A world without borders

The eyes of Canada are suddenly on two places that none of us had ever heard of before: Emerson, Manitoba, and Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Quebec. Both have become border crossings for refugees on foot from Somali, Turkey and elsewhere. Because of various laws and treaties nothing can be done to halt the flow. Refugees are detained, will eventually be vetted, and may or may not be allowed to stay. There was much national tongue-clucking in Canada last year about how some countries in Europe bridled at the flow of Syrian migrants. Even though more than a million were involved – compared with our paltry few...

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Spring trillings

The handbill that came through my letterbox today was from a gardener looking for work. “Spring is just around the corner,” said the top line. I knew that. Yesterday I heard the Northern Cardinal singing his heart out. After a winter of being mute, at this time of year the male cardinal notices the lengthening days and feels his gonads grow. If he doesn’t have a mate, this song is meant to attract one. If he does have a mate, his notes will let her know he’s ready for breeding. The song is also territorial, telling other male cardinals to stay away. Except for one...

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Two feet in the door

Last night I met Lisa Raitt, candidate for leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. Raitt is impressive, down-to-earth, and good on her feet. The event was a reception at the home of my son Mark and his wife Andrea. Mark has been political since he was accredited as an observer at age ten to the 1976 convention that selected Joe Clark. At Western University he was president of the 600-member Progressive Conservative Club, the largest on any campus in the country. He worked in the PMO during the Brian Mulroney era. About 40 guests heard Raitt speak; she has...

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A word to the wise

Justin Trudeau will soon be meeting Donald Trump. Given the unpredictable proclivities of the new president, it is clear that the future of our nation is at stake. David Frum, the Canadian-born former speechwriter to Bush 43, has already offered his advice to Trudeau: flatter Trump to the point of nausea. That’s okay for the first few seconds, but the prime minister will need a more few “do’s” and “don’ts” for the rest of the time allotted. Don’t mention your father setting out by canoe for Cuba. Don’t ask to see the Scotch tape holding his tie together at the back. Don’t...

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The media and the message

The Shattered Mirror, released yesterday by the Public Policy Forum, is a well-written paper, filled with thoughtful ideas about the future of Canadian media while all around us is in disarray. Typical is Maclean’s, now relegated to being a monthly again. When I joined the newsmagazine in 1978, it was about to go weekly, able to do so because federal legislation steered advertising dollars away from American publications to Canadian ones. So, I’m a long-time fan of government intervention. This new document does not recommend that Ottawa either prop up or pay to run a failing media outlet, but there are reasonable suggestions...

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A nation unaware

Canadians have been clucking a lot lately about Donald Trump and the divided nation that is the United States. How did this happen, we worry? Isn’t it awful, we say? Will many Americans move here, we wonder? Meanwhile, I believe we have our own wide divides. Some of those divides are caused by distance and small populations. A recent article about the seven provinces and territories that have signed health care deals with the federal government noted that the seven contain a grand total of 10 percent of Canada’s population. In my entire lifetime, I’ve only made a handful of visits...

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One thumb up, one down

Two new television series debuted last night; one was disappointing, the other daunting. First, the disappointment, Victoria on PBS. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a dud on Masterpiece. Jenna Coleman does an OK job as the young 18-year-old inheriting the throne. And Lord Melbourne, played by Rufus Sewell, is excellent as her prime minister and special advisor. The rest of the cast is only middling. The goings-on below stairs are almost embarrassing in their silliness. We’ve all come to expect computer-generated imagery to create special effects and Victoria certainly uses CGI for crowd scenes and cityscapes. However, the...

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Life of Brian

Dear Premier Pallister: I’ve been reading about how you’ve pretty much pulled up stakes and moved from Winnipeg to Costa Rica for the next seven weeks. I don’t blame you. As assistant deputy minister in the Manitoba Department of Transportation, I can understand your desire to get away from the snow and the windchill. I’m sick of it all, too. I’ve been living with this weather since I was a boy in Dauphin and now that I’m in charge of snowplows for the province I’ve noticed that my life hasn’t changed that much since I was a tad. Unlike you, I can’t...

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