Tear down this wall

It matters not a whit what the Bank of Canada does with interest rates later today – raise, lower or stand pat – the damage to our dollar has long since been done. When Stephen Poloz was appointed governor of the central bank in 2013 he forgot to take off the Export Development Canada hat he’d been wearing for the previous 14 years. Ever since he arrived at the bank the Canadian dollar has been in free fall, going from par with the US$ in May 2013 to under 69 cents today. It costs us $1.48 to buy one U.S dollar. In the beginning...

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Life lessons

I think you learn almost everything you need to know in life when you are young. After that it’s too late. Here are seven things I learned before I was ten: Never take on the bully. At least not alone. Befriend a blind boy. Respect your teacher. Be independent in thought and deed. If you want a bike, save up for it. Be sure your sins will find you out. Always kiss the prettiest girl.

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Underground reading

My worst fears were realized on the subway this morning. I forgot to bring something to read. I’m always riven with anxiety that the train will come to a halt between stations and sit there for an hour so I usually pack in my knapsack that day’s newspaper, a section or two from the Sunday New York Times and a recent copy of the London Review of Books, just in case of such a catastrophe. Fortunately, there were plenty of copies scattered about of a giveaway tabloid called 24 Hours Toronto, so I picked one up. As I scanned the pages, I wondered where my...

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My stock market advice for 2016

Do you ever ask yourself about the stock market? I don’t mean how the market works or where your money went, but why it is that so many grown men and women spend all their waking hours telling the world where the market is headed. Buy this mutual fund, says one analyst; get out of bonds, says another. Or maybe they’ll announce, as an increasing number seem to be doing this week, that the market is going into the dumper, so sell everything. “Cash is King,” they say. I’m not against the experts. I’ve quoted many of them over the years...

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The distant speaking of the voices

Every December when I read or listen to A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas – “All the Christmases roll down toward the two-tongued sea …” I am reminded of the first time. The technology, of course was different. Now I can listen on my iPad, but then I was in Grade Twelve at John F. Ross C.V.I. in Guelph. My English teacher, Isobel Cowie, had lugged in from her home what passed in those days for a portable record player. With it she brought a vinyl recording of the reading by Thomas that she played for the class. The performance ran for about...

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A most generous heart

It’s wonderful that Seymour Schulich is getting the kind of recognition his philanthropy deserves. In recent days, half-page newspaper ads have trumpeted his gift, in partnership with Daniel Woolf, principal of Queen’s University, of 400 rare books to Queen’s. A batch of full-page ads have commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Schulich School of Business at York University. Schulich, who made his money investing in gold, turns 76 next month and is busily giving away much of what he made. His total givings to date are probably in the $400-million range. I can’t think of anyone else in Canada who...

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The Globe is flat

The folks at the Globe and Mail held the topping-off ceremony yesterday at their new 17-storey building on King Street East. As they prepare to move in next year I plead with them to take a close look at what their newspaper has become. Here’s what’s on page one of today’s Weekend paper: no actual stories, just blurbs and photos. Above the fold, the part meant to appeal to readers at a newsstand, the carefully curated offering includes a pointer to a crossword puzzle, the announcement of a celebrity chef columnist, top moments in the year’s culture and lessons learned from Somalian...

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The book club

I can’t read e-books; my attention wanders. I’m OK reading one on my iPad on an airplane, where the only other choice is a safety pamphlet, but on the ground I need paper and binding and a bookmark. I tried in digital format Robert Caro’s latest installation in the life of Lyndon Johnson, The Passage of Power, and finally gave up. I couldn’t stomach always seeing variations of the line at the bottom: “You are on page 133 of 1,878.” I bought the hard cover with “only” 700 pages. I highly recommend it in whatever format you prefer. I also enjoyed Margaret...

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