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Editor’s letter: Don’t sleep on Trudeau’s plan to win the West

JOHN STACKHOUSE

No one should underestimate Justin Trudeau’s political ambitions in Western Canada.

The Liberal Leader made the top of our home page Thursday evening with comments supporting the legalization of marijuana. We ran another version of the story on the front page of our print edition Friday, explaining how it was part of Mr. Trudeau’s so-called “progressive” strategy to take away support from the NDP in British Columbia.

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Editor's letter: New Industry Minister steps into the ring as telcos gear up for a fight

JOHN STACKHOUSE

A key political battleground began to take form this week with the appointment of James Moore as Industry Minister. In the coming weeks he will be briefed on reams of files, but none more politically explosive than wireless spectrum, the beachfront property of our publicly owned airwaves. Every mobile phone user in the country could be affected by the young B.C. minister’s thinking.

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Editor's letter: One thing Monty Python’s Michael Palin takes seriously

JOHN STACKHOUSE

Canadians have geography, the English have landscape.

That difference was on display this week when actor, humorist, documentary maker and now geographer Michael Palin visited our editorial board and gave a stirring performance in the call for exploration. The former Monty Python member came to Toronto to receive the Royal Canadian Geographic Society’s gold medal for his work as a television explorer (think of the great Pole to Pole series) and his recently completed term as president of the Royal Geographical Society.

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Editor's letter: It's a terrible time to be a hockey reporter

JOHN STACKHOUSE

Covering the Stanley Cup finals may seem like a dream assignment. But for veteran sports writers such as Roy MacGregor, it’s a downer. Access is minimal, insight scarce, clichés rampant.

“The league is so desperate to get any attention in the U.S. that they’ve opened it up to everyone and anyone,” laments our writer.

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Editor’s letter: How The Globe tackles tough news in the Middle East

JOHN STACKHOUSE

The dangerous simmer of Middle East politics turned to a boil this week in Syria and Turkey, with serious consequences for our coverage.

We have resisted sending correspondents into Syria in recent months, knowing the extreme risk to journalists. Our Middle East specialist Patrick Martin turned down an invitation from a rebel group to escort him across the border. That means we cannot independently verify such extraordinary and historically important assertions as the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime. We have to rely on Western governments and their intelligence agencies, as well as local Syrian media, which in turn creates a different danger.

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Editor’s letter: Publishing secrets from inside the World Newspaper Congress

JOHN STACKHOUSE

It’s a grim season for the world’s newsrooms. Staff reductions have been announced at pretty much every quality publication, including here at The Globe, as traditional print advertising continues to slide. An irony can be found in the fact that most of us have never had more readers, or more paying readers. But advertisers are finding cheaper ways to reach the same people.

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Editor's letter: Covering Toronto's Ford brothers puts media ethics to the test

JOHN STACKHOUSE

Our use of anonymous sources in last weekend’s Ford family story sparked a raging debate about media ethics that ran through the week.

Ethical quandaries have continued to present themselves. On Monday morning, we published a story saying that a member of Mayor Rob Ford’s office had spoken to police about the alleged crack video. One source had told our reporters about the circumstances and the people involved; a second source confirmed the information, but not the names of the officials in the mayor’s office. We published the story without the names, following our policy that all information in The Globe must be double sourced. It was later confirmed that one of the officials was David Price, a friend of the Fords from their youth whom we subsequently profiled on Wednesday based on a number of days of research. While we were in possession of Mr. Price’s name on Sunday, we opted not to use it because of lack of verification.

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Editor’s letter: Why we published the Ford family story

JOHN STACKHOUSE

This weekend, The Globe and Mail is publishing an extensive examination of the Toronto Ford family’s decades-old connection to illicit drugs. We are doing so with utmost caution, journalistic rigour and legal scrutiny – ultimately believing that Torontonians and, more broadly, Canadians need to understand the background of the most politically powerful family in the country’s biggest city.

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Editor's letter: The elusive millionaire behind Stephen Harper

JOHN STACKHOUSE

It’s been an explosive week politically, from Christy Clark to Mike Duffy to Paul Godfrey. And, of course, Rob Ford, a political cartoonist’s lifelong friend.

But of all the names in headlines this week, the one that may have surprised most is Nigel Wright. Mr. Wright, who turns 50 on Saturday, has for decades been a master of avoiding headlines.

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Editor’s letter: Al Gore is grumpy, and it's not just the oil sands

JOHN STACKHOUSE

Al Gore’s idea of conversation centres around energy fields and the spectrum of atheism, as it bridges physics and theology. “According to science” – a line he fancies – energy fields may have created the universe and the life we inhabit, “not some white-bearded guy sitting on a puffy cloud.”

That’s one side of Mr. Gore I saw this week. Another is his struggles with small talk, which may be yet another reason he didn’t become president. Ask him about R.A. Dickey – the Toronto Blue Jays’ ace pitcher who, like Mr. Gore, hails from Nashville – and the former U.S. vice-president will give you a blank look. His travelling staff had to fill the dead air when sports wandered into a conversation.

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Editor’s letter: Harper, Carney and the tensions over the new BoC governor

JOHN STACKHOUSE

This week’s bombshell, without question, was the appointment of Stephen Poloz as governor of the Bank of Canada. Most BoC watchers had expected senior deputy governor Tiff Macklem to get the job. Perhaps too many of those observers failed to factor in the way Stephen Harper’s government works. Under the current regime, civil servants are not meant to be the public face of any arm of government. That was a strike against Mr. Macklem, whom departing governor Mark Carney had groomed for the job.

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Editor’s letter: Harper courts Caribbeans with a fresh image – and a joke

JOHN STACKHOUSE

Robert Deluce is one of the country’s better salesmen. He helped convince Torontonians to turn their island airport into a passenger hub. And against strong odds, he has established Porter Airlines as a serious challenger to Air Canada and WestJet.

Mr. Deluce is now giving his biggest selling pitch yet, to win approval for jets to land at the tiny island airport, and he visited our editorial board on Wednesday to make the case.

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Editor's letter: Camp, drama are solid foundations, but Trudeau still has lots to learn

JOHN STACKHOUSE

“Not ready for prime time.”

“In over their heads.”

“Rookie.”

They’re among the most effective of political smears because they cast an often inexorable shadow of doubt over a leader. Often they’re smacked on the backs of someone who is under 50. Way too often they are tagged to women, even as far more inexperienced men swan through the front doors of high office.

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Editor's letter: How Justin Trudeau plans to oust Stephen Harper

JOHN STACKHOUSE

Justin Trudeau looks like the real thing, but we haven't seen him tested the way he will be come Monday morning by the Conservatives, NDP and factions within his own party.

At the Liberal leadership showcase in Toronto last weekend, it was hard not to be impressed by his ability to electrify the room. He has a palpable passion for Canada and an uncommon ability to project decency, as you can see from some of these highlights from his final speech.

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Editor's letter: Why this American billionaire thinks Canadians are too nice

JOHN STACKHOUSE

Greetings from New York, where this week some of us from The Globe tried to explain the meaning of Canada to American advertisers.

Who better to ask, we thought, than Richard Baker, the Connecticut real-estate mogul who also serves as governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company. An American through and through, Mr. Baker has endured a crash course in Canadian studies since his family bought the retail chain in 2008.

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Editor's letter: Why bankers are secretly happy over Flaherty's mortgage rage

JOHN STACKHOUSE

The big banks were quietly peeved with Jim Flaherty this week. While the Finance Minister got out of Dodge in a hurry after his March 21 budget, heading to East Asia within 36 hours of his speech, his mortgage mantra didn’t fade from the fray.

The finger-wagging Finance Minister continues to chastise any push for lower mortgage rates, which is an astonishing move for a small c-conservative.

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Editor's letter: CIDA was long dead. Harper only buried it

JOHN STACKHOUSE

Weekly insights from The Globe newsroom and highlights of our best work. I welcome your comments.

The death of the Canadian International Development Agency was a long process, much longer than it needed to be, as I learned last spring when a small group of “private sector actors” met quietly with then International Development minister Bev Oda and CIDA president Margaret Biggs to debate the agency’s future.

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Why Stephen Harper is having a bad week

JOHN STACKHOUSE

Weekly insights from The Globe newsroom and highlights of our best work. I welcome your comments.

Stephen Harper may have gotten a whiff of political trouble this week, and it comes from the places he used to be quite critical of – Quebec and continental Europe.

Let's start with Europe, specifically France. This week’s visit by French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault was supposed to bring Canada closer to a European Union free trade deal, which may be the most important policy to Harper right now.

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My boisterous encounter with Laureen Harper

JOHN STACKHOUSE

We don’t have First Ladies (or First Gentlemen) in Canada, as Laureen Harper likes to tell people. If we did, she would surely break the mould.

Mrs. Harper is unlike any previous resident of 24 Sussex, and there have been plenty of trailblazers, from Margaret Trudeau to Mila Mulroney. The current Prime Minister’s wife has her own unique way, which I first discovered when I met her early in her time in Ottawa. I had written a book, Timbit Nation , based on a trans-Canada hitch-hiking trip that I had taken to get a sense of the country at the turn of the century. She had read it (or some of it), and seized on the experience to describe her own summer drives from Ottawa to Calgary and back, two kids in tow, while “Stephen” stayed on the job. During the most tiring stretches, between Winnipeg and Kenora, Ont., she relied on potato chips and pop and singing along with the radio to fight boredom.

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Why Stephen Harper and other Canadians are the new darlings of London

JOHN STACKHOUSE

Weekly insights from The Globe newsroom and highlights of our best work. I welcome your comments.

Greetings from London, where the mood is cool and Canada is hot.

This used to be the centre of Cool Britannia. And while Mayfair is still congested with sports cars, and booked-out West End restaurants cackle with every language imaginable, much of the country seems to be sliding into a 1970s funk. This week’s economic news was grim; the pound is under pressure; the Olympic glow has faded.

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