Cognac’s rise from a regional product to a worldwide phenomenon

Export sales drove the development of the industry, a feature as true today as it was three centuries ago

Cognac’s rise from a regional product to a worldwide phenomenonPart 6 of our series The Business of Cognac From the very beginning, the cognac industry was dominated by cognac houses that acted as intermediaries between the producers of eau de vie and their overseas markets. Many of the first cognac houses were founded by English and Irish entrepreneurs: Jean Martell was from Jersey, while…

Instead of certainty, we should all be longing for a little self-doubt

Instead of living in a time of sober second thought, we exist in a time where the normal and predictable reaction is instant outrage

Instead of certainty, we should all be longing for a little self-doubtIt is a cliché to equate widespread social conflict with times of uncertainty. If only that were so. What ails us now is not living in uncertain times but rather the opposite: certainty abounds, and it is precisely that orientation which will continue to make social and political divisions more acute and less likely to…

What global warming? How about global cooling

Levying carbon tax will just cool the Earth's climate more than it already is

What global warming? How about global coolingIt’s been a long winter. I should know. I’m a former climate research scientist at Environment Canada. And I was an expert reviewer for the United Nations’ International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and its 2007 Climate Change Report. The wintry weather held its grip over most of Canada well into April, from Vancouver to St.…

What happens if America stops underwriting world order?

Because there are bad guys and bullies out there, a muscular cop – however imperfect – brings a degree of reassurance

What happens if America stops underwriting world order?Pax Americana is the Latin term for the idea that American power underwrites the post-1945 world order. If there’s a major international problem, the underlying assumption is that the United States needs to take the lead in resolving or containing it. Other countries may play a supporting role but the Americans need to do the…

Emerging from a world of suffering with hope

We can’t wallow in despair. We need to look at what we and others are doing right and emulate what works

Emerging from a world of suffering with hopeDespite what we see in our daily newsfeeds, life on Earth is actually improving. On a global level, we see significant drops in child mortality and increases in life expectancy. According to the World Health Organization, more than one billion people have gained access to safer drinking water since 1990. We also see amazing innovations…

Making sense of violent attacks

In the aftermath of this week's tragedy in Toronto, how do we come to the grips with such violence? And who do we blame?

Making sense of violent attacksLike most columnists, I’m usually inspired to write on topics that are aligned with my areas of interest. My usual fare is politics, history and economics, but I’ll sometimes write about art, sport, music, and even animation and comic strips. Every once in a while, I’ll pick an issue that doesn’t perfectly fit in one…

Pipeline opposition largely funded by rich Americans

To maintain secrecy, large U.S. environmental foundations simply "purchased" the co-operation of Canadian organizations to stop Alberta oil from reaching international markets

Pipeline opposition largely funded by rich Americans“The meek will inherit the earth … if that’s okay with everybody else,” goes the old joke. When it comes to developing Canada’s energy sector, that trite joke seems all too true. The Northern Gateway, Energy East, and Pacific NorthWest LNG pipeline proposals have been scrapped. Scotiabank estimates that the Canadian economy forfeits $15.6 billion…

The Marshall Plan wasn’t a silver bullet

Called ‘the most generous act of any people, anytime, anywhere, to another people,‘ the post-war economic boost still had flaws

The Marshall Plan wasn’t a silver bulletU.S. President Harry Truman signed the Marshall Plan into law 70 years ago this month. Named after then-U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall, the plan was aimed at the economic reconstruction of Europe in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War. It got rave reviews. Its own chief administrator characterized it as “the most…

China may balk at Taiwan entry into resurrected TPP

From Canada’s viewpoint, considerations like global security, freedom, human rights and democracy support Taiwan’s case

China may balk at Taiwan entry into resurrected TPPThe next big trade hullabaloo in the topsy-turvy world of international trade is fermenting: which countries will be invited to join the second membership round of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Taiwan’s application is a potential flashpoint. The clumsily-named CPTPP rose from the ashes of the Trans-Pacific Partnership after the United States…

Getting to the essence of cognac: the distiller’s art

Part 4 of the understanding cognac series: the deft hand of the master blender is critical to production

Getting to the essence of cognac: the distiller’s artAt first glance, cognac production seems straightforward. The local wine is distilled twice, aged in oak casks from a few years to decades and eventually bottled. In reality, it’s an exceedingly complex minuet where the subtle influences of terroir merge with the distiller’s art and ultimately flower under the deft hand of the master blender.…