Newsroom 123 results

Politics, Journalism, Opinion, and Sports from veteran journalists Rod Mickleburgh, Charley Gordon, Carla McClain, Shelley Page, Katherine Monk, and others.

The Look of Silence: Joshua Oppenheimer reflects on deflection

In The Act of Killing, Joshua Oppenheimer offered the dramatic testimony of mass murderers as they re-enacted their crimes. In the forthcoming sequel, The Look of Silence, the Oscar-nominated filmmaker brings the perpetrators face to face with the brother of the man they killed. By Katherine Monk Joshua Oppenheimer is a precise filmmaker, which is difficult to accomplish at the best of times, but something practically unheard of in documentary. It’s the reason why the Texas-born filmmaker was nominated for an Oscar for his first feature, The Act of Killing, a blend of research and febrile nightmare that related the story of Indonesia’s communist purge in which one million people were murdered. The movie caused a stir in Indonesia as it showed men who are still in power boasting about their acts of killing, and Oppenheimer suspected it would probably make any repeat visits to Indonesia impossible. Yet, this month will see the release of a sequel to The Act of Killing ...

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 ...

Journalists aren’t the trouble with journalism…

But their bosses aren't doing much to help the profession's credibility in the face of increasingly desperate financial woes By Charley Gordon There is a sudden push on to convince the public that journalism is a good thing. You can understand why. It has to do with journalists who become senators. It has to do with CBC hosts and art dealers. Some media organizations, including both union and management, have started an advertising campaign called JournalismIs to help the Canadian public become aware of how important journalism is. Full-page ads, featuring the enlarged half-tone faces of prominent journalists have been showing up in newspapers, with cautionary messages. “With a few keystrokes you can sample thousands of opinions, afloat in a sea of information,” says one. “But as the volume increases, the accuracy and reliability of professional journalism is essential. Gathering and sorting the facts, weighing and interpreting events, and following the story from ...

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 ...

The road to rebellion smells like peppermint

Rebel, rebel, I love you so... and so does everyone else, which means the last bastion of unfiltered anti-authoritarianism is the menthol cigarette, writes Charley Gordon By Charley Gordon It’s hard to be a rebel these days because these days you can do anything you want and nobody bothers you. Even doing something as formerly controversial as changing your gender lands you in a warm bath of tolerance and encouragement. Also you can wear anything you want and say anything you want, so long as you do it anonymously on the Internet. So to be a true rebel you have to do anything you don’t want to do, wear anything you don’t want to wear and say anything you don’t want to say. Most people don’t see the fun in that. Still, there are people who want to be defiant and need things to defy. Now, this isn’t hard to find in repressive dictatorships, but around these parts most people’s taste in defiance doesn’t run quite that far. Would-be rebels among us would like to ...

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 ...

Pop Culture Decoder: American Ninja Warrior

Misty Harris breaks down the appeal of TV’s best competition show that's basically the sports equivalent of dating George Clooney between 1994 and 2013 By Misty Harris American Ninja Warrior is summer’s best competition show that sounds like it was named by a six-year-old who just watched his first Chuck Norris movie. The series features increasingly grueling obstacle courses designed to test the mettle of America’s top athletes, and to shame everyone watching from their couch at home (those who can’t do, watch).   A part of me, childishly, wants to hate ANW for its hyperventilating celebration of all the people who would’ve picked me last in gym class. But as much as I’m a bitter old wannabe who can’t touch her toes, I find myself impervious to the charms of this show – the seventh season of which premieres May 25.   Contestants train like fiends year-round, will often wait days to audition, and have less fat in their entire bodies than I have ...