The Duke of Kent

Darcy McKeough, Treasurer in the Bill Davis government, both praised and poked fun at politicians last night. During a brief speech to a crowd of more than 150 at the official launch of his memoirs, McKeough referred to his fellow “statesmen” from the Ontario Legislature while calling his federal counterparts mere “politicians.” Attendees at the reception held at the Albany Club represented all parties and included Liberals such as Prime Minister John Turner, NDP leader Stephen Lewis and Progressive Conservatives from Queen’s Park: Premier Ernie Eves, Roy McMurtry and Gordon Carton. Federal PCs on hand were Michael Wilson and Barbara McDougall. Among the business leaders were...

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Bird is the word

I’m a birder. There, I’ve finally confessed publicly what I’ve been doing privately. I make this admission because birding has officially been declared “creepy” in an academic study by Francis T. McAndrew and Sara S. Koehnke of the Department of Psychology at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. Never heard of it? Me neither. Apparently, there had not previously been an empirical study of creepiness. So they did an international survey of 1,341 people and found more creepy men than creepy women. No surprise there. They also discovered that the creepiest vocation of all was clown. Does this result sound valid to you? Me neither. I’ve been a...

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The crack of dawn

I don’t get much sleep. Four or five hours a night is tops for me. This all started in the early 1980s when I began writing my first book. I had a day job so I got up at 4 a.m. to reach my daily target of 500 words before leaving the house. Eighteen books later, even though I no longer have a day job, my circadian rhythm remains the same. Everything I read says you need eight hours sleep a night. If I slept that long I’d be in a coma. I’ve tried many devices that people claim will help – no screens for the...

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Action Jackson

The recent death of Syd Jackson, who headed Manulife from 1972-87, reminds me how he advanced women in that organization. In an era when senior female executives were a rarity, Jackson appointed Jalynn Bennett as investment vice-president for Canadian equities. Bennett’s resulting high profile meant that she was among the first women to join the Society of Financial Analysts and, in the early 1990s, the first woman to join the Toronto Club. During Jackson’s era, 12 percent of senior officers at Manulife were women, an impressive number at the time. Indeed, it remains an admirable number today. A recent survey of 91 countries...

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Under the influence

My neighbourhood Starbucks sold beer and wine for the first time today and the earth did not open up and swallow the sinners within. One of whom was me, drinking a Muskoka Winter Weiss, with a free bowl of spicy pumpkin seeds. The Bloor Street West outlet is one of three to be licenced in Toronto and the first such speakeasies in Canada. In the U.S. alcohol is already being sold at 300 Starbucks locations. The sun has been known to rise over the yardarm as early as 11 a.m., but “Starbucks evenings” start at 2 p.m. In addition to craft...

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Southern lights

Try as I might, I’ve never been able to figure out the purpose of the Canadian Journalism Foundation (CJF). Founded in 1996 with the stated purpose of building bridges for journalists with public and private organizations, the only reason for the connection seems to be funding for awards and dinner at the annual bunfeed. While Canadian journalists will be feted at this year’s event on June 16, they’re not the headline used to promote the program. The prime online attention is focussed on a special citation to be presented to the Pulitzer-prize-winning Spotlight team from the Boston Globe that exposed the child abuse scandal and cover-up by the Catholic Church. A...

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Cedric Ritchie 1927-2016

The citizens of Toronto have recently focused on the death of former Mayor Rob Ford, but there was another passing last week of a man who had a far more profound impact on Toronto and Canada: Ced Ritchie, chairman and chief executive officer of the Bank of Nova Scotia from 1974-1995. I worked for Ritchie for two years after I left Ottawa in 1976. I thought I had seen power in the nation’s capital but I quickly realized that was nothing compared to the raw power in the hands of a bank CEO. I don’t think in all my years I’ve known anyone who...

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In the depths

Ian Brown’s fascinating piece in Saturday’s Globe and Mail was both a bit of nice writing and the kind of reportage too often missing these days. Brown sought to find out why Stephen Harper has been invisible since he lost the October election to Justin Trudeau. But did Brown succeed? I think not. After travelling to Ottawa, Calgary and Edmonton in search of the elusive Harper, Brown was finally standing a few feet away from his quarry but let a Harper aide dissuade him from approaching the man for a conversation. Normally, Brown is sufficiently vigorous to not let anyone stop him...

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