On this blog I have frequently extolled the fine investigative journalism practised by The Toronto Star. Whether on issues of municipal, provincial, or federal significance, The Star, as it frequently proclaims, “gets action.”
From the standpoint of average Canadians, probably one of its most important investigations in recent times has been into Health Canada and its all too cozy relationship with the pharmaceutical industry, an industry protectorate seems to treat more as an equal than as an activity to be regulated. its relationship with the generic company Apotex is especially troubling.
Despite previous avowals by Health Minister Rona Ambrose (Read more…)
Unlike the kind of faux journalism that the CBC’s most reverent chief correspondent, Peter Mansbridge, has perfected, real journalism requires critical thinking and hard-hitting questions. In that, The Toronto Star holds to consistently high standards.
To appreciate this fact, consider first the following exchange during the year-end interview the Prime Minister granted his media acolyte:
Mansbridge: So why don’t we propose something then?
Harper: We have proposed something.
What have we proposed? Well the Province of Alberta, excuse me, the Province of Alberta itself already has a, it’s one of the few GHD regulatory environments in the country. It (Read more…)
To borrow a line from one of my favourite Shakespearean plays, Macbeth, “So fair and foul a day I have not seen.”
It is fair because the newspaper I subscribe to and heartily endorse, The Toronto Star, has achieved a victory whose significance cannot be overestimated. Thanks to its investigative series into Health Canada’s scandalous and potentially life-threatening negligence in overseeing drug safety, Health Minister Rona Ambrose, has finally acted: Health Canada has banned the import of all drugs and drug ingredients made by two Apotex factories in Bangalore, India, with Health Minister Rona Ambrose saying Tuesday (Read more…)
Although it started out quite ominously with heavy downpours, yesterday turned out to be a good day. As the clouds cleared, we hopped on the GO bus to attend Toronto’s Word on the Street, an annual celebration of literacy. I always take heart when I see a strong cross-generational presence among the many thousands gathering for the love of reading and learning.
This year was especially gratifying, as we actually got seats in the Toronto Star tent to hear Chantal Hebert and Tim Harper discuss the national political scene and take numerous questions from the audience, moderated by the Star’s (Read more…)
No matter what the Liberal leader says or does, his popularity ranks at a consistently high level. While part of the explanation for his standings in the polls surely lies in the Canadian people’s weariness with the Harper regime, a regime that has shown itself, through its practices of division, neoliberal politics and fear/hate-mongering, to be unworthy of public office, there must be more to it than that.
Rick Salutin, writing in The Star, offers up an interesting perspective in a piece entitled Paradoxical public art of seeming human. His thesis is that the more a person appears like (Read more…)
It was with a certain pleasure that I read in Monday’s Star that some international aid charities are banding together to challenge the Harper-directed CRA witch hunt into charities that promote views counter to government policy:
A dozen such groups conferred last week about a joint strategy to present to agency officials next month, a reversal from the last two years, when many charities refrained from speaking out for fear of aggravating the taxman.
The challenge by a dozen charities, many of which have been or currently are being subjected to CRA audits/witch hunts, is being conducted under the aegis (Read more…)
The other day I wrote a post critical of the ‘blame game’ being played by the NDP’s Andrea Horwath to excuse her lack of progress during the recent Ontario provincial election. In a similar vein, Star letter-writer Michael Foley of Toronto offers his excoriating assessment of her rationalization:
Re: Liberal scare tactics cost party at polls, NDP leader says, June 26
I want to make this very clear, Andrea Horwath. I did not, nor have I ever voted out of fear. I vote for the leader who offers the best ideas for all Ontarians.Horwath apparently lost because of an (Read more…)
Star reader David Buckna, of Kelowna, B.C., offers a searing and accurate assessment of our latest session of Parliament:
Federal MPs are back in their ridings for the summer, and will be out hitting the barbecue circuit. When I think back to the second session of the 41st Parliament (January to June), the following things come to mind:
1. The Orwellian-sounding Fair Elections Act. More than 150 university professors signed a petition stating that the Fair Elections Act “would damage the institution at the heart of our country’s democracy: voting in federal elections.” On April 25, (Read more…)
One of the reasons I subscribe to The Toronto Star is the quality of its columnists. Tim Harper, Martin Regg Cohn, Thomas Walkom, Heather Mallick, etc. rarely disappoint. However, no one is perfect, and today’s column by Walkom is not up to his usual critical standards.
Entitled Conservatives’ downfall could be Stephen Harper’s dismissive tone, the piece seems to suggest that if Harper were nicer, people wouldn’t perceive his government in nearly as bad a light as they do:
When the obituary is finally written on Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government, it is the tone that will stand out.
I have a deep respect for Alex Himelfarb, the director of the Glendon School of International and Public Affairs and tireless proponent of responsible, progressive taxation. The latter, as one can well-imagine, likely makes him persona non grata in many circles, but those are likely the same circles that close out responsible thought or discussion on any topics that might threaten to puncture the artificial and insular world they encase themselves in.
It is, of course, easy to take the expedient route, as have politicians like Stephen Harper, Justin Trudeau, and Thomas Mulcair at the federal level, and, here (Read more…)
Today’s Star brings two letters, one on despotic rule and the other on electoral reform, that many would find hard to argue against:
Harper’s on a lonely road to political isolation, April 15
Aristotle once remarked that all forms of government — democracy, oligarchy, monarchy, tyranny — are inherently unstable, all political regimes are inherently transitional and that the stability of all regimes is corrupted by the corrosive power of time.
To prolong the viability of democratic form of government, his advice had been constant turnover of leaderships to renew the political process.After eight years in power, Prime Minister (Read more…)
This thoughtful letter explains why:
Re: Tory MP takes aim at elections watchdog, April 9
When it comes to fairness and objectivity, I have more faith in the former auditor general of Canada, Sheila Fraser, and in the current chief electoral officer, Marc Mayrand, than in Pierre Poilievre, the arrogant Conservative minister of state for democratic reform. Whenever I see or hear the minister denigrating an upstanding Canadian citizen who has had the courage to express a sincere concern about the government’s so-called Fair Elections Act, I can’t help imagining Poilievre clicking his heels together each time he meets with (Read more…)
And now, thanks to Michael de Adder, we’ve got a picture to go along with those thoughts:
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Christine Penner Polle of Red Lake offers some observations that I suspect few but the most ardent ideologues would dispute:
Re: Ottawa plans cuts to climate programs, March 12
Have we Canadians fallen down the rabbit hole? We are living in a Mad Hatter world where our federal government is slashing funding to Environment Canada’s climate change efforts at the same time scientists are raising the alarm about the threat of an unstable climate to our civilization, and where even staid, small “c” conservative institutions such as the IMF and the IEA are urging swift action to decrease emissions from (Read more…)
And it is very encouraging, in that it appears Canadians are beginning to wake up to the true nature of the Harper regime:
Nearly two-thirds of Canadians believe that the ruling Conservatives are settling political scores with their Fair Elections Act, a new poll has found. You can read all about it here.
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In light of her refusal to say much about anything, a political disease she may have caught from her federal cousins, Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath is being viewed increasingly as little more than a political opportunist. Probably the most recent example of this sad state is her reticence to articulate a position on Ontario’s minimum wage.
Two weeks ago, Martin Regg Cohn offered this:
When did the party of the working poor lose its voice? Listen to the sound of Horwath clearing her throat when she finally emerged from the NDP’s Witness Protection Program this week — nine days (Read more…)
Toronto Star columnist Heather Mallick has a lacerating assessment this morning of the political landscape we now inhabit, thanks to the machinations of the Harper cabal. Owen, over at Norther Reflections, has a post on her piece that is well-worth reading.
I shall only add this from her column:
What an extraordinary thing to live a pleasant life in a western nation and yet fear your own government. But the Canada Revenue Agency’s new audits of environmental charities like Tides Canada, the David Suzuki Foundation and Environmental Defence in the midst of their continuing warnings about the effects of (Read more…)
Contrary to what our self-described economist Prime Minister would have us believe, the jobs that are being created in Canada today are but a pale echo of what once existed. Responding to a January report about the creation of 29,000 new jobs, Star readers have this to say:
Jump in jobs eases economy fears, Feb. 8
The article begins by saying “the labour market started 2014 with a bang adding 29,400 jobs,” presenting a positive tone regarding unemployment. This is misleading. From 2004 to 2008, according to Statistic Canada, nearly 350,000 well-paying manufacturing jobs disappeared, to be replaced by a (Read more…)
I can think of not one positive thing to say about Julian Fantino. Apparently, Toronto Star readers can’t either:
Fantino ‘absolutely regrets’ clash with veterans, Jan. 30
There is no possible excuse for the shameful treatment of our veterans by the federal Conservative government. Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino’s arrogant and disdainful behaviour with a delegation of veterans who met with him to lobby for keeping eight regional Veterans’ Affairs offices open is another low point of his career. He should resign or be fired.
These veterans put their lives on the line for our country without questioning whatever political (Read more…)
First and foremost, how do you see yourself? Are you a citizen more than a consumer, or vice-versa? Are high-minded principles and vision your defining characteristic, or is how to get the best value for your money what drives you?
The questions that I just posed are, of course, on one level ludicrous, inasmuch as they suggest an either/or answer. Realistically, or at least ideally, we can be both. Yet to examine the rhetoric of our political ‘leaders’, our lives are defined by angst over cable selection, gasoline prices, and cellphone bills, and little else.
One of the books I (Read more…)
Since he was elected to the position, I have written several posts related to Pope Francis; several of them express a renewed hope that the plain-speaking pontiff can generate some hope in a world badly in need of inspiring leadership, something almost wholly absent in our current crop of politicos, obsessed as they are first and foremost with the attainment and retention of power.
In response to a recent article by the Star’s Carol Goar, readers offer their perspective on what politicians could learn from Francis:
Goar: World leaders respond to Pope’s message, Opinion Jan. 12
Carol Goar’s piece on (Read more…)
Narrowcasting can be defined as the process of aiming a radio or TV program or programming at a specific, limited audience or consumer market. While it is a term that is applied to traditional media, Noah Richler suggests in an interesting article in today’s Star that increasingly, the Internet, by the choices people make, is quickly becoming a medium that is narrowing, not expanding, our capacity for critical thought.
While his article perhaps does not constitute a fresh insight, Richler points out that we are becoming increasingly susceptible to what he calls the tyranny of measurement, our propensity toward (Read more…)
Like a bloated, aging and wounded lion who realizes his hold over his pride is at an end, Conrad Black is lashing out. Still licking his wounds from lacerations received at the hands of the CBC’s Carol Off, Black used his column in Saturday’s National Post (which as a rule I do not read, but more about that later) both to justify his journalistic ineptitude and to strike back at his growing list of adversaries who include Star editor Michael Cooke, Star columnist Rosie DiManno, The Star itself, and well, just about anyone else who finds fault with him.
While I readily admit to not having wasted my time watching Conrad Black’s interview with Toronto’s pretend-mayor, I did take special delight in the dressing-down he received at the hands of As It Happens’ Carol Off, as noted yesterday. One hopes that he learned something about real journalism from the encounter.
Today, two Star letter-writers offer their comments on the actual interview. Short version: they were not impressed. And given the fact that Star reporter Daniel Dale has decided to sue Vision TV, Zoomer Media, and Rob Ford, perhaps Moses Znaimer will have reason to reconsider his decision to employ (Read more…)