Black and white and dying all over

Just when you thought a bad idea couldn’t get worse, it did. In the 2018 federal budget, $50 million was designated to hire professional journalists to buttress local news coverage. On its face, the concept might appeal to some; use public money to tell the public what’s going on around the corner. But, can you really have a free press if it’s bought and paid for by Ottawa? Not by my definition. Now, how does Ottawa foul things up even more? Why by creating a sketchy committee to advise who should enjoy the tax measures proposed in the 2019 budget. Lo and behold, the...

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Fear of flying

Talk about déjà vu all over again. Pickering Airport is back in the news. It first became an issue during the 1972 federal election after the Liberal government of Pierre Trudeau planned to build a passenger airport east of Toronto. Toronto International Airport would soon be stretched to the limit, they claimed. (The Pearson name wasn’t adopted until 1984.) Plus, construction was under way on Mirabel Airport north of Montreal. Maybe the Liberals thought Torontonians might like a new airport, too. I was working for Opposition Leader Robert Stanfield. He asked me to write a research paper and make a recommendation. I did so,...

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Mighty Mouse

You’re never too old to learn the same lesson again. People on television are not the same as people in real life. This week I attended a speech by Canada’s foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, and came away more impressed than I expected to be. The minister was in a free-wheeling mode, self-deprecating at times, never glib, and always spoke to the point, unlike some politicians who dance around the topic at hand. Her main message was that democracies around the world are under siege. During the last thirty years the middle-class has been hollowed out, jobs have disappeared, and wages haven’t kept...

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Three into one doesn’t go

Of all the corporate manoeuvres in recent times, the consolidation of three life insurance subsidiaries – Great-West, London Life and Canada Life – has to rank among the more foolish. The three companies have long been part of Power Financial but that, apparently, has not been sufficient for the kind of synergies needed in this day and age, according to company officials. In Canada Life, they certainly have chosen the most storied of the three names for continuing use. Canada Life, founded in 1847, was the first Canadian life insurance company. Great-West acquired Canada Life in 2003, London Life in 1997, and continued to...

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Uncivil war

We were at a dinner recently where we knew no one. Seating was random so we ended up across from a couple who lived in Chicago. After the usual niceties about jobs and how beautiful each other’s cities were, I ventured into the topic of politics. “Most people in Chicago are Democrats,” I said, “are you?” “We’re Republicans,” replied the wife. I should have known from her chilly tone that I had made a horrendous mistake, as if I called them idiots or worse. Foolishly, I carried on, asking,”How do you think your man in Washington is doing?” “He’s trying his best,” she said. By this...

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A man for all seasons

If my grandmother were alive, she’d say, “The back of winter has been broken.” Of course, she also maintained, “Winter hasn’t gone until the snow is out of the bush.” Still, there are positive signs, Nanna. Daylight saving time arrived over the weekend and the rest of this week is supposed to get warmer, reaching a balmy 13C in Toronto on Thursday. But there were other, earlier aspects of spring, particularly in the bird world. Cardinals started singing on territory three weeks ago as they announced their nesting sites and fended off other males of the species. A week ago today, I saw an American Robin...

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Don’t get fooled again

If Jody Wilson-Raybould is to be believed, and she certainly seems credible, the minister was under extreme duress to change her mind about prosecuting SNC-Lavalin. I’m not going to detail her testimony in this blog, everyone is now all too familiar with the ongoing efforts made by her colleagues on behalf of the Quebec-based firm. None of that activity seems to fall under the “rule of law” rubric so beloved by Justin Trudeau. While multiple participants have supplied facts (as they see them), the Globe and Mail is to be congratulated on first raising this matter last month. Turns out the original piece written by...

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Last of a line

The play, 1979, by Michael Healey, is regularly described as a satire, but it is more than that. It is also a paean to Joe Clark who forty years ago lost a confidence vote and his job as prime minister. At the time, Clark was seen as a bumpkin and a fool. He was neither, as the play that recently finished a Toronto run, reminds us. The play is also a comedy filled with great lines. “I’ve got Peter Lougheed riding me like a pony and it’s the last day at the Ex,” says Philip Riccio who stars as Clark and...

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