Rod Mickleburgh 53 results

Rod Mickleburgh witnessed the golden age of Canadian journalism as a reporter at several Canadian papers, including The Vancouver Sun and  The Globe and Mail, where he reported on labour — among other things.

Is it too late to say sorry for Komagata Maru?

News: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologizes for racism Though many know the outline of an ugly chapter in Canadian history, the truth of the Komagata Maru is both an indictment of institutional prejudice, and a testament to the strength and pride of the passengers aboard the infamous vessel By Rod Mickleburgh At long last, a formal apology is being delivered in the House of Commons for Canada’s racist behaviour in its shameful treatment of Sikh passengers aboard the Komagata Maru who had the effrontery to seek immigration to the West Coast more than a hundred years ago. Not only were they denied entry, they were subjected to two months of exceptionally inhumane treatment by unflinching immigration officers. While many now know the basics of the ill-fated voyage, the story has many elements that are less well known. To fill in the gaps, we can look to Hugh Johnston and his definitive book, The Voyage of the Komagata Maru. Just days before the outbreak of World War ...

Feeling the Vancouver Bern

Rod Mickleburgh: Bernie Sanders in Vancouver, Washington Tilting at the windmills of politics called Super PACs, Bernie Sanders seems perfectly comfortable playing the modern equivalent of Don Quixote By Rod Mickleburgh VANCOUVER, WASH. -- The 74-year old, white-haired politician advanced to the podium, and the roof nearly came off the Hudson’s Bay High School gymnasium. No wonder. For nearly four hours, thousands of us had been standing in line, braving a cold, miserable rain, without even knowing whether we would be among the 5,000 or so lucky enough to make it inside. Our little group, friends after sharing the miserable ordeal outside, scraped through by the skin of our chattering teeth, but the doors soon closed on thousands more. As the cheers continued to cascade down from the packed, rickety benches of the high school gym, Bernie Sanders leaned forward and shouted in his hoarse, Brooklynese. “All I can say is: WHOA!” The roar got louder. “It sounds to me like ...

After a life in news, one last plea

People: Tribute to Ron Rose (1919-2015) A veteran newspaper man files a final message to readers: "Do what you can to stem the unedited and often unsourced outpourings in the flood of social media." By Rod Mickleburgh We said farewell late last month to a good man. Part of the great generation that survived the Depression, World War Two, the tinderbox of the Cold War and Liberace, Ron Rose was part of this crazy world for nearly a century, falling just four years short of the big One Zero Zero. But that’s not why so many of us gathered to pay our respects. We were there because Ron Rose, besides being the most gracious and generous of individuals, was a newspaper man. It was a gathering of the clans, a celebration of someone whose working life as a knight of the keyboard stretched back to the Depression. Ron Rose was history. When he started at the Vancouver Sun as a copy boy in 1938, he reported for work in the celebrated Sun Tower, then topped by the paper’s majestic neon ...

András Schiff conquers gridiron goliaths

Rod Mickleburgh: The Super Bowl vs. Classical Piano Recital How a 62-year-old pianist in a knee-length tunic made one lifelong sports fan forget about the Super Bowl, and feel the magic of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert By Rod Mickleburgh The treasured Leila Getz, described in the program as “Head Honcho” of the Vancouver Recital Society, welcomed us with her usual enthusiasm. “Thank you for choosing András Schiff over the Super Bowl. The magic begins.” And indeed, it did. Moments later, the stately, 62-year old master pianist, wearing a knee-length black tunic, walked out from the wings, acknowledged our applause, sat down on the cushioned bench, rested his hands on the top of the piano for 20 seconds of contemplation, and began to play. While gazillions tuned into the greatest annual event in the history of the world, aka the Super Bowl, which surpasses even the Eurovision Song Contest in global importance, I sat entranced, with hundreds of others at the packed ...

What makes a political campaign ugly?

Politics: The art of the campaign You know the gloves are off when someone makes a comparison to Hitler. It's already happened in the race for the Republican nominee, but Rod Mickleburgh reports it can happen anywhere when tempers flare and common sense is thrown under a campaign bus driven by fear. By Rod Mickleburgh Forty years ago this month, all these things really happened. The premier of British Columbia waited for the provincial election results with his wife and kids in a nondescript Coquitlam motel room behind closed drapes, the windows covered over by aluminum foil to discourage possible snipers. Plainclothes members of the RCMP prowled the corridors, making sure no one approached the premier’s room to try and make good on several anonymous death threats Dave Barrett had received. It was a fitting end to the nastiest, most laced-with-hysteria election campaign in B.C.’s long polarized history. The man under police guard was Dave Barrett. For the past ...

For Auld Lang Dies

Tribute: Dal Richards The Bandleader who rang in New Year's Eve for decades rings out on the New Year's Day, five days shy of 98 By Rod Mickleburgh VANCOUVER - I certainly didn’t know Dal Richards well. But I knew all about him, and I loved running into him. How often do you get to shake hands and say ‘hello’ and ‘thanks’ to a living legend? Vancouver’s King of Swing had a gig every New Year’s Eve for 79 years, which, as the whimsical Richards never tired of pointing out, must be some kind of world record. This year, Dal didn’t make it. The bandleader, who really did seem like he would live forever, passed away five days short of his 98th birthday on, yes, New Year’s Eve. No one ever accused Dal Richards of not having a sense of occasion. The thing about Dal was not only his accomplishments as a terrific bandleader and musician, but that he kept on playing. The years rolled by, and you kept wondering, will this be the year Dal Richards finally hangs up ...

Rod Mickleburgh’s Cool Yule Top Ten

Music: Christmas Carols A devout atheist reveals an unrepentant penchant for Christmas carols, and offers a list of top yule tunes, as well as a few nasty disasters from the past By Rod Mickleburgh A confirmed atheist from birth, I nevertheless fell under the spell of Christmas carols early on in my twisted, hippie life. I well remember a time when, in the days leading to Christmas, CBC Radio would broadcast the singing of carols every morning from the Timothy Eaton’s Store in Toronto. And this was no professional choir. The singers were the shoppers, and whoever else showed up to carol at 8.30 a.m., when the half-hour live broadcast began. Complete with coughing, the grave, echo-y announcements of the next carol, the audible rustling of the carol sheets and finally, the glorious sound of all those voices raised on high, it was an indelible part of my “child’s Christmas in Newmarket”. I can tell you they never did Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or Frosty the ...

When reporters and politicians rub elbows

Tribute: Bill Bennett A labour reporter looks back on an oddball friendship with a right-wing leader, and the good old days when labour reporters still existed By Rod Mickleburgh VANCOUVER -- For some reason, Bill Bennett seemed to like me. In the few times we encountered each other, we got along. Goodness knows why, since, as a labour reporter, I had little time for the wealth of anti-labour legislation that came down the legislative pipe during Bennett’s 11 years as premier of British Columbia, topped by his outlandish, 26-bill “restraint” package in 1983. It went far beyond “austerity”. One of the bills gave his government the right to fire public sector workers without cause and lay them off without regard to seniority. Among the first to be shown the door was BC Government Employees Union vice-president Diane Woods. Nor was that all. On that single unforgettable day, the government also wiped out the Human Rights Commission (employees fired on the spot), gave ...

Dan Halldorson: Unsung star of Canadian golf

Tribute In the modern era of professional showmanship, Dan Halldorson defined low-profile sportsmanship By Rod Mickleburgh You probably didn’t notice, but one of my favourite golfers recently shuffled off this mortal coil. In fact, most of you probably don’t even have a favourite golfer. But never mind. Apart from that, the reason you may not have noticed his demise, is that Dan Halldorson, tragically done in by a stroke at 63, defined the phrase “low profile.” Not only was he a Canadian professional golfer before Mike Weir, he had the on-course charisma of a dozing accountant. Not many noticed him during his golfing career, and after he retired, he was soon unjustly forgotten. Me, I loved the guy. There was something so unassuming about Dan Halldorson, so unlike any other golfer on the PGA tour. Shunning the flashy polyester slacks and other riotous garb of the time, Dan preferred loose, almost baggy, dark pants. When the weather fell below 80 degrees, he often ...

Syrian refugees face a new life and old ghosts

Fear of the 'foreigner' all too familiar Recent Remembrance Day tributes included a special acknowledgement of 120 Japanese-Canadians who fought for the Allies while branded "enemy aliens" By Rod Mickleburgh VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Last week, two days before the numbing atrocities of Paris, I went to the annual Remembrance Day ceremony at the Japanese-Canadian War Memorial in Stanley Park. It was a simple, almost homespun occasion, far removed from the military-like precision of the packed event at the main cenotaph downtown. A black-robed priest gave a purification prayer, clapped three times and performed a spiritual cleansing by waving about a long baton festooned with white paper streamers. He then talked six minutes past the proscribed 11 a.m. time for the two minutes of silence. No one seemed to mind. Beside me, a teen-aged girl wiped away tears, while an elderly Japanese-Canadian woman in an ordinary gray kimono stood with head bowed, eyes tightly closed. There was also a ...