Category: General

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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Elvis the Pelvis

A few days ago I heard some songs by Elvis Presley. Not the blousy Elvis of Las Vegas but the clear-voiced rock-n-roller of the 1950s. I was surprised in how many cases I knew the lyrics right from the first guitar licks even before he began to sing. Of course, most of what Elvis sang in the early days was what today we would call covers. “Blue Moon of Kentucky” had been performed by many others. It was Ray Charles who first did “I Got a Woman” and Big Mama Thornton whose biggest hit was “Hound Dog.” Elvis ‘borrowed’ those...

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Down through the years

In April 1963, I walked Highway 24 from Brucedale to Guelph carrying signs in support of the Liberal candidate, Ralph Dent, in the riding of Wellington South. There were about a dozen of us Young Liberals on the ten-mile trek to my home town that marked my first foray into politics. Dent lost to the Progressive Conservative incumbent, Alf Hales, but the PC minority government was replaced by a Liberal minority under Lester Pearson.  I have often described myself as a Pearsonian Liberal, someone who believed the state could help in specific ways, such as universal health care. I also...

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The troubles I’ve seen

More than a year ago, I wrote about my so-called career, beginning with a high school news column and proceeding to books. It sounded like an idyllic life, but what I did not reveal were any of my blunders along the way. There was one particular high school column when I quoted an unnamed friend saying, “You can’t let schoolwork interfere with your extra-curricular activities.” After publication, I was summoned to the office of the principal, Lorne Fox. Already on hand were the heads of Student Council and Athletic Council. Fox was livid. “What will Fred Hamilton, head of the...

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The boys of spring

Last night I attended my first Blue Jays game since 2019. It’s great to have the boys back, and me, too. I’m part of a group that shares a pair of seats behind the Blue Jays dugout so the view is perfect. My guest was my teenaged grandson who knows more about sports than any other person on the planet. He’s great company. There are so many new players it takes a while to get used to who’s where, but we seem to have all positions well filled.  Despite the interregnum, a few elements remain the same. The wave spilled...

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Greenbacks for all

In a recent column in the Globe and Mail, Andrew Coyne described a serious problem. Productivity in Canada has always lagged behind the U.S., he noted, saying that we need to ensure the amount and quality of capital that labour has to work with. Second, we need to make certain that labour and capital are efficiently employed.  While Coyne had few answers to improve the situation, he did sound the trumpets, saying, “If this country is ever to break out of the sluggish growth track … it will have to do something striking, even shocking.” Let me quickly say I...

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