Vive la différence

Tales of inappropriate groping and worse that happened in the past are falling like leaves from the trees. Women are coming forward in droves, finally feeling free to tell about the time they were accosted by some famous name. The kind of behaviour that’s being reported is offensive and abusive, but it also demonstrates a basic difference between men and women. It all depends on who is making the moves. Every man has a few treasured moments that are stashed away in his memory about approaches by women. In my case, there are three such stories, none of which came to...

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Conflicts and character

Finance Minister Bill Morneau is exactly the sort of person who should be in Parliament. He’s a successful and well-educated business leader with an INSEAD MBA and a master’s from the London School of Economics. He’s worth millions and in his fifties could take the time to run for office. Morneau is also a member of the lucky sperm club. He joined the actuarial firm founded by his father and eventually became CEO of Morneau, Shepell. Until very recently, Morneau had made no mistakes and was a star in Ottawa. Last week, you could see how far he’d fallen when a reporter’s questions about Morneau’s financial affairs...

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Walking the line

During the 1950s and 60s in my hometown of Guelph, Ont., you made your own fun. There were no touring orchestras or theatrical groups, just the local light opera company doing The Gondoliers or the little theatre presenting The Importance of Being Earnest. The boffo offering was always the annual minstrel show by the Kiwanis Club with a row of ten men called names like Rastus and Bones who sat on the high school auditorium stage telling cornball jokes and singing. The highlight was “Old Man River” crooned by the owner of Kelly’s Music store. They all wore white gloves and blackface until the civil rights movement was launched in the...

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Things to give thanks for

Every day that dawns. The Harvest Moon this past week. The fact that Monarch butterflies, blue jays and crows are making a comeback in Toronto. Lots of laughter. Curiosity. A civil society with few guns. Yoga. Any book about LBJ or Winston Churchill. The lyricism of A Shropshire Lad by A. E. Housman. The authority of the New Yorker and the quirkiness of the London Review of Books. Reading The Great Gatsby or The World According to Garp every few years.  My daily giornata. Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. Church bells and familiar hymns. Crisp McIntosh apples. Cranberry sauce. Butter tarts from The Bakery in Flesherton....

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A sorry state

There was a time when governments never apologized, neither for what they did, nor for past transgressions. Pierre Trudeau comes to mind. He always said he was looking forward, not back. But, as time has passed, other prime ministers have taken a different approach. Brian Mulroney, for example, apologized for the internment of Japanese-Canadians during the Second World War. Stephen Harper apologized for what was done to young aboriginals at residential schools. No prime minister, however, has been such a profuse apologist as Justin Trudeau. Being Canadian has come to mean always having to say you’re sorry. His list already includes:...

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Sitting room only

All this foofara caused by President Donald Trump over a White House invitation to the Golden State Warriors has gotten out of hand. LeBron James is now calling Trump a “bum,” some NFL players are kneeling during the national anthem, and other teams are avoiding controversy by staying in the locker room until the Star Spangled Banner is over. Trump’s strategy is obvious. His main talent is to be a divisive force who plays one group off against another. Even on Capitol Hill, he’s cosying up to Democrats on fiscal matters while whipping his own Republicans toward impossible goals on healthcare. I believe this presents...

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Bidding wars

Among the first stories I wrote for Maclean’s after joining the newsmagazine in 1978 was a behind-the-scenes account of how governments helped Windsor, Ont., beat out Lima, Ohio, for a $500 million engine plant Ford was planning to build. I was able to reveal all the negotiations that took place among Ontario Premier Bill Davis, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, and Ford President Roy Bennett during the Calgary Stampede of all places. When I next saw the premier, he said the story read as if I’d been in the room, just the sort of comment a young magazine writer wants to hear. Looking back, that public support...

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Fun on Fogo

When you ask the locals living on Fogo Island, Newfoundland, about the weather, they don’t begin with sun, cloud or temperature. They talk first about the wind. A south-westerly is best and can signal several fine days to come. We had just such luck during our recent time at the Fogo Island Inn. The inn, which opened four years ago, dominates Joe Batt’s Arm, a community that’s a 10-minute walk away. The most wonderful aspect of a vacation on Fogo is that you encounter folks in ways you don’t usually while on holiday. One man called John that we happened to meet on a dock held...

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