Fearing for the fourth estate

Time was when I’d annually get a call from a friend who would ask me to talk to their son or daughter about a career in journalism. That generation has grown older so I don’t get the call very often these days. Just as well. For a while, I wasn’t sure what I’d say anymore except, “Are you sure you want to do this? It’s a dying profession.” When I was handing out happier advice, I’d urge them to go work at a provincial daily in Brantford or Kingston or a local TV station in Kitchener or Peterborough. Get published,...

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Shocked and appalled

There’s been a lot of quite appropriate wailing and caterwauling about the Ontario Liberal government’s cancellation of two gas-fired generating plants. The move was calculated to save a couple of seats in the 2011 provincial election. The costs of getting out of the contracts were initially low-balled and could end up reaching almost $600 million. But as Gwyn Morgan wrote in an eye-opening column in The Globe and Mail recently, those costs are chicken-feed compared with the Dalton McGuinty government’s misguided green policy. So desperate was the McGuinty government to look as if it were moving into the modern era...

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What if it’s us?

The Blue Jays have come alive again, winning three in a row, but this time it’s not the big names who are playing well, it’s the call-ups: Kevin Pillar and Ryan Goins – even Moises Sierra – as well as everybody’s fave, Munenori Kawasaki. Oh sure, Brett Lawrie is good on defence and Edwin Encarnacion always helps, but the difference in the team recently is that some new, young guys are playing with intensity. I share a pair of season’s tickets behind the Blue Jays dugout with five others so I get to the park a dozen or so times...

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Value village

Half a dozen years ago, I attended a corporate reception in Montreal. The catered event in a beautiful venue featured business leaders, famous people, and – with the exception of a four-minute speech by the Toronto-based CEO – was conducted totally in French. I was okay with that. Most of the remarks during the 90-minute program had little to do with the organization that has offices around the world, they were just the usual boring blather of self-congratulation. Still, I saw the full use of French as a remarkable and positive outcome of Bill 101 that demonstrated the self-confidence of Quebec businesspeople....

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Cheap drinks

One of my favorite reads in The Globe and Mail is the Clarification/Correction column. Newspapers today are far more likely to admit errors, anything from misspelled words to major whoops. A correction yesterday referred to a story that I hadn’t read (another reason to check the clarifications) about the Nestle operation in Aberfoyle, Ont., where they pump drinking water out of the ground and fill plastic bottles. Aberfoyle is a spit-and-a-holler south of Guelph where I grew up. When I was a boy, Guelph’s water came from the Arkell Springs, about half way between the Royal City and Aberfoyle. At...

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Suck-up city

By far the best book of the season is This Town, a skewering of the Washington, D.C., elite. Written by Mark Leibovich, national correspondent for The New York Times Magazine, the book arrives with a long subtitle: Two Parties and a Funeral – plus plenty of valet parking! – in America’s Gilded Capital. In fact there are two funerals, one for Tim Russert, erstwhile host of Meet the Press, the other for Richard Holbrooke. Both events are described in vicious detail, right down to how people arrived wearing studio-ready pancake makeup. Barack Obama was the first of fifteen eulogists for...

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O tempora o mores!

This summer’s Shakespeare in High Park offers two plays, Macbeth and The Taming of the Shrew, in an outdoor setting that’s close to the action. I saw The Taming of the Shrew last night and can report that it’s a popular romp of a production that drew a sellout crowd including lots of families with young children. I am not sure, however, that it is family fare. The Taming of the Shrew has never been among my favourite Shakespearean plays. While the work has spawned Broadway and other iterations, its theme of taking the rebellious Kate and bending her into...

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Toronto the Best

The rest of Canada hates Toronto, right? The venom is so virulent that it infects Torontonians who debunk their city as riddled with gridlock, run by a boor, has an affront for a waterfront and can’t mount a professional team that’s a winner. (Except for the Argos and they don’t count.) In recent days I’ve read disparaging things about the Ted Rogers statue at the Rogers Centre, a restaurant where the chef spent too much time in the front of the house and, of course, the weather. There’s always something wrong with the weather: too humid, too cold at night,...

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