In the fall of 1997, Robert Sheppard was taken off the "Provinces" column of the Globe and Mail and replaced by a series of local occasional columnists. Perhaps because of his low-key style, his departure was greeted with little fanfare, but it was a great loss. Sheppard wrote marvellously, with much subtle wit, but also with great insight and a commitment to understanding the issues and especially the people he was discussing. His low-key, unassuming style was a desperately needed counterweight to the arrogance of Jefferey Simpson and the intensity of Michael Valpy on the editorial pages, not to mention the sententiousness of the Globe's own editorials. To this was added a dash of whimsical humour, completely lacking in the other writing on the editorial pages (Sheppard once coined the term parti des cravates rouges to identify the Liberals under David Peterson and his ubiquitous red ties.) While it may have sounded like a good idea to get local columnists to fill the provinces column, it has degenerated into a series of inconsistent, shallow and self-indulgent rants. Sheppard may not be missed, or even remembered, by many, but I miss him. It is to be hoped that he will be given another column to write soon, because his talents are needed, and are wasted elsewhere.
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