Just asking

Why can’t baseball players who win a big game or a best-of-something series devise some other celebration rather than dance in a circle with heads down and arms around each other’s shoulders?  Why are we sending CF-18s to battle ISIS when the humanitarian aid we promised in August has yet to arrive and the last I heard we’ve welcomed less than 100 of the 1,000 refugees we promised to take from Syria. Why are we not accepting thousands of refugees as we have done ever since the Hungarian Revolution in 1956 through Uganda and Vietnam to Somali and Sri Lanka....

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Feel the heat

With only one game left in the regular season, it’s time to look ahead at the 2015 Blue Jays. Who to keep, who to dump and who to go after. First, the easy part, who to let go: Colby Rasmus, who should be playing wherever they sell barbecue; Juan Francisco, a happy presence in the dugout, but a lug on the field; and R. A. Dickey, whose future is behind him. And if Dickey goes, catcher Josh Thole is sure to follow. Get rid of Casey Janssen. Aaron Sanchez or Brandon Morrow could be the closer. Or, either of them...

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Talking heads

Two weeks of hearings by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) called Let’s Talk TV are over. With the exception of a contretemps with a Netflix official, the proceedings were predictable. Everyone from the Harper government to consumers is in favour of pick-and-pay rather than the lump-and-allow preferred by the cable companies but we have to put up with months of delay before any CRTC decision, let alone action. Cable television is the last great monopoly in Canada. If you move into a neighbourhood and want cable, you only have one choice. Ridiculous. What if you were told you...

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The rebound of Rob Ford

The news that Rob Ford has an abdominal problem changes everything about the Toronto mayoralty race. There he was, a confessed addict, vituperative night owl and bad-assed coach, yet one-quarter of the population was still behind him. Imagine the bump in the polls this recent diagnosis will bring him. It could be a sympathy vote, but any politician would happily accept such an outpouring. In his biography of Thomas D’Arcy McGee, the father of Confederation who was assassinated in 1868, author David Wilson says that McGee’s death was his best career move. Before that, McGee had been in poor health...

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Books for life

A reader has written to say how tough it is to find good business biographies. He’s enjoying Driven to Succeed, the book about Frank Hasenfratz I co-authored with Susan M. Papp, and wondered if I could recommend others. Here are six of my favourites: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson; Harrison McCain by Donald Savoie; The Reichmanns by Anthony Bianco; A Gentleman of the Press by Floyd Chalmers; Titan, Ron Chernow on John D. Rockefeller; and Iacocca, the 1984 book by William Novak that set the standard for ghost-written business memoirs. Books have deep meaning in my life. I was lucky enough to...

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The merits of mediocrity

A year ago, there were six female premiers in Canada. Now, for various reasons, there are only two. Life remains tough at the top for women in the professions, too. Of the 193 Lexpert Ranked Lawyers pictured in the ROB Magazine distributed today, only 15 per cent are women. And this in a field where for two decades women have comprised 50 per cent of the law school graduates. Some of the banks and other corporations are making progress with female director appointments following a push by the Ontario Securities Commission, but full boardroom equality remains a distant, forlorn hope....

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Your money or your life

The current ruckus between retail giant Amazon.com and publisher Hachette will have a huge impact on the publishing industry. Amazon already dominates the retail book business. There used to be numerous bookstores along Bloor Street over the 10 km between my house in the west end and Yonge Street in downtown Toronto. Now there is one. To date, no one has given much consideration to authors, nor is that likely to change. A group of 900 authors took out a full-page ad last week in the New York Times to protest Amazon’s monopoly power, but the public won’t rally to the...

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Robin Williams 1951-2014

The suicide of Robin Williams is a chilling reminder of what’s important in life and what’s not. The only time I ever saw Williams in person was in Florence a decade ago. He was ambling alone along Via dei Calzaiuoli, one of the pedestrian streets in the city’s historic centre, carrying a large Dolce & Gabbana shopping bag. Despite dark glasses and a stubble beard, he was instantly recognizable. People were gawking at him and popping out of shops for a better look. His body language was fascinating. His eyes were fixed on the pavement two metres ahead. Every once in...

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