The red coat syndrome

The head of a pension plan loses his job because he got a vaccine shot on foreign soil. A veteran journalist is told to resign because of something he may or may not have said two years ago. A governor undergoes an independent inquiry because of complaints by two former staffers. And Charlie Rose is toast. I miss him still. Welcome to the cancel culture where your life’s work and reputation can be destroyed in an instant. What has happened to us? Where is the forgiveness factor that used to be more freely given? Meanwhile, a former president continues to...

Read More ....

Fredrik S. Eaton 1938-2021

About eighteen months ago I was early for lunch with a member at one of Toronto’s finest clubs. I was guided to a sitting area to wait for my host. As I began to take a seat, I realized Fred Eaton was a couple of chairs away, waiting for his lunch companion. I had not seen Fred since my book on the demise of the family department store some twenty years ago. “I’m Rod McQueen,” I said. “I know who you are,” he harrumphed. I sat down nearby anyway and for the next five-to-eight minutes we had a conversation that got...

Read More ....

Shout it out

Do you find yourself shouting at the television these days because your Covid-19 fatigue has reached new heights? We do. A favourite target for our ire is Justin Trudeau who regularly assures us that the vaccine program is “on track.” At one press briefing he must have used the phrase half a dozen times. All of which is punctuated by his quick intakes of breath, an unlikely but annoying leftover from his days as a drama teacher. In fact, the only Canadians I know who have received shots are both in their 90s and live in retirement homes. They deserve...

Read More ....

Where were my eyes yesterday?

It’s coming up on a year since the pandemic began and, oh, how our lives have changed. No theatre, no art galleries, too few times with family. You’re left with asking people what they’re recommending among Netflix offerings. The Dig, with Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes tops my list. As for Ozark, after sitting through too many bizarre plot twists and grisly incidents, we abandoned the series early in the second season. But there’s a whole other world out there, one that’s always been around, we just haven’t paid as much attention as we should. The moon is a prime...

Read More ....

The power gap

Robyn Doolittle, along with half a dozen colleagues at the Globe and Mail, has spent months investigating the status of women in the workplace. Usually, such studies just look at business, but this work not only covered public companies, but also universities, cities, cultural institutions, hospitals, police services, and not-for-profit organizations. What they found, published on Saturday, was that while pay was still a problem, “what really stood out was the overall lack of women. At entity after entity, women were dramatically outnumbered. In the higher bands of salaries, it wasn’t unusual to see five times more men.” The problem...

Read More ....

The dogs of war

When I think back to my time as bureau chief in Washington, D.C., for the Financial Post, it feels so long ago compared to what is happening now it might well have been the Pleistocene Age when mammoths walked the earth. During my posting from 1989-1993, Washington was an idyllic spot troubled only by a few eccentricities. As Jack Kennedy quipped: “Washington is a city of Southern efficiency and Northern charm.” Pansies bloomed all winter when the worst that could happen was a forecast of an inch or two of snow. The federal government would promptly send everyone home. Residents would clean out their local...

Read More ....

Scribble, scribble

I just finished writing a book. It was a four-year-long project. You’d think I’d want to take some time off but you’d be wrong. When you’ve been writing pretty much every day since Grade Twelve, you get twitchy when you’re not typing away at something. The whole thing started with a weekly high school news column in my hometown paper, the Guelph Mercury. I was paid nine cents a column inch. It was due Monday morning so I’d sit down at 9 p.m. on a Sunday night and write until I fell asleep. My forty inches of copy earned $3.60,...

Read More ....

The ghosts of Christmas past

The earliest Christmas dinner celebrations I can remember occurred at my maternal grandparent’s home in the west end of Toronto. They just had a small bungalow but somehow my mother, father, me, my mother’s brother, his wife and their two children who were both younger than me, could all squeeze around the dining room table with our hosts. In my mind, the turkey was the size of my elder cousin and carved with gusto, after much sharpening of the knife on a whetstone, by my grandfather. My grandmother always ate the roundish nub at the turkey’s rear, something she called...

Read More ....