BOOMERBROADcast

The voice of baby boomers, the silenced majority. Rants and reflections on lifestyle, fashion, current events, books and more . . .


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The solution to problems at General Motors and Conde Nast


What affects GM workers affects everyone.

The media has been very unkind to General Motors recently, and rightfully so. They marked the American holiday of Thanksgiving by closing plants and laying off thousands of workers. While I sympathize with those negatively affected, I’m also pragmatic. I’ve been downsized; my husband’s been downsized; nearly everyone I know, at some point has been the victim of reorganization, restructuring or whatever euphemism you wish to employ. Jobs-for-life and careers with one company are a thing of the past, gone the way of company pensions, rotary phones and carbon paper. We should not be surprised.

What does strike me, however, is the pattern of arrogance in major corporations that results in these drastic measures. Something has been ignored and it’s called (sit down; this is a biggie) “Listen to your customers”. Large corporations like General Motors and so many others like them have long regarded themselves as invincible, even omnipotent. Sears, American Motors and Blackberry are prime examples of big business paying the price for not paying attention to who actually pays their bills—not the company, the customer. General Motors was too slow off the blocks in recognizing that their customers now prefer SUVs and pickup trucks with their improved safety and fuel efficiency over conventional sedan cars. Sears’ executives kept flogging the same old haberdashery while they were falling apart at the seams. Tragically, their senior executives got big bonuses and golden parachutes while they raped the pension plans of their minimum wage hourly workers.

No longer relevant.

According to The New York Times, Condé Nast, the giant media organization and publisher of such magazines as Vogue and Glamour is also now trying to mitigate the effects of bad management. They’ve fired Chief Executive Robert A. Sandberg Jr. and shuffled various editors. Some publications like Glamour are going to digital only, ignoring old ladies like me who like to rip pages out of magazines for my inspiration file. Which brings us to the core of the problem. There’s little to no inspiration in fashion magazines these days. Vogue is particularly irrelevant and my commitment to my subscription is hanging by a thread. Have they ever considered asking what their readers would like to read? I’ve been a subscriber for years and no one ever checks with me. Seems pretty obvious but not to those occupying the exalted thrones at the top of corporations. Now, I’ll move on to the auto industry.

General Motors: Here’s your lifeline

Help wanted. Apply Oshawa.

It’s simple. Go into competition with Bombardier. They seem to have more business than they can handle, very little competition, a guaranteed source of financial handouts from various levels of gullible government (taxpayers) and no particular business or management skills. Anyone can do better than that with a little business savvy, some creative thinking and an already available source of skilled workers. The recent news that Bombardier is laying off 7,500 workers worldwide including 2,000 in Canada prompted me to revisit a piece I wrote earlier.

During my lifetime, I’ve watched automotive manufacturing plants grow and expand to meet new technologies, then retreat and ultimately close. I worked for the construction company that built a major portion of those Ontario plants. To see Oshawa’s General Motors operation go from almost thirty thousand employees to zero is heartbreaking. Ford has also closed facilities in southwestern Ontario.

As we know, Bombardier, the manufacturer of subway cars and streetcars is a perpetual sinking Titanic-sized case study in bad management. Taxpayers keep futilely bailing out the chronically mismanaged privately owned corporation like it’s a giant money pit. Despite this, Bombardier continues to be awarded new contracts for transit vehicles which they are guaranteed to not deliver on time. They’re years behind on delivery of stock for Toronto and other major cities. Obviously there’s not enough competition in the business of manufacturing transit vehicles.

The workers and the plants are in place. Do the work.

The answer is simple. Retool the automotive plants to produce subway cars and transit vehicles. Put the workers in Oshawa and southwestern Ontario back to work and let them show Bombardier how it’s done. Small fortunes were spent updating auto manufacturing plants in Ontario and they’re now sitting empty waiting for weed growers to lease the space and sell the equipment for scrap metal. The problem of trucks encountering insurmountable traffic problems moving stock across Toronto’s choked highways would be eliminated. At the risk of sounding immodest (!!), I think my solution is brilliant. Does anyone have any influence with GM President Mary Barra or the UAW? Put in a word. Better still, put the kettle on and sit down at the kitchen table and make this idea work.

It’s a perfect storm and has all the ingredients needed to launch a successful business enterprise—strong market demand for both present and future products, skilled, available workforce, existing manufacturing plants available for retooling, tested financial metrics and business case, shortage of reliable manufacturers. All that’s needed is a smart team to pull it together and we’re in business.

 

 

Bombardier is a train wreck of back-ordered stock on a track to disaster. For years we’ve been enduring the ongoing saga of mismanagement, government bailouts, law suits and failure to deliver. They’re being sued for failure to deliver public transit vehicles on schedule. Toronto Transit Commission is at their wits’ end trying to get delivery of long overdue streetcars and could face similar difficulties with future transit vehicle deliveries. Yet Bombardier keeps accepting new orders because buyers seem to have nowhere else to turn.

Well, dear readers, I have the solution. We did it during World War II and it could work again. Re-open the General Motors and Ford plants throughout southern Ontario that closed when manufacturing jobs went south, and tool them up to build streetcars, trains and other heavy industrial mass-transit vehicles. Get Oshawa, Windsor, Talbotville, St. Thomas and other automotive plants making streetcars and trains. If Bombardier can’t do the job, then give the work to those who can.

 

Imagine the jobs that could be created in Oshawa, Windsor, Talbotville, St. Thomas and other Ontario towns. Let’s talk.

I’m sick to death of hearing about the incompetency of Bombardier and failure to meet their obligations when half of Oshawa is collecting employment insurance benefits and would love to be back to work. If automotive plants could switch to making tanks and fighter planes during the Second World War, I’m confident Canadian ingenuity could make it happen again for trains and streetcars.Set up a conference call or better still, a meeting at Tim Hortons somewhere along Highway 401, between the automotive execs, the UAW, the Quebec and Ontario Government Ministers of Economic Development and Bombardier and let’s get this show on the road. I’ll buy the Tim-bits if it helps sweeten the pot. Time’s a’wastin’ and jobs are waiting. Let’s put the kettle on.


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November 11, 1918. A celebration of two anniversaries.


My grandmother’s wedding day in Folkestone, England, November 11, 1918.

On the same day that the Armistice ending The Great War, WWI was signed on November 11, 1918, my English grandmother married my grandfather, a young Canadian soldier in Folkestone, England. “It all started on The White Cliffs of Dover,” he used to say at noisy family Christmases. That date forever has an extra special meaning for us on Remembrance Day.

Grandma loved to tell us about how all the church bells were ringing and people were dancing in the streets when they walked out of the photographer’s studio after their wedding. She thought everyone was celebrating her wedding but in fact, the Armistice had been signed while they were in the photographer’s.  She was engaged twice previously—once to an Englishman and once to another Canadian, before marrying my Canadian grandfather. Both of her previous fiancés and a brother had been killed in France. In 1919 she left England behind and boarded a ship bound for Halifax with hundreds of British war brides sailing to join their new husbands in Canada.

Soldiers were commonly billeted in civilian homes during WWI.

My great-grandmother was a widow with sons who had enlisted for service and she was left at home with three daughters, the eldest being my grandmother who was in her early twenties at the time. Tens of thousands of young men enlisting to train and fight in The Great War (WWI) resulted in a shortage of barracks. One day an army officer knocked on the door of their terraced house and asked how many soldiers my grandmother’s family could accommodate.  Her mother’s reply, “Probably two or three”. My grandmother described how the Major asked to go through the house and then informed her mother that they would be taking 17 soldiers into their home. They received a stipend for housing them and providing meals.

What would your reaction be if a military officer showed up at your front door and told you he was going to billet a dozen soldiers in your home for an indeterminate length of time, and you had to provide meals and laundry service for them? And you had no choice in the matter. Families willingly accommodated them One hundred years later, billeting soldiers in private homes seems unimaginable. But it was a widespread practice during the First World War and every family “did their bit”. She described how some of the young men were illiterate miners from the north of England who had never been exposed to such things as how to use table cutlery and basic hygiene such as bathing and brushing your teeth. She and her sisters enjoyed the social life which included going to dances with all the soldiers.

This touching painting depicting bloodshed hangs in a Canadian war museum we visited in 2014 in Dieppe, France.

Later on in the war, as the various allotments of soldiers were rotated out to cross the channel, their house was requisitioned to provide accommodation for Belgian refugees —women and children. My grandmother had many amazing stories about these experiences. Now that she’s gone and I’m older, I can think of so many more questions I wish I’d asked her.

We recognize November 11th with special reverence. Our own family includes many veterans who served in both wars, including one uncle who was captured during the Japanese siege of Hong Kong in 1941 and served four years as a Canadian prisoner-of-war in Japan. As a baby boomer, we all grew up with friends and schoolmates whose fathers, uncles, cousins and grandfathers served overseas. Remembrance Day services were and remain very personal.

Watching the news on TV today about the horror of the ongoing wars in this tired old world and the living conditions of other innocent citizens in regions of conflict, we need to always be thankful for being born in Canada. Hopefully an army officer will never knock on our doors and tell us we have 17 soldiers moving in. We welcome new Canadians. We live in a peaceful country and for that we can be eternally grateful. Remembering 100 years ago today. Happy Anniversary Grandma and Grandpa . . . and thank you for everything.


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What’s with boomerang kids? Then, now and still?


We’ve all read about the 30-year-old man whose parents took legal action to evict their large so-called adult child from the family home once and for all. A few years ago we met a couple who resorted to selling their home and moving into a small condo in a last-ditch effort to ditch their immature, dependent son. It worked. Oh, that it should come to this.

While most baby boomers can’t imagine living with our parents a day longer than absolutely necessary, it seems we’re the generation that launched the unlaunchable generation. A much smaller proportion of boomers went to university than today’s young people, not only for economic reasons but also because there was not as much emphasis and insistence upon post-secondary education when we graduated in the sixties and early seventies. When we finished high school we considered ourselves launched and headed off to the big city to get a proper job, earn money and begin our lives.

The high proportion of young people today still living with their parents past the age when they should be off on their own got me thinking about why this has become so ‘normal’. Let’s take a look at why we were so anxious to cut the cord and today’s young people are not.

  1. Real life is not easy. The parents of boomers, also known as The Greatest Generation, lived through the Great Depression and many were veterans of World War II. They knew genuine hardship and made sure we appreciated every single advantage we had growing up. Everything was hard-earned and nothing was taken for granted. They instilled these values in their baby boomer children while simultaneously offering us a better life than they had. Helicopter parenting was unheard of. I clearly remember one day during my working years when four people in our office (including two Vice Presidents) were working on their kids’ school projects. How does that teach young people responsibility and accountability?
  2. Freedom. We had to be home for meals and frequently had to help prepare those meals and hand wash the dishes after. We had multiple chores to do around the house for which we were most certainly not paid. If we were disciplined by a teacher, we got it again when we got home. Parents defended the teachers not their precious misbehaving children. Parents were clearly our parents and not concerned with trying to be our friends. By the time we finished high school, we were anxious to be free of parental restrictions and go out on our own. It’s called growing up and I don’t see how this can be construed as a bad thing.
  3. Economic responsibility. Weekly allowances were just enough to get us into the Saturday matinée and perhaps buy a comic book on our way home. When we ran out of money, the supply dried up. We had to collect pop bottles for extra change. When we were old enough we got after-school or weekend jobs, babysitting, cutting grass, waitressing, whatever we could do to earn extra spending money. Today’s young people just ask for money and it’s handed out freely. How does that teach fiscal independence and responsibility?
  4. We learn from our mistakes. Despite our parents having high expectations, boomers were given plenty of latitude to make mistakes. We hurt ourselves; we made bad decisions and had to deal with the consequences; we were accountable and often had to make restitution for our mistakes. That’s how we learn to become responsible adults. Our parents knew that protecting us from physical and emotional hurt (within reason) was not character-building. They were there to pick us up and get us on our way again but they made sure we learned the lessons we needed to learn from our mistakes.
  5. Gifts are for birthdays and Christmas. It’s shocking to see the volume of toys and games children today have at their disposal. Boomers received toys and gifts on birthdays or Christmas only, and they were modest by today’s standards. A bicycle was special. Many of us did just fine with hand-me-downs. My own two-wheeler had been owned by two girls previous to me before my father bought it from a neighbour and repainted it for my birthday. Monopoly and Scrabble were high-end, expensive gifts. How is it possible to truly appreciate a gift when a child already has everything. I understand some parents are now discontinuing the distribution of loot bags at children’s birthday parties because they can cost parents up to $200.00 in total and children are so spoiled they usually toss the contents anyway. Material consumption is way over the top for everyone, including us old boomers.
  6. Your first home does not need granite countertops. How many boomers grew up in a 1,000 square foot house with one bathroom for a family of five, one phone and one black and white television? When we left home, we often shared a room in a boarding house or packed three girls into a one-bedroom apartment to afford the rent. By the time I’d rotated through a series of spartan accommodations over a period of several years when I started working, I was thrilled to finally be able to afford my very own walk-up bachelor apartment on Vaughan Road in Toronto. It had a claw-foot tub in the ancient bathroom, no countertop at all in the itty bitty kitchen—just a big, deep laundry sink, and I had to walk several blocks with my bundle buggy down to St. Clair Avenue once a week to do my grocery shopping and go to the laundromat. But it was mine and I loved it. Even when boomers got married, we didn’t expect to buy a house immediately. We lived in a cheap apartment while we scrimped and saved to accumulate a minimum down payment on a starter home ‘way out in the burbs. No granite countertops. No ceramic flooring in the kitchen and bathroom. No air conditioning. When I got married the first time, we didn’t even have a clothes dryer in our first home because we couldn’t afford the full complement of appliances. I hung clothes to dry in the basement for the first couple of years we were in our new (town)house, and I was in my thirties.
  7. Money is not fairy dust. It must be earned not sprinkled from above. Having skin in the game always makes the outcome more meaningful. When parents and grandparents keep bankrolling young people after the age when they should be launched, they’re enabling dependence.
  8. The boomerang didn’t come back. Returning to our parents’ home after we left was not an option. There was no safety net because our parents made it clear we were grownups and we were expected to fend for ourselves. Once we left, we were off the payroll, permanently. And we were usually still teenagers. That forced us to get our shit together and get on with life.

How much support is a young person really entitled to?

I recently read an essay in The Globe and Mail written by a young woman who felt universities should be providing much more support in terms of mental health services and guidance for students transitioning into the working world. She felt lonely, isolated and disillusioned living in her tiny studio apartment within walking distance of Fifth Avenue in Manhattan where she got her first job. The more I read her essay, the angrier I became. First of all, it’s the parents’ responsibility to instill independence in young people, not the university’s. This young woman graduated with no student debt; she spent holidays with her parents in Maui and there was no mention of having worked summer jobs or internships. Clearly, she was one of the entitled and ill-prepared for the real world. The comments from readers that appeared under her column were unanimous in telling her to grow up. Life is not easy and the sooner you realize that, the sooner you develop coping skills.

Every generation has its own identifying characteristics. The Greatest Generation lived through the Depression of the thirties, worked hard, fought in World War II and hatched baby boomers. Boomers discovered rock n’ roll, the sexual revolution and amazingly, the digital revolution. Gen X piggybacked on and benefited from the freedoms introduced by boomers. Then, along came millennials who are often maligned for being entitled and spoiled. No doubt, many do qualify for this distinction but not all. Each generation tries to improve on what they grew up with.

Young people who are independent, resourceful and prepared to start life with less than their parents spent their entire lives working for are more likely to succeed and become better citizens. Life truly is not easy and baby boomers themselves have been responsible for enabling boomerang kids and grandkids. Have we created a monster that’s forever going to need constant feeding and nurturing like the thirty-year-old whose parents needed the courts to boot him out? I’m not sorry I won’t live long enough to see how much longer this false foundation will stand up.

Take a look at this Baroness von Sketch example of a coddled Millennial applying for a job. It sure made me laugh and I think you’ll enjoy it too. Says it all:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MU1Qe16E1E. 


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Murphy Brown puts baby boomers back in prime time


She’s baaaack!

It’s been a long time since we watched Murphy Brown who personified what so many working boomer women aspired to be. We loved and admired her intelligence, her tenacity and her integrity. We all wished we had her wardrobe and empathized when she couldn’t get a date. She made sure people listened to what she had to say and helped raise awareness of what women were trying to say that was being ignored.

The Globe and Mail’s John Doyle nailed what the new and improved version of Murphy Brown will deliver: “Men don’t get it. Women experience the reality of the workplace, social life and social media differently from men.” Think of the travesty of the Judge Clarence Thomas hearings twenty years ago. Old, white, male senators asked Anita Hill horribly sexist, inappropriate questions that would never be asked of a man. She responded with dignity but in today’s #metoo world, I’d like to think they’d be boo’d, hissed and voted out of their comfy seats for their insensitivity and stupidity. Sadly, much of that attitude still lingers.

And most of the original cast is back too.

Back to Murphy Brown. For purely selfish reasons, I’m thrilled to see baby boomers getting some air time once again. And Candice Bergen represents us so well. More than two decades after her heyday on FYI, Murphy Brown still looks great but she’s no longer young. Unlike all the toned, blonde, surgically enhanced Barbies in sleeveless sheath dresses on most television news shows today, she’s rounder and more seasoned-looking. We won’t be seeing any of those cute little suits with cinched belts and short skirts she wore so well in FYI’s earlier incarnation and we’re more than fine with that. Boomer gals can certainly relate to the effects of time on waistlines and necks. And I must say, that iconic orange sofa seems to have weathered well. The brief scene where she produces her flip-phone may have appeared condescending but I totally related and burst out laughing—I’ve never been able to figure out my new jet-propelled palm-sized computer phone thingie and would love to have my old flip-phone back again.

Amen sister.

The first show put the old characters into 2018 context and set the stage for more good material to come. It was great fun to see Hillary Clinton make a cameo appearance interviewing for the job as Murphy’s “secretary”. I always enjoyed that peculiar cast of rotating characters in the original series. Trump voters won’t be tuning in and we’ll no doubt be seeing nasty tweets from the White House. Let’s hope so. Political commentary and freedom of the press are still a major part of the foundation of the American way of life and let’s hope it continues. The writing is still sharp on the new Murphy Brown. The show certainly got my r-e-s-p-e-c-t and I look forward to many more episodes. Tune in on Thursday nights at 9:30 p.m. It’s not that late; you can still go to bed at your regular time.


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Keep calm and carry on


Several years ago my husband and I toured the war rooms in the cellars beneath the Admiralty building in London, England. This underground bunker is where Winston Churchill, his generals and advisors spent time during WW II planning strategy and saving themselves from being bombed into oblivion. The tour was a fascinating experience with everything left exactly the way it was on May 5, 1945. The clocks stopped at 5:00 p.m. and cigarette butts still sit in the ashtrays. Seeing all the seemingly ancient telephones in different colours for different lines was odd when compared with today’s technology.

Several other things struck us as amusing. In addition to fake rats scattered throughout (for authenticity) there was only one functioning toilet in the entire complex and it was reserved for Mr. and Mrs. Churchill. The rest of the pit dwellers used large metal lidded cans like garbage cans that were emptied daily. (Don’t know what you had to do wrong to earn that job.) There were many quaint signs on the corridor walls including daily weather reports about the world above. People who were often entombed below ground for days or even weeks on end were supposedly uplifted by reading little blackboards that said “Fair and mild” and the famous “Keep Calm and Carry On”.

The cabinet war rooms in London, England. WW II’s answer to “safe space”.

Prime Minster Theresa May has her hands full these days. While not as challenged as Sir Winston Churchill, she’s had her share of stress with the killer B’s—Brexit, Bombings, Burning Buildings. She may want to consider retreating to that cozy little haven under the Admiralty building to regroup, strategize and escape the flak. It’s an environment free from parliamentary heckling, unhappy voters and bad British weather. And as a bonus, it’s bomb-proof.

The entire world seems to be under siege these days, whether home-grown or from foreign bullies. We have economic, political, social and environmental issues that seem insurmountable. Then there’s the NAFTA, NATO and immigration fiascos. We’ll try to “Keep calm and carry on”. .  and hope it gets better. War and conflict, whether military or economic leaves senseless casualties and is entirely preventable. Experience has proven, however, that we have to stand up to the bullies in order for good to prevail. I only hope our political leaders have the intestinal fortitude of Winston Churchill but somehow I’m not confident they do. Let’s hope diplomacy and cooperation prevail before it’s too late for this fragile world in which we live.

Maybe it’s time to call in the professionals.

Turning off the news and tuning out the noise is one way of constructing my own personal safe space but the problems persist. I’m thinking it might be a better idea to jet off to London, England and seek shelter in Churchill’s bunker. The phones don’t work in the bunker and there’s probably no cell signal or WiFi either. I’d be insulated from all the bad news and I know for a fact there is at least one working toilet. I’d have to download hundreds of books on to my iPad to fill the days. But the lack of sunshine could turn me into a very grumpy girl and no one would like that, so perhaps I’d better just soldier on in my own home in relatively safe Canada. Compared to the problems experienced by the rest of the world, there’s definitely no place like home. And there’s no place I’d rather be.

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Fighting our own personal trade war


Used car lots in Florida are a car lover’s wet dream.

A favourite pastime of old retired fellers like my husband and his buddies is to spend a day visiting car lots. These ‘research’ excursions are enormous fun for them especially in Florida where car dealers have thousands of pre-owned, like-new luxury cars with low mileage. These vehicles have never seen winter and are being sold for unbelievably low prices. Florida is full of geriatrics whose adult kids don’t want the big ol’ Cadillac when their folks can no longer drive (or worse) so they end up jockeying for attention on used car lots. The guys’ excursion usually includes a normally forbidden feast of chocolate-chip pancakes, bacon and sausages at IHOP which makes for an idyllic outing for a bunch of car junkies. Much as they would love to slide into a shiny new Lincoln, BMW or Jaguar SUV, it’s more likely we’ll stick with our several-years-old Ford Edge or Escape.

There are amazing deals in the United States but bringing that car back to Canada is a nightmare. People with Canadian passports cannot drive a car with American plates into Canada. We know that from experience because we once unknowingly tried it and had to leave the car in New York State until we got the paperwork sorted out. It was prohibitively expensive and I would never recommend it. Among the expenses was making physical modifications to the car for such things as bumpers to meet Canadian safety standards, which was more trouble than it was worth. And, now that we’re engaged in a trade war with the United States, there are obvious advantages to buying Canadian-made vehicles.

Florida is a strong Republican state where millions of Canadians winter and vacation every year. We speak the language. We can drink the water without requiring hospitalization (another issue for another time). We understand the currency. We love the weather. Many visiting Canadians often buy lovely pre-owned American automobiles to leave in Florida garages while they return north for the summer. Hell, sometimes we even buy the shoes if they’re a deal and not available in Canadaland, but don’t tell Donald Trump. We love to escape our crappy winters and our dollars keep the Florida economy afloat. All in all it’s a pretty agreeable situation for both sides.

Buy Canadian and save yourself a lot of trouble, not to mention saving Canadian jobs.

As a result of those tire-kicking excursions with his buddies, my honey has been getting regular followup emails from a car salesman at a Lincoln dealership he chatted up last winter in Florida. He thought he had a live one and was relishing making a sale. When another email landed in his in-box this week, we were able to make a political statement that is bound to resonate across all fifty states. My guy politely informed the salesman that the impending 25% tariff puts Lincoln MLKs in Florida financially out of reach. No sale. Ouch! That is bound to be a major blow to the U.S. economy. We’ll show them what their crazy tariffs really mean. Hit ’em where it hurts—in the pocketbook. I expect that Lincoln car salesman is emailing his Congressman at this very moment, demanding they repeal the punitive tariffs against Canadian imports.

Taking this a step further, many Canadians may find it difficult to visit the United States at all. With Donald Trump treating us as trade enemies and citizens of questionable character, does the United States even deserve to benefit from our tourist dollars. Imagine Florida if the 3.5 million Canadians who spend billions each year in the sunshine state decided to stay home and spend our billions here. The Republication state of Florida would collapse. Our parents were right. Ignore the bully and play nice. This too shall pass—we hope.


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Are you guilty of smuggling shoes into Canada?


Slowly step out of the car and show me your shoes.

The comments made this week by Donald Trump about scuffy contraband shoes being smuggled into Canada is just too delicious for this Canadian serial shoe wearer to ignore. In one of his latest unhinged rants Trump attempted to horrify patriotic Americans into vilifying Canada and mistakenly defend protectionism. By informing them that Canadians were so desperate for shoes and to avoid Canadian duties (or tariffs as he called them, which are not the same thing) he announced that we make covert trips to the United States to purchase and smuggle their prized and precious footwear back into Canada. Then, in order to deceive those pesky Canadian border security agents, we toss our old straw clogs at the border in Buffalo, scuff up our new made-in-America Reeboks and trip across the border undetected, fooling those filthy Canadian revenuers. What more proof do Americans need that Canada is a terrible place?

I have a confession. In fact, any Canadian who has ever visited the United States would probably admit to being guilty of the same thing. I have purchased shoes in the United States and brought them back to Canada. But I’m confused. I didn’t realize what I was doing was wrong, immoral or unpatriotic. And I certainly didn’t break any laws so there was no need to scuff up my shiny new shoes to fool border security because I’m legally allowed to bring back up to $900.00 in merchandise duty-free after an absence of a particular number of days from Canada. If I exceed the legal spending limits, then I’m prepared to pay duty to Revenue Canada for the chance to pick up something different from what I might find at home. And what sane woman in her right mind would ever scuff up her new shoes anyway?

“Her” shoe closet.

So how is this hurting anyone? I supported American business. I kept border security agents employed by checking my passport and sitting in their little booth to ask me a few simple questions to ensure I’m not packing heat. And the banks rejoiced at the service charges and exchange costs they levied when I converted my Canadian dollars to American. If I hurt anyone, it’s probably China, the mother lode of cheap shoes. And, of course, this whole exercise is moot if you’re a man; everyone knows that men only own two pairs of shoes, one brown and one black—unless they’re under 30 in which case they may also own a pair of runners. Cross-border shopping is a non-issue for men.

“His” shoe closet.

The ironic thing about this whole fiasco is that if Donald Trump actually cross-border shopped like real people, he’d realize that we have far better quality shoes in Canada than they have in the United States. Many of our shoes are Italian imports thanks to our large Italian immigrant population who have created businesses here. See, Donald—immigration is a good thing. The quality and styles of what we can get here are far superior to what most American stores offer and our prices are competitive. No one in the world manufactures better winter boots and coats than Canadians and thanks to our global business practices we have access to imported as well as locally-manufactured merchandise that is far better than south of the border. Just ask Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex who regularly sports Canadian-made brands.

Pssst! Mr. Trump. Wanna buy some protection?

Sorry Mr. Trump. You got some fake news there. You’ve somehow taken the issue of non-existent Canadian protectionism and twisted it into something you hope will justify American protectionism, but you’ve shot yourself in the foot. And unless you were wearing genuine Canadian-made steel-toed Kodiaks, Timberlands, Royer, Canada West, Caterpillar or other superior brands made in Canada, you could be missing a few lower digits. You’re certainly missing something, and that’s not fake news.

Here’s Greg Perry’s (The Toronto Star) take on the situation: