. In the 1970s, when I was working in Ottawa and saw Herb Gray up close, he was a study in contrasts. By all boring appearances he was the least interesting member of...

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Lesser lights

As I watched Adam Scott place the green jacket on this year’s Master’s winner, Bubba Watson, I was taken with the resonance of this annual event. It could be just another golf tournament but it has been infused with lore and made lustrous with legend. The CBS announcers have sombre voices as they talk reverently about Amen Corner and the Eisenhower tree. There’s endless footage of Arnie and Jack and Gary walking on stone bridges. And of course the scenery, complete with rhododendrons and azaleas plus the sound of Carolina Wrens amid the loblolly pines. The Americans do sports so well:...

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The carrousel keeps turning

Apparently it’s tough being the editor of a newspaper. In recent days, both the editor of National Post, Stephen Meurice, and the editor of The Globe and Mail, John Stackhouse, have departed. I’m surprised the Post is still alive under any editor. When I left in 2001, I didn’t think it would last a year, but survive it has. The Globe is struggling, too, but not to the same money-losing extent. Part of that battle seems to be the incapacity to keep editors-in-chief in harness. Phillip Crawley has been publisher of the Globe since 1999. The latest editor to come...

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The passing of Peter Porcal

He called me professore, which I wasn’t. I called him dottore, which he was. Peter Porcal died last Friday, March 28, 2014. I’m guessing he was somewhere in his late 60s. Even when Sandy and I first met him in Florence in 2004, he wasn’t in the best of health. Too many years of walking Tuscany with his “children,” as he liked to call his students, had taken a terrible toll on his knees. I wasn’t the only one with a nickname. There was a young man who could have been a putto, he was so pretty. To his discredit,...

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