Category: General

The Peter Principle

Unless some business leader or rock star suddenly steps forward, the major candidates for leader of the Conservative Party have all announced. I hesitate to call them losers but they certainly don’t look like winners. All of the more promising possibilities took a pass for various personal and professional reasons: Lisa Raitt, Jean Charest, Rona Ambrose, Rod Phillips and the two Mulroney siblings, Caroline and Mark. The party is left with Peter MacKay, Erin O’Toole, and a couple of even lesser-knowns. Andrew Scheer is beginning to look pretty good. He spoke decent French, which while denigrated at the time, is...

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The tipping point

Tipping in restaurants used to be pretty predictable. You’d automatically add 15 percent to the bill, or if the service were excellent, you might bump it up to 20 percent. I do like the fact that these days a machine is presented so your credit card doesn’t leave your hand. In the paper-based system of the past, I always wondered when my card disappeared whether someone was making an extra copy for later use to buy a flight to Paris. But along with this newfound safety comes a catch. The machine offers a selection of various percentage tip amounts and...

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Songs of the heart

We spent some time over New Year’s on a farm near Orillia amid snow and serenity. Our only visitors were birds hungry for seeds and suet. Among the more prominent: both nuthatches (red- and white-breasted), hairy and downy woodpeckers, Blue Jays, chickadees, juncoes and a pair of American goldfinches. Sometimes a pileated woodpecker joins with wild turkeys and numerous other friends, some of whom are currently enjoying southern climes. I first became interested in birding while living in England in the 1980s. You grow up knowing the twenty birds that visit your backyard and, suddenly, you see birds around you...

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CBC’s sad decline

So President Donald J. Trump has complained that CBC deleted his cameo appearance in the movie Home Alone 2: Lost in New York when it recently aired. He should be happy. Not appearing on CBC may actually be a good thing given the state of disrepair into which CBC has fallen. Despite receiving more than $1 billion a year in government funding (plus ad revenue) CBC cannot seem to mount much of anything on television that is both successful and good. Take their latest offering that launched this month: Canadian Family Feud. Notice the careful use of the designation “Canadian”...

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TV or not TV

I well remember our family’s first television set. I was twelve and returning from two weeks at the Guelph YMCA camp, Nagiwa. My father had picked me up at the bus and was driving me home when, just as our house hove into view, he pulled my cap down over my eyes. He didn’t want me to see the new television aerial decorating our house, preferring to unveil the surprise once I was inside. Of course, I was excited by the RCA Victor black and white TV in a corner of the living room. “Can I turn it on?” I...

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Our daily dread

Canadians are so nice, goes the myth, so courteous. Indeed, there are regular occasions when we do act in thoughtful ways. If you follow someone into a mall or through a workplace doorway, chances are that they held the door so it did not swing shut in your face. I’m of an age now where young people regularly offer me their seat on the subway. I always decline. I’m not over the hill yet, but their kindness is welcome. However, put those same gracious Canadians behind the wheel and instantly they become irate road warriors. Pedestrians don’t get the right...

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We don’t need no education

As someone proudly born in Guelph, every couple of months I read the online obituaries in what is now called the Guelph Mercury Tribune. While Guelph has more than quadrupled to 130,000 since I left long ago, I usually know someone among the deceased. This time, I knew two people who recently died, both of them high school teachers from my days at John F. Ross Collegiate: Bill Scott and Cathy Crack. The first thing I noticed is that Scott was just seven years older than I, Crack only five years older. At the time, they seemed far more mature....

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From Torino to Toronto

Have you noticed how many everyday transactions used to involve people but no longer do? The first major self-serve was pumping your own gas. ATMs dispense cash and online sites accept bill payments as well as allow trades in your RRSP. Grocery and drug stores all have self-service checkouts. In Royal Bank Plaza and two other Toronto locations, new Cake Boss vending machines dispense slices or complete cakes. Not so at Eataly, the eat, shop and learn emporium that opened this past week at Bay and Bloor Streets in Toronto. Even with the hordes that descended on the place, helpful...

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