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 ....

The dogs of war

When I think back to my time as bureau chief in Washington, D.C., for the Financial Post, it feels so long ago compared to what is happening now it might well have been the Pleistocene Age when mammoths walked the earth. During my posting from 1989-1993, Washington was an idyllic spot troubled only by a few eccentricities. As Jack Kennedy quipped: “Washington is a city of Southern efficiency and Northern charm.” Pansies bloomed all winter when the worst that could happen was a forecast of an inch or two of snow. The federal government would promptly send everyone home. Residents would clean out their local...

Read More ....

Scribble, scribble

I just finished writing a book. It was a four-year-long project. You’d think I’d want to take some time off but you’d be wrong. When you’ve been writing pretty much every day since Grade Twelve, you get twitchy when you’re not typing away at something. The whole thing started with a weekly high school news column in my hometown paper, the Guelph Mercury. I was paid nine cents a column inch. It was due Monday morning so I’d sit down at 9 p.m. on a Sunday night and write until I fell asleep. My forty inches of copy earned $3.60,...

Read More ....

The ghosts of Christmas past

The earliest Christmas dinner celebrations I can remember occurred at my maternal grandparent’s home in the west end of Toronto. They just had a small bungalow but somehow my mother, father, me, my mother’s brother, his wife and their two children who were both younger than me, could all squeeze around the dining room table with our hosts. In my mind, the turkey was the size of my elder cousin and carved with gusto, after much sharpening of the knife on a whetstone, by my grandfather. My grandmother always ate the roundish nub at the turkey’s rear, something she called...

Read More ....

Death and indifference

Have we all become inured to deaths caused by Covid-19? Every day the front page of our newspapers and the top of the broadcast news highlight the number of new cases and the mounting death toll. Odious comparisons are made with other jurisdictions; pundits talk about deaths per one hundred thousand; words such circuit-breaker and lockdown take on new meanings. Obituaries cite Covid as the cause of death. But, the problem is that there is no means of grieving. Funeral services will be held at some future, unspecified, date. There’s havoc being wreaked in long-term care facilities where those who die in...

Read More ....

Make haste slowly

The just-released memoir by former Bank of Montreal CEO Tony Comper is an unusual achievement. To the best of my knowledge, no other Big Five Bank CEO in the modern era has published a memoir. In “Personal Account,” Comper writes that he didn’t want to follow the usual “when I was three” chronological rendition. Instead, he picked out twenty-five incidents in his business life that demonstrate qualities of leadership or character. Among them is his explanation how he went into banking rather than join the priesthood or become a professor teaching Chaucer. With help from Calgary-based ghostwriter Bruce Dowbiggin, Comper...

Read More ....