Author: Rod McQueen

Same old, same old

Canada has been a whipping boy forever. The references to our incapacities are legion. In Sean Connery’s last James Bond film, Diamonds are Forever, Bond’s enemy in that 1971 movie was Blofeld who had taken up a position on an oil rig where he operated a laser satellite that had already blown up nuclear weapons in China and North Korea. As Blofeld sought other targets, the dot on his world map indicating a possible strike point crossed over Canada. He said something like, “If we hit Canada, it would be a long time before anyone knew.” These days, The Economist...

Read More

Then and now

Paul Waldie’s story in The Globe and Mail today reminds me how lucky we Globe readers are to have such excellent coverage on the war in Ukraine as well as its impact elsewhere. The piece, a heart-wrenching story about abusive treatment of Ukrainian refugees by Russians living in the former East Germany was just one of many situations on which Globe journalists have recently reported. In addition, Waldie usually manages to write his weekly instalment about someone in Canada who has donated to a good cause. I don’t mean to focus solely on Waldie because Globe coverage of Ukraine is...

Read More

And it shall come to pass

Over the holidays I learned a Hungarian tradition about eating that stands you in good stead for the year. My partner declared that, according to lore, on New Year’s Day you have to be careful what you eat. You can’t eat fish, because it will swim away on you. You can’t eat chicken, because it will fly away. You must eat pork because a pig digs beneath him so stays grounded. We had bacon sandwiches. With that foresight in mind, here are my top ten predictions for 2023. No Toronto team will win a championship, not the Raptors, Blue Jays,...

Read More

Season’s Greetings

Dear Readers: Happy Holidays to all and may 2023 bring you and your families good health and much joy. If it’s not too late, may you do what you have always wanted to do, but never got around to it. Rod McQueen

Read More

Leaving Las Vegas

My maximum bet has always been five cents. You don’t win much, but you don’t lose much either. Well, there was that one time I went to Las Vegas where I gambled $20 on slot machines. I was such a low-roller that the $20 lasted for five hours despite free Coronas handed out by skimpily-clad waitresses.  Somehow, earlier this year, the federal government and the provinces colluded to permit online betting in Canada. I say somehow because I don’t recall there being an announcement from either Justin Trudeau or Doug Ford about what I consider to be a major change...

Read More

The past is prologue

Sometimes in life you seem to be losing control. When the future is uncertain, the only safe place to go is to the past. Not the places you visited, or the various jobs you held, but the family members you knew who are no longer around. On my father’s side my only recollection of his father is of a moustache and pipe behind the wheel of car coming down his driveway near the small town of Nottawa, near Collingwood. As for my paternal grandmother, I was a scared young lad being pulled to toward her open coffin. My mother might...

Read More

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,...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More