The invisible man

The caucus of the Conservative Party of Canada has decided not to pass judgment on Andrew Scheer. That was kind of them; he might not have passed muster. Instead, he will go on a “listening tour” to find out what Canadians think about him, the campaign and his policies. First, what did he do right? Well, he increased the party’s share of the popular vote by 2.5 percentage points from 2015 and added 26 seats. But, with all Justin Trudeau’s shenanigans, the election was Scheer’s to win … and he didn’t. What did he do wrong? The first television ads...

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Counting on it

In the 1972 federal election, the Liberal Party and the Progressive Conservative Party (as it was then known) were a couple of percentage points apart in the popular vote. So, too, in the number of seats won, 109-107, in favour of the Liberals. In this most recent election, the popular vote was even tighter. The Conservative Party of Canada (as it is now known) was one percentage point ahead of the Liberal Party and won 121 seats. The “loser” Liberals got 157 seats. A close-run thing on that earlier occasion resulted in a near tie in seats; an even closer...

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A life’s work

Hugh Segal has had his share of frustrations and elations. Growing up poor in Montréal taught him how tough life can be and turned him into caring Canadian. A visit to his school by the Right Honourable John Diefenbaker inspired him to believe that politics was a noble calling where change was possible. By the time he was in university, he was active with other students in the Progressive Conservative Party. In 1972, at twenty-two, he ran in Ottawa Centre, not a riding Tories usually won. He lost, but only by about 1,200 votes. I was working for Robert Stanfield at...

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Chicken feed

Canada’s first Chick-fil-A, the number one chicken restaurant in the U.S., opened a block away from me in downtown Toronto a month ago. For the first week, there was chaos on the sidewalk outside because of protests by the LGBTQ community who believe Chick-fil-A’s founding family is homophobic. The rest of the world didn’t care. Whenever I happened to walk by, the lineup of slavering customers began inside, stretched outside across the front windows, wound around the corner of the shop and continued some distance down the side street. After a week or so, the protesters disappeared but the lineups remained, so I patiently waited...

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Time for them to go

Is the regular baseball season over? I can only hope so. I’ve been a member of two different Blue Jays subscriber groups since that first day at Exhibition Stadium in 1977 so I have seen some bad years, but none was as awful as the most recent. Fans cheered more heartily at a well-caught foul ball in the stands than anything that happened on the field. Before the season began, there was a lot of hype about the impact rookies would have. Well the oldsters disappeared and the young-uns joined and we’d lose seven in a row, or twelve out of the last...

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The old face of society

When I was growing up in Guelph, Ont., there were no touring song or dance groups who came to town. Kitchener Auditorium, fifteen miles away, attracted the travelling rock and roll shows with the likes of The Everly Brothers and Buddy Holly but not every teenager in Guelph could afford to go. Instead, Guelphites made their own entertainment. The Guelph Light Opera Company would produce Gilbert and Sullivan or Brigadoon. And through the 1950s and into the 1960s the Guelph Kiwanis Club held an annual minstrel show. The fund-raising event, in the auditorium of Guelph Collegiate and Vocational Institute, ran three or four nights and was...

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The silence of the lambs

The Toronto International Film Festival officially opened last night with a Canadian documentary, Once Were Brothers, about Robbie Robertson and The Band. But the build-up to the annual affair has been going on for days with a media blitz and pop-up trucks trying out operations in locations around the city. One I saw was fitting, a jewellery company, another was not so welcome, a vaping firm with a backdoor on a enclosed van that you had to be nineteen to enter. I did not go inside but can imagine comfy tub chairs, trial intakes of some nicotine-laced concoction and a sales rep saying how...

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Metro notebook

Saw the Blue Jays beat Texas 3-0 on a silky evening with a temperature of 22C even at 10:30. The team is finally competitive, winning two-thirds of their last fifteen games. Previously, they were losing two-thirds of the time. Fans wear their Jays shirts like memory markers since most of the players represented are long gone: Josh Donaldson, Roy Halladay, Jose Bautista, Robbie Alomar, and Russ Martin. At least the t-shirt quality lasts through multiple washings. A Jays employee stationed near the dugout is great with the kids, helping them try for souvenir baseballs and allowing them to sneak up a few...

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