Musings by Rod McQueen Blog

The dying of the light

The Globe and Mail has recently added a new feature, a half-page wanna-be-there story about some sunbaked resort, festive cruise, or guided tour so grand that it will turn you into one of those sought-after influencers. At the end of each massaged piece there’s always a reverent sentence, displayed in an italic font, that says something like: “The writer was a guest of Fantasy Farm but the Farm did not read or approve the story before publication.” Last Saturday there were two such articles in my morning paper, both on skiing in Japan, written by two different authors about two...

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Letter of the law

I took a guided tour of of the Ontario Legislature this week. I’d previously sat in the visitors gallery and once attended a reception on a lower floor, so decided it was time to see the full panoply.  Opened in 1893, the main floor, legislative chamber, and vast hallways are magnificent in oak. There are skylights, green and gold trim everywhere, and carvings above the doorways. The Mace, symbol of the Speaker, is displayed in a glass case for all to see up close because the legislature is not sitting. Crafted in 1867 it was regilded recently with two diamonds...

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Chapter and verse

Fall and Christmas are the seasons for new books. As an author myself, I admire and appreciate the effort that goes into researching and writing a book. Here are brief reviews of three recent books that I enjoyed. The Duel: Diefenbaker, Pearson and the Making of the Modern Canada. The thing that bothers me most about John Ibbitson’s book is that Pearson and Diefenbaker – warts and all – are far more interested in the welfare of Canadians than today’s leaders. Dief’s populism overshadows Pierre Poilievre’s poor attempts to align himself with voters. Pearson’s fertile brain makes Justin Trudeau look...

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Dance of the dialectic

After finishing second in the Iowa caucuses, Ron DeSantis decided he would depart the Republican presidential race, saying he was “suspending” his campaign. At first, I thought the verb he used was a weasel word that would allow him to reactivate his run. Then I realized that he was just going with the flow in public pronouncements by using a euphemism.  A similar subterfuge has infected the business world. When a chief executive officer leaves abruptly, he’s said to be “stepping aside.” Is he still on the executive floor and attending important meetings? I think not. But it’s better to...

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Cry, the beloved country

I read in my morning newspaper that both Bell and Rogers are thinking about increasing monthly charges for wireless and Internet customers. Funnily enough, both companies were considering hikes of a similar amount. I’m not suggesting collusion –  Heaven forbid – but it doesn’t take a Sherlock Holmes to conclude we have too few big media companies in Canada competing for customers. By contrast, in the U.S., Verizon is giving away iPhones with any trade-in in any condition. Rog/Bell will never make such an offer. Why? Because Canadians are complacent and compliant, not demanding or desiring. At this time of...

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Fearless forecast

Here are my top ten predictions for 2024.  1. Justin Trudeau will remain leader of the Liberal Party. Pierre Poilievre’s 10-point lead will evaporate. No election will be caused or called. 2. A recession as defined by two quarters of slow or no growth will occur. Previously compassionate Canadians will turn mean and blame immigrants for both the housing crisis and hard times. 3. The S&P/TSX Composite Index will fall 18 percent. 4. Donald Trump will win the U.S. presidential election. All hell will break loose. 5. Israel will reject international pleas for peace and continue to pursue Hamas even...

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Peter Godsoe 1938-2023

In 1976, when I left the Ottawa office of Opposition Leader Robert Stanfield, I tried to get back into journalism, but no one would have me. I guess they all thought I would somehow promote Tory propaganda in my stories. So I became director of public affairs at the Bank of Nova Scotia. I reported to Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Cedric Ritchie so I had a first-hand look at the power politics that dominates the internal affairs of any large corporation. Among the rising stars was Peter Godsoe who had a Harvard MBA and was working his way ever...

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The way we were

What has happened to the scallywags of yesteryear? You know who I’m talking about, those high-flying, job-creating entrepreneurs who always seemed to be mouthing off on topics about which they knew nothing. They were in-your-face outlandish spenders with the latest private jet, a palace in the Caribbean, and women draped all over them.  Take Nelson Skalbania, for example, who loved to gamble, owned the Vancouver Canucks and the Calgary Flames among other teams, several fine cars, a yacht, artwork, and tore down many a mansion as he bounced through a variety of sectors including forestry, air cargo, and an engineering...

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Darcy McKeough 1933-2023

When Darcy McKeough, former Treasurer of Ontario, talked to me about helping with his memoirs, he said he’d done some work. You never know what that means: a few scrawled recollections or maybe a stack of newspaper clippings. For McKeough, it was a three-inch-thick binder with 1,200 double-spaced typed pages – 601,189 words in all. I told McKeough that the average published book had 256 pages and ran to 75,000 words. Moreover, I would be interviewing friends, colleagues, and family for additional information and anecdotes so that more than 90 percent of what he’d written wasn’t going to make it...

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Echoes from the past

I read recently that the iPhone has more capacity than computers did at the time men were first sent to the moon. The author then went on to cite the Apollo 13 mission when the astronauts spoke those scary words: “Houston, we’ve had a problem.” As it turns out, Houston didn’t turn to any computer for help, they used slide rules to right the wrong. The slide rule has been around in one form or another since the 1600s. My father was an engineer; I used his slide rule to solve Physics problems in Grade Thirteen. But both the slide...

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Face up to it

A few months back I wrote about the statue of Queen Elizabeth II that would soon be installed at Queen’s Park. The statue has been mired in disputes for several years. Something to do with donors, unpaid bills, and who knows what else. But that’s not what caught my eye. No, it was the dimensions of the statue. According to a newspaper article, the statue plus the plinth it would sit on was going to be thirty feet high. That’s like three storeys of a condo building. It was supposed to be placed to the left of the main door...

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Going, going, gone

I think enough time has passed since the end of the Blue Jays’ baseball season that I can write something about the team without grinding my teeth right into the gums. They scraped into the wild-card round, scored one run in two games, and were gone.  In similar circumstances, someone among the higher-ups in such a moribund organization would be fired. Not so with the Jays. Club president Mark Shapiro, general manager Ross Atkins, and manager John Schneider all remain firmly ensconced despite making the most bone-headed decision I’ve ever seen in baseball. That brains trust decided prior to the...

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Apple of my eye

I am still struggling to make sense of the now infamous interview Pierre Poilievre recently gave near Kelowna, B.C., to a local journalist. You likely have seen portions of this interview that’s gone viral conducted while the Conservative leader chows on an apple. The surrounding orchard sets the scene. While we’re not in the Garden of Eden, there is a certain biblical tone. In the beginning, as the journalist (let’s call him LJ for local journalist) flounders around trying to frame a question about Poilievre’s “populist path,” you can see the leader smirk and reply “What does that mean?” Right...

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Spare the truth

When Spare, the book by Prince Harry, came out in January, I vowed not to read it just out of obstreperousness. I wasn’t moved by the fact that Guinness World Records named it the “fastest selling non-fiction book of all time.” Nor did I bow to temptation when I saw stacks of copies in my local Indigo. A week ago, however, out of nowhere, I got a message on my iPad saying I could renew Spare for another three weeks on Libby. The notice looked official and included my Toronto Public Library number. Turns out Libby is an online provider...

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Send in the clones

Everybody’s writing about Artificial Intelligence (AI) these days. My morning paper has as least two articles a day on the topic. Now that apparently anybody can write something using AI, those of us who write for a living are out of luck. This is the end of the line, maybe even the end of an era. Writing had its beginnings when he/him she/her first started telling stories to others around fires and continued through the invention of moveable type, stage productions, and then the silver screen. The Industrial Age replaced the Agrarian Age but farmers continued to grow food. I...

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