Linda McQuaig

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Journalist and best-selling author Linda McQuaig has developed a reputation for challenging the establishment. As a reporter for The Globe and Mail, she won a National Newspaper Award in 1989 for a series of articles which sparked a public inquiry into the activities of Ontario political lobbyist Patti Starr, and eventually led to Starr's imprisonment. As a Senior Writer for Maclean's magazine, McQuaig (along with business writer Ian Austen) probed the early business dealings of Conrad Black, uncovering how Black used political connections to avoid prosecution. An irate Black suggested on CBC radio that McQuaig should be horsewhipped. In 1991, she was awarded an Atkinson Fellowship for Journalism in Public Policy to study the social welfare systems in Europe and North America. McQuaig has been a rare voice in the mainstream media challenging the prevailing economic and political dogma — as a columnist in the financial pages of the National Post in the late 1990s, and since 2002, as an op-ed columnist in the Toronto Star. She has also taken on the status quo in a series of controversial books — including seven national best-sellers — such as Shooting the Hippo (short-listed for the Governor General's Award for Non-Fiction), The Cult of Impotence and It's the Crude, Dude: War, Big Oil and the Fight for the Planet. Her most recent book is Holding the Bully's Coat: Canada and the U.S. Empire.
Columnists

The trouble with 'populist' billionaires is they serve the same old corporate interests

Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr

We toss around the word "billionaire" pretty freely these days, as if it's just another word for a rich guy.

And yet, try this little quiz: you are given a dollar every second, 24 hours a day. At that rate, it takes 12 days for you to become a millionaire. But how long does it take for you to become a billionaire?

Answer: 32 years.

Being a billionaire isn't just about being rich; it's about being mind-bogglingly rich -- rich beyond most people's comprehension.

And yet the mega-fortunes being amassed these days by the newly emergent class of billionaires -- and the enormous influence and control this gives them over our economy and politics -- barely registers as a political issue.

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Increased cuts push Canadian health care toward privatization

Photo: David Prasad/flickr

At Canada's Wonderland, you can buy your child a "Fast Lane Pass" so he or she can experience the thrill of pushing ahead of all the other children waiting to get on a ride.

It's excellent preparation for today's world of hyper-privilege -- where the rich get to buy their way to the front of just about every line.

We live in a society that's riddled with elitism and special privilege. One of the few holdouts is medicare, Canada's public health-care system, where a billionaire can't bypass a fast-food worker waiting for medical care. Access is determined by medical need, not wallet size.

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Trump likely to turn peaceful Black protests into race war

Photo: Tony Webster/flickr

I guess we should be glad that no member of the Trump family or transition team actually attended the white supremacist event in Washington last weekend where Trump's victory was celebrated with Nazi salutes.

For those looking for good news in the face of Donald Trump's presidential victory, these are the sort of slim pickings on offer.

The post-election reality -- in which such a gathering was openly held in the Ronald Reagan Building a few blocks from the White House -- suggests America's darkest tendencies have been given the equivalent of a hot massage.

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Privatizing Canada's airports would bring costs for travellers and profits for corporations

Photo: Dan Zen/flickr

If you're a hen, you probably don't want to hear that the farmer has hired a fox to advise on better ways to run the henhouse.

Similarly, if you're a Canadian air traveller, you probably won't be pleased to learn the Trudeau government has hired a major investment bank -- which specializes in privatization -- for advice as it ponders the pros and cons of privatizing Canada's major airports.

Turning our airports into profit-making business ventures will almost certainly drive up the costs for air travellers, and the government insists that it has not yet made the controversial decision to proceed.

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A rational voice in a time of austerity, Douglas Peters could have set Canada on a different path

Photo: mark.watmough/flickr

After sweeping to power in 1993 with promises of expanded social programs, the federal Liberals did a dramatic turnaround in office, deeply slashing social spending in the name of reducing the deficit.

By the late 1990s, the deficit was gone and Finance Minister Paul Martin was the toast of Bay St.

But the drastic cuts he introduced in his 1995 budget ushered in an austerity agenda of underfunded social programs and increased inequality that continues to this day.

Back then, there were few in Ottawa inner circles resisting Martin's deep spending cuts, but one strong dissenting voice came from Douglas Peters, who died last week at the age of 86.

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Gratifying to see snarling bully publicly humiliated as Clinton triumphs over Trump

Image: Bill B/flickr

The possibility that Donald Trump's presidential bid may have suffered a serious setback is, of course, heartening. But what made Monday night's debate especially delicious was the rare joy in watching a relentless bully be publicly humiliated -- in front of 80 million people, no less.

For months, Trump has swaggered around like a snarling junkyard dog menacing the neighbourhood. He seemed unstoppable. But that was until he found himself face to face with the smiling little kid on the block, who came armed with nothing more than a big brain.

The fact that this little kid was a girl -- a category of human that, for Trump, has been mostly measured in cup sizes and runway potential -- made the encounter all the more legendary.

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Why is Trudeau following Harper's lead and giving special protections to powerful corporations?

Photo: PMO by Adam Scotti

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Foreign investors -- including some of the world's wealthiest and most powerful corporations -- typically generate little public sympathy and aren't usually lumped in with groups deemed worthy of special protections.

So the Trudeau government, which is in the process of granting wealthy foreign investors extraordinary legal protections and access to public money, is probably hoping the public isn't paying much attention.

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Elizabeth May puts spotlight on the case for a boycott against Israel

Photo: Laurel L. Russwurm/flickr

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She may not remember, but when Elizabeth May first contemplated running for leader of the Green Party, I was among those enthusiastically suggesting she go for it.

Now, as she contemplated giving up the job she has successfully held for the past 10 years, I wanted to offer some unsolicited advice: Don't resign.

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Passionate movement for public power is pushing back against hydro privatization

Photo: City of Toronto Archives

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In the early 1900s, Toronto entrepreneur Henry Pellatt used his enormous wealth to build the most magnificent private residence ever seen in Canada -- a stunning palace that took 300 workers three years to construct and featured an oven large enough to cook an ox.

The construction of Casa Loma put to rest any doubts about whether there was money to be made harnessing the power of Niagara Falls, which was how Pellatt had made his fortune.

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Bernie Sanders' insurgent populism has shaken the Democratic Party and it's not going away

Photo: Disney | ABC Television Group/flickr

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Besides providing some powerful lines for Melania Trump's next speech, Michelle Obama reminded us this week how inspiring the Democrats can be at their best.

Indeed, while Donald Trump has grabbed political centre stage due to his sheer loutishness and the fierceness with which he's disemboweled the party of Abraham Lincoln, it may be the Democratic Party that is undergoing the more intriguing and far-reaching transformation.

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