Tom Ford

  • Herd of economists faces one direction... not

    This week is going to be an economics roller-coaster ride. On Wednesday, the Harper government will unveil its speech from the throne, which will give us an idea of what its main policy themes will be between now and the 2015 election.
  • What about my budget?

    Every year about this time, some of the world's wealthiest business people and their political chums go to Davos in the Swiss Alps to look down on the rest of us. But this year was different. The participants were subdued. They were worried about political chaos in Europe and sluggish growth in the U.S. And they were concerned about the increasing gap between the rich and the poor.
  • Next budget big challenge for Tories

    The Harper government faces its biggest challenge in drafting the forthcoming federal budget. The problem is that three of the biggest drivers of the economy -- consumer spending, business investment and government activities -- have difficulties.
  • To resolve our biggest moral issue

    OTTAWA -- There's just a chance progress will be made this week in solving what former prime minister Paul Martin calls the "biggest moral and social issue of our time." Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Shawn Atleo, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, federal and First Nations officials will meet here to discuss aboriginal education, governance and economic development.
  • Will you be having tap water with that?

    OTTAWA -- It's a small sign, but it may not be a good one. At the official meetings of the European Union this month, the host nation, Denmark, will be serving not bottled, but tap water. The bottled water will be replaced by "good pure Danish tap water," Denmark's European affairs minister Nicolai Wammen told journalists in Copenhagen.
  • Appears we get the Parliament we deserve

    OTTAWA -- Hang around Parliament long enough and you come to the vivid conclusion that the institution is falling apart. Let me count the ways.
  • My place is the Prairies

    Part way through a roots tour of the Prairies last summer with my daughter and granddaughter I blurted out: "I think I really like the Prairies." "Of course you do," said my daughter, who lives in Ottawa. "You talk about them all the time. Why don't you come right out and say you love them?"
  • Muslim women speak for themselves

    A lot of discussion these days about Muslim women, but the problem is few of us get a chance to sit down and talk with some of them. I have met quite a few simply because I work as a volunteer in one of Winnipeg's largest affordable-housing societies. The women were all different, but none of them had the characteristics of the Muslim-woman stereotype -- a supine creature who is browbeaten or sometimes beaten by her husband.
  • This Christmas it's hoo, hoo, hoo

    There was a time when the holiday season was mostly about religion. Now, it's mostly an economic indicator tracking retail sales. And I say to heck with it. World stock markets did a happy dance last Monday when it was announced that U.S. retail sales jumped 16 per cent from last year's tally, setting a record. Black Friday is the Friday after American Thursday Thanksgiving when retailers hope the start of pre-Christmas sales will change the ink in their ledgers from red to black.
  • Endangered First Nations need help now

    The First Nations elders are feeling their age; some are frail. Yet they are a bulwark against the death of some of their communities. They do this by helping to educate First Nations youngsters. The horrid residential schools were designed, one government official said, "to take the Indian out of the child." Today's challenge is to put the "Indian" back in. The elders are among the few who know how to do that.
  • Words have a mighty impact

    When we were kids, some of us would yell, "Sticks and stones will break our bones, but names will never hurt us." But names did hurt. And they still do.
  • Bad times call for good government

    What do you do when you're a country, like Canada, that depends on exports and the world seems to be going to hell in a handbasket? The United States, our biggest export market, is embroiled in political turmoil. The European Union, an important customer, is busy juggling massive debts. The shock waves from these centres are reverberating in many parts of the world.
  • U.S. environmental politics threaten our prosperity

    It's fashionable to discuss oil's future and its problems with pollution, climate change and diminishing supplies. But I want to talk about a more important problem: the present. Right now, the petroleum sector is Canada's biggest exporter. Robert Mansell, of the University of Calgary, says it's the dominant contributor to our favourable trade balance, the largest private-sector investor in the national economy and accounts for about a quarter of all tangible national wealth. Last week, Statistics Canada said energy drove our GDP up in the third quarter.
  • Mounties should look back

    The old photo says it all. It shows D Division of the Mounties on horseback leaving Fort Steele, B.C., in August 1888. The superintendent, S.B. Steele, is wearing garb dictated by Ottawa -- a white pith helmet and tight jacket buttoned up to the neck. His men are not. Many of them are wearing modified cowboy clothes -- wide-brimmed felt hats, kerchiefs and loose fitting jackets -- because the regulation outfit was useless for people on long patrols in all kinds of weather.
  • Top-down systems bottoms up

    Henry Ford, the car czar, was expounding in the 1930s that governments should concentrate not on workers' wages, but on capitalists who invested in assembly lines. "But who's going to buy your cars?" asked Walter Reuther, the famous American labour leader.
  • Ethical oil argument is ludicrous

    What I find galling about Ottawa is that John Baird, the foreign affairs minister, struts around the globe, with his unique gold-embossed calling cards, repeating some dumb arguments about dirty oil. Baird says the world should not worry about our oilsands producing "dirty oil" because Canada's government is ethical and those of other big oil producers are not.
  • Who's right-wing? Not Albertans

    Do you hear the far-off tinkling of broken glass? That's the sound of another Prairie myth being shattered. The myth said Albertans love right-wing parties that deliver small governments and reduced spending on social programs. The myth added that Prime Minister Stephen Harper, whose bailiwick is Calgary, was going to bring this kind of government to Ottawa and destroy Canada's social security net.
  • Family connects us to far-flung places

    PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. -- A new sign has been added to the plethora of highway signs that surround many Prairie small towns. "Local museum," it says. My daughter, Jen, has never met a museum she didn't like. Years of poking around dusty, stodgy rooms have blunted my keenness. Many of the museums seem to have more ancient, electric stoves than is absolutely necessary. That may be because the people of this big, cold country are infatuated with heat.
  • Prairie virtues always changing

    PINCHER CREEK, Alta. -- Wandering around a bric-a-brac-laden dude ranch house this summer in southern Alberta, I came across a weather-beaten sign, hanging next to a pair of early figure skates and some harness. On it was the Code of the West: "Write it on your heart. Stand by the Code, and it will stand by you. Ask no more and give no less than honesty, courage, loyalty, generosity and fairness."
  • Easy ride for Harper most unlikely

    The chattering class in Ottawa is talking about the Prairies becoming a unified region in terms of political thinking. The story goes like this:
  • Winnipeg must toot own horn

    Winnipeg, the Prairies' first metropolis, had a good summer. My family and I gathered that from talking to people as we toured Western Canada. I'd tell people I was from Winnipeg, then let them babble, hoping to find out their top-of-the-mind impressions of the city. Many of them were along the lines of the following.
  • Deadly animals, silly people

    JASPER PARK, Alta. ---- My family and I zip around a corner on the Banff-Jasper highway and are suddenly confronted by a gaggle of cars and people on both sides of the road. They are watching a bear cub in a tree, apparently unaware that cubs are one of the most dangerous wild animals. Anyone getting between a cub and its mother will get mauled. Parks Canada has lots of problems with people who treat wildlife parks like petting zoos.
  • $ilo $ystem of health care

    CALGARY -- Want to know what's wrong with health care? It's one of Canada's biggest businesses but it manages with the acumen of a roadside fruit stand. That's my interpretation of the feelings of Cy Frank, who helped establish in 2004 the Calgary-based Alberta Bone and Joint Health Institute that set up new methods for replacing hips and knees. He's gone on to become a student of what's wrong with health care.
  • At the end of the day, there's macramé

    PINCHER CREEK, Alberta -- Determined to see something of the Old West, my family and I have arrived at a ranch near this old cow town in the province's southwest. "And what are the main activities on the ranch?" I ask Colleen Cyr, an owner.
  • Floods wash away old ideas of the Prairie

    REGINA -- A grandpa has a difficult time telling his family from Ottawa about the dry Prairie climate when our truck's wipers can hardly handle the rain smashing into the windshield, a crude sign tells us the TransCanada ahead has been washed out, many farm fields on both sides of us are small lakes and the newspapers we've picked up are full of stories and pictures about people up to their hips in dirty flood water. My granddaughter Gwynneth, 13, doesn't want to contradict my stories of the sun-baked Prairie. My daughter, Jen, is less reticent. "You're going to have to include floods in your view of the West," she says.

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