A Part of Our Heritage

Posted: 25/11/2015 8:22:17 AM

The Syrian refugee crisis is not the first time Canada has faced something like this. We've done this many times in the past 100 years. Every crisis, of course, is different. But they all have just one thing in common — refugees. Desperate people with nowhere to go. What to do with them?

And there's always a huge debate. It is never black and white, more often than not, it's a sea of grey. Well imagine for a moment you’re walking along the shore next to this sea of grey and you look out and you see someone drowning 50 feet from shore. The question is, do you throw him the rope? And yes, you have a rope. Of course you’ll throw him the rope.

But just when you’re are about to do it, a crowd appears and someone says hey, wait. What do you know about that guy in the water? And the truth is, you know nothing other than the drowning part. At which point someone says how do you even know he’s drowning? Good question. He certainly looks like he's drowning. At which point a town car pulls up and out pops a well-dressed man who says, ”for the record, I have nothing against throwing the guy a rope but what’s with this arbitrary deadline. What is the rush? That sets off the heated debates. So heated in fact, by the time it's over, the guy in the water is underwater. The upside is no rope got wet.

Look, Canada has been here before. In 1979 we accepted 60,000 Vietnamese boat people. That's us being the good guys. But in 1939 we said no to a ship carrying over 900 Jews. We sent them back to Europe. Many perished in concentration camps. That too is part of our history. And that’s why it’s so important we get this one right.

It’s 2015. Welcome to Canada.


To-Do: The To-Do List

Posted: 18/11/2015 9:22:13 AM


Many years ago an executive at WestJet told me that in the early days of that airline it didn't matter how many flights were delayed or cancelled because the best thing they had going for them, when it came to the public, was they were not Air Canada. That is what you call a honeymoon period. That is exactly what is happening to Justin Trudeau right now.

He can literally do no wrong. He could wake up tomorrow morning, invoke the War Measures Act, go to lunch, get hammered, back the convertible into a lake and a lot of Canadians would say, “Yeah, okay, but at least he's not as secretive as Stephen Harper was.” And I think a lot of people in the media might report the entire incident as a triumph for multitasking.

We are going down a very bad road here. At the risk of coming across as anti-honeymoon, the sooner we all get over this sunny ways business the better.

Sure, we all like sunny ways and sunny days but in November the days get pretty short and pretty dark pretty darn fast.

And Justin Trudeau has work to do. A lot of work. According to the National Post, the Liberals made 325 promises in the election. That is one heck of a to-do list. And let's face it, honeymoons and to-do lists do not go hand-in-hand. And we all know the chance of getting anyone to do anything on a to-do list increases dramatically depending on the amount of nagging involved.

So for the country's sake, for the Prime Minister's sake, let's all agree the honeymoon is over. We have moved on to an arranged marriage. Let the nagging begin.


Driven to Distraction

Posted: 04/11/2015 7:20:44 AM


I'm old enough to remember life before Google. Truth is—I don't know how we survived. The only people who could look anything up at ten o'clock at night were rich people who had the Encyclopedia Britannica. And I'm certainly old enough to remember wandering around with a four-pound cellphone with an antenna so big you could get on a horse and joust with it. But this was long before texting and streaming and I know it’s not fashionable to admit this—I’m addicted to all of it.

We are slaves to technology. If you're sitting at a red light and you look at the car next to you, you know there's a 50/50 chance that person’s not looking anywhere at the road. No, no. They’re staring down at their no-no place and their fingers are going 35-miles per hour. In the old days you’d say, oh that's just some clown enjoying a personal moment. But now we know, no, it’s someone who’s innocently risking everyone's life while texting in traffic.

We’ve all done it. I’ve done it. But I don’t do it anymore. I have the solution. It’s slightly easier than 12-steps. When I'm behind the wheel, it is the only time in my life that that phone is not near me. It can't be near me. I can't be trusted. If that thing is sitting in the coffee holder and it buzzes I want to know what's going on; some part of my lizard brain demands to know what's going on. It could be something really important. Someone could be texting me a picture of their lunch.

So do what I do: Admit you're powerless. Put it in the glove box or put it in the backseat. Depending on your level of addiction put it in a Ziploc, wrap it in duct tape and lock it in the trunk of the car. Technology is astounding but please, no more texting in traffic. We all must do what we can to avoid the irony of stupid death by smart phone.


Unendorsed Endorsements

Posted: 28/10/2015 8:29:51 AM

It's a little too clever to make the statement that print is dead. People have been saying that for a hundred years and yet every morning, Canadians are reading the newspaper.  5.3 million newspapers sold every single day. But in the final days of the federal election, both national newspapers made it very difficult to wish them any success. 

The Globe and Mail surprised nobody by endorsing the Conservatives.  Actually that's not true—an endorsement would have required conviction. Instead they went the fantasy route. They advised Canadians to vote Conservative to get a Conservative majority and once that happened, Stephen Harper would magically resign.  If there was a Pulitzer Prize for the most idiotic editorial ever written they would win. If there was a second prize for insulting your readership, they would sweep the night. 

Then we have the once venerable National Post, a paper that has always been rich with opinion.  They too endorsed the Conservatives. Which is fine, that is the owner's prerogative. But that's not all they did.  On the very same day they refused to run a column by Andrew Coyne. He had a different opinion. You know Andrew Coyne. He’s the guy who is the editor in charge of all of the opinion pieces in the Post. He's the reason why we buy the paper in the first place.  

Now if you ask the Post they would say they hired Andrew Coyne because he is the most astute political commentator in the country. Turns out the real reason they hired him was so when it mattered the very most in the final days of the election, they could shut him up. Shame on the National Post. 

Print is not dead. But with owners like that, it's on life support. Because we all read Coyne anyway, we just did it on Twitter.



Posted: 21/10/2015 9:09:17 AM

Well that, my friends, was an election for the ages. The pendulum swung hard. Good men and women were defeated and lots of new folks are heading to Ottawa. But no matter how you voted; no matter whether you were cheering or sobbing a Liberal majority; a new Parliament has been chosen peacefully by the people and that is worth celebrating.

This will be Canada’s 42nd Parliament and as Canadians we all have to hope it will be the most effective yet. But of course that’s not up to us. The only people who can make that happen were elected last night.

So to all the MPs, regardless of your party, remember this: The very best Parliaments were defined not by their size or their shape or the party in power, but by the fact that the individual MPs, when it came down to it, they worked together and they got along with one another or at least they tried.

And you know what? Getting along with people, it’s not that hard. It’s irritating but it’s doable. And in the real world we all have to get along with people that we don’t agree with. It’s called finding common ground. It’s done in workplaces all across Canada. It’s done in families and it’s certainly done in marriages. It’s called compromise and respect. And if every day Canadians can do that, MPs can do that. And if they do, then maybe, just maybe, we will get the best Parliament yet.

So here’s to the 42nd Parliament of Canada. It’s a blank slate. She has yet to disappoint.