Category: Borderlines

Occupy the media

I had the privilege today of giving a media workshop to an august and vitally important group: a couple dozen members of a welfare-and-housing-rights group in Montreal called Project Genesis. Now, members of this “elite” don’t belong to the economic elite, of course. Many probably eke out a survival on an ... read more ››

Time to name names

As I write this evening, September 14, Radio-Canada and La Presse are reporting that a secret report by Quebec’s so-called Anti-Collusion Unit has confirmed a system of rampant corruption, political kickbacks and cost inflation in public road construction in the province. Like most folks here, I’m quite ready to believe this. ... read more ››

A royal farce

You may have heard that the federal government is changing the names of the three main branches of our armed forces back to what they were 50 years ago: the Royal Canadian Navy, the Royal Canadian Air Force, and the Canadian Army (which apparently never warranted the connection to the ... read more ››

Digging for the truth

The lesson was brutal. “Do you know,” I was asked, “what a gold mine listed on the Vancouver Stock Exchange actually is?” Er, I guess not. “A hole in the ground with a liar standing over it.” Twenty-five years later, that only slightly exaggerated observation often comes back to me when I hear ... read more ››

The silly season

Quebecers are a goofy bunch. At a time when the deadly evidence of global warming is drowning big parts of the province (when it’s not chewing up cities in monster tornados and spitting them out as so much building debris and body parts elsewhere in North America), what do we ... read more ››

The gold pan du Nord

For Quebec Premier Jean Charest, it’s the political equivalent of a Hail Mary. It’s late in the fourth quarter in his lifelong game of political football, and his team is trailing. After 26 years of elected politics and eight years in power, one long pass for a legendary touchdown might ... read more ››

Hour time

Looking back, to late 1995, it might not have been the best moment to take a job as news editor at the Montreal alternative newsweekly, Hour. It was a week after the referendum on sovereignty, and the small but feisty gang of anglo writers and editors at Hour were feeling ... read more ››

The home movie on a global scale

So many home videos of the multiple disasters to strike Japan over the past week have been posted online that, even while sitting in the comfort and safety of our homes, it’s almost as if you can suffer post-traumatic stress repeatedly reliving the tsunami horror that came roaring ashore in ... read more ››

Raging in the age of light and darkness

I’m currently reading a great novel by Henry Porter about the temptations of totalitarianism in the birthplace of constitutional limits on state power. Porter’s book The Dying Light recounts an all-too-credible attempt by the British government to use a fake emergency to suspend citizen rights that have their origins in ... read more ››

Shooting the messenger

It used to be that the first targets of an authoritarian government were television and radio broadcasters. Now it’s the Net, its users and ISPs they need to communicate. Just look at the incipient revolution in Egypt: in a failed effort to cut the growing protest movement off at the knees, ... read more ››

Who's Hu?

When he thought he was getting a bargain deal, my dad would say it was cheap at twice the price. It’s a saying that could apply to the price of labour in China, which is embarrassingly cheap, even when a worker manages to double his salary. That’s what happened after a ... read more ››


If you’re like me, you probably find it hard to roll out of bed at this time of year, when the days are so short and the natural light so weak. It’s a SAD state of affairs, you could say. During the past few weeks, predictably, it’s become increasingly difficult ... read more ››

Imagine all the people…

Do you remember exactly what you were doing 30 years ago this moment? As I write this, on the evening of December 8, 2010, I can vividly recall where I was on the same evening in 1980 and what I was thinking, even, just as can millions of other folks of ... read more ››

Dust and dignity

The dust was the thing that got me in the end. Wafts of fine red powder that drifted gently on the breeze after the slightest disturbance instantly churned into billowing, choking clouds whenever a vehicle spun by in the opposite direction on the unpaved track. I was in the back box ... read more ››

A tale of two sons

When I began writing this column almost two years ago, one of my first subjects (the second, in fact) was the seismic shift in the media landscape taking place across Canada. Canwest Global, then the nation’s biggest owner of daily newspapers, as well as the Global-TV network, other TV stations and ... read more ››

The thrill is gone

If you ever get a chance to tour the Martin Luther King Jr. Museum in Memphis, Tennessee, located in the same Lorraine Motel where the great American civil rights leader was assassinated in 1968, take it. It is an exhaustive, and exhausting, exhibit of the man and his times, as I ... read more ››

Prophets of crime

Law C-25 is going to change the landscape of crime and justice in Canada, particularly in Indian country. Officially – and pompously – dubbed the Truth in Sentencing Act, the legislation eliminates the two-for-one time deduction that criminals until recently enjoyed for time served before their convictions. This one piece of ... read more ››

Third place never looked so good

It’s funny how one person’s bad news can be another’s small cause for celebration. I had to smile when I read recently that one of my favourite targets – the international mining industry – is down on Quebec as a place to do business. After three years topping the Fraser Institute’s ... read more ››

I love the smell of tear gas in the morning

As I write, downtown Toronto is occupied territory, off-limits to the citizens who actually own the streets and public spaces ringed by a modern-day Great Wall of chain-link fences, video surveillance and phalanxes of heavily armoured security personnel. As a billion-dollar show of force, it’s impressive. Conceptually, it’s not far removed ... read more ››

Tapping the gusher

As I write, the price of crude oil on the world market is roughly $75 CDN a barrel. That means, according to best estimates, that between $1.5 million and $2.25 million worth of oil is bursting out of British Petroleum’s ruptured underwater well in the Gulf of Mexico every single ... read more ››

Protecting the boreal forest

In this case, it really is hard to see the forest for the trees, all 72 million hectares of them. That’s the area covered by the massively hyped Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement announced May 17. On the face of it, it’s a huge step forward in the way the forest industry ... read more ››

Exposing the face… of intolerance

I am an atheist. I think all gods and religions are human creations that were invented to serve us for a variety of emotional, social, cultural and political reasons. As valid and laudable as many of those reasons might be, I still can’t bring myself to believe they actually exist. That ... read more ››

The not-so-good ole hockey game

Two or three times a week, I tie up the skates and velcro on the pads to play recreational hockey in Montreal. Our garage league features more than 90 teams and about a dozen divisions. So there are all kinds of players of almost every calibre, from washed-up-NHL-hopeful to still-can’t-quite-master-turning-in-each-direction. ... read more ››

Going for the gold

It was the Canadian equivalent of the shot heard ’round the world. And, almost as soon as Sidney Crosby fired a puck through the five-hole on U.S. goaltender Ryan Miller to win Canada the hockey gold medal in overtime on the last day of the Vancouver Olympics February 28, it ... read more ››

Vancouver’s fortress of solitude

Many media commentators and barstool wags have made clever Spinal Tap references to describe the cringe-inducing Winter Olympic torch-lighting ceremony at Vancouver’s BC Place Stadium. That movie’s hilarious Stonehenge fail certainly resonated during the painful moment of collective embarrassment when one of the four columns failed to rise. Poor Katrina Le ... read more ››

Law and disorder

For a politician so fond of surfing the law-and-order wave that currently appears to be cresting on one its periodic high tides, Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper sure doesn’t show much respect for the law himself, even those enacted by the government he leads. Don’t forget that his is a government ... read more ››