As safe as … a game of hockey

In a hundred years of hockey in Canada, kids and skates and pucks belong together.

It didn’t matter how early on a Saturday, he still came with me. Even if he’d worked half the night getting his last newspaper column of the week finished at the Globe and Mail, and even if we played the first game of the day at 6 a.m., my dad was always there. He helped me tie my skates, made sure my Butch Goring helmet was in place, and sent me onto the ice to play house-league hockey. I felt secure too, seeing him at the end of the outdoor arena, through the chain-link fence, cheering us on.

“Go, Agincourt, go,” I heard him shout between puffs on his cigarette.

Having a parent take me to the rink felt supremely comforting. And, as I remember, we had a couple of coaches – volunteers – who made sure we had sticks, pucks and jerseys. It was always reassuring to have those familiar people there for us. A virtual security blanket.

Styles of father and son

TRUDEAUQ&A_SARAHETHANJACQUJUSTIN4_OCT92015_EThat morning, about three and a half weeks ago, this political candidate was on the firing line. Two CTV journalists had fashioned their feature interview with him based on some hard-hitting questions. Then, the TV journalists invited questions from those in the audience. Several of my journalism students, invited to the studio, got their chance to ask questions. And the politician answered them thoughtfully. Then, with the broadcast over, the politician headed for his tour bus to dash to his next event. As we were leaving the studio, my students passed by the candidate’s tour bus.

“Hold it there,” I said to my students, suggesting they pose in front of the logo on the bus. I raised my cell phone to snap the picture, when…

“Wait a second,” the young politician shouted from just outside camera range. “Let me join you,” and he jumped into the shot next to the student journalists and thanked them for being part of a political selfie.

Changing the landscape

The federal government’s view of the proposed “Haliburton-Uxbridge” constituency, does not include Uxbridge in the southwest corner of the map.

Ottawa, I have learned, has the power to do many things. The federal government can influence the nation’s economy, with Bank of Canada interest rates, stimulus funding and, of course, taxation. It can choose to send the country’s armed forces to war. Ultimately, it has the power to draft, debate and generate the laws that change the lives of all Canadians. But this week, when I opened up one of the Toronto daily newspapers, a special federal government insert dropped out. And I discovered the feds have even greater power than I thought.

“Canada’s electoral map is changing,” the cover of the insert said. “Read about the proposed new electoral map for Ontario.”

Trusted anchor

CTV News anchor Lloyd Robertson speaking at Centennial College in 2006.
CTV News anchor Lloyd Robertson speaking at Centennial College in 2006.

It seems commonplace now, but for a long time those working in the media were not considered able, nor in some cases were they allowed, to do two things at the same time. Today it’s called multi-tasking. Thirty-five years ago, it was considered a violation of the working agreement between workers and managers in the media. The first person to break that barrier in Canadian news media will leave his revered spot on the air later this week.

“Unions were so powerful [when I worked] at the CBC,” Lloyd Robertson told a group of journalists a few years ago. “As an announcer there, all I was allowed to do was pick up news copy and read it on the air.”

Citizen Jack

Jack Layton (left) in a media scrum during the 2006 federal election.
Jack Layton (left) in a media scrum during the 2006 federal election. Toronto Observer photo.

Jack Layton gave me and my teaching colleagues a gift we shall always cherish. It was a political gift, yes. It actually took place in front of news cameras – during the 2006 federal election – so it was also a public gift. It was a gift that probably wasn’t appreciated by the mainstream media reporters present that day. That’s because, for a few moments, he ignored the big-name reporters from CTV, CBC and Global Television in Toronto in favour of the lesser known, less experienced and less jaded reporters – some of our first-year journalism students.

“I’ll take questions first from the Centennial College journalists,” Jack Layton said during the press conference that day.