Author: Rod McQueen

Everywhere a sign

To quote Geoffrey Chaucer, “Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote (When April with its sweet-smelling showers) The droghte of March hath perced to the roote.” (Has pierced the drought of March to the root).” Beginning at 4 a.m. coyotes bay at the rising half moon that lights up the early morning sky. Once dawn has fully arrived, we notice more activity in the pond. The pair of mallards that were there yesterday has been joined by two pairs of hooded mergansers, preening and diving beneath the water for breakfast. Compared with the mallards, the mergansers appear tiny, but both...

Read More ....

The challenge of change

The trouble with Erin O’Toole is his job title: Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. As long as the Conservative leader retains that role, he won’t get any respect from the Ottawa press corps. I know whereof I speak. After all, I was press secretary to Robert Stanfield from 1970-1975 through two losing elections, back in the day when it was the Progressive Conservative Party. As Stanfield once said, “If I walked on water across the Rideau Canal, the headlines would read, ‘Stanfield can’t swim.’” That’s because most journalists then and now are left of centre, more likely to give positive...

Read More ....

Half a life

Everybody is suffering due to the COVID-19 pandemic: death of a loved one, the fear of illness and the relentless loneliness that grips so many. Of those who enjoy good health, I believe that the group who will bear the heaviest long-term cost are high school students. Think back to your own youth. You might be loved and well taken care of at home, but where you really wanted to be was with your friends at school, playing team sports, participating in clubs and choir, or just hanging out. What might seem simply like fun activities are actually lessons in leadership,...

Read More ....

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 ....