Thursday, November 24, 2011



There was a picture in the Toronto Star of an Occupy Toronto protester offering a tulip to a clutch of cops as they ended the aggravation/occupation/ruination of a downtown park.
Probably just a stunt to embarrass the cops. Everyone knew it. Yet the picture is significant because of the four cops whose faces could be seen, all were looking at the camera and not at the peace offering of a flower.
One cop was non-commital, one was bulky and challenging with hands on belt,  as if to say to the photographer did you put this demonstrator up to this, one almost was sneering and then there was the sly one who looked like he had been caught stealing cookies.
Long ago when I was a police reporter, I would not have lingered around that quartet,  especially if it were dark. I learned that cops were always cops, especially in groups, and strange things can happen if the public isn't watching. And the public's watchdog, the media, better step carefully too.
I wonder what would have happened to that flower or the demonstrator if the camera had not been there.  Would there have been threats or worse? Yet it was only a tulip.
 If there are people who believe that the eviction would have gone as well without the media watching, then they're delusional and should not be allowed out.
There has been praise, and there should be, for how the the police and the city handled all the pretend campers. And there have been pundits rushing to say that the demonstrators won.
Perhaps! But I say to these so-called economic demonstrators, and to the native activists who also use sit-ins and blockades, and throw in some violence too, that they better proceed carefully, that they should not misjudge the temper of the times and think that what they do is acceptable to the silent majority and to the police hired to protect the property of the silent majority.
Just watch the next time a nice park is taken over, not just for six weeks but the demonstrators say they will be there forever unless their goals, whatever they are, are achieved.
The Bible is filled with references to 40 days and 40 nights. But that was the ancient code for a long time. And so this demonstration went on for 40 days. A really long time! Too long!
 Do you really think that the residents and businesses that border whatever is the next protest site will sit back and let the thoughtful, weirdos and loons interfere with neighbourhood life for one week, let alone 40 days and 40 nights.
I think the next ragtag Tent City better be used 24-hours-day (this one wasn't by most supposed campers)  because the demonstrators will return to find only grass.
I am struck as a Toronto taxpayer by the number of demonstraters in Tent City and in the G20 riot who are imports. They come from outside the city, and some times the province and even the country, to raise a little hell in a decent city.  After all, this is where the media, their megaphone, is concentrated for their utterings which can range from the delusional to the impossible.
Then there are those who are just street floaters because they have no address and just live rough and act tough to get help from the poor suckers who are still on the treadmill. And, tragically, the mentally ill who we have allowed  to be dumped on the cold streets to save a little money.
Tent City was just the evil flowering of a modern phenomenon where everyone feels free to criticize everything even when they do not have the vaguest connection to the issue. Raising hell for the sake of raising hell, not because you really care that much.
Look at all those who criticize and are offended by events or politics in Toronto when they choose not to live here. You look at the addresses of those who write letters to magazines and newspapers - and believe me as an editor I have read thousands of such letters - and it is not unusual to find people who choose to live hundreds of kilometres from T.O. lecturing Torontonians and their agencies for sins real or imagined.
The greatest irony to me about the occupation of a nice  park was all the signs and chants about how evil Rob Ford is. Most of the mouthy would not have known the mayor if he was standing beside them. I doubt that any of the occupiers could have told you what Ford stands for. To them he was just another fat cat politicians -and his blubber doesn't help - and the fact that he looks on wasteful spending of taxpayers' money as his number one concern was lost on them when it is their concern too.
If you can't identify your enemies better than that, how do you intend to win the war? But then did they really expect to achieve anything with their childish antics, a cell-phone generation that kept dialing the wrong number because it was a different way to kill time and be noticed.
Take away the 24 hour news cycle, the relentless hunt for filler news and the need of TV for pictures to space out the talking heads, and the Tent City would have lasted a few days. Instead the city was held hostage by a small mob and the media that feed on their antics.
For shame!

Saturday, November 19, 2011



The Canadian National Exhibition, Canada's largest fair  and one of the largest in the world, had another successful run this year.
Not that you would know it from politicians and media.
Despite bad weather on Labour Day weekend, when the Ex expects to get 25% of its total attendance, the Ex had 1.31 million people enjoying themselves on the 192-acre site.
Critics will point out that hundreds of thousands more used to come, but many figures were fibs, fewer people are getting in for free, and the city keeps grabbing off the best buildings and renting them year-round, meaning they're not available for the fair.
The city as landlord runs things through an Exhibition Place board which grabs off the millions in profits that the Ex makes  - more than $8 million in the last decade - screws with the CNE budget, and doesn't protect the Ex against such problems as the Maple Leaf Sports mint that runs the new stadium making it difficult for the Ex to use it.
At the Oct. 20 annual meeting, a new CNE president was elected. Brian Ashton has just retired as a city councillor and was so good that I kept urging him to run for mayor. But the media didn't mention his election  except for small weeklies in his home turf of Scarboro.
I know all about how anonymous the CNE leadership has become. When I was elected CNE president,  the media ignored me too.
The president and general manager were once major figures. Hiram McCallum retired as mayor of Toronto to run the Ex. Presidents included captains of industry like George Cohon of hamburger fame and Oakah Jones of Consumers Gas. Fred Gardiner, Bill Allen and Paul Godfrey, all powerful chairmen over the Toronto regional municipality, dominated Ex politics.
It was Godfrey who teamed with Premier Bill Davis to have the Ex run by two boards, the EP one to be landlord and the CNE one to run the fair.  They did so to avoid politics that would handicap the building of a new home for the  Jays. The team started at the Ex but moved to a costly site with screwed up parking just to avoid city politics.
 So the separation wasn't necessary. Yet we have a chaotic situation where even governors and directors are unclear about who runs what. So the fair, which started life in 1879, is now a tenant in the home it built over the decades.
Thanks to several studies that suggested the provincial money pit known as Ontario Place (OP) be joined to EP, there are quiet talks going on about the Ex's future. Should the CNE be independent of EP? Should there be a new deal between the two? Should the two join OP? Should the old Fort be part of the mix, possibly with the nearby armoury?
I sit on the important CNE committee involved in these talks. However, I do not have a conflict as I write because nothing definite has been decided and my views have been known for years.
I doubt that the public cares. It sounds like a debate about how many bureaucrats can fit on the head of a pin, to rework the old theological conundrum.
Yet the benefits could be huge. Not just in the saving of tax money as all the staff duplication is eliminated but in a better festival centre for entertainment, trade and even education. After all, it is plain that OP must be improved because it has lost its way to such an extent it hasn't even been charging admission. The fair program each year has become richer and more diverse. Just imagine what would happen if the Ex controlled everything and it didn't have to give away all its profits.
An important provincial study suggested that old Fort York be included in any merger of EP and OP. The KPMG study for city council on possible savings in the bewildering maze of operations didn't include the fort but did talk about a 5% saving in a merger of the two places. A piddling estimate because surely it would be more.
This is hardly an easy deal. You just can't take a cleaver and separate the CNE from its landlord because the fair benefits from capital costs covered by the landlord, such as the Coliseum makeover and the building of the huge trade centre. EP also provides equipment and staffing for the Ex, for which the Ex pays a confusing amount.
What I hope is that at the end of the day, participants won't bite into the results as if they were big cones of candy floss to be savoured, then discover there really isn't anything there but a tiny bit of sweetness.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011



I'm tired of environmentalists who figure they invented recycling.
I'm tired of money-sucking Hydro lecturing us on how to save electricity as it charges us more.
I'm tired of taxes wasted on solar, water and and wind schemes that don't benefit the public but only look good and make investors a lot of money.
If we could take the posturing out of the green movement, it might accomplish more and not just be a boom-and-bust kind of thing where the public loses interest every decade because it's offended at the hype and alarmed at the poor results.
For many Canadians who have survived to pensionhood, we husbanded our resources when we were young because we had to. We look back and remember when our cities and towns were a lot more efficient and wastage was considered something only the rich could tolerate. And many of them were only rich because they had saved.
You can get a little nuts when you consider the "improvements"  of today.
What's the sense of producing ethanol when it costs more energy than it saves,  drives up the price of food,  ruins outboards and benefits mainly giant corporations?
What was the sense of the tedious separation of  garbage in Toronto when it just ended up in the same bin?
Wasn't modern recycling just the creation of pop companies and grocery chainss so they didn't have to handle all those empty sticky bottles?
When I was a daily columnist, I took the first three years of a new environmental science course at U of T so I could peer inside the facts behind the activists of the various Probe organizations. I wasn't impressed. I kept thinking they're reinventing the wheel.
The good old days often weren't, even in the nostalgia of older Canadians.  But when it comes to eliminating waste and efficient living, we used to be kings. Of course they hadn't yet invented the throw-away society and the environmental movement.
As a boy, I lived in Chesley, a town of 1,800 near Owen Sound. We grew most of our vegetables on the empty lot beside the little house that was heated by a cook stove.  We got hot water by running the pipe through the firebox. The storm windows were heavy, like the winter underwear, and also worked.
We kept Leghorn chickens out back and ate those that languished at the bottom of the pecking order. There were no cultivators or power mowers. We burned leaves at the curb in one of the sweetest smells for a city streets. (They stopped the burning not because of  pollution but to protect the asphalt.)
Grandma had preserved the fruit we ate after every supper. When a jar went bad, this Baptist home fed it to the chickens and wondered why they staggered around.
Milk and bread were delivered to the door. You put the coupons in the milk box that every home had to house the bottles coming full and going back to be recycled before the word had been invented.
Delivery wagons were pulled by horses that knew the route better than the drivers and moved automatically. Groceries bought down on the main street were delivered free in a service paid for by all the grocery stores. Department stores delivered for free within a few days.
Everyone returned pop bottles for the deposit. Old newspapers were used to start fires and to line drawers. Magazines, especially the Geographic, were saved for neighbours or the hospital.
Holes in socks, sweaters and gloves were darned. Diapers were washed  for reuse. String was saved in big balls. The washing was dried on clothes lines and smelled great.
Houses had only one radio and later only one TV. There was one electric outlet per room. because there weren't labour-saving devices in every corner. Only one telephone receiver in a house and the poorer homes shared with a neighbour, often the same one with whom you shared a box in the central post office.
 You didn't have a home freezer but rented a locker in a freezer plant in the dairy which sold buttermilk for a nickel a pail.
Water came from the tap and no one carried water bottles. Some houses still had a well and pump. Baths were for Saturday night and showers only came as rain.
Rain water was collected in barrels under the down spouts. But we didn't get silly about it. One example of the modern stupidity over water conservation, when Ontario has more fresh water than most countries, is toilets that really don't flush very well. Another is the purchase of bottled water when there used to be public water fountains.  We had  Exhibition Place put an expensive system for capturing rain on the roof of the old Automotive Building when one of the larger lakes of the world is just across the road.
Of course the same Ex built an expensive wind turbine. When I voted against it at the board, I pointed out windmills have been around for centuries, there were hills around the world that had dozens of the renamed windmills,  and there was no need to have a costly demonstration downtown. At least they moved its site out of the lovely rose garden.
Fifty years ago, no politicians or bureaucrat wanting to survive would have backed such costly nonsense with toilets, windmills and water conservation.
When we were kids, we wrote mainly with pencils because paper was expensive and we used something called an eraser.  Pens were refilled with ink from bottles or ink wells. There were rumours of girls'  pigtails being dipped in the wells  on school desks, but in my school, the girls would have killed you.  Early ballpoints were avoided because they leaked.
You rode your bike to school or walked. No parents ferried their kids.  Parents walked or took the streetcar or bus to work. Few drove on short trips because in the winter away from block heaters, cars were tough to start.
At night no one went to a health club because they were too tired. Exercising by machine sounded like medieval torture. And no one ordered in because pizza hadn't been invented yet in Ontario. A restaurant meal was considered extravagant.
But by gum, the greenies say we were backwards. Yet we  used the compost heap and chickens to get rid of the kitchen scraps. The burn barrel and the wood stove took care of the rest. No one had costly garbage collection like today's featuring giant bins stuck in front of houses. . Housewives would have rebelled at being turned into garbage pickers.
It was only 50 years ago, just a wink in the eye of history, but we were just doing then what had been done for decades before. Except no one called it green. It was just considered really dumb to be wasteful.

Monday, November 14, 2011



Arguments about our national sport or our national game are so much fun because they don't matter a dam. (In honour of the dentally defective rat, I have dropped the n.)
I divide Canadians into two groups: those for whom beavers have been a nuisance and those who think all our animals, especially the beaver, have sacred places in the Canadian identity.
I know beaver have become part of our language. We praise someone by saying he works like a busy beaver. But that's the problem. I just wish they didn't work so hard.
Canadians should have been warned decades ago because Grey Owl, the famous writer about beaver, who even cut holes in his floor as a beaver door, turned out to be a phony Englishman without native blood.
The latest fuss has been triggered by a Conservative senator, Nicole Eaton, who says the polar bear should replace the beaver as Canada's national animal emblem because beavers are a costly nuisance. Amen!
There are several ironies. Eaton has spoken in the past in praise of beaver but then a family started living under her cottage deck every summer. As a senator she should be careful about suggesting changes to the status quo. Beavers are plentiful but Canadian senators are an endangered species.  She's also a member of the Eaton department store family that had a great rivalry with the Hudson Bay Company which was built on the backs of dead beavers and put four beavers on its coat of arms in 1678.
I have had countless encounters with beavers but, thank heavens, never a polar bear outside the zoo. It's on my bucket list of something I want to see, something I share with centuries of  people going back to  prehistoric and medieval times who had fearful admiration for bears of all kinds
Unlike most Canadians, I have worked in the North, but not where the magnificent polar bear was monarch of all it could sniff. The true north strong and free is best represented by the polar bear.
But in the Yukon beavers are a problem too. I was Editor of the territory's only newspaper, the Whitehorse Star, and trying desperately as a 20-year-old not to blow my cool in the midst of a hard-drinking collection of really weird refugees from the rest of Canada.
My publisher, Harry Boyle (not the CBC one), had bought property on a remote lake, a log cabin that dated back to the Gold Rush and was coated with yellowed newspapers and magazines. There was only one other dwelling, not occupied since the miner had shot himself. When we went to explore, we found we had to wade for a hundred yards because the road had been flooded by beavers. We moved carefully since outside the car we were vulnerable to the grizzlies and moose who lived there, and we had neglected to bring a rifle powerful enough not to glance bullets off any charging animal.
I said I would go back when we could drive all the way.
Over the years I have had friends who grumbled about beaver damage on their farms. I wrote about Toronto parks and conservation authority officials who always seem to have a beaver problem which was complicated by those who just wanted to watch them cut down expensive trees so they didn't get a toothache.
But the toothy menaces became my annual problem when I bought a cottage on Burnt Point in the Trent River south of Havelock. Beavers welcomed me after the first winter by chopping down three lovely silver birch in front of my bunkie. For 30 years I have wrapped trees in fence wire and barbed wire, poured disagreeable liquid mixtures of stuff including cayenne pepper down the bark, and resorted to every protective gimmick that I heard about from locals or discovered on the internet.
Despite that, I have lost a baker's dozen of mature trees and countless saplings and bushes. One beaver chopped down a tree by pulling down the protective wire mesh and then didn't even bother to eat one twig.
I last wrote about beaver in a blog titled Getting Tough On Wild Life. That was just after I found that beaver had chomped down an evergreen that my son Mark and I planted 15 years ago and I hoped would soon resemble other lovely trees around the cottage.
Since then I have been in daily battle with a beaver and its mate who try to use the boat house more than I do. I played classical music 24/7 in the boat house and when that didn't work switched to jazz and left the light on. Nothing worked, it smelled like a dump, and it was a bit disconcerting to keep stepping on a beaver.
One day I was carrying a hiking stick and when the big male was tardy in vacating, I hammered him over the head. It swam into the channel and then circled back. A long shot, but I got a rifle from my gun safe and tried anyway. I may have hit it because it never came back.
My grandsons rather liked it because if they snuck up quietly, they could see it sleeping on its back with its little paws in the air like a giant gerbil.
A neighbour had suggested she would collect enough money to hire a trapper. I pointed out that the trappers used to charge $50 but it had gone up a lot. Besides, I said, he would just skin it. After all, Canada was built from the hides of dead beavers.
Didn't I worry about the authorities, she asked? I pointed out the OPP was in no position to be tough because its brass had beaver evicted from behind their Orillia headquarters. Besides, I had so much proof of beaver damage, it was disgusting.
(I really try to let nature exist without harm. Just leave me alone. I try to drive away the thick water snakes rather than kill them, I ignore the muskrat that lives in the point even when it built a second nest on the outboard support of my pontoon boat, the minks that live beside the muskrat are never bothered and I only shot the porcupine because it kept gnawing the cottage.)
Let's run through the pros and cons of this fun debate which is a grand diversion from matters that really count. In confusing stock market lingo, I'm a bull on the bear but a bear on the beaver.
Bears can eat you but beavers can't. So that's support for the beaver. Polar bears look great but beavers look retarded. So that backs the bear. Beavers are industrious and are praised as gifted engineers, but praising their hard work is like complimenting a terrorist. Beavers are monogamous, which used to be a compliment before Canadians became so horny. Polar bears want to mate with any bear in the neighbourhood, which mimics the nightclub scene any Saturday night.
No wonder that in a recent popularity survey, the polar bear has pulled ahead of the beaver because bad-ass handsome strong creatures are much more a Canuck thing that some squashed runt that hides in a mud hut when it isn't vandalizing the neighbourhood.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011



It's 10 a.m. just west of University on Adelaide. Illegal parking has congealed both sides of the street.
A cop, probably paid duty, stands nonchalantly on a corner ignoring everything and everyone except his cell phone. Several bulky construction trucks block everything. Two workers argue. No work is being done.
Then a cyclists zips the wrong-way on the one-way street of Simcoe through a red light. No one pays any attention, certainly not the cop.
Just another weekday morning downtown.


On a weekday morning, the outside lane of University just north of Adelaide is blocked with City of Toronto vehicles. Parks employees are grooming the orphan parkland in the middle of the avenue. An hour later, they move to the other side of the strip of grass and flowers and block the other side.
And a journalist wonders why they can't do that early or late or on weekends. After all, I've worked newspaper shifts starting at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., midnight and 2 p.m.  Why can't our municipal employees also work similar shifts so they don't block major roads when traffic is heavy?
Or do they have to act like librarians staffing our libraries during most of the hours when most people can't use them?
Remember when banking hours were only from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. If stuffy bankers can change, why can't all those public workers who supposedly serve taxpayer? Or doesn't that fit with time-clock mentality and fat pay for easy work?

The first opportunity for drivers to drive between Park Lawn and Prince Edward to Royal York as they head north from The Queensway is Glenroy Ave.  For 20 blocks they can't cross Mimico Creek because some objected to a bridge decades ago. So the rest of us in Etobicoke have been sentenced for an eternity to a crippled traffic flow.
So Glenroy, which is only four blocks long, is a very busy street. It was used by emergency vehicles and buses and hundreds of vehicles, and of course all the illegal parking by parents dropping off their kids at the junior school on the street.
Now there are speed humps between the new stoplight at one end and the deliberate narrowing at the other. If you need a firetruck or ambulance when seconds really count, you won't get any quick help along Glenroy because emergency vehicles won't use streets with speed humps.
And the throat constriction makes it difficult for cars to get in or out, and just one truck can plug it dangerously as cars try to squeeze by.
 I know. I have lived one house away from Glenroy for nearly 50 years.  I know that the traffic that doesn't want to face the road hassles use the first through street to the north, Edgemore, and use it with such vigour that few stop at the one stop sign and many barely hesitate at an irregular dangerous corner.
All this comes with no thanks to politicians and traffic engineers who don't live there. And residents of a dozen or so houses on Berry as it ended in a dead-end street. So thousands of people daily are inconvenienced by NIMBYism running wild,  and councillors who don't give a damn.
Toronto is nearly 250 square miles, dotted with similar problems left behind by selfish neighbours and gutless politicians.


And we wonder why our traffic is a mess.
Perhaps if a few more cops actually helped traffic instead of manning cash-register speed traps, it would be better. Actually when I see a speed trap in the usual cunning locations, I wonder why the cops instead of punishing us don't hand out medals to anyone who actually manages to get close to the speed limit on a major Toronto street.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011



One of the silliest bullshit stunts by media come in the preening boasts about "exclusive" interviews with prominent figures.
You know, the editor knows the personality or leader was interviewed at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. but bigawd my guy had an "exclusive" interview at 2 p.m.
Walter Isaacson has been the main editor at Time and an accomplished biographer. After his book on Steve Jobs was released, Isaacson has appeared on or in just about every media outlet known to man. In fact, it would be easier to list the media that haven't featured him.
So I found it amateurish nonsense in the Nov. 14 Maclean's in the column marked "from the editors" for one of them to write that Isaacson had talked to their correspondent "in an exclusive Canadian interview."
An "exclusive" interview is something to crow about if it is with someone who hasn't been talked to for years and has something to reveal. That happens rarely in in the relentless 24/7 news cycle where you can be bored within a day with the coverage of the death of some person you didn't even know had been alive.
Any media boss that wants to hang an "exclusive" tag on a talk with a PM or CEO who is quoted widely and regularly should be forced to take a Journalism 101 course.
Now I have had my share of "exclusive" interviews and scoops but I became so weary of such breathless claims that I almost never said so.
In fact, in one ''exclusive" interview with a world leader, I thought it would be presumptious to take a bow.
I headed the Canadian delegation to the International Press Institute which had hundreds of publishers and editors from more than 50 countries who would meet annually in some controversial city like Jerusalem to fight for democracy and press freedom.
Doug Creighton, the founding Sun publisher, grumbled about me going off to Japan at a busy time. I told him that among the speakers was Nelson Mandela. You can go, he said, if you get an "exclusive" interview. Nuts, I said, and went anyway.
The conference gathered in ancient surroundings in Kyoto near the famous Zen garden where you use a raised walkway to look down on 15 moss-covered stones surrounded by carefully raked gravel. I was walking and staring down and ran right into a big guy who started to fall off the edge. I grabbed Nelson Mandela and saved him. "Migawd," I said, "I just wiped  out the guest speaker."
His bodyguards were furious but Mandela waved them away. Then we all went off to a buffet. I slipped into the line behind Mandela and chatted. His favourite food was porridge, he declared. Then we stood under a tree with our plates and talked some more.
I asked why he was in Japan when his then wife, Winnie, was on trial back in Jo-burg. "We have good lawyers," he said.
My interview was interesting and ran big on Page 2 of the Sun. But I never said it was "exclusive," not with the brass of every major newspaper in the world all around us eager to gab with him at any opportunity.
The next day, Mandela gave the keynote speech. I figured out his exit door and stood there. As he walked by, he said: "Here's the Canadian who hits so hard. What did you think of the speech?"
I said I didn't like it because he hadn't written it himself and it ignored the Zulu, one of the major groups in the future of his troubled country.
"How did you know I didn't write my speech," Mandela demanded. "Because when you got to the end, you turned the page and there wasn't anything there," I told him. He laughed and said I had caught him.  What a great man! He evolved from just another terrorist to a wonderful forgiving leader almost worshipped by his people
 He's been erased by Alzheimer's, unfortunately, so his appearance are few and careful.  It is one interview I will never forget, even though it was only "exclusive" for a few brief moments on a sunny day under a shade tree in the garden of an ancient ruin

Saturday, November 5, 2011



I have been a member of the selection board for this wonderful hall since it began in 1993.
But for the first time I have had a bitter taste of the hurdles faced by the 82 members.
When the board met this year to make its choices, I had to send mine in by telephone since at the time I was trapped in Runnymede Health Care Centre, unable to get out of bed or to walk or even stand.
Many of our inductees over the years know exactly what I faced. Except I got over it and they don't.
I learned what their struggles were all about to improve access to public buildings for the disabled, to change the look in a stranger's eyes to understanding rather than a baffled ignorance.
At the induction lunch at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel, an unfortunate choice I thought as I laboured up 39 steps from the street, we heard great speeches from David Crombie, a song bird among mayors, David Onley, our lieutenant-governor who towers above his wheelchair, and Rick Hansen, the man in motion who has muscled his wheelchair through many lands to, as the program said, move the world to action.
Members of the hall, which used to be called the Terry Fox Hall of Fame until Terry's mother raised constant cranky objections, have transformed this country, founding the CNIB, being leaders in the Paralympics, skiiing their chair to the North Pole, and the list goes on, humbling the rest of us who haven't had to grope or stumble through life.
The latest inductees included Archie Allison, the popular stalwart at Variety Village, a cause dear to the heart of my friend, Doug Creighton, the founder of the Toronto Sun.
 Then there was Benoit Huot, born with a club foot, who failed at hockey and baseball but not as a swimmer, winning eight gold medals, four silver and four bronze in three successive trips to the Paralympics Summer Games. He shrugs it off. "All I've done for 20 years is to look at the bottom of a pool for eight hours a day."
And the McKeever brothers, Brian and Robin. With Robin as his guide, the legally blind Brian has won seven paralympic gold medals, and astounded the world in Vancouver when he also made Canada's Olympic cross-country ski team. He didn't get to race, however, but the brothers handled that with their fine sense of humour. Robin quips that his brother is always following in his footsteps. And Brian says he has learned to meet challenges head on, which occasionally are trees.
However, the best line was delivered by Rick Hansen. He did a bungee jump for Rick Mercer's CBC TV show and said later when he was asked how he felt: "I can't feel my legs."
The luncheon audience roared at that. No doubt everyone returned to their offices and told everyone how awed they had been to learn of the feats of the inductees. As one said, life is not a destination, it's a journey. And they never let disability run them into the ditch.



So I've driven my Hyundai Elantra Touring for more than 2,000 kilometres and know why Canada's car journalists have just called its sedan cousin one of their cars of the year.
I am pleased, but a little irked that once again you can't believe the advertised claims for how much gas a new car model uses.
I really shouldn't be surprised because there have been studies by reputable organizations that show that 99.99% of all claims by car companies about the mileage of their latest models are too low.
Everyone fibs!
In the latest house ad I've seen from Hyundai,  the claim for the Elantra Touring is that highway mileage was 6.4  litres per 100 kilometres or  43 MPG.
The noted car writer Glen Woodcock, my Associate Editor when I was Editor of the Toronto Sun, assures me that you no longer have to break in cars. It used to be that at the start, you were told to drive at various speeds around 110 and not cruise at any one speed, particularly anything over 120.
But I keep my cars for a long time, so I still believe in being careful for the first week or so. So I wasn't roaring around the city and did a sedate 110 on the highway. And I got the claimed 6.4 litres for my first 1,000 km.
Then I did the annual milk run to ensure the cottage was closed properly. At speeds around 100 on the Gardiner and Don Valley, then 116 on 401 and passing at up to 125. Finally 95 or so on roads near the cottage. A similar trip back, except traffic was heavier and I had to use the Lake Shore and its rash of stop lights because the Gardiner was arthritic.
So that was a typical highway trip for me.  And my mileage was 7.9 litres, not that advertised figure at all. Of course Hyundai and the other car companies get the claimed mileage by driving carefully at speeds that would have you rammed on Canadian roads, not under ordinary driving conditions for most drivers.
My main complaint has to do with the ride. I was warned by analysis in Consumer Reports and other publications that the ride was stiff and bumpy. Okay on the highway, but since Toronto streets now resemble something from a city that has been shelled, the ride is certainly a drawback, so much so that if I had been buying a car just for the city,  this would not have been a good choice if I was worried about my back.
I'm happy though, even if I had to take a silver colour rather than the lovely red if I wanted a car without a wait for months. As it was, I got the car a day after my son Mark went back to China, which was one reason why I wanted the car ASAP.
You certainly will find that buyers will pay the price for Hyundai's success, now that the Elantra is challenging to be the top car in Canada in sales. I found the Hyundai dealer on the Lake Shore in Etobicoke to be so indifferent to my business that there wasn't even a reply to a email that I sent.
And the 2011 model were sold out when I went to the dealer on Dufferin. I had to buy a 2012, which was probably a good idea since there are supposed to be significant improvements, except you wouldn't know that from Consumer Reports which still lists its test of a 2009 model on its internet site.
I look forward to years of happy driving, but I certainly will be dodging potholes.