Editorials - March 3, 2023
Memories that last a lifetime
Last weekend, Canadians bid farewell to prolific actor, director and writer Gordon Pinsent at the tender age of 92. The passing of a celebrity is often marked with sadness and tributes to their body of work, but the death of Pinsent went beyond the usual hyperbole and brought a wave of personal memories and anecdotes to social media.
Pinsent had a very local connection with Blyth going back decades, with two plays produced at the Blyth Festival. The first was John and the Missus in 1980 and later Corner Green had its world premiere in 2001. Local volunteers and board members recalled his generosity of spirit and it was evident that he left an impression on all he met. He returned at times to visit the theatre, whether to attend a performance, as an opening-night speaker or as a donor of a painting to a fundraiser.
In fact, many of the memories posted seemed to share a common theme, that, despite his celebrity, Mr. Pinsent went out of his way to leave an impression on those he met. From the exuberant community players in The Outdoor Donnellys who would risk the wrath of their stage manager for being late to their five-minute call so that they could get an autograph, to our own reporter, Scott Stephenson, who recalls Mr. Pinsent going out of his way to introduce himself by name with a handshake to a nervous young waiter, Mr. Pinsent was aware of the memory that he could create for those he met, even briefly.
He used those moments wisely, with wit and charm, and seemed genuinely interested. We could all take a lesson from Mr. Pinsent and take care to create good memories for everyone we meet. – DS
Coming and going
As any Canadian who doesn’t grow their own food has noticed, the cost of groceries is high. They have risen steadily in recent years to a point that has some people making accusations of price gouging.
In Canada, Loblaw has become the face of rising food costs (unfairly, according to those at Loblaw) and has since gone on the offensive, assuring customers that the company is not to blame for high food costs through social media discourse that is cringe-worthy and has been, predictably, poorly received by Canadians struggling to put food on the table. Last week, the Loblaw company line became even more difficult to defend as the company’s fourth-quarter profits exceeded analysts’ expectations, despite a price freeze on the company’s No Name brand of products (which has since been dropped), rising by about 10 per cent thanks to revenue of just a hair over $14 billion, which includes profit available to shareholders of nearly $530 million.
Right around that same time, Loblaw has told Canadians to expect the cost of food to keep rising, despite these handsome profit margins.
It’s hard, as a Canadian food consumer, not to feel over a barrel when Canada’s largest grocery chain posts record profits, insists it’s not the chain’s fault, and tells you to prepare for further increases.
Businesses have lean years and they have fat years. This is life. But as Canadians struggle to make ends meet, it’s hard not to watch profits like Loblaw’s roll in and wonder if we are all, indeed, in this together. The company’s position is one that’s getting harder to defend. – SL
Last Friday night, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke in Toronto at a vigil in support of solidarity with Ukraine. The day solemnly marked one year since the Russian invasion began, but, by and large, spirits in the crowd remained celebratory. As Trudeau spoke, a belligerent individual shouted vitriolic rhetoric and spewed vulgar language in the Prime Minister’s direction, reminiscent of tactics used by the so-called “Freedom Convoy” protest of 2022. Unable to shake the distraction, the Prime Minister addressed the protester directly by saying, “Hey sir, I think Ukrainians could tell you a little bit about freedom and liberty, so why don’t you settle down?” to an eruption of support from the crowd. Trudeau punctuated his point by saying, “This is a night for them, not for you. This is a night for Ukrainians, not for you.”
On the opposite end of the province the very same night, the County of Huron partnered with the Seaforth Curling Club to deliver a fun, instructional night of curling for a burgeoning group of Ukrainian people who have left behind the devastation of war to start new lives in Canada. The event included a supper buffet, button-making activities for children and many smiling faces as people slid, swept and threw rocks across the sheet in Seaforth. The shouting at this event, unlike the hostility exhibited in Toronto, was a lot more encouraging. Bellows of “hurry” and “hard” rang out through the air, and only needed to meet the volume of laughter and jovial conversations already filling the space.
The last year has challenged many to reconsider the meaning of the term “freedom”. In Canada, you are free to shout at the Prime Minister and you are also free to enjoy an evening of curling with friends. What’s profound about Canadian freedom is watching Ukrainian newcomers make that choice for themselves. – SBS