Tags: Canada

Gold for Gould.

The philanthropist Arthur Labatt noted that Canada has so few institutions that can stand up straight on a global podium, we need to do everything we can to ensure they survive.

Last week’s budget offered one of those institutions that chance. Ottawa gave The Glenn Gould Foundation $12 million.

Even though the Toronto concert pianist Glenn Gould died 42 years ago at the age of 50, his name shines brightly the world over – not in spite of his many quirks and eccentricities, but likely because of them. He loved recordings and hated live audiences (and told them so); he wore mittens in hot recording studios; and he hummed loudly while he played. But his genius at interpreting composers like Bach; his unyielding sense of what’s musically right (which caused even the mighty Leonard Bernstein to back down); and his album cover notes which codified his views on the future of music – make him 92 years after his birth a very big planet indeed.

Indeed, in the galaxy of music, Gould remains a god. When the Russian conductor Valery Gergiev performed in Toronto, he would go to Gould’s gravesite in Mt. Pleasant Cemetery to pay his respects.

Read on…

Is being nice a civic virtue?

If so, Canadians should be the most virtuous people on earth. But does virtue count for anything these days? I mean, aside from offering a retiree your seat on the subway, which is its own reward. Like chopping wood once, virtue warms you twice.

Let me raise my aging hand to say I believe being nice is better than being loud and even better than being right. Saying “please” and “thank you” is the lubricant for lots of life.

So I was relieved last week that a group of Worthy Canadians™ penned an open letter to our political leaders that they “address urgently the rise of incivility, public aggression and overt hatred that are undermining the peace and security of Canadian life.”

Read on…

The Personal Sacrifices.

There’s not a government on earth that doesn’t have political staffers. History and Shakespeare are littered with them. Their job is to keep their leader in power. Occasionally, they need to speak truth to power so their leader doesn’t go off the rails. But in Canada today, the Prime Minister’s staffers face a very different task: speaking truth to lack of power.

The number of Presidents and Prime Ministers who, when their prospects for re-election looked dim, took their staffers’ advice and left with their heads held high in order to avoid a bloodbath at the polls  is vanishingly small. This is because power is not just an aphrodisiac, it’s the crack cocaine of occupations.

So asking Justin Trudeau’s Chief of Staff, Katie Telford, to take him for a walk in the snow, just like his father did on Feb. 28, 1984, and decide not to run again, I don’t think that will happen.

Read on…

ArriveCan can’t – and doesn’t care.

In 2021, I launched my memoir online. I used an idea from my friend, Robert Rotenberg, who’d launched his latest novel online earlier that year (and who has a #1 mystery best-seller out now, What We Buried.) 

The idea was to use quick video testimonials from people important to the book to spice up the hour-long online launch. I asked friends from different phases of my life to comment on its sharp peaks and deep valleys. 

Read on…

Is this the golden age or dark ages of the arts?

Last Saturday night, we attended a performance by a baroque music group in a church on Bloor Street in Toronto. Even in the plumpest of times, the music of 17ᵗʰ and early 18ᵗʰ century Europe is both an acquired taste and a deep and narrow passion. No ERAS tour for concerti grossi. Yet there were 600 other baroque fans who stood and whistled and cheered at the concert’s end just like they did at Koerner Hall the night before for Joshua Redman.

I hadn’t heard Tafelmusik in many years and was surprised that this is their 45th anniversary. As I heard its 16 musicians playing on baroque instruments like the theorboand the viola da gamba, I was struck by how daring and different their concert was. Different sections played from different parts of the church, not once, (ho hum), but often. The cellist played standing up. (When was the last time you saw a cellist who was not sitting down?) The ‘conductor’ explained every piece before it was performed. Everyone on stage was having fun.

The Prime Minister’s Next Career

He will likely retire when the Liberals are defeated in the next federal election, an outcome most every poll points to, which should be in  October 2025. Or he’ll leave before that if the Liberals coalition with the NDP falls apart. Or, on the vanishingly small chance he leads the Liberals to victory in 2025, he could stay on until 2029. He took office in 2015 so he would then be the second-longest serving Prime Minister in Canadian history, four years longer than his father Pierre.

Whether he leaves this year at age 52, or in 2029 at 57, Justin will still have time for One More Big Job before he retires to the world of board membership, consulting, teaching and honorary degrees.

Read on…

I’m not wild about Harry.

Like most people who come from a family, I cringe for the Windsors whose prodigal son gives fresh new meaning to the idea of zealous indiscretion. And we haven’t even heard yet from the really offended party, Harry’s wife, who lived for some years in Toronto at 10 Yarmouth Road.

Perhaps we can turn our heads, then, to the matter of Royal Warrants. These are granted to companies that provide goods or services to the Royal Household. Everyone is waiting for Charles to be crowned so that an entire new generation of companies can put on their jam jars: “Supplier of jam to King Charles III.” You, too, can apply!



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