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Opinion, Dave Dale: Hindsight is 20/22

This year, I looked back on a full 52 weekly columns as this BayToday series approaches 80 consecutive entries since starting June 14, 2021.
The big melt gives us time to look back on 2022.

A warm spell to end 2022 is a cruel twist of fate as ice hut enthusiasts, skiers and snowmobilers watch their tears form puddles of frustration and discontent.

Apparently, the heavy blanket of snow that pimped our Christmas spirit was just a tease of an early winter paradise – the only thing flake lovers can embrace as the Snowbirds soar to Florida and mock our northern existence from afar.

Last year, my year-ending column was a blanket of farcical predictions for 2022 woven from the tattered threads of two pandemic trips around the sun. Probably my best line of the year was in a satirical paragraph about Ontario’s brief hope of ending mandates early, just like Alberta’s August 2021 failure, with Premier Doug Ford’s reneged promise back-firing “like a Trumper at a baked-beans convention.”

This year, I looked back on a full 52 weekly columns as this BayToday series approaches 80 consecutive entries since starting June 14, 2021. I tried counting the number of columns written since my first editorial foray in 1987 and we’re somewhere into the second half of a millennium of opinions (more than 500 anyway). 

As for 2022, it started fairly tame with a venture into the red-hot topic of vaccine mandates entitled: Vilifying the unvaccinated unwise at this point.  

It was a timely perspective as anti-mandate and anti-left forces combined to put Ottawa under siege as border blockades sprout up in February. I believe my series of columns before, during and after the Freedom Convoy protests were fair comments while supportive of the eventual use of the Emergency Act to sweep up the mess. For a good taste, see: Interesting divorce from team-player philosophy.

The recent inquiry that focused on the hows and why-fores provided a fairly clear picture of incompetent and sometimes complicit policing and governance – as well as the multi-verse of agendas that glued “honkers” together.

“Regular readers of my columns will know I haven’t supported every decision made by politicians or public health officials during the pandemic. It’s been sloppy, uncoordinated, and often counter-intuitive. The collection and communication of data were flawed and contentious. And Big Pharma and the corporate elite have proven not to be trustworthy in the past, so everything they do must be taken with a grain of salt (along with vitamins D, C, and Zinc).

Likely one of my better efforts was a column in March with a deeper dive into North Bay’s military roots: Impacts of war extend beyond the shelling. It included the darker history of Canada’s treatment of its own citizens with Italian immigrants deemed “enemies” deserving of internment and prejudicial treatment in the Second World War – just like Ukrainian-Canadians were in the First World War.

It might be worth a few minutes to give my April 27 underplayed ode to Aaron Northrup a read: Rage is a contagion, try not to infect everybody around you.

Writing about the provincial election campaign that wasn’t inflicted scars on my brain and heart. My May 18 prediction Politics would be better if it really made strange bedfellows captures the spirit of the horrifying waste of time giving Tories another majority with an overall minority of support. I blame the puppet masters in the Liberal and New Democrat camps for power-mongering while they blame the voters in a cursed feedback loop that benefits Conservatives.

My personal favourite that received positive reader feedback was the June 23, 2022 effort Responsibility follows ‘freedom’, which was about the Maple Leaf flag being hijacked by protesters who don’t seem to respect what it illustrates.

There were nearly a dozen columns on the municipal election. The highlight for me was interviewing more than two dozen candidates in long-form video sessions, as well as some doozies just before and after the ballots were counted. It wasn’t that long ago and the memory really hasn’t faded but here’s a link to my “Dear Peter Chirico” exclamation point.

There were a few “gut check” moments for me in 2022 as I tried to deliver perspectives in a provocative and readable style while offering relevance and something to ponder further. More often than not, it’s an uncomfortable experience for both my subjects and myself. The opinion business is more challenging than some might think, definitely a vastly different craft than being either a news reporter or political flak.

My column last week about the rebranding of Chippewa high school, aptly named “Another learning experience”, is a prime example of how offering a perspective and advice can be tricky. Never shy to mix my metaphors, opening a can of worms can leave all involved with egg on their face – including my own once in a while if I’m not articulate enough.

With that in mind, I accept yesterday’s apology Maurice Switzer made through BayToday regarding his Dec. 23 letter to the editor about my Dec. 22 column. Truth be told, my left eyebrow did arch a bit when Maurice used the Indigenous status of my son and his mom as illustrations for an attempted point. As someone who steps over the line from time to time, I understand it’s easy to get carried away, and I appreciate his thoughtful reconsideration.

Maybe Maurice and I should sit down for a longer video interview and see if we have any common ground at all. I didn't feel he represented the spirit of my column in his letter so we can start there.

With that in mind, I look forward to 2023. It will be challenging, no doubt, but we have the lessons of the past and passion for the future to guide us.

Dave Dale is a veteran journalist and columnist who has covered the North Bay area for more than 30 years. Reader responses meant as Letters to the Editor can be sent to [email protected]. Contact the writer directly, email: or check out his website