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.

Remembrance Day Special: Paying homage to the ‘Moon’

Rod Mickleburgh traces personal roots to exhume the history of more than 1,500 Canadians who defied their own government to fight for freedom, and the losing side of the Spanish Civil War By Rod Mickleburgh I have more than a few books about the tragic Spanish Civil War. Yet I can barely bring myself to read them. Well, except for Homage to Catalonia, George Orwell’s bittersweet, affecting memoir detailing both the heroic commitment of those who fought for a republican Spain and the bloody witch hunt by hard-line Stalinists against those fighting with the anarchists. I just find it all so depressing. In addition to the millions of Spaniards caught up in the ferocious struggle, thousands of young idealists from all over the world headed off to Spain, fired by a zeal to fight fascism and support a democratically-elected government that sought to make progressive change. The issues could not have been more black and white. The conflict has been rightly labelled ‘the last ...

Rod Mickleburgh toasts Canada Day with a sonic brewski, eh?

Crank up the Clairtone and celebrate Canada's birthday with a selection of songs curated by a discerning music lover indulging his many shades of plaid By Rod Mickleburgh Well, hello there, Canada. Another birthday, eh? Dominion Day is my favourite holiday of the year, a time for us all to set aside those petty differences over just about everything the you-know-who gang does in Ottawa, and celebrate being Canadian. My Canada includes a Prime Minister who loves hockey and gets excited about finding Franklin’s ships up north. It doesn’t include an ugly monument to “victims of communism” beside the Supreme Court of Canada, nor a massive Mother Canada statue scarring Cape Breton’s beautiful Highlands National Park, nor…(fill in 50 blanks here)….but never mind. Happy Dominion Day! What’s that? It’s now called Canada Day, you say? Pity! I usually celebrate Canada Day with a list of good old songs that best exemplify the spirit, history, beauty and character of this ...

Lest we forget the labour that birthed a province

Official school curriculum ignores the blood-stained history of organized labour, so Rod Mickleburgh offers a refresher on two violent events that unfolded on the waterfront By Rod Mickleburgh VANCOUVER - There were some grim remembrances last week for those dwindling few of us who consider the past travails of unions and workers worth preserving as part of our collective heritage. Their struggles and tragedies are as dramatic as history gets. Yet they claim very little place in what students are taught about the province’s history. We are getting better at changing history from just what dead white guys did long ago, even if I sometimes fear we de-emphasize these events a little too much in our schools. They did shape this country, and we should know about them. While John A. Macdonald, for instance, did some bad things (Louis Riel, treatment of First Nations, etc.), without his vision, strength of character and political acumen, parts of Canada might long ago have been ...

On Truth and Reconciliation

Rod Mickleburgh listened to the testimony of former residential school students in September 2013 and saw the scars of a generation deprived of love and cultural self-esteem By Rod Mickleburgh (Thanks to Maria Tippett’s book, Bill Reid, The Making of an Indian, for some of what follows.) One of the early things I did after ending my daily journalism career of 119 years, besides endless Googling of past Montreal Expo games, was take in the Vancouver public hearings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in September, 2013. The experience was overwhelming. It’s one thing to read about the unspeakable tragedy of what happened in Canada’s residential schools. It’s another matter to hear former students testify first-hand, and in depth, about what happened to them and the ongoing, debilitating impact it has had on their lives and those of their families. No wonder organizers placed so many boxes of Kleenex among the seats at the PNE Agrodome. At the same time, you ...

Rod Mickleburgh pens an ode to Jay messiah

Surprise slugfest shatters expectations of a humdrum night of baseball, inspiring a veteran scribe to take an original trip around the horn of Ernest Lawrence Thayer's classic, published June 3, 1888 By Rod Mickleburgh Earlier this week, on a beautiful night for baseball, I was at the Skydome for what hardly promised to be a classic ball game, between the struggling Blue Jays and woeful White Sox. But my friend Peter McNelly, having spent part of his boyhood in Chicago, remains a diehard Sox fan, and me, well, I love baseball at any level, so off we went. Of course, since baseball ever produces the unexpected, what transpired on the field, against all expectation, was as exciting a game as I can remember (and I remember Mazeroski’s homer!). It was an old-fashioned slugfest, with more twists and turns than the Monte Carlo Grand Prix. It was a pitchers’ duel all right, as in who would get to the showers first: the Jays’ R.A. Dickey, whose knuckleball danced about as much ...

Judge’s dissenting remarks draw chalk outline around corpse of collective bargaining

Justice Ian Donald emerges as a lone voice in the labour wilderness with recent 38-page dissent concluding the BC government did not bargain in good faith with teachers By Rod Mickleburgh “[If] the government could declare all further compromise in any context to be untenable, pass whatever it wants, and spend all ‘consultation periods’ repeatedly saying ‘sorry, this is as far as we can go,’ [that] would make a mockery of the concept of collective bargaining.” - Justice Ian Donald, dissenting from the B.C. Court of Appeal decision overturning a lower court ruling that found the government’s imposed 2012 contract on B.C. teachers unconstitutional. I’ve known Appeal Court Justice Ian Donald for a long time, not recently or as a friend, but during his time as a lawyer representing non-mainstream unions who made a lot of news in those long lost days when I was a labour reporter. His clients included independent Canadian unions such as the Pulp, Paper and ...

Baseball: And it’s root, root, snooze for the home team

Rod Mickleburgh pays a visit to Seattle's Safeco Field to deliver valuable coaching advice from 30 rows up that, tragically, went unheeded By Rod Mickleburgh One of my favourites among the many things Yogi Berra never said is: “There’s one word that describes baseball: you never know.” Like so many Berra-isms (“It gets late early out there.”), it has a wisdom all its own. For it really is one of the great things about baseball: you just never know. So many sports have a sameness to them, and I don’t mean that as a knock. I’m a huge hockey fan, but basically, the players go up and down the ice trying to score. It’s pretty basic. How many Kevin Bieksa-type stanchion goals are there in a season? Not so with baseball. It’s been played for more than 125 years, and you can still go the ballpark and see something that’s never happened before. Last year, at Safeco Field, I saw the left fielder throw out a runner at first (explanation available on request). On the ...

From Cowtown to Maotown

Rod Mickleburgh takes a long view on Rachel Notley's longshot win that changed Alberta's political landscape overnight, maybe for good By Rod Mickleburgh I wasn’t there, but I bet a lot of tears were shed by Alberta NDP oldtimers at the party’s giddy, raucous ‘n’ rollin’  post-victory celebration in Edmonton. That was certainly the order of the evening on a similar dragon-slaying night long ago, out here in British Columbia. On Aug. 30, 1972, Dave Barrett, the 41-year old son of an East Vancouver fruit pedlar, led “the socialist hordes” inside the province’s gates for the first time, after nearly 40 years of repeated failure. Among the hysterical crowd greeting a triumphant Barrett at the Coquitlam Arena (it was a different time…) was veteran union official Rudy Krickan, who’d worked for the party since the 1930’s. His eyes moistening, Krickan told a reporter: “This is the greatest night of my life.” Barrett’s mother Rose, who put young Dave on a ...

Rod Mickleburgh writes of Blythe spirit

Canadian actor Jonathan Crombie leaves a latent impression on the Canadian film landscape after playing the sweet-natured soul perpetually burned by the flinty Anne... of Green Gables By Rod Mickleburgh Social media reaction to the unexpected death this month of Canadian actor Jonathan Crombie, who so memorably played Gilbert Blythe in Anne of Green Gables, came almost entirely from the distaff side. Not too many guys were fans of the movie, I guess. Well, I’m a fan. A big one. Like many of my gender, it seems, I was originally pretty dismissive of the whole Anne of Green Gables thing. Who cares about the adventures of some spunky 11-year old orphan girl in turn-of-the-20th century Prince Edward Island? She hates her red hair. Boo hoo. Bring on Anna Karenina. But my mind was changed when I went to what I had hoped would be a party at a friend’s house, only to discover all the women heading into the TV room to watch Anne of Green Gables. Thinking they couldn’t ...

What did Singapore’s late patriarch do during infamous UBC sit-in?… He just sat there…

Rod Mickleburgh reveals little-known encounter between Lee Kuan Yew, Jerry Rubin and hordes of hippies in the hallowed halls of The University of British Columbia - back in the day By Rod Mickleburgh So, farewell then, Lee Kuan Yew, grand patriarch of Singapore, who never saw a critic he didn’t want to jail or sue, or a gum chewer he didn’t want to fine. Much has been written extolling the great man, beloved of entrepreneurs and capitalists for creating a safe, uncorrupt haven for their money and by hordes of ex-pats in Asia for providing a tiny, perfect oasis for a few days’ R and R, coupled with a chance to down a Singapore Sling at the famed Long Bar of the Raffles Hotel. But none of the lengthy obituaries has included one of the more remarkable confluences of Lee’s long career. That occurred, of all places, on the scenic, normally placid campus of the University of B.C., where he encountered an invasion of raucous ragamuffins imbued with the heady, counter-culture ...