We interrupt this blog for a misleading commercial message.
Your tax dollars at work
The following advertisement, ostensibly for the Government of Canada but in fact on behalf of Stephen Harper and the Tories, is now appearing, at your expense, in newspapers and websites across the land:
CANADA'S ECONOMIC ACTION PLAN
FINANCING FOR CREDITWORTHY BUSINESS IS IMPROVING
80% ALREADY BEING IMPLEMENTED
Well, money surely is flowing out of Ottawa to pay for the ads. It most decidedly is not flowing out to pay for infrastructure and other economic stimulus at anything like the rate the Tories are claiming or Canadians were led, and are being led, to believe.
Write your MP, to demand the Tories pay for their own ads. Or to complain about the stalled progress of the stimulus - which at this rate should kick in sometime after the recession ends. (The postage is free.)
And the Oscar for most transparent publicity gimmick goes to...the Oscars!
Last year's best-picture Oscar "the envelope please" moment.
The Oscars have announced a doubling of best-picture nominations, to 10. We're told this is to widen the field to a greater diversity of entries. Or, as cynics say, to kow-tow to the studios whose big-budget schlock doesn't get nominated, and to revive a ratings slide for the awards gala. Funny, we recall that last year's five best-pic nominees were regarded at the time as the weakest selection in years. Imagine doubling the size of that field.
We also recall Sam Goldwyn's dim view of the anti-TV brainwave of enlarging cinema screens: "A wide screen just makes a bad film twice as bad."
Spit and polish
Have a close read of the Globe's gush about Sonja Bata's "gutsy plan" to revive former company town of Batawa, Ont., where the family-owned Bata Ltd.'s shoe-making factory was closed years ago and the work outsourced to cheaper-labour nations. Lots of meetings, lots of passion, lots of presentations...and that's about it. The place still looks as it did when I visited upon its closing, a desolate cluster of empty buildings.
Batawa (pictured left), near Trenton, was only briefly consequential, as Czech emigre Tom Bata's launching pad to rebuild a multi-generation footwear empire jeopardized by Soviet expropriation. Soon, Bata found his metier, employing shoemakers at rock-bottom wages in developing countries. He was never able to make much of a success of his North American retail operations, but was a big wheel in places like Cameroon and Nigeria.
With her elegant shoe museum on Bloor, for which we're grateful to Raymond Moriyama, Sonja Bata, now 82, is welcome to polish her image as she chooses. Why she'd invite Carleton University students to conceive unrealized (and unrealizable) dreams of a tech campus or other New Economy centre in remote Batawa after allowing the demolition of John Parkin's still-gorgeous Bata headquarters in Don Mills is anyone's guess. Along with why the Globe got gulled into helping with the image-makeover bid. Before Nike came along, Bata was the pioneering global sweatshop operator we began to have our doubts about in the 1970s. They were never erased. They never will be.
For the purposes of this blog, the inception of the Great Recession in the U.S., the epicentre of the crisis, is taken as the start date for the global slump. The U.S. has been in recession since December 2007.