David McConkey - Columnist, Consultant, Citizen
Columnist. Consultant. Citizen.

Columns

Look at Broader Context Before Removing Building Names

Brandon Sun, September 11, 2017:  An interesting public conversation is happening right now in both Canada and the U.S. This conversation is about honouring people from the past with monuments or names on public streets and buildings. The problem is that people may not viewed as positively today as were years ago. What should we do about it?
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Moral Truth, Moral Progress and Moral Relativity

Brandon Sun, August 28, 2017:   A funny thing happened on the way to moral progress. The left wing and the right wing have switched sides. This subtle shift, happening over the past few decades, has been largely overlooked. What is going on?
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Sometimes PMs, Presidents Can Make All The Difference

Brandon Sun, August 21, 2017:  Great cover on the latest Rolling Stone, eh? There is our charismatic prime minister; the American magazine’s headline is “Justin Trudeau: Why Can’t He Be Our President?”
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Is Donald Trump the new Joseph Smith?

Brandon Sun, July 24, 2017:   I would like to pose a question for discussion: is Donald Trump the new Joseph Smith?
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Ghost Signs Whisper of Stories from Brandon's Past

Brandon Sun, June 30, 2017:   “The past is never dead,” American writer William Faulkner once wrote. “It's not even past.”
The past is imprinted on our present. Look at our streets: their shapes, their spectres and their stories.
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Canadian Leaders in Resistance to Trump

Brandon Sun, June 26, 2017:   The Trump era has a silver lining: the resistance. There has been a resurgence of civic engagement, reading, even comedy. People – in the U.S. and globally – are challenged to think more critically, to learn more, to become more involved.
Enter six Canadians prominent in the Trump resistance.
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Reading the Qur’an Key to Understanding Islam

Brandon Sun, June 19, 2017:  Read the Qur’an. This is recommended if you want to better understand the religion of Islam. The Qur’an is important. The book is regarded by 1.6 billion people as the verbatim word of God.
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Memories of War from the Brandon Cemetery

Brandon Sun, June 5, 2017:  The First World War still casts a dark shadow. We look at big historical events. And we retell the stories of ordinary people. We marvel at the interplay of global forces, human aspirations and sheer luck. Here are some memories of the First World War from the Brandon Cemetery.
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Optimistic New Book From Muslim Writer

Brandon Sun, May 29, 2017:  Humanity has a problem. More than one billion people are Muslims who follow the religion of Islam and its holy book, the Qur’an. But parts of the Qur’an are outdated and inappropriate for the 21st century.
Yet criticizing the Qur’an is itself a problem.
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Cultural Interaction Can Have Positive Impact

Brandon Sun, April 24, 2017:   Culture has become a hot topic in Canada. But I find several current approaches to be narrow-minded. They also lack an appreciation of cultural exchange, enrichment and evolution.
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The Changing Conversations About Mortality

Brandon Sun, March 27, 2017:  There rarely is a convenient time to think about one’s death, eh? Yet, more people are taking the time to do just that. As individuals, as families and as a society, there are advantages to candid talking and advance planning. Part of this contemplation can be writing your own obituary.
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End the War on Drugs and Find a Better Solution

Brandon Sun, January 27, 2017:   The current fentanyl crisis is a reminder of the fiasco that is the War on Drugs. And reminding us of the need to rethink our whole approach to alcohol and drugs are two new Canadian books. One, by Ontario neuroscientist Marc Lewis, is The Biology of Desire. The other, by Saskatchewan lawyer Harold Johnson, is Firewater
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We Must Resist the Trump Culture – Here's How

Brandon Sun, January 23, 2017:  So, we are now officially in the Trump era. And that means it is time for a Trump culture resistance!
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Connected to a Larger World – The Growth of Brandon has been Quite the Journey

Brandon Sun, January 19, 2017:   “Globalization” is an expression that we associate with today. But Brandon has always been part of a globalized reality. At Brandon’s founding and during its development since, the city and its citizens have been linked to a larger world.
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One Last Look at a Wild and Wacky Year for Words

Brandon Sun, December 26, 2016:   What a year for words! Those that stood out for me in 2016 were new words heard for the first time, ancient words making a reacquaintance, and innovative words for the reality of Donald Trump. 
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United Church Minister Part of Rise of Vocal Atheism

Brandon Sun, November 28, 2016:  “Atheist” is a word that does not usually make the news. But right now it is in the news because of an atheist minister in the United Church of Canada. That story is an example of current religious controversies. And of changing religious beliefs.
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Takeaways From Trump’s Unbelievable Victory

Brandon Sun, November 21, 2016:  Donald Trump! What a big mess the U.S. has gotten into. Here are six takeaways from the election that is still hard to believe really happened.
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The Ongoing Task of Remembrance

Brandon Sun, November 7, 2016:  To contemplate the impact of war – especially the First Word War – visit the war memorial in a Manitoba town or village. Look at the monument itself. Read the names. Reflect on the numbers of those who died in the Great War a century ago.
Over the years, Brandon has struggled with remembrance.
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What the Heck is Going on With the U.S. Election?

Brandon Sun, October 31, 2016:  Only a week to go before  the U.S. election! Whatever happens on Tuesday Nov. 8, we are in a whole new world.
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Trump's Comments Pave Way for Cultural Change

Brandon Sun, October 24, 2016:  We are fascinated as we watch the U.S. presidential election change politics. And now we see the campaign change our culture. The trigger was . . .
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An Education Lesson From 100 Years Ago

Brandon Sun, October 17, 2016:  One hundred years ago, Brandon was the centre of a flourishing innovative educational program. Then the program was abruptly cancelled. Today, it is all but forgotten. What was it? It was the “Ruthenian” . . . 
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So Many Reasons to Appreciate Podcasts

Brandon Sun, September 26, 2016: This Friday is International Podcast Day. I have become a super podcast enthusiast, so I am happy to expound upon said subject! A review of the podcast genre, including a look at The Tim Ferriss Show and Malcolm Gladwell's Revisionist History.
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Spanking Shouldn’t be a Hit With Parents

Brandon Sun, September 19, 2016:  Great news that the federal government is going to make corporal punishment (spanking) illegal. But many people still think spanking is a good idea. “We were spanked as kids and we’re OK,” folks say. “So what’s the problem?”
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Could We Have a Donald Trump in Canada?

Brandon Sun, August 22, 2016:  We Canadians are as fascinated as Americans by Donald Trump ! So, the obvious question: could we have a Trump here in Canada? “Of course we could,” the rejoinder goes, “we had Rob Ford, didn’t we?” But . . .
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Voting Results Reveal New Generation Gap

Brandon Sun, July 18, 2016:  We saw it in last year’s federal election. We have seen it in recent American presidential campaigns. Now we see it confirmed in the “Brexit” referendum in the United Kingdom. We are in a new political reality, with a dividing line between young and old. A new generation gap.
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Expectations in the Wake of the Orlando Massacre

Brandon Sun, June 27, 2016:  The recent mass shooting in Orlando, Florida has got us reeling. And got us processing our feelings, thoughts and prejudices. Among the questions raised for me was about our expectations.
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More Stories of Mayhem from the Brandon Cemetery

Brandon Sun, June 20, 2016:  Stories of mayhem capture our attention. Some of these stories are dramatic reminders of the fragility of life. Some are reminders of the injustice that can float almost unnoticed through history. And some are reminders of how one person can make a difference.
Here are more stories of mayhem from the Brandon cemetery.
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Donald Trump: Stranger Than We Can Imagine?

Brandon Sun, May 30, 2016:  Help! I am still coming to grips with Donald Trump! What about more understanding of the world that led to Trump? I was happy to get just that from a new book by British writer John Higgs: Stranger Than We Can Imagine: An Alternative History of the 20th Century.
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“Bugs Bunny” Theory of American Politics

Brandon Sun, May 16, 2016:  Eight years ago, during the 2008 American presidential election, I happened to read about the “Bugs Bunny” theory of American politics. Does that theory describe today’s race for president? Are you kidding? Of course it does!
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The Most Politically Incorrect Issue of All?

Brandon Sun, April 18, 2016:  What’s the most politically incorrect issue of all? The issue that demands attention in Manitoba, yet is not mentioned during a provincial election campaign? The issue? Abortion.
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Political Correctness and the Manitoba Election

Brandon Sun, March 21, 2016:  Three words Manitoba politicians do not want to say out loud during this election: “fetal alcohol syndrome.”
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Left Wing Walking with Swagger – For Now at Least

Brandon Sun, February 29, 2016:  Why do those of us on the political left walk now with an extra swagger? Well, look at what’s happening!
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Authors Leading Vital Conversation About Islam

Brandon Sun, February 22, 2016:   Some of the most important global questions today revolve around Islam. Can the religion be modernized? Can its tendencies toward sexism, dysfunction and violence be curbed? Two new books provide an excellent discussion of the issues and the challenges.
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Early Feminists Dreamed of a World Free of Alcohol, Drugs and War

Brandon Sun, January 25, 2016:  This week we celebrate the centennial of women winning the right to vote. Beyond getting rights like voting, the early feminists had two big dreams. The two dreams were a society without alcohol (and drugs), and a world without war.
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“Tragic Scene” 100 Years Ago as Syndicate Block Fire Kills Four

Brandon Sun, January 18, 2016:  One hundred years ago: Brandon’s deadliest fire. The fire at the Syndicate Block, Seventh and Rosser, killed four employees of the department store Doig, Rankin & Robertson. The story of the fire was made more dramatic because it was during the Great War. And because the fire happened just days after Brandon’s deadliest disaster.
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“Most Obituaries are Downright Inspirational”

Brandon Sun, January 11, 2016:  Sometimes it’s nice to be reminded to look for what is good: in one’s life, in the community, in the world. Wherever. That reminder even could come from an unlikely source: a newspaper obituary. That is the theme of a new book, Find the Good: Unexpected Life lessons From a Small-Town Obituary Writer.
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Handling the Challenge of Generational Change

Brandon Sun, December 28, 2015:  The changeover from Stephen Harper to Justin Trudeau has got me thinking a lot about generational change. Ha! Who am I kidding? The turning of the calendar and my impending old age have really got me thinking!
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Two Sides of News 100 Years Ago: War and Shopping

Brandon Sun, December 14, 2015:  But life wasn’t only about joyful shopping. The world was at war. To glimpse that reality, read a newspaper from 100 years ago.
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A History of Struggling to Grasp Climate Change Reality

Brandon Sun, November 30, 2015:  So the Paris climate change summit starts today. As global citizens, we are asked to think about a really big issue. But as humans, we are at a disadvantage. We evolved to live in small groups, dealing just with immediate things close at hand. But consider matters affecting billions of people? Generations into the future? Science? Hello, 21st century!
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Changing the Calendar, Changing the Culture

Brandon Sun, November 16, 2015:  Black Friday! Cyber Monday! What is going on with the changing November calendar? This is more than just renaming some days. This is about remaking the culture.
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Brandon's Messenger of Peace: J.S. Woodsworth

Brandon Sun, November 9, 2015:  War and religion usually go well together. One hundred years ago, religions enthusiastically supported the Great War. But there were a few religious dissenters. In Canada one of the most famous was . . .
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Election Reflection: Niqabs, Religion, and Social Media

Brandon Sun, October 26, 2015:  That was quite the election, eh? Many of us learned a new word: niqab – the face-covering piece of clothing. Not usual to talk about religious headwear . . .
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Exploring What's Lost in a Connected World

Brandon Sun, October 19, 2015:  Serendipity led me to The End of Absence at the Brandon public library. And a good thing, too. This enjoyable and thoughtful new book is a useful antidote to the influence of the Internet and mobile devices.
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Politically Incorrect Issues This Election

Brandon Sun, September 28, 2015:  “An election,” Prime Minister Kim Campbell said 20 years ago, “is no time to discuss serious issues.” She’s right, of course. But what if, during an election, we DID discuss serious issues?
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Time to Speak Up on Physician-Assisted Dying

Brandon Sun, September 14, 2015:  Earlier this year, a gentle wave of relief and gratitude rolled through the people of Canada. The cause of this wave? The Supreme Court, by unanimously ruling in favour of the right for a physician-assisted death for people with enduring, intolerable suffering.
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Don’t worry, be happy. Be a Harper voter!

Brandon Sun, August 24, 2015:  I was a bit worried when Stephen Harper got into power 10 years ago. But I have since become quite fond of the Harper government and its crazy antics!
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Author Digs Deep into Lives of Archeologists

Brandon Sun, August 10, 2015:  What do you think might be the coolest job around? Does your list include “archeologist”? If so, you share a fascination with American writer Marilyn Johnson. Her new book is Lives in Ruins: Archeologists and the Seductive Lure of Human Rubble.
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“A Gloom Over the City”

Brandon Sun, July 13, 2015:  The January 1916 Syndicate Block fire is one of Brandon’s most dramatic stories. A regular day at work suddenly became the city’s deadliest fire.
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This Fragile Dwelling Place

Brandon Sun, July 6, 2015:  Janet Shaw-Russell sees patterns. Out of the patterns she has seen, she has created a new exhibition at the art gallery . . .
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More Murder, Mayhem in the Brandon Cemetery

Brandon Sun, June 8, 2015:  Whether famous or forgotten, fascinating tales of murder and mayhem are in our past. And – in the Brandon cemetery – these stories live on . . .
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Bad Behaviour and Viral Social Media

Brandon Sun, May 25, 2015:  What about that recent incident outside a soccer game in Toronto? It says a lot about the viral frenzy of today’s social media, social behaviour, and social shaming.
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Things to Keep in Mind on 4/20

Brandon Sun, April 20, 2015:  Happy 4/20, everyone! Now you may be thinking: what the heck is “4/20”? Well, 4/20 means that it is the time for marijuana!
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“A New Ideal For How We Die”

Brandon Sun, April 6, 2015:  How would you like to live the last bit of your life before you die? Not a question we usually think of. And that is a problem, American doctor Atul Gawande says . . .
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Remember Lesson of History on International Women's Day

Brandon Sun, March 2, 2015:  Every March 8, we are invited to remember not only the problems encountered, but also the gains made.
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Should We Bring Back Hanging?

Brandon Sun, February 2, 2015:  In the spring of 1914, 28-year-old Harry Green had just immigrated from the United Kingdom and had started working . . .
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99 Years Ago: “Icy Ruins” in City 

Brandon Sun, January 5, 2015:  Tragedy hit downtown Brandon 99 years ago. A fire devastated the imposing Syndicate Block at Seventh and Rosser, killing four people.
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Retired Brandon Judge Speaks Out

Brandon Sun, December 22, 2014:  Any discussions with retired judge Brian Giesbrecht are most informative and thought-provoking. He has observations from his work and is willing to speak out – something he could not do during his career.
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War on Drugs: A Failed Experiment

Brandon Sun, December 8, 2014:  If last year’s Brandon-Souris byelection is any indication, legalizing marijuana will be a big issue in the next federal election. So, it is great to see the timely new Canadian book, The War on Drugs: A Failed Experiment 
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This Changes Everything

Brandon Sun, November 24, 2014:  This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein is a landmark book. Klein is a leading Canadian social activist, bestselling author, and public intellectual. Now, she takes on climate change: where we are at, and what needs to be done.
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How Do We Remember War?

Brandon Sun, November 10, 2014:  Remembrance Day this year is especially poignant. We are at the 100-year anniversary of the First World War: the “Great War.”
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Reflections on “Brandon’s Ghetto”

Brandon Sun, October 27, 2014:  I had a great time this summer hosting a walking tour of “Brandon’s Ghetto.” The tour was a one-kilometre, one-hour reflection of the city’s North End in the early 1900s.
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ISIS: Do We Stand on the Sidelines?

Brandon Sun, October 6, 2014:  “We do not stand on the sidelines and watch.” That was Prime Minister Stephen Harper, about fighting the Mideast terrorist group ISIS. So, is the prime minister right?
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ISIS and the Terrifying Power of Bad Ideas

Brandon Sun, September 22, 2014:  Recent news about the ISIS terrorist group in the Middle East presents a chilling look at the power of really bad ideas . . .
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Celebrating 10 Years of Writing for the Brandon Sun

Brandon Sun, September 8, 2014:  Would I like to write a column for the Brandon Sun? The time was 10 years ago. The question was posed to me by Sun general manager Bill Chester as we . . .
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Quality of Life, Well-Being Research Something We Can Feel Good About

Brandon Sun, July 31, 2014:  What determines our quality of life? Our well-being? Our happiness? I had the good fortune recently to ask an expert . . .
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East End Pioneer Clifford Sifton Changed the Face of Canada

Brandon Sun, July 7, 2014:  In the early 20th century Clifford Sifton changed the face of Canada . . . How do we remember these three East End pioneers today?
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Tales of East End Pioneers

Brandon Sun, June 30, 2014:  Three of Brandon’s most prominent early citizens hailed from the East End. The first could be called the original . . .
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Murder and Mayhem in the Brandon Cemetery

Brandon Sun, June 2, 2014:  Why are we drawn to tales of murder and mayhem? Of course, these dramatic events are fascinating. And there is something deeper. These stories remind us of  . . .
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Writing Your Own Obituary Offers Chance for Reflection

Brandon Sun, May 12, 2014:  Writing your own obituary might strike you as an odd notion. But some self-written obits recently in the news draw attention to this practice.
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Francis Marion Beynon: Compelling Story of a Manitoba Suffragist, Pacifist

Brandon Sun, April 28, 2014: We are approaching the 100-year anniversary of the First World War. What will we remember? Not usually remembered are those who opposed the war and spoke out against it. But they, too, were part of the story. And one of the most prominent was a woman . .
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Tips for Charitable Giving

Brandon Sun, March 31, 2014:  Donating to registered charities is a vital part of active citizenship and participating in civil society. Here are five suggestions to make the most of charitable giving.
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Book Provides Intriguing, Scientific Glimpse into State of Religious Beliefs

Brandon Sun, March 3, 2014:  You likely have noticed in the news that people are becoming less religious. But how does this affect us as individuals and as a society? A new book . . .
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Most Famous Brandonite Born 125 Years Ago

Brandon Sun, February 10, 2014:  The most famous Brandonite ever was born 125 years ago this month. His life was a fabulous saga of rags to riches. But he is now almost forgotten here, and there are almost no traces of his life in Brandon. Who was he? And what was his connection to Brandon?
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Walking the Camino de Santiago

Brandon Sun, January 27, 2014:  “Sure, I’ll go with you.”  I was responding to my brother’s suggestion that we walk the Camino de Santiago, an ancient . . .
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Ways to Leave a Legacy

Brandon Sun, December 30, 2013:  The end of a year inspires reflection. For those of us who are a bit older, we are thinking about the passing of more than just another year. We are making our “bucket list”: the things we want to do before we “kick the bucket.”
But the young also live with an awareness of death . . .
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Book Blows Lid Off Food Industry

Brandon Sun, December 16, 2013:  You could easily ask: Why was the new book Salt Sugar Fat even published? Don’t we already know . . .?
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Byelection Reflections

Brandon Sun, December 2, 2013:  Here is a bit of a reflection on last week’s byelection.
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The Marijuana Byelection?

Brandon Sun, November 18, 2013:  I am delighted to see marijuana legalization as a big issue in this byelection. I have written about the War on Drugs before; here again is my two cent’s worth.
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Byelection is about us, the citizens, so get out and vote

Brandon Sun, October 28, 2013:  Not your typical Brandon-Souris election. This one is exciting!
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Food and Thanksgiving

Brandon Sun, October 7, 2013:  Thanksgiving is a time to appreciate the food we eat. As well as current issues, the historical context is quite fascinating.
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Reflections on Bicycling and Heritage

Brandon Sun, September 23, 2013:  Brandon has a interesting history – often hidden in plain sight. I was reminded of that again this summer when . . .
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The End of Growth?

Brandon Sun, August 19, 2013:  Can economic growth wipe out the lingering effects of the “Great Recession” and create opportunities for the future? No, says . . .
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What Went Wrong with the Right?

Brandon Sun, July 29, 2013:  With this summer’s Senate scandals, we can lament the sorry state of the Harper government. We were going to get the best of both the Reform party and the Progressive Conservatives. So what went wrong?
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Tales of Two Brandon Pioneers

Brandon Sun, July 15, 2013:  Two early Brandon citizens had an especially big impact on the city. One of them is known today by the landmarks he designed. The other is remembered by a park named after him.
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Get to Know The Brandon Cemetery

Brandon Sun, June 10, 2013:  If you would like to get in touch with your community’s heritage, then get to know your local cemetery. To become acquainted with the cemetery is to remember and recognize your fellow citizens, their lives and deaths.
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Gay, Good or God?

Brandon Sun, May 6, 2013:  I have been quite dismayed by one particular idea that has been presented as part of the discussion about bullying in our society.
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Empathy Key to Preventing Bullying

Brandon Sun, April 8, 2013:  We can learn much about empathy in both the private and public spheres. And about dealing with the concerns raised by Manitoba’s proposed anti-bullying legislation.
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Churches in the News

Brandon Sun, March 11, 2013:  Recent news reports highlight deep divisions both among Christian churches and also with the wider society.
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Limits to Growth in a Finite World

Brandon Sun, February 4, 2013:  In today’s uncertain economic times, the question lurks: Will Canada and other countries slide into another recession? But a bigger question is usually left unasked . . .
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Books for Winter Reading

Brandon Sun, January 7, 2013:  Recently I have been exchanging ideas for “Top Ten” books with friends and family . . .
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Reflections on the Diamond Jubilee

Brandon Sun, December 10, 2012:  The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee invites reflection: not only on the monarch and history, but also . . .
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More Emphasis on Domestic Violence Prevention is Crucial

Brandon Sun, November 12, 2012:  November is Domestic Violence Prevention Month. But I wonder: do we as a society simply accept and manage this violence? Could we not work to really prevent domestic violence?
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Celebrating Co-operatives

Brandon Sun, October 15, 2012:  Co-operatives, along with non-profit organizations, are sometimes described as the "social economy" of our free enterprise society. The social economy provides an important complement, partner, and alternative . . .
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Many Changes in the World Since 2001 Terrorist Attacks

Brandon Sun, September 10, 2012:  Tomorrow is Tuesday, Sept. 11. Which of course is a reminder of the horrific Tuesday of the terrorist attacks 11 years ago. The anniversary is a time to reflect on how . . .
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Prostitution . . . in Brandon?

Brandon Sun, July 30, 2012:  I have a hunch that prostitution is a lot more common than we care to let on. Just take a look at prostitution in the history of Brandon. And a scandal that erupted in the Brandon police department 100 years ago this summer.
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Dark Side of Brandon’s Past

Brandon Sun, July 2, 2012:  Celebrating the glories of the past is easy.  But what about remembering the dark side of our past, including some pages we might like to forget?
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Religion and Values in the Public Square

Brandon Sun, June 4, 2012:  U.S. President Barack Obama created a bit of a stir recently with his coming out in favour of gay marriage. The controversy also provides a beautiful follow-up to . . .
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Ready for a Mormon President?

Brandon Sun, April 30, 2012:  The stage is almost set for the upcoming U.S. election. Mitt Romney is poised to clinch the Republican nomination, and so has a good chance of being elected president. Because Romney is a Mormon . . .
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Surfing World Wide Web Breeds Shallow Thinking

Brandon Sun, April 2, 2012:  I am a super Internet enthusiast. So I approached with much interest the recent book The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains.
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U.S. Will Collapse Like Greece, Bestselling Author Predicts

Brandon Sun, March 5, 2012:  With the U.S. election year underway, the state of our southern neighbour invites a closer look. One great way is to dip into Mark Steyn’s new bestselling book After America: Get Ready for Armageddon
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Book Brings Captain Palliser’s Expedition to Life

Brandon Sun, January 30, 2012:  Retracing history can be enlightening and entertaining. So, it is an informative pleasure to note a new book about the Palliser Expedition that explored the Prairies a century and a half ago. 
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A New Year's Resolution

Brandon Sun, January 2, 2012:  Perhaps the most common New Year’s resolution is to lose weight. You’d think that would be a great idea. But our quest to lose weight is a big mistake: for ourselves, for our health, and for our . . .  
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The Medium is the Message?

Brandon Sun, December 5, 2011:  What a rush of new media in the past few decades! As technology advances, I often think: What would Marshall McLuhan . . .  
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Reflecting on Consumption

Brandon Sun, November 21, 2011:  The Occupy Wall Street protest may be fading. But there is an opportunity this Friday for anyone to reflect on . . .  
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War and Remembrance

Brandon Sun, November 7, 2011:  So the Harper government is going to build up the memory of the War of 1812 during that war’s upcoming bicentennial? I’m all for learning more about our history. But this government applies too much simple thinking to both the . . .  
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Discovering Historic Downtown Brandon

Brandon Sun, October 24, 2011:  I had a great time researching and guiding a historic downtown walking tour in July, part of “Doors Open Brandon.” It is an excellent way to . . .  
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Real Discussions on Tax and Crime are Being Avoided

Brandon Sun, September 26, 2011:  We are in the 21st century, aren’t we? Because you would never know it from the current Manitoba election campaign. 
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Helping Families Deal with Death 'Most Satisfying Work' for Funeral Celebrant

Brandon Sun, September 13, 2011:  To chat with funeral celebrant Lawrence McInnes is to explore the changing ways we recognize and remember life and death. The funeral celebrant is a . . . 
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The 4-Hour Workweek

September 5, 2011:  A review of the book by Timothy Ferriss, The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich.
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Live Well, Do Good

Brandon Sun, August 15, 2011:  My wife and I attended a Marquis Project meeting recently and heard about the most wonderful things at the Onanole School. That moving presentation prompts me to . . .
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Canadian History Boring?  Not if You Know a Little

Brandon Sun, July 18, 2011:  Is Canadian history really that boring?  I’m thinking more now about that after reading a new book by John Ralston Saul titled Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine and Robert Baldwin.
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Walking Tour of East End Brandon History

Brandon Sun, June 19, 2011:  Here is my second suggested three-kilometre Brandon historical walking tour. Take a short stroll and get to know some of our city and its citizens of bygone years.
Start at the corner of First Street and . . .
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Issues for the Next Election?

Brandon Sun, May 22, 2011:  What about the issues that were too controversial to be discussed during the recent election?
Here are six examples. Some suggestions are too right wing even for the Conservatives. Or too left wing even for the NDP. Or too radical even for the Greens. Or too mundane even for the Liberals.
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Is it an Election About Nothing?

Brandon Sun, April 24, 2011:  One wag has already dubbed this the “Seinfeld Election,” because it is supposedly about nothing. But we could be in the midst of a watershed event for our political parties and for our democracy.
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Stephen Harper is the New Pierre Trudeau

Brandon Sun, April 10, 2011:  A bizarre idea occurred to me thinking about the Prime Minister and the election: Stephen Harper is the new Pierre Trudeau.Yet, that seems absurd. How can the somber Harper compare with the sexy Trudeau?
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Death Penalty Debate is Back

Brandon Sun, March 27, 2011:  The death penalty – the issue just won’t go away!
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Youth May Soon Lead Change

Brandon Sun, February 27, 2011:  Technological and generational change has been on my mind this month. Prompting these thoughts are the revolutions in North Africa, a new book about Baby Boomers, and a talk in Brandon by Gwynne Dyer.
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New Book on Louis Riel Leaves Much to Ponder

Brandon Sun, February 13, 2011:  It’s great to have next weekend as a long one in the middle of the winter, eh? But what about taking a moment to consider Louis Riel, the namesake of the new Manitoba holiday?
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The Greatest Show on Earth

Brandon Sun, January 30, 2011:  Evolution or creation? Science or religion? We had such an interesting time a year ago with this topic that I can’t resist . . .
Read the full column

A Year of Living Generously

Brandon Sun, January 2, 2011:  A great way to reflect on what one year can be is the new book  A Year of Living Generously: Dispatches From the Front Lines of Philanthropy. Author Lawrence Scanlan reports on . . .
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Book Helps Put Seton’s Westman Roots on Display

Brandon Sun, December 5, 2010:  How many of us remember that a world renowned naturalist, wildlife illustrator, and co-founder of the Boy Scouts once lived in Western Manitoba? Fortunately, a wonderful new book can help reacquaint us: Ernest Thompson Seton: The Life and Legacy of an Artist and Conservationist.
Read the full column

Book Looks at Islamic World

Brandon Sun, November 7, 2010:  Are Islam and the West engaged in a “clash of civilizations”? Can Islam change to incorporate the equality of women?
Such questions involve all of us as global citizens. So of special interest is the new book Nomad, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
Read the full column

Maybe a Little Fox News Would Liven Things Up

Brandon Sun, October 24, 2010:  Canada’s chattering classes are all riled up now over the impending start of the right-wing Sun TV News Channel. But if Sun News, dubbed Fox News North, can wake up the “lamestream” media . . .
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Pay More Income Tax?

Brandon Sun, October 10, 2010:  “What! I have to pay more taxes?”
I hear this lament as I work as a tax preparer part time during the income tax season. Clients are shocked if . . .
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A More Thoughtful Approach to Racial Issues is Required

Brandon Sun, September 13, 2010:  Dealing with long-standing racial issues is the subject of a new book that, although from the U.S., can shed light on Canada. Reading the book is also a reminder of how differently Americans are . . .
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Driving Tour of Brandon Finds Historic Places

Brandon Sun, August 8, 2010:  Brandon history fascinating? Yes, it is. And we can get to know it by looking around us. Some of the past is recognized . . .
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Canadian Author Wonders What Harper is Reading

Brandon Sun, July 3, 2010:  Every two weeks for the last three years, Yann Martel has sent a book – with an accompanying letter – to Stephen Harper.
Read the full column

Take a Brandon Ghost Walking Tour

Brandon Sun, June 12, 2010:  Take a stroll along our city streets and become acquainted with some ghosts – spirits and memories of Brandon’s past. Here is a three-kilometre walking tour of Brandon real-life dramas:  
Start at the corner of . . .
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Tax Time Offers Folks a Chance to Reflect

Brandon Sun, May 8, 2010:  You might think that your income tax return is just a way to report your income and figure out the taxes you owe. Or – better yet – calculate the size of your refund. But a tax return tells a lot more . . .
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Authors Offer Food for Thought

Brandon Sun, April 24, 2010:  Two recent books illuminate the historical backdrops, current issues, and future questions about food. There is plenty here for us to digest as consumers, cooks, and citizens.
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Rights and Religions

Brandon Sun, March 13, 2010:  Despite the gains made in advancing women’s rights, many cultural and religious customs haven’t caught up with . . .
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Canadians Must Maintain a Higher Standard in War

Brandon Sun, February 13, 2010:  Should we care what happens to Afghan detainees? After all, weren’t these Taliban fighters just recently trying to kill Canadian soldiers? And isn’t criticizing the Afghan mission showing a lack of support for our troops?
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Harmonized Sales Tax Deserves a Closer Look in Manitoba

Brandon Sun, January 16, 2010:  Who wants to pay more taxes? No one, of course. But some tax changes are good. Like the HST (harmonized sales tax) for Manitoba. But both the NDP and Conservatives are against . . .
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Evolution Debate Important

Brandon Sun, December 29, 2009:  Evolution? Creation? There have been interesting letters to the editor in response to my last column about the evolution / creation . . .
Read the full column
Read the letters to the editor

The Evolving Nature of Belief

Brandon Sun, November 14, 2009:  “Evolution is a theory. Creation is a fact.”
So said a bumper sticker on a car in front of me on Rosser Avenue recently . . .
Read the full column
Read the letters to the editor

Saving Our War Memorials

Brandon Sun, November 7, 2009:  (Part Two of Two.)  Any day, not just Remembrance Day, is a time to notice again the war memorials in our communities. These often-overlooked links to our past invite reflection on citizenship, war, and peace.
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Community Memorials a Link to the Great War

Brandon Sun, October 17, 2009:  (Part One of Two.)  What happens when a great world event slams into the lives of ordinary citizens? One answer can be discovered by visiting our community war memorials.
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“Memoir Man” a Born Storyteller

Brandon Sun, September 19, 2009:  Fred McGuinness is the consummate storyteller. And he encourages others to tell their stories, too.     
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Prime Minister Obama?

Brandon Sun, August 22, 2009:  Ever since Barack Obama burst onto the American political scene, a question has been: Could we have a leader like that in Canada – a Prime Minster Barack Obama?     
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Six Words To Describe A Life?

Brandon Sun, July 25, 2009:  Can just six words sum up a life? That is the premise of an Internet challenge that resulted in thousands of submissions and recently the publication of a book  . . .   
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Was the GM Bailout the Best Move for All Canadians?

Brandon Sun, June 27, 2009:  The recent General Motors bailout got me thinking again about the dearth of good ideas in our Parliament  . . .   
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Role of Religion in War and Peace

Brandon Sun, May 30, 2009:  It's great to see that the Brandon school board is planning a handout describing different religions. The descriptions would be distributed to each Grade 5 student, along with a  . . .   
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Lessons in Success

Brandon Sun, May 2, 2009:  Why are some people much more successful than others? This is the question Malcolm Gladwell explores in his new bestselling book Outliers: The Story of Success . . .   
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We Can Forge a New Drug Policy

Brandon Sun, April 4, 2009:  Deaths of our soldiers in Afghanistan remind us of the serious nature of Canada’s mission there. We don’t pay enough attention, however, to the fact our Afghan mission is entangled with the global “War on Drugs”  . . .   
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Remembering Nellie McClung

Brandon Sun, March 7, 2009:  International Women's Day is tomorrow, so this is an ideal time to review the new biography Nellie McClung. Written by Charlotte Gray, it reminds us again of the importance of McClung, whose roots were in Westman  . . .    Read the full column

Can’t We Do Better Than This Same Old Political Routine?

Brandon Sun, February 21, 2009:  With the release of the huge federal budget deficit, I see two familiar trends as the Conservatives and Liberals square off against each other. I also have one  . . .   
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Citizenship Redefined

Brandon Sun, February 7, 2009:  “My fellow citizens,” begins the new U.S. President, Barack Obama. His inaugural address marks not only his new job, but also a new level of discourse about . . .   
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Drug, Alcohol Policies Reveal Our Hypocrisy

Brandon Sun, January 10, 2009:  Recent news items about restrictions on shopping for liquor in Manitoba reveal yet again our society’s hypocrisy about alcohol and drug use. Plus the failure of our "War on Drugs"  . . .   
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Be Prepared:
Will, Health Care Directive (Living Will), Obituary, and More

Brandon Sun, December 13, 2008:  Don’t read this column. At least not right away. Read the full column

Learning to Step Lightly

Brandon Sun, November 15, 2008: “Buy Nothing Day” challenges us to stop spending for one day. Stepping Lightly: Simplicity for People and the Planet, a new book by Manitoba author Mark Burch, invites us to consider living more simply all the time. 
Read the full column

Vote Early, Vote Often, and Vary Your Vote

Brandon Sun, October 4, 2008:  Is it responsible to vote for a “fringe” party? This time in Brandon-Souris, the question is especially appropriate, for two reasons. One   . . .    Read the full column

Campaigns of Contrast

Brandon Sun, September 20, 2008:  How delicious to have elections going on in the U.S. and Canada at the same time! A great time to compare and contrast not only electoral processes, but also  . . .   
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Donation Laws Give Citizens More Clout

Brandon Sun, August 23, 2008:  Money now being contributed to Canada’s political parties shows a huge shift underway. As well, new rules invite ordinary citizens to get more  . . .   
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No Ordinary Walk in the Park

Brandon Sun, July 26, 2008:  A recent trip to England and France left my wife and me with many wonderful memories. Plus thoughts about citizenship, technology, and . . .    Read the full column

Tours, Book Bring Cemetery to Life

Brandon Sun, June 14, 2008:  Three great resources bring to life the stories buried in our local cemeteries. Gossip in the GraveyardWhat Lies Beneath, and Every Stone a Story all inform, inspire, and invite us to  . . .   
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Blue Bag System Abruptly Abandoned

Brandon Sun, May 31, 2008:  Brandon City Council recently adopted a new recycling program. But why was not one word said about the existing blue bag program – which the City had claimed would save money, reduce pollution, and lower greenhouse gases?    Read the full column

Wiki is the Way of the Future

Brandon Sun, May 3, 2008:  Wikinomics derives its name and inspiration from “wiki,” which is open source software that anyone can . . .    Read the full column

Brandon Casino Plebiscite Result

April 7, 2008:  Well, what did we learn from the recent plebiscite? Yes, I’m going to take another kick at  . . .    Read the full column

Despite the Disconnects, I'll Vote 'Yes'

Brandon Sun, March 8, 2008:  I can’t resist getting into the casino debate. Call it an urge, a curiosity, a desire to take a risk. Just don’t call it an  . . .    Read the full column

Investing With an Eye on Ethics

Brandon Sun, February 9, 2008:  This time of year, many of us are thinking more about money  . . .    Read the full column

Future of Politics on Display

Brandon Sun, January 12, 2008:   Regardless of who is elected American President this November,  their current political campaign offers a fascinating glimpse into the future. And not just the future for the U.S., but for  . . .    Read the full column

Future Change May Be Dramatic

Brandon Sun, December 15, 2007:   I thought I would end this year’s columns with some reflections on the future. Reflections prompted by looking back at the birth of Brandon 125 years ago  . . .    Read the full column

Perception and Reality of Crime Not Always the Same

Brandon Sun, November 17, 2007:   Do you ever look at the Brandon Crime Stoppers feature in the Sunday Brandon Sun? The crimes profiled – from armed robbery to vandalism – make for uncomfortable  . . .    Read the full column

Now is the Season for Community Events

Brandon Sun, October 14, 2007:   Participating in three events in the last few weeks was enjoyable and meaningful for me. It was also a reminder of   . . .    Read the full column

Ordinary Lives, Extraordinary Stories

Brandon Sun, September 29, 2007:   . . .  The life story of Harold Gray is one of 42 obituaries of everyday people in a new book by Colorado newspaper reporter Jim Sheeler. Obit:  Inspiring Stories of Ordinary People Who Led Extraordinary Lives is a  . . .    Read the full column

Our Citizenship, Paid For By Our Taxes

Brandon Sun, August 26, 2007:   “Ask not what your country can do for you,” U.S. President John F. Kennedy famously said in 1961, “ask what you can do for your country.” Nowadays, somewhat regrettably, we are more likely to ask  . . . 

The New "Palliser Expedition":  A Modest Proposal

Brandon Sun, July 12, 2007:  (Part Three of Three.)   . . .  Another concern 150 years ago was environmental. . . .  John Palliser and his company observed the countryside at close hand as they travelled by canoe, foot, horseback, snowshoe, and dog sled  . . .    Read the full column

Need to Track Changes on the Prairies

Brandon Sun, July 5, 2007:  (Part Two of Three.)   . . .  Globalization was already a major dynamic for the Prairies 150 years ago. The fur trade had brought Europeans to the Prairies and also drawn the First Nations people into the global economy  . . .   Read the full column

Is It Time For A New “Palliser Expedition”?

Brandon Sun, June 28, 2007:  (Part One of Three.)   . . .  John Palliser led an Expedition that travelled through the Prairies 150 years ago. To mark this sesquicentennial  . . .   Read the full column

Proud History of Looking Forward

Brandon Sun, June 29, 2007:  Begin in 1882 as a tiny settlement - mostly of tents. Reach 2007 as a bustling contemporary city. Quite the journey for Brandon! Yet even in the earliest years, the inhabitants of Brandon were surprisingly impacted by  . . .   Read the full column

Adventures in Film-Making

Brandon Sun, June 10, 2007:   Once Upon A Time:  It all started one Sunday when my wife noticed an item in the Brandon Sun: there was going to be an open casting call for a movie  . . .   Read the full column

Shared Agriculture:  A Growing Notion

Brandon Sun, June 3, 2007:  Apples, beets, carrots . . . radishes, squash, tomatoes . . . zucchini. This is an alphabet sampling of the delicious and nutritious fruits and vegetables that are available to the Community Shared Agriculture participants  . . .   Read the full column

It’s Only Fair to Care, Downtown, Over Coffee

Brandon Sun, May 3, 2007:  The time is last Thursday evening. I am enjoying a coffee break at Scarlatti’s Cappuccino Bar on Rosser Avenue. The coffee is delicious and  . . .   Read the full column

Stop Thief!

Brandon Sun, April 8, 2007:  I recently had an anti-theft immobilizer installed in our vehicle. So naturally I read with interest the news reports from Winnipeg about stolen cars being used there to run down  . . .    Read the full column

All Those Little Things Can Really Add Up – To Cash

Brandon Sun, March 15, 2007:  Two recent books provide fascinating reading about how the Internet is changing our world. These are The Long Tail and Wikinomics. The author of The Long Tail:  Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More is Chris Anderson, the  . . .    Read the full column

Why Not Give an Hour of Your Time?

Brandon Sun, January 7, 2007:  Volunteering is important to the vitality and sustainability of many community efforts: from hospitals and other large institutions to the smallest programs. Overall, in Canada  . . .    Read the full column

Get a Break on Your Taxes Through Charitable Donations

Brandon Sun, December 31, 2006:  (Part Two of Two.)  According to a recent Statistics Canada survey, almost everyone gives to a non-profit program or group during the year. Here are some tips on getting the most of your donations at income tax time.   Read the full column

Donating is a Great Way to Feel Connected to Your Community

Brandon Sun, December 28, 2006:  (Part One of Two.)  The vast majority of Canadians donate money to the 160,000 charitable and other non-profit organizations in the country. Totaling about $9 billion, these donations  . . .   Read the full column

Tomorrow, Buy Nothing

Brandon Sun, November 23, 2006:  What? Spend an entire day buying nothing? The very idea challenges us, shocks us even, especially at this time of year. Buy Nothing Day was started in 1992 by Adbusters, a  . . .   Read the full column

Does Our Tax System Address Productivity, Sustainability, and the Future?

Brandon Sun, November 5, 2006:   (Part Two of Two.)   Read the full column

Changing Taxes Reflect Our Changing Lives: Complexity and Diversity

Brandon Sun, November 2, 2006:   (Part One of Two.)  The way that income taxes are collected provides an interesting snapshot of how our society works and changes.   Read the full column

Thoughts on the Brandon Civic Election

October 31, 2006:  The municipal elections last week showed a few things about where we are at as a city. We got national publicity, but what else happened?   Read the full column

Mark Your Calendars for October

Brandon Sun, October 8, 2006:  October features a number of events that remind us of sustainability issues. There are opportunities for insight, information, and involvement.  Read the full column

Did You Hear the News?  Did You Really?

Brandon Sun, August 31, 2006:   (Part Two of Two.)  Electronic sources, especially the Internet, deliver much more news to us than we used to get. Are we getting better news? Are we "getting" the news we do receive?  Read the full column

What's Black and White, But Not Read All Over?

Brandon Sun, July 30, 2006:  (Part One of Two.)  How we get the news has a lot to do with sustainable communities: what we know about what's happening, diversity of viewpoints, and ideas of options for the future. Of course  . . .   Read the full column

Reflections on the City and Calgary 

Brandon Sun, June 25, 2006:  My wife and I recently spent a few days visiting friends in Calgary. Calgary is remarkable not only for the hustle and bustle, but also for the numbers of Westman youth there. I returned to Brandon thinking  . . .   Read the full column

Brand-New It's Shiny, But That Waste Isn't Tiny

Brandon Sun, May 25, 2006.

Can We Nurture and Retain Famous People in Westman?

Brandon Sun, April 23, 2006.  (Part Two of Two.)

Who Could Be Brandon's Most Famous?

Brandon Sun, April 20, 2006.   (Part One of Two.)

"Green Drinks" Now in Brandon

Brandon Sun, March 26, 2006.

Exercising Our Rights . . . And Responsibilities

Brandon Sun, February 23, 2006.

Welcome to the World of Sustainability

Brandon Sun, January 26, 2006.

Christmas, Politics, and the GST

Brandon Sun, December 15, 2005.

Brandon:  What Kind of a City Do We Want?

Brandon Sun, September 29, 2005.  (Part Two of Two.)

Brandon:  What Kind of a City Do We Want?

Brandon Sun, September 15, 2005.  (Part One of Two.)

What's Up With Grand Theft Auto?

Brandon Sun, August 18, 2005.

A Few Reflections on "Skunk and Junk"

Brandon Sun, April 14, 2005.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Brandon Sun, October 7, 2004.

Funny Politics?

Brandon Sun, May 13, 2004.

The “Dark Side” of Recycling?

Brandon Sun, February 5, 2004.

 

 



QUICK CONTACT:

David McConkey,
Brandon, Manitoba
204-726-9440
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My Sites / Interests

Some Reviewed Books:

The War on Drugs:
A Failed Experiment

War on Drugs

Read the Review

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The Atheist Muslim:
A Journey from Religion to Reason

Heretic

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Stranger Than We Can Imagine:
An Alternative History of the 20th Century

Stranger

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Heretic:
Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now

Heretic

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Islam and the Future of Tolerance:
A Dialogue

Islam Future

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Extraordinary Canadians:
Nellie McClung

Extraordinary Canadians Nellie Mcclung

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The Greatest Show on Earth:
The Evidence for Evolution

Greatest Show on Earth

Read the Review

View on Amazon