On the attack

Now that Justin Trudeau has been elected leader of the Liberal Party, we know what will happen next. The Conservatives will mount a multi-million dollar TV ad campaign aimed at sending him into oblivion. After all, that’s what they did to Michael Ignatieff. Remember that ad? It showed Ignatieff riding down an escalator looking like the deus ex machina figure in a Greek tragedy arriving to save the day. The voiceover pronounced, “He didn’t come back for you.” The Conservatives went after interim Liberal leader Bob Rae, too, in the months before he announced that he would not be a...

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New look, same old prices

I have seen the future and it is Wal-Mart. I wrote that sentence while living in the U.S., just before Wal-Mart arrived in Canada in 1994. There’s no question that Wal-Mart has altered the face of Canadian retailing. Within two years, Wal-Mart became the biggest retailer in Canada with about one-quarter of the department store market share. I spent hours watching the inner workings of Wal-Mart at the time, attending internal meetings and interviewing senior people. Wal-Mart succeeded mostly because employees on the floor run the supply chain with handheld devices that can call up inventory levels and have the...

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A chance for change

When you look at the list of appointees on the advisory council named yesterday to promote the participation of women on public and private corporate boards, you ask: Why only 23 members? Couldn’t the federal government have found one more person to make it an even two dozen? Ottawa certainly has taken its time to assemble what has turned out to be the world’s largest committee. The names of the appointees are familiar. They’re all fine folks. But maybe we shouldn’t expect too much. The three-point mandate contains such phrases as “provide advice,” “suggest how,” and “make recommendations.” Not exactly an...

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The dead and the quiescent

Bad enough that we have to put up with the singing of the Star Spangled Banner before every Major League Baseball game at the Rogers Centre. And why is it that every singer always seems to have so much fun riffing around with the U.S anthem while poor old O Canada always sounds so dreary. More importantly, why do so few members of the crowd sing O Canada. In my part of section 124, I’m pretty much alone in my warbling. All that is bad enough, as I say, but what the heck was going on last night at the...

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Play it again, Sam

Writers have it rough. We always have to come up with fresh material, day after day, year after year. As soon as I finish writing a book, everyone’s first question is, “What are you going to do next?” Couldn’t we all read this current one first? Singers have it easy. If any singer has a hit, he or she can perform that song over and over again to the delight of audiences everywhere. In fact, that’s what they want to hear, the old favourites, not some new dud tune. Meatloaf has made a life’s career singing Bat Out of Hell...

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Justin time

Justin Trudeau’s Empire Club appearance today at Toronto’s Royal York Hotel had both historic resonance and forward thinking. According to organizers, Trudeau was the first speaker ever who had been preceded at the podium by both parents. Trudeau’s father, Pierre, spoke to the club in 1972 and in 1968 he also appeared in the Ontario Room next door to the Canadian Room where Justin was today. That 1968 event, a meeting of the Liberal Party of Ontario, saw the first stirrings of Trudeaumania. A week later he declared his candidacy for leadership. Justin Trudeau’s reception didn’t have quite the same...

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Grapefruit gripes and grins

I’m just back from watching some Grapefruit League games and I can say that the Blue Jays don’t look as good as they should. I saw three games – against the Orioles in Sarasota, the Rays in Port Charlotte, and the Red Sox in Dunedin. Jays won two of those but after today’s loss to Minnesota, they’re 11-16, second last in the American League, ahead of only the beleaguered Angels. The good news is that Jose Bautista seems to be over his wrist problems and is hitting home runs. I saw him hit his fifth in spring training over the...

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Red Ed for Governor

Howard Green’s new book on TD Bank, Banking on America, is an excellent read. Rather than take the usual route and focus on the CEO, Ed Clark, Green also gives credit for the successful U.S. strategy to Keith Gray who put together the deal to buy the New York-based discount broker Waterhouse Securities in 1996. That acquistion became a platform for all that followed at TD. The anchor of BNN’s Headline with Howard Green has been close to Gray for years and the relationship gives the book an insidery feel. Although this is not an authorized book, TD gave Green...

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