Revisiting Christopher Jencks, a liberal willing to shift his position

An appetite for empirical data and a willingness to challenge received wisdom

Revisiting Christopher Jencks, a liberal willing to shift his positionAmong the activities associated with moving house is the trawl through possessions you haven’t seriously looked at in years. Books are a prime example. In the process, I reacquainted myself with American social scientist Christopher Jencks. Born in 1936, Jencks began his career working at the liberal magazine The New Republic and the left-leaning Institute…

Defence lawyer pulls no punches in new memoir

Marie Henein is unapologetic and controversial, largely due to her defence of Jian Ghomeshi

Defence lawyer pulls no punches in new memoirIf you buy criminal defence lawyer Marie Henein’s new memoir hoping for the inside scoop on her high profile cases, you’ll be disappointed. Ethically, she considers those details off limits, confined there by the parameters of the lawyer-client relationship. However interesting the stories might be, Henein believes they aren’t hers to tell. They belong to…

We need a Plan B to deal with climate change

Adapting to a changing climate is the only feasible option

We need a Plan B to deal with climate changeDrawing heavily from physicist Steven Koonin’s recent book – Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, and Why It Matters – my last column looked at some of the challenges involved in getting to global carbon-free by mid-century. Koonin actually calls it “a practical impossibility.” Now let’s talk about contingency planning. If carbon…

The road to a carbon-free future will be rougher than we thought

If aspirations and reality collide, always bet on reality

The road to a carbon-free future will be rougher than we thoughtIf you’ve been following international news lately, you’ll have noticed a new development. Europe and Asia are suddenly worried about energy. With winter coming, costs are soaring and there’s even concern about shortages that might trigger industrial shutdowns and endanger people’s ability to heat their homes. From an object of loathing and scorn, fossil fuels…

The bloody end of Anwar Sadat

Sadat had committed the cardinal sin of making peace with Israel

The bloody end of Anwar SadatOn Oct. 6, 1981, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was gunned down while presiding over a ceremony celebrating the eighth anniversary of the Yom Kippur War. It was a brutal reminder of how passionate political differences can claim the lives of even the most prominent. Political assassinations weren’t exactly unheard of in the second half of…

Trudeau is more of a celebrity than political giant

His adoring fans attribute to him qualities he doesn't actually have

Trudeau is more of a celebrity than political giantWith the dust settling from Sept. 20’s federal election, here are three takeaways: Justin Trudeau isn’t – and never was – a political giant When Justin Trudeau thwarted Stephen Harper’s 2015 effort for an unprecedented fourth consecutive term, he looked like a political rock star. He had charisma to burn, adoring fans, media enthusiasm and…

Rocky Marciano was formidable from his first fight to his last

Rocky was all about brute force, relentless aggression, destructive punching power and a non-fastidious attitude toward the rules

Rocky Marciano was formidable from his first fight to his lastBeing heavyweight champion of the world was a big deal when professional boxing was a mainstream sport – a very big deal. And in the early 1950s, an Italian-American called Rocky Marciano was the guy. Born Rocco Marchegiano on Sept. 1, 1923, he was one of six children in a working-class Italian immigrant family –…

When Reagan fired the air traffic controllers

It was assumed that Reagan would cave to the aggressive labour action. He didn't

When Reagan fired the air traffic controllersSomething unusual happened in August 1981. Ronald Reagan, then president of the United States, fired the country’s illegally-striking air traffic controllers. Most observers were astonished. This wasn’t part of the normal political playbook. Increasing union militancy had become a prevalent feature of the economic landscape since the 1960s. And when faced with aggressive labour action…

Bill Davis, the man who understood Ontario

His sense of what Ontario wanted was on the money

Bill Davis, the man who understood OntarioBill Davis, the former Ontario premier, died on Aug. 8. He was the first Conservative I ever voted for. It happened in the October 1971 provincial election. My previous trip to the polls – in 1968 to vote for Pierre Trudeau’s federal Liberals – had been an enthusiastic occasion. Not this time. Davis wasn’t the…

In praise of talented storytellers Forsyth, Follett

If you’re partial to thrillers but aren’t familiar with either man, find a copy of The Day of the Jackal or Eye of the Needle and enjoy a riveting read

In praise of talented storytellers Forsyth, FollettThis summer marks the 50th anniversary of Frederick Forsyth’s The Day of the Jackal. It’d be hard to conceive of a more spectacular novelistic debut. Forsyth was a “flat broke,” unemployed English journalist in his early 30s. Hopefully, a novel would help clear his debts. While the book’s inspiration was the failed 1962 assassination attempt…