Good fences make good neighbours

Read everything I could, talked to anyone who hoved into view, and try as I might, I’ve been unable to discover anything of substance actually accomplished during the recent visit of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Washington. No Keystone approval, no sharing of costs on the Gordie Howe Bridge, just some far-off-in-the-future nod to reducing cow herds in Oxford County to lower methane gas levels. The Canadian media was agog about the bromance between Trudeau and U.S. President Barack Obama. All that got us was a free dinner for Mike Myers who forgot his hair dye that day. Coverage in the Washington...

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Ex libris

I love books. I love reading them, I love writing them, I love what books do inside my head. The trouble is I’ve ended up with more than 1,000 volumes and that’s after donating about 300 (half a dozen at a time) to the used book store at the Toronto Research Library over the last few years. I’ve got some of the first books I ever read such as The Adventures of Danny Meadowmouse by Thorton W. Burgess and Now We Are Six by A. A. Milne. I’ve got the first book I ever bought, How The Great Religions Began by Joseph Gaer...

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A new face for The National

There’s a piece in the Globe and Mail this morning on the sports pages extolling the talents of a competitor, TSN’s Bob McKenzie, saying how solid his information always is. Setting aside the unusual pastime of a newspaper journalist complimenting a broadcaster, let’s focus on the praise. Solid. Shouldn’t every sportswriter have solid information? I assume from this paean that some do not. It’s all so reminiscent of broadcaster Brian Linehan who used to interview all the movie stars swanning through town. People were always agog that Linehan actually conducted research in advance. He didn’t just ask simpleton questions such as, “What’s Julia Roberts really...

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Quickie books

Time was when a non-fiction book would take at least two years to research and write. No more, if a recent release from Simon & Schuster is typical. The title is How Can I Help? A Week in My Life as a Psychiatrist. A week? Too bad Samuel Pepys wasted all those years writing his diary when a few days of scribbling would have been enough for him to achieve immortality. In keeping with this new fast-paced approach, herewith are ten book titles that could be in your bookstore very soon: One-Minute Stand: Pickup Lines for the Attention Deficit Disordered Sunny...

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No Saks please, we’re Canadian

Saks Fifth Avenue opened its first store in Canada today and while I missed the ribbon-cutting I did do a walkabout and can report that it is a bizarre bazaar. First off, it isn’t really a store. It’s 180,000 square feet on three floors within The Bay. There are goods from The Bay below in the basement as well as above on the fourth floor and to the west on all floors. Let’s call it a nestling. Much of the first floor is boutiques run by other marques. Positioned in niches around the perimeter are numerous well-known names such as...

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Word on the street

You’re in your office. It’s noon. Someone sticks their head in the door and asks, “Jeet jet?”  If you read that as a lunch invitation, English is likely your mother tongue. No other language has more words; English has one million. There are only 200,000 French words. That’s why French was traditionally used in treaties. Everybody could take a different shade of meaning from the agreement they just signed. Denizens of England will tell you they know best. I once attended a dinner at London’s Dorchester Hotel in honour of Cliff Thorburn, a Canadian who played professional snooker in Britain. In Canada, the game’s...

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The Ghomeshi mess

After the first week of testimony in the Jian Ghomeshi trial, it’s hard to imagine that any judge could find him guilty as charged. The first two of his three accusers have clear recollections of his attacks, but they hardly avoided him afterwards. Letters, emails, photos and follow-ups of various sorts don’t paint a picture of someone who felt wronged. One even wrote a lengthy letter that concluded, “I love your hands.” What is the meaning of consent? The alleged attacks may have come as a surprise but does desiring an ongoing relationship provide consent after the fact? Or is there is any such thing...

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End of an era

The news is in the news these days. Postmedia cut 90 journalism jobs and conjoined formerly competing newspapers in four cities. The Toronto Star laid off thirteen. The Halifax Chronicle-Herald wants to get rid of 18. And that’s just this month. I was part of the first group laid off at National Post in 2001. There must have been two thousand journalists who’ve lost their jobs in Canada in the fifteen years since. No one wants to pay to read newspapers anymore. Revenues have cratered. Costs must be cut. But of all the recent sagas, the saddest was the announcement yesterday that the Guelph Mercury will...

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