BOOMERBROADcast

Enjoy, laugh, disagree or simply empathize with those who lived life in THE sixties and are now rockin' life in THEIR sixties, and beyond.


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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.

 


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A patriot’s guide to shopping during a Canada-U.S. trade war


Macleans magazine’s Tom Yun has just published a summary of products we Canadians can purchase to offset the idiotic trade war launched by Donald Trump. While we may feel helpless in fighting back, we’re not. Here’s a summary of choices we can make to preserve Canadian business, excerpted from the article:

  • Buy French’s Ketchup manufactured in Leamington, Ontario, not American Heinz.
  • Buy J.P. Wiser’s Deluxe Rye distilled in Windsor, Ontario, not American bourbon from Mitch McConnell’s home state of Kentucky.
  • Buy Minute Maid orange juice from Peterborough, Ontario (even though parent Coca-Cola is a U.S. company).
  • Buy Canadian-made sweets and candies like Coffee Crisp, KitKat and Smarties made in Toronto and Mars Maltesers, Milky Way, Three Musketeers and Mars Bars made in Newmarket, Ontario, Ferrero Rocher, Tic Tacs, and Kinder Surprise from Brantford, Ontario instead of Hersheys’ from Pennsylvania.
  • Buy Cascades toilet paper manufactured in Quebec and Ontario instead of Kimberley-Clark products from Pennsylvania.
  • Canadian Dairy products are always available and preferable to heavily government-subsidized American products from Paul Ryan’s state of Wisconsin.
  • Fresh produce from Canadian producers is now readily available across Canada. Read your labels to avoid American producers. Mexico is still acceptable.
  • Buy President’s Choice soy sauce brewed and packaged in Canada instead of Kikkoman from the U.S.

    Ford Edge. Made in Canada.

  • Buy Canadian-made maple syrup instead of imported syrup from Maine.
  • Buy Canadian-made automobiles and SUVs such as Honda CR-V and Civic made in Alliston, Ontario, Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Pacifica manufactured in Windsor, Ontario, Ford Edge, Flex and Lincoln MKT and Nautilus are Canadian-made. General Motors makes Cadillac STS, Chevrolet Impala, Chevrolet Silverado, and Sierra pickup trucks are made in Oshawa. Toyota Corolla and Lexus RX are made in Cambridge, Ontario and the RAV4 is made in Woodstock, Ontario.
  • Choose Godin or Michael Heiden guitars crafted in La Patrie, Quebec and Vancouver, Sabian Cymbals from Meductic, New Brunswick.
  • CCM, Sher-Wood and Colt hockey sticks are still made in Canada
  • Sam Bats for wooden baseball bats manufactured in Carleton Place, Ontario

We can do it. Read labels. For a full transcript of the Macleans article by Tom Yun, here’s the link:

https://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/a-patriots-guide-to-shopping-during-a-canada-u-s-trade-war/


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Mr. Trudeau . . . we have a problem, a big one


Canadian border agents are being pulled from their posts at Pearson International Airport in Toronto and being relocated to rural sites in Manitoba and Quebec. The reason? So many asylum seekers and illegal immigrants are teeming across the border at remote locations that extra border service agents are need to handle the volume. The government is providing food, clothing and accommodation for these illegals while thousands of our indigenous people do not have basic housing, safe, clean drinking water and access to fresh fruits and vegetables. The government’s solution is insane. Illegal immigrants and asylum seekers from the United States should be turned back, not welcomed.

Illegal asylum seekers awaiting admission to Montreal stadium. Canada should tighten the border to illegals.

Our government is now building temporary housing (at taxpayers’/our expense) at these remote locations to accommodate those illegal immigrants. And now they’re inconveniencing legitimate, legal, tax-paying Canadians at Canada’s largest international airport so they can take care of illegals. That’s just wrong, wrong wrong. These immigrants are crossing from the United States into Canada at weak border points and getting preferential treatment which is unfair to those who go through proper legal channels to gain landed immigrant status. And furthermore, despite the current political climate in the United States, it is not a hostile country compared to Iraq, Syria or Russia. Legal immigrants are relatively safe and do not require asylum coming from the United States while they undergo proper processing.

The appeal of Canada may lie in our generous welfare system and universal health care. These immigrants will ultimately migrate to cities where they may or may not be able to find jobs, further stressing social welfare systems. University dormitories and sports facilities are being refitted to accommodate them while Canadians foot the bill.

The current approach of welcoming illegals and diverting resources to accommodating them completely disregards and disrespects genuine asylum seekers, people truly deserving of our resources. I’m totally in favour of immigration when done through proper channels. Asylum seekers from truly dangerous countries are welcome; the United States does not qualify. While the illegals are being treated to free meals and housing, legitimate Canadians are sitting for hours on the tarmac at Pearson International Airport because there are no border agents available to service them. Resources that could be going to help legitimate asylum seekers, our indigenous people on remote reserves and underprivileged Canadians are being diverted to aid illegals. Where’s the logic in that?


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Dinner at my door thanks to a friendly neighbour


One day few years ago, after my husband retired and after consuming several glasses of a lovely Cabernet,  he offered to cook dinner twice a week. “Now that I have time on my hands it’s only fair that I help out around the house a bit more,” he said in a weak moment of benevolence no doubt brought on by the wine. “How about I cook dinner Tuesday and Saturday nights?” Not being a huge fan of the kitchen arts, I was thrilled, ecstatic even. The next morning, in the light of day I thought he might a) conveniently forget his offer, or b) try to weasel out of it. He did neither and a culinary star was born, sort of.

The first week was glorious beyond my wildest imaginings. He cracked open one of my dusty, neglected Barefoot Contessa cookbooks and delivered a meal worthy of a fine restaurant. During preparation when I asked how he was doing, his response “I’m just waiting for my sauce reduction” was not only music to my ears but a phrase I don’t recall having ever used personally in my entire life. We then spent a lovely hour enjoying the meal he had lovingly and carefully prepared. He was an eager and enthusiastic novice who shared with me in minute detail his tips and techniques throughout the entire meal. But I’m not complaining.

As time went on, he did not renege on his twice-weekly cooking adventures although conversations with friends were liberally peppered with “We’re available any Tuesday or Saturday if you want to go out to dinner or invite us over.” More recently I noticed however, his culinary creativity is largely determined by what appeals to him at Longo’s prepared deli counter. The Jamie Oliver 5 Ingredients cookbook he got from Santa is growing metaphorical mold. But I’m still not complaining.

Our gourmet Tuscan sausage linguine.

Then, this weekend my lovely neighbour Fauzia rang the doorbell bearing one of those complete meal-in-a-bag kits that are delivered with an ice pack directly to your door. Each kit contains pre-measured fresh ingredients for a complete meal you select from an on-line meal preparation company. This one was for Tuscan sausage linguine made with pork which her family doesn’t eat so she kindly offered it us to try. Coincidently, it was Saturday night, not my night to cook.

While I took a nap on the couch (something I am skilled at), honey took over the kitchen, banging pots and pans to assemble the dinner. The commentary about how much cookware was involved was further complicated by the tab breaking off the can of diced tomatoes requiring an assortment of tools to crack it open. Eventually the dinner was ready. It was tasty, cost effective (we’ll get two meals out of it), amortizing out to about $6.00 per person per meal, although thanks to Fauzia, we got it free.

Happy wife; happy life.

It was a worthwhile adventure but he found the preparation more labour intensive than he would have liked, especially compared with picking something ready-made from Longo’s deli counter. “Only the onion was precut!” I was just thrilled to have a night off. And, as part of our arrangement, the cook also does the cleanup. Sort of. Tomorrow I’ll rewash the kitchen floor, rewash the stove top, the counters, the pots and pans and empty the dishwasher. But as Scarlet O’Hara so eloquently stated, tomorrow’s another day, and a night off is still a night off. Sort of.


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Timmie, Timmie, Timmie. You’re just not getting it


Tim Hortons’ Canada President Sami Siddiqui and the bigwigs at Restaurant Brands International Inc. have blown it big-time. They’re now ranked 67th down from 13th position in Canada’s list of most trusted companies. They’ve been fighting with franchisees and employees about cuts to service and quality at Tim Hortons outlets and it has seriously hurt their stock prices and brand. The problem is they’re American and they just don’t get us. A few weeks ago I posted a piece about Timmie’s problems (click here to read Timmie Come Home. We miss you and we need you.)

Obviously Mr. Siddiqui didn’t read the email I sent him, which included a copy of my Boomerbroadcast.net posting. It would have saved such a lot of trouble and put Timmie back on the right track. The senior poobahs at Restaurant Brands International have decided that throwing millions of dollars at redecorating their restaurants will make the boo-boo go away. Sami—while new decor is a welcome gesture, it’s not that simple. You’re missing the entire point, which is (as I explained earlier): being a good corporate citizen and it’s about more than the bottom line. We are sure that bottom line would bounce back up if they treated their customers, employees and franchisees with more respect. Taking care of each other is the Canadian way.

An example of their seriously flawed approach to rebuilding the brand was perfectly displayed in their recent television commercials. The advertisers, with the consent and collaboration of Restaurant Brands’ execs launched a hugely laughable, large-production Hollywood-style commercial featuring employees in a highly choreographed song and dance routine that takes them from dancing and rolling around in coffee beans at the source to dancing around the restaurant floor. Noooooooo! On so many levels. That’s just so un-Canadian. And Timmie’s is all about being Canadian! Sheesh!

Sami. Sami. Sami. I’ll spell it out. Here’s what you should do:

  1. Provide employees with benefits. Don’t cheap out. Canadians take care of each other. It’s a matter of mutual respect.
  2. Stop those stupid Hollywood commercials. We like red mittens around mugs of quality coffee, steeped tea or hot chocolate, filmed in places like Red Deer and Saint John.
  3. Bring back the quality. We’re willing to pay a few cents extra.
  4. Fix your business plan to incentivise franchisees to hire more staff. Those long waiting lines are killing us.
  5. Last and most important. TRY LISTENING TO YOUR TIM HORTONS’ CANADIAN CUSTOMERS for a change. How many executives are busy punching numbers into their smart phone calculators trying to figure out how to cut costs while they completely ignore their entire raison d’être—the customer? Surely they taught you that basic fundamental at Harvard Business School? You are not omnipotent and if you don’t start treating us better you’ll be kicked out of the game.

Just in case Sami’s gate keeper doesn’t pass this along, perhaps you could forward it too. Maybe if a few of us CUSTOMERS screamed at him, they would listen. It’s worth a try. We really want our old Timmie’s back.

Here’s a link to their customer service department. Due to space limitations, I’d suggest copying an excerpt from this posting or this link to boomerbroadcast.net and sending to the attention of Sam Siddiqui at: http://www.timhortons.com/ca/en/about/contact-comments.php

Here’s the link for: Timmie come home. We miss you and we need you.

P.S. Did you know Tim Hortons coffee cups are NOT recycleable because they’re lined with wax? That can’t be good for our health. I didn’t know that until this week. Perhaps it’s better if you bring your own ceramic or insulated stainless steel reusable cup.


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Sharing a simple story


Inside the Dieppe theatre which has been preserved as a memorial museum to Canadians soldiers.

In October 2014 my husband and I toured former battle sites of World War I and II in northwestern France and Belgium. It was a trip that touched us beyond description. A dear family friend, long since deceased, had been a veteran of The Battle of the Somme as a teenager in World War I and my own family includes many veterans of World War II including my uncle, Jack Glenn, who was a prisoner of war in Japan for nearly four years after being captured in Hong Kong on Christmas Day in 1941. Two thousand young Canadians were offered as cannon fodder that day in a futile display of defending the territory against 10,000 Japanese.

The following year, in August 1942, another six thousand brave, young Canadians were dispatched on another ill-fated mission to Dieppe in France. More than nine hundred were killed, and two thousand taken prisoner. When we were in Dieppe in 2014, we walked the route those Canadian soldiers followed after they landed on shore. Some reached a theatre across the road from the beach. That theatre, long ago abandoned, has been lovingly preserved as a memorial and museum to those young Canadians. A special guide and historian came in at 8:00 a.m. the day we were there to give us a detailed account of the day. The museum is full of memorabilia, uniforms and equipment from that terrible day.

Edwin Bennett of the Calgary Tank Regiment meets the angel in 1982 who intervened on his behalf in 1942. From a picture posted in the museum.

One of the stories our presenter related is about a wounded Canadian soldier named Edwin Bennett. He had been blinded in one eye and was about to be dismissed as being beyond help by a German doctor. But a young French nurse by the name of Sister Agnès-Marie Valois, who later became known as ‘the white angel’ insisted he be treated. Bennett remembered the voice of the young nun who had intervened.

In 1982, for the fortieth anniversary of the Dieppe raid, some of those same soldiers returned to France for a commemoration ceremony. Sister Agnès-Marie was in attendance that day and her voice was once again recognized by Mr. Bennett, forty years later. It was an emotional reunion of the former nurse and the old soldier.  I read in today’s Globe and Mail that Sister Agnès-Marie Valois passed away at the age of 103. R.I.P.

This symbol created for the fiftieth anniversary of the Dieppe raid left an indelible impression on me.

When we visited the battle sites and particularly at Juno Beach and Dieppe, we were struck by the proliferation of Canadian flags and memorials that are still highly visible and on display even today. Take a few minutes to think of the young men you know, perhaps your grandchildren who are 19, 20 or 23 years old. That’s the age of thousands of young Canadians who went to Europe during both wars to protect the values and freedom we now take for granted.

Merci beaucoup à eux tous.

 


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Timmie come home. We miss you and we need you.


Bring back the old Timmies we knew and loved.

We knew it would happen didn’t we? It was a predictable outcome when American/Brazilian-owned Restaurant Brands International (who also owns Burger King) bought Canadian icon Tim Hortons in 2015. When the Canadian-themed commercials disappeared from our televisions, so did the level of service and quality of the products. It’s now strictly a numbers game for the big business that owns Timmies.

I may be going out on a limb here but I’m pretty sure Canadians wouldn’t mind paying a few pennies more for their daily double-double and maple glazed donut to have them freshly made in-house and promptly served by happy people who receive benefits. We don’t ask much. After all, we’re Canadian. But the natives are restless and unless Tim Hortons takes drastic steps to improve service and quality of their products without penalizing their employees’ benefit plans, we could be screwed—by foreign owners. Oh, that it should come to this.

What can we do?

We hate to say “We told you so” but . . . customers are unhappy; franchisees are unhappy; employees are unhappy. Stock prices are going cold. Under American leadership, Timmies has lost its basic Canadian flavour, its essence. Being a good corporate citizen is about more than the bottom line and we are sure that bottom line would bounce back up if they treated their customers, employees and franchisees with more respect. Taking care of each other is the Canadian way.

Should we pass the toque and buy back what should still be ours? We could have bake sales (ironic!), get the Leafs to play a charity fund-raiser game (after all, do they really deserve to get paid for what they do?), get little kids in red mittens with donation boxes around their necks to stand in their skates outside Beer Stores, ask Justin and the missus to put on their Indian costumes and pray?

There has to be a way we can bring Tim Hortons home again. It’s our heritage, our right and should still be our Timmies. The CEOs in charge in 2015 should have never sold out and now all Canadians are paying the price. Get out the old handbook—the one that spells honour and flavour with a “U” and films its commercials in places like Grande Prairie and Chicoutimi—before the Yanks messed with our special formula, our secret recipe. We’re dyin’ here. We need to buy back our Timmies.

Here’s what I posted in 2015 when Restaurant Brands International took over:

Is Timmies still a Canadian cultural icon?

For better or worse?

For better or worse? No longer Canadian.

Canadian Baby Boomers remember the real Tim Horton—the handsome young hockey player who helped the Toronto Maple Leafs win four Stanley Cups back in the sixties. Tim Horton was killed in a tragic car crash in 1974 shortly after one of his entrepreneurial endeavours had just started up. Tim Hortons was originally just a system of franchised donut/coffee shops in Ontario and grew to become a national icon, representing everything Canadian. In fact, I think they should change their corporate colours to red and white.

Is there a Canadian alive who hasn’t at least once walked down the street with the iconic brown cup in hand? Over the years, customers have supplied the material for Timmie’s feel-good commercials showing young kids and parents getting into the car on freezing winter mornings to drive to the hockey rink; our soldiers enjoying Tim’s in faraway desert postings, and seniors meeting over a newspaper for an early morning assessment of the world situation at their local Tim Hortons.

The upside. Mmmmm.

The upside. Mmmmm!

When American-owned Restaurant Brands International (owner of Burger King) purchased Tim Hortons, Canadians were collectively horrified, nervous and skeptical that our national identity would continue being treated with the respect it had earned over several decades. I think enough time has elapsed now that we can make a fair evaluation. I haven’t really seen any major change in the quality or choice of food and beverages being offered. They offer menu items that are fast and affordable, with seasonal promotional treats. I am concerned, however, that they might diversify too much into fast food menu choices which are bound to affect the culture.

What I have noticed, however, is that the always-slow lineups are growing longer and slower. Where there would generally be eight or ten people ahead of me, there are now eighteen or twenty. I recently waited so long in a line at Tim Hortons on Mavis Road in Mississauga that my roots need retouching. If there’s a lineup of cars extending down the street waiting for the drive-thru, I often opt to park the car and line up inside only to find that the drive-thru is still moving faster. I do miss those feel-good Canucky commercials though. Please tell me they’re not using an American ad agency now too. Where are the scenes of red maple leaf mittens hugging a hot chocolate, the maple donuts, all the pedestrians cradling a cup of Tim Hortons as they make their way through daily life?

The downside of Tim Hortons - the #@$%^&$ lineups.

The downside of Tim Hortons,

the #@$%^&$ lineups.

While I am politely (like any good, true Canadian) waiting in the Timmies lineup for the seasons to change or my Canada Savings Bonds to mature, it gives me time to look around and appreciate the common denominator that brings every ethnicity together under that ubiquitous brown and cream-coloured logo every day. It’s a reminder to be thankful I’m living in the best country in the world where we don’t have to clutch our precious children and flee down railroad tracks, over mountains or cross seas in leaky boats to simply be safe while drinking our morning coffee or steeped tea. We are fortunate that we’re not living in refugee camps because our lives were at risk in the place we once called home.

Every single one of us now living in Canada is the product of an immigrant. The next time I’m tempted to become impatient with the lineups at Tim Hortons, I’ll stop and think about those millions of people lining up to flee terrorism in their own homelands who would give anything to be in my place. The fact that many Tim Hortons are owned, staffed and frequented by immigrants is a testament to our tradition of welcoming newcomers to our country. We can only hope that the world leaders will soon get their act together and come up with a solution that will allow these families to rebuild their lives in safe, new countries such as Canada, or better still, to live safely in their home country.

Maybe we should export Tim Hortons to the Middle East, invite opposing sides to sit down and talk over a steeped tea or dark roast with some Timbits, and perhaps they would see that we’re not so different after all. We can all get along. Under that iconic logo we’re polite to each other; no one’s packing a gun; we’re not ducking mortar shells, and we’re sharing warmth and friendliness in a place we all love. You can’t get more Canadian than that—unless we bring the Stanley cup back to Toronto. We can only hope.