When the critics mirror their targets

A swamp of vested, bureaucratic interests hobbled by dogma, enriched by institutional entitlements and bloated by fat pay packages. Surely not these two now-merged think-tanks

When the critics mirror their targetsNow that Canada’s most famously libertarian think-tank has merged with the Atlantic provinces’ premier government-thrashing mouthpiece, does their union augur a future for exemplary new standards of public policy along the East Coast? After all, both the Fraser Institute and the Atlantic Institute of Market Studies have, over the years, made many of their major…

Moncton builds it and they come

Yes, a downtown can be revitalized. But how to do it successfully – as Moncton has – remains a bit of a mystery

Moncton builds it and they comeIf there’s anything special about the much-ballyhooed Moncton Miracle, it’s that this New Brunswick city manages to thrive despite itself. That could be said about almost all successful municipalities, of course. But one look at this community’s downtown core five years ago and you would not have detected anything remotely resembling gritty determination. Look anywhere…

Jenica Atwin is a nobody, and that’s fantastic

Jenica Atwin is a nobody, and that’s fantasticWho is Jenica Atwin and why should election-afflicted Atlantic Canadians – indeed, any Canadian in the morning after – care? The answer to the first part of that question is straightforward: She’s the political candidate who defeated her more seasoned Liberal and Conservative rivals to become the first Green Party of Canada member of Parliament…

Embracing the unfamiliar down home

The East Coast isn’t quaint, slow, lazy or anything else others in the rest of Canada might assume. But it does tend to defy expectations

Embracing the unfamiliar down homeIf you live in one of Canada’s muscular metropolises, you might think about the Atlantic provinces once, maybe twice, a year. And when you do, you might be tempted to dismiss them as welfare states – unlike, say, Calgary. After all, most people “down home” draw unemployment at least half the year. They’re just as…

A political matchup made in heaven

What if voters had to choose between candidates with proven track records, like McKenna and Stanfield, rather than Trudeau and Scheer?

A political matchup made in heavenLet us, for a moment, imagine an alternate universe in which the leading candidates for the office of prime minister enjoy unalloyed respect across Canada. Here, on the centre-left, is Frank McKenna – a Liberal. Over there, on the centre-right, is Robert Stanfield – a Progressive Conservative. Yes, I hear you. The former, who spent…

No Eastern promises for Justin Trudeau

An unexpected weather report predicts that gale-force umbrage will pelt the prime minister’s ‘sunny ways’ parade all the way to Parliament Hill

No Eastern promises for Justin TrudeauPick any synonym for gob-smacked and you will probably find it on the crib sheet of adjectives commentators across Canada now enlist to describe Justin Trudeau’s decision to wear blackface in public at least twice in his privileged, white-man’s life. But, in the Maritimes, where the federal Liberal Party enjoys only the slimmest margin of…

What’s for dinner this campaign season?

Democracy is not something that merely happens in the natural course of events. And it’s not an unsavoury meal you push away from

What’s for dinner this campaign season?So begins the quadrennial Canadian season of sound with no substance, rhetoric with no relevance and promises with no perspective. In other words, dear reader, it’s election time. But wait, you cleverly elucidate, elections don’t manufacture vapid, gormless, pontificators; politicians are always with us, like potholes. Agreed: No, they don’t; and yes, they are. The…

Dancing in the dark – in the midst of a hurricane

In Atlantic Canada, the moment you think you have everything nailed down, a Category 2 storm decides to pop in

Dancing in the dark – in the midst of a hurricaneA word to the wise: A daily five-km fast walk and a nightly 15-minute endurance routine on a floor mat doesn’t prepare a 50-something body for a sudden dismount from a handstand – especially if said body lands on its tippy toes, like Baryshnikov on a really, really bad morning. “Crunch!” was the sound heard…

Don’t fear the reaper: Recession

What’s a recession going to do to the East Coast? Reap what’s left in our mattresses and sock drawers?

Don’t fear the reaper: RecessionOh, Recession. So there you are. For months, you’ve been rattling about my back door knocking over rubbish bins like a starving raccoon at night. The sun’s up now. No need to be coy. “The escalating trade war between the U.S. and China is nudging the world economy toward its first recession in a decade…

Trudeau tries to weasel his way out of SNC scandal

The only question for Canadians is whether the prime minister of Canada possesses a toddler’s sense of propriety

Trudeau tries to weasel his way out of SNC scandalCanada’s prime minister and penitent-in-chief issued another mea culpa the other day when he accepted “full responsibility” for breaking the nation’s Conflict of Interest Act. But did he actually apologize? In a report released last week, Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion said Justin Trudeau “directly and through his senior officials, used various means to exert influence…

Have island, will rusticate

Interest in owning islands is on the rise. Are people seeking the quiet life or simply trying to escape societal woes?

Have island, will rusticateBorn and raised to the age of eight in the largest, noisiest, sharpest-elbowed city in Canada, I gave no thought to the pastoral life of country folk I’d occasionally see on CBC television during the supper hour. All that began to change in 1971 when my father managed to acquire a 10-acre piece of land…

Take this job and … uh, love it?

A truly-bad-job phenomenon is gathering on the horizon, particularly for young people. What do we do about it?

Take this job and … uh, love it?Few jobs are uniformly good. But some are unrelentingly awful and you remember them as you would a bully’s fist. I remember the wretched May of 1981 when, at the untempered age of 20, I sold encyclopedias door-to-door in poor trailer parks that ringed the outskirts of Dartmouth, N.S. I remember the unemployed residents, drunk…

Come on, get happy: if a survey says we are, it must be true

Apparently, as you get older you get happier. Sclerotic, arthritic, calcified, deaf, blind, stupid and poor equals happy? Where do I sign up?

Come on, get happy: if a survey says we are, it must be trueIn a few years, people my age will get back pain, clogged arteries, brittle bones, hearing loss, cataracts, arthritis, heart disease, dementia and schizophrenia. What they won’t get, apparently, is unhappy about it. Citing a recent national survey, Canadian Press reports that older people in this country are generally more buoyant than younger ones. In…

Towing the party line in the Internet age

It’s worthwhile remembering that before the Internet, instant messaging, social media and meme merchandising, depending on where you lived, almost nothing was private

Towing the party line in the Internet ageOne morning in the late 1980s in the middle of Nowheresville, a young woman, prompted by a profound sense of neighbourliness, impressed a couple of city girls by introducing them to her new pony, all of 12 hands tall. At the sight of the hoofed beast loping down the stone path towards our family homestead,…