Author: Rod McQueen

Star struck

I never paid much attention to the Toronto Star. When I was growing up, we subscribed to the Globe and Mail. Such habits acquired while young tend to remain in later life. But reading John Honderich’s memoir, Above the Fold, makes up for my void on this topic. Honderich was, of course, a foreign correspondent, editor, publisher, and an owner of the Star, so his life story is a fascinating read. The fact that he died earlier this year, after completing this work, makes everything all the more poignant. The family story begins near Kitchener, Ont., with his Mennonite forbears and moves along to his father,...

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Into a Tiff

Surprise! Inflation’s no longer a problem. At least that’s what analysts were saying after the stock market rose sharply at the end of the week. New York was up more than 5 percent during the last two trading days and Toronto was up slightly less. In the U.S., in October, the consumer price index was up 7.7 percent year-over-year, marking the fourth straight month of slowdown. In Canada, the Bank of Canada’s Tiff Macklem, our man at the inflation helm, has not quite declared an end to rate hikes, but he has found a new foe: employment. Macklem declared that...

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A Ford in the driveway

I’m going to declare up front my position on Ontario Premier Doug Ford. I’ve never liked him and I probably never will. Mind you, he’s a better man than he was during those early days in office when his idea of being in power was riding around the province enthroned in some kind of hopped-up RV. Better, but only slightly. It’s hard to know where to begin in my litany of foolish proposals, but let’s start with his plan for a roadway that impinges upon the Niagara Escarpment, a wonder of nature that countless citizens maintain and enjoy trekking along...

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Views on the news

I don’t watch the news nearly as much as I used to. Does anyone? Drones in the Ukraine, the convoy, floods in Pakistan, students shot in the classroom, lockdowns, hurricanes. I’m sorry to say that such travesties have become so regular that they all run into one another. When I do watch the evening television news, it is certainly not CTV, my former mainstay. Some executive’s ageist and sexist comments caused Lisa LaFlamme to lose her job and I disappeared at the same time.  I might watch the first ten minutes of The National but CBC News is not what...

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A bookish look

Indigo is celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary. As an author, I say congratulations to Gerry Schwartz and Heather Reisman for sticking with this investment in a difficult business. At my go-to Indigo, the biggest promotional poster shows Margaret Atwood sitting amongst flowers and is described as a “writer, advocate, and birdwatcher.” Notice the comma after advocate. That’s called an “Oxford comma” because it is used with a series of words in books while in normal newspaper usage it would not appear.  Alternating with Atwood is a video poster of rupi kaur (the lower case is accurate) who is described as a...

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The Queen and I

While watching the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II in recent days, I realized I must be a full-blown monarchist. How could I be anything else? I was born and raised in Guelph, the Royal City, lived across from St. George’s Park, patron saint of England, and attended King George Public School.  When the Queen was crowned in 1953, film of the coronation in Westminster Abbey was flown by the RAF and RCAF to Canada for broadcast on CBC. Hardly anyone had television in those days, so the neighbourhood gathered in the auditorium of the aforementioned school and watched the ceremony...

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Cause and effect

Poor Tiff Macklem, governor of the Bank of Canada. Today he boosted interest rates to 3.25 percent from 2.5 percent and the TSX managed to rise only 150 points, about the same as yesterday’s downturn. Analysts yawned even though rates in Canada are now higher than almost every nation from New Zealand to Sweden. Macklem is the Rodney Dangerfield of central bankers. The name “Tiff” comes from Macklem’s middle name, Tiffany. He has a PhD in economics and was for six years dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. It was there I saw him...

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Women’s work

The departure of Lisa LaFlamme as anchor of CTV News reeks of ageism and sexism. A senior male executive from Bell Media, owners of CTV, was heard deriding her grey hair as if that were sufficient criteria for firing her. Oh yes, there was another problem. LaFlamme and her producer fought with their superiors to be able to send journalists to international events such as Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee. Such cheek! This abusive treatment is nothing new. As an author and journalist I have been writing about the poor treatment of women in the workplace for decades. In 2000, for...

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Questions, questions

Back in the day when I was a cub reporter at the London Free Press, I learned a saying from Doug Bale, the newspaper’s theatre critic. It went like this: “I keep six honest serving men, they taught me all I knew, their names are what and why and when and how and where and who.” Bale, who wore a cravat, was quite a dandy by comparison to the others in the newsroom. I later learned that he was quoting a poem by Rudyard Kipling, but it did not take away from what he taught me about how to write...

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The golden thumb

Laurie Bennett showed me how to hitchhike. We were both bellhops at Britannia Hotel on Lake of Bays in 1963. Ben, who remains a good friend, wanted to get home to Meaford to see his girlfriend. I tagged along, promised a blind date. Neither of us had a car, so at his urging, we set out to hitchhike. The twenty minutes to Huntsville was an easy ride along with someone from the hotel. But so was the remainder. We’d hardly put out a thumb when we were on our way to Barrie, then across Highway 26 to Meaford. The travel...

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The trouble with Canadian retailing

On a trip to the U.S. in March 1994, I stopped at the Wal-Mart store in Meadville, Pa. to inspect the outfit that was coming to Canada after buying 120 Woolco stores from Woolworth Canada. Inside the door, a cheerful employee greeted me and offered a shopping cart. The place was well lit, aisles were wide, stock neatly displayed. Some prices were as much as half off. An employee near me carrying what looked like a Flash Gordon ray gun zapped a product barcode with a laser beam. With little prompting, she proudly showed me how the readout gave her...

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Rogers dodgers

During the extended Rogers outage on Friday, I happened to drive past the two main buildings that form the company’s head office. There’s a permanent sign on the north building that reads “Rogers: Canada’s biggest and most reliable 5G network.” Well, as we all now know, that’s a bit of a nose-stretcher. For the second time in two years, Rogers was down. Clients were still coming back aboard today after twenty-four hours without service. Phone calls, debit and credit payments, calls to 911, Interac transfers, text messages and emails were all affected. Who knew that Rogers commanded such heights? Or...

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The real meaning of pur laine

I’ve read a lot about Quebec’s latest controversial laws, Bills 21 and 96, but I don’t think the explanation for their existence has been complete. But before I say what I believe is the cause of these attacks on minorities, let’s look at what’s happened in what all too many people outside Quebec call la belle province as if to show off their bilingualism. In the past, Quebecers have talked about “pur laine” (pure wool) the term in French for those who are descended from the original settlers from New France. This group is seen as the ultimate Quebcois although...

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Potpourri

Have you noticed the increasing amount of Americanization that’s creeping into our language? For years, Canadians have spelled defence with a “c” unlike the Americans who spell it with an “s” as in defense. Even as I write, my iMac underlines that word in red to let me know that I have made a mistake. But lately I see defense in Canadian newspapers all the time. When Ontario recently mailed me a notice about how I could renew my driver’s licence online, the form used both “licence” and “license” on the same one-page advisory. Obviously some bureaucrat was careful to...

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Apologies

Some subscribers to my blog today received a blog post that you will have already read in February about the ouster of Erin O’Toole as leader of the Conservative Party. Gremlins in the works! If you’d like to read what you were supposed to receive, please go to rodmcqueen.com and you’ll find a post on the much more interesting topic of Elvis the Pelvis.

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