Musings by Rod McQueen Blog

Shouting and sharing

In just the past few days I’ve heard several stories about how our society is breaking down. Three involve doctors. In the first case, a patient shouted at a doctor during an in-office visit. In the second, a doctor shouted at a patient. The third involved a patient seen by a specialist who identified an uncommon ailment. “I wish I could call on my residents,” he said, then explained how Covid had reduced the opportunity in hospitals for residents to spend time with doctors. As a result, there will be cohorts of graduates who conclude their studies without seeing some...

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If I ran the world

If I ran the world, here’s what I’d do: * make vaccinations mandatory for all, even the anti-vaxxers and religious pull-backers; the rest of us have constitutional rights, too; * ban any and all tattoos on women; they’re reprehensible; * while we’re at it, lets’s ban those stretch Lululemon-style yoga leggings when they’re worn on the streets as the only body covering below the waist. Some women might be able to carry off such attire, but not many; * send Justin Trudeau to a voice coach to get rid of his annoying habit of pausing to draw a breath on...

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The mired and the admired

Erin O’Toole is a dead duck. Despite the fact that the Conservatives won the popular vote in this week’s election, they did not win the seat count. That’s why the Liberals will never bring in election reform as they said they would. First-past-the-post works fine for them. Just as Andrew Scheer became a former leader after the last election, so too will O’Toole. If he doesn’t resign on his own, he will be pushed by the party and it will be as messy as it will be humiliating. The party will follow Oscar Wilde’s dictum, “A good friend will always stab...

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They’ll have to go

Whatever the outcome of this election, the status of the Bloc Quebecois as a federal political party should be rescinded. The Bloc is little more than a bunch of hypocrites who take federal paycheques as well as federal funds for parliamentary staff and constituency offices all the while trying to create a sovereign Quebec. The party has had some electoral success in Quebec under a variety of leaders since its founding in 1991. Led by Lucien Bouchard and Gilles Duceppe, among others, the Bloc won fifty-four seats in 1993 and 2004 while hitting a low of two seats in 2014. At...

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Ghosts from the past

Keith Davey, Pierre Trudeau’s campaign manager, also known as “The Rainmaker,” used to say that every election required a move to the “radical middle.” By that he meant a political party shifted to the left to capture votes but then turned back to the right to govern. That radical middle was where Erin O’Toole was headed until he got rudely interrupted by reality. A week ago, according to the Nanos poll, he was a “political freight train” in the lead ahead of Justin Trudeau. Now, O’Toole is beginning to look more like a train wreck.  After all, can a Conservative...

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Rough times at the top

This is the first federal election I can remember when coverage of leaders and issues is often well down in the TV newscasts. There are no dulcet tones of politicians until after Afghanistan, forest fires, Haiti and other catastrophes. This subterfuge may be regarded as helpful by the Liberals who have been hurt by the unpopularity of the early election call, the resurgence of Covid and the so-so performance of Justin Trudeau. By contrast, the chipper appearances and fully fleshed-out campaign commitments of Conservative leader Erin O’Toole have surprised everybody.  But what if, as appears likely, the outcome is another...

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You can bank on it

The first book I ever wrote was called The Moneyspinners: An Intimate Portrait of the Men Who Run Canada’s Banks. Published in 1983, it had chapters on each of the Big Five Bank Chairmen and Chief Executive Officers: Rowland Frazee of the Royal, Bill Mulholland of Bank of Montreal, Richard Thomson at TD, CIBC’s Russell Harrison and Cedric Ritchie of the Bank of Nova Scotia. Writing about businesspeople was so novel at the time that there were individuals who were shocked to find themselves quoted, even though I came to their offices, explained what I was doing and turned on...

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William G. Davis 1929-2021

If you were sitting in an audience that Bill Davis was addressing, you knew that no matter his topic, you were in for some fun first. As a native son of Brampton, Ont., there would be more than a few complimentary remarks about his home town, what a great place it was to live and how investors were always welcome. Next, Davis – who spoke with the speed and agility of an auctioneer – would begin to pick out people that he knew and take a few pokes at the expense of each in turn. As Davis worked his way...

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Unreal estate

During the last two years, the average price for a detached house in Canada has risen 25 percent, even more in Toronto. As a result, many hopeful first-time home buyers have been priced out of the market. This go-go period is all so reminiscent of the run-up in the 1980s that was followed by a 50 percent drop in values during the recession of the 1990s. It took until the early 2000s for values to get back to where they had been. I’m not predicting a repeat performance. This economy is stronger … at the moment. But I do think...

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Joyce McKeough 1937-2021

For Joyce McKeough, politics was a precious part of her life. Her father, David Walker, was a member of the House of Commons, a cabinet minister in the John Diefenbaker government, and later, a senator. Her husband, Darcy, served in the Ontario Legislature for fifteen years and was Treasurer in the Bill Davis government. Educated at Branksome Hall and Trinity College at the University of Toronto, Joyce had been presented at court to Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip and came away with a vivid remembrance of “the devastating eyes of the Prince.” Joyce was working at an advertising agency, Ronalds-Reynolds,...

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Publish and perish

At first glance, Google appears to be doing what it should have done long ago, making global product and licensing arrangements that will pay billions of dollars for reproducing other peoples’ articles. Until now, the originating organization received no payment for what clearly has been nothing less than copyright infringement. Around the world Google has signed with the Murdoch-owned News Corp. as well as media organizations in Germany and Australia. This week, Google announced deals with eight Canadian participants, including the Winnipeg Free Press, the Globe and Mail and Métro Média. That’s only a fraction of the organizations that exist,...

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Boys and their toys

We all know about type A personalities and their driven behaviour, but some senior business leaders have taken their private passions to new heights. Literally. Next month Amazon’s Jeff Bezos will take a ride to space in a reusable rocket launched by Blue Origin, his space company. This is not just any ride, this is the maiden flight with passengers. Coming along with him will be his brother, an unnamed individual who paid US$30 million for the privilege, as well as an astronaut yet to be named. In fact, the rocket, called the New Shepard, is named after Alan Shepard,...

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Down memory lane

For the past several days I’ve been working my way through three large cartons of family memorabilia, some of which I have never seen before. My mother must have been the initiator. Among the souvenirs is her mother’s teaching certificate from 1910. Another sign my mother was the original keeper is that the boxes contain every letter I ever wrote to my parents beginning in 1963 from Western, through my first job in Toronto, time in Ottawa and up to 1980 when I was at Maclean’s. That was the year she died. My father must have held on to everything, but...

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Encore une fois

The saga of Quebec language and powers seems to have been debated for most of my adult life. Quebec has always been on the verge of eruption or separation. Following the 1976 election of Rene Levesque, Anglophone Quebecers no longer felt they had a home. Companies left the province and relocated all or part of their head offices elsewhere. The value of the C$ skidded from US$1.03 to US$0.70 during the next decade. Referenda in 1980 and 1995 tested the appetite for separation. During the 1995 vote, many Canadians rallied in Montreal to keep Quebec in Confederation. The outcome was a narrow rejection of sovereignty by 50.6%...

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Birdland

A few weeks ago I reported on the sights and sounds of spring at the farm. As Bachman-Turner Overdrive sang, “B-b-b-baby you ain’t seen n-n-nothin’ yet.” During the past few days, we’ve been overwhelmed by the next phase of this wondrous season of the year. Plants in the garden continue to sprout, the trilliums provide a carpet in the woods, and leaves on the trees are unfolding in so many shades of green they must have come from a painter’s magic palette. Among the more interesting new avian arrivals is a pair of eastern bluebirds that have taken up residence...

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