Sunday, July 25, 2004

A week off essentials

Yikes, before I fill up the tank, I should take care of some unfinished business of the week just passed. For those out protesting mosquito fogging or just getting bit by the little pests, here's the week of essentials.

20-Jul-04 Martin picks his wallflowers for the cabinet dance
20-Jul-04 I am Canadian, but for how much longer?
20-Jul-04 And then she sang you're no good
20-Jul-04 A warning of the Big One?
20-Jul-04 Everything old is new again (II)
21-Jul-04 Rewards, cronies and the old boys club
21-Jul-04 One small step for man, not many more for mankind
21-Jul-04 Annoy the Scots at your peril
21-Jul-04 Dubya is just too darn Liberal?
21-Jul-04 Considering their staffing habits how about 'substitute'
22-Jul-04 Hell of a time for us to sell of our National beer
22-Jul-04 You can get hitched, but you can't leave
22-Jul-04 Moore political advice from Michael
22-Jul-04 But it's working SO WELL in Canada
22-Jul-04 On the shelf beside your slinky and hula hoop
23-Jul-04 Greeks exhibit Olympic jitters
23-Jul-04 Tie Domi drops the gloves in Ottawa
23-Jul-04 Good advice for the office BBQ crowd
23-Jul-04 Toronto's golden towers hiding real crisis in the city
23-Jul-04 The Molson-Coors merger the view from the Rockies
24-Jul-04 Cops work in a no fishing zone
24-Jul-04 If you're going to be sick. Monday's your best day for health care
24-Jul-04 Maybe the nickname will be George
24-Jul-04 Time for a Kegger
24-Jul-04 Postie snacks run afoul of Canada Post
25-Jul-04 A tale of farce in the land of Farsi
25-Jul-04 Dick Cheney's golden days of Halliburton
25-Jul-04 Here comes the Sun
25-Jul-04 Turn off the TV and go out and play
25-Jul-04 Why those chickens crossed that road
26-Jul-04 The circus arrives in Boston
26-Jul-04 The Original PT Cruiser
26-Jul-04 Time for a little renovation work
26-Jul-04 Beer Brawl!
26-Jul-04 Homer for the touchdown dance

On the Road again

Time to hit the highway for a couple of days, be back when I run out of Gas or money whichever comes first, put your money on the money!!!

Til then come on along for a ride, check out the great number of songs to help you roll on down the highway!

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Claws out for Catwoman!

Rarely can a movie release bring such complete negative press within 24 hours of its release. But Halle Berry’s latest Hollywood moving picture has seemingly tapped a nerve with critics everywhere.

In 1987 there was a widely panned movie featuring Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty called Ishtar, it for a while rewrote the book on negative reviews. But with the release of Catwoman Dustin and Warren can rest easy for good now, they should have got an Oscar considering what Halle Berry's latest has offered up. Just take a look at these headlines and the acid tinged reviews they come attached to them!

This Cats a Dog said one cutline, Catastrophe said the other, as the Toronto Stars contribution to protecting cats everywhere. Best line in the review was bring out the kitty litter!

Bad Kitty, Very Bad Kitty screams the Globe and Mail, advising us that at ½ a star every odorous frame deserves to be sent to the kitty litter box.

The Kitty Litter theme gets some more play from the Seattle Times, where Ted Fry suggests that no amount of Kitty Litter can save this stinker.

The Calgary Sun scores a point with Purrfect Dud, as they call it a 100 million dollar hairball that shows that Hollywood’s bad ideas really do get nine lives.

The National Post’s Chris Knight also gave the epic ½ a star and suggested that this is one cat that needs to be fixed.

Peter Bowes does some work for the BBC with a toned down review that simply states that Catwoman fails to purr.

Christy Lemire of the Associated Press adds her two cents worth by advising that this is a movie for the attention span challenged would find hope in. Describing it as an action movie, that is mind numbingly boring.

Like Claws on a blackboard is the word from USA Today, as they offer some advice for her career. A jolt of catnip will clear her senses.

We’ll end our cat's tail the way we started it, by giving the final word to Roger Ebert who spins a tale of disappointment that no doubt will be featured in this weeks Ebert and Roeper television program. For Roger the blame goes to the director Pitof, a man that Ebert figures must have been issued two names at birth and should use the other one on his next project.

And with that we’ll pull in our claws, curl up with a warm saucer of milk and take a nap. Perhaps we’ll stretch out on the couch and wait patiently for Catwoman to show up on Movie Central, thus saving our movie dollars for more worthwhile fare. As for Halle, she can only hope that it's not 17 years before some new release comes out to take the heat off of her feline felony!

Thursday, July 22, 2004

The last great Canadian brand?

Way back in my early days I was a Molson Ex drinker, the snappy red labels with the sailing ship pulled into my port more times than I care to count. It was my brand; Ex said it all, as they said in their advertising. For a brief period of time I even worked at a beer store, stacking the sharply designed cases of Ex beside their Labatt and at the time Carling-O’keefe brethren, I always made sure that the Ex cases looked just a little more enticing. But as time went by Molson breweries and I seemed to go our different ways, mostly me, with a move West I found that Ex was harder and harder to find. So I needed to find a new brand, one that I could belly up to a bar and proudly say give me one of….

Over the years I struggled to find a brand I could call my own, long before they were urging us to profess our status as Canadians, I tried Canadian, never really took a liking to the taste and like many others who likewise never became a dedicated Canadian drinker I kept on searching.

In fact my loyalties were available to the brewer that provided the best taste and the best option. Not to mention the snappiest marketing. Fosters launch in Canada found me saying G'day mate, A debut of Corona and it was Si Senorita. Guiness of course sends one into a rapturous lilt of the Irish.

Time spent on the East coast gave me the taste of Schooner, Keith’s, Moosehead and Alpine to name just a few. Black Horse and Old Stock were two most refreshing Newfoundland brands that at times gave you equal delights and fears for your liver. In the west I’ve tried Kokanee (the beer around here they say, but like Canadian it was never near here that much). The prairies were closer to my Ex roots and I could at least find a twelve pack in a beer store from time to time and thus returned to my first love, though I at times would enjoy a Club or an Old Vienna. As years went by I would try the likes of Labatt 50, Wildcat, John Labbat Classic, even the tempting high octane kick of the exotic Brador from Quebec, they've all been sampled at one time or another in my travels.

Once back on the coast though it’s been slim pickings as to a definitive favourite, I’ve waffled from Kokanee at times, through my fall back beer Labatt’s Blue, into (gasp) Budweiser and Miller Genuine Draft and onto Guinness and Harp for those special occasions (every day could be St. Patrick’s Day should I wish). A quick survey of my fridge will find a fair amount of Miller, one lonely old Bud, a bunch of Molson Old Style Pilsner left off from a party and a couple of Guinness waiting for an Irish celebration of some sort. There are even a couple of Nordic non alcoholic beers (what's the idea behind those anyways?) in there way in the back. Sadly for Molson’s nary a Canadian is in my fridge, I contribute to their bottom line with the Miller's but it's not a Canadian brand I regret to say.

And yet I feel a tad guilty about that, with the all but certain merger of Molson and Coors apparently just short of the dotted line stage we’ll lose another long standing Canadian tradition. And even though I know it’s not really my fault, I none the less feel as though I’ve let John Molson himself down. By far Canadian has the best advertising campaign on the air at the moment, the I AM Canadian spots are almost cultural icons, yet if the statistics are to be believed they’ve had negligible impact on turning us on to our own brew. It apparently all comes down to taste, and hard as it may be to swallow, Canadian just doesn’t wash over our palate as it should.

If Molson does tie the knot with Coors it will follow the path already charted by Labatt who are now just a cog in the vast Belgian brewer Interbrew. How many years ago did we lose all those Carling products, remember Red Cap ale or Dow, alas perhaps I’m starting to show my age. At any rate, a country that is known for its beer drinking ways, seems to have lost its way to homegrown brews.

There is of course a sliver of hope on the barroom tables; Molson shareholders are apparently readying a fight for a better deal, but one suspects that they just want some other multi national to plunk down a larger pile of coin.

For pure drinking pleasure we have one last Indie hope, Sleeman’s makes a very nice brew which I’ve sampled more and more frequently in the last little while. The little Ontario brewery that could, may just find that nationalistic Canadians will begin to discover those distinctive bottles and take the brew to heart. Micro breweries in the big cities have their legions of fans that can’t wait to sample the latest from Vancouver's Granville Island or the bistros of Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. Perhaps we're to become a nation of cottage brewing fanatics.

Like many others I've watched with interest, as this family feud has led our national brewer to the state of civil war. But if Molson goes continental and takes Canadian with them another piece of our beer heritage will be gone forever. I’m sure many Canadians will join me in raising a glass in tribute to the brewery that kept up the good fight, as long as they could.

Unfortunately many of us will be raising up our Buds, Coors, Millers, Heinekens, Harps and Guinness! Which probably tells us all we need to know about how Molson got into this situation in the first place. We may be Canadian, but unless we like the taste, we're parking our patriotism at the door!

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Podunk's python launches mini panic!

Podunk is still buzzing over the weekend development of a 16 foot python named Sparticus making its escape from a bedroom window, causing the entire city to start looking for their pets and stray children.

The python which is apparently a pet and not a form of pest control was reported as missing on Friday after having escaped from its bedroom roost on Thursday. Upon receiving word of the python break the local RCMP put together a search party using the local Search and Rescue group,the SPCA, Animal control, and regual citizens, as well as RCMP auxiliaries as on the ground python seekers. Though one suspects that their hearts weren’t particularly in it, as it turns out that snake experts advised the search parties to keep a respectful distance should they stumble across the wayward one.

All across town the question was asked where would a python go? With a circus in town for the day, many suspected the snake was just heeding the call of the circus and making plans to hit the road to fame and fortune. Others just feared for their safety and double checked their toilets before using.

The search continued on into the night Friday and Podunk awoke to word on the radio that somewhere in the city lurked a python, which may or may not be ready for something more than toast and coffee. With no idea as to where the python may have disappeared to, Podunkians greeted outdoor activities with a wary eye. Apparently pythons when ready to chow down will give you one last hug, crushing your vitals before they devour. With that bit of information, only the feral cats and stray dogs were left to wander the back alleys and hiking trails of the greater Podunk area.

By mid afternoon Saturday, the all clear had been sounded the subject of the hunt was located not too far from the window it had escaped from; somehow trapped in the eaves troughing system at its own home, the Python had not strayed very far from familiar ground. The use of a chainsaw made quick work of it all, the eaves troughing that is, and the python found itself reunited with its much relieved owners.

After a sigh of relief many Podunkians are wondering how a 16 foot python is allowed in Podunk. With no by law stipulating otherwise, it would appear that Podunkians will just have to be python aware from now on. Good cages will no doubt make good neighbours. Though many still ask the question, why in the name of Monty Python, would anyone want to keep a 16 foot snake as a pet?

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Replaying the late 60's and early 70's

With Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 911 trucking along to box office success, the hue and cry over it’s responsibility and credibility would make one believe that this is the first time that a film maker has targeted the government of the day. In fact America has a long history of socially conscious activists who over the years have used their standing in the community to express their opinions, becoming the beacon that many other like minded citizens would gather around. The Smother’s Brothers, Lenny Bruce, Jane Fonda all were universally celebrated and scorned in equal amounts for their beliefs and the espousal of them, somehow the Republic survived, much as I’m sure it will once again.

For Moore, his Fahrenheit 911 seems to be the lightning rod of the day for those looking for the Un American aspect of the debate on Iraq, at least Un American from the view of supporters of the Republicans. Yet Moore is not trailblazing a new path here, back in 1971 a New York film maker named Emile de Antonio released a movie called Millhouse: A White Comedy, a film that garnered attention from the likes of H. R. Haldeman, John Dean and the folks in the Dirty Ops section of CREEP, the folks who gave us Watergate. The internet journal Slate magazine, has put together a delightful remembrance of de Antonio’s films and activist career. Interesting to note is the concern of Dean, that the film might hurt Nixon’s chances with the youth vote, which is laughable when taken in historical context! Let’s see the era of Nixon had a universal draft sending 18-24 year olds off to a far off land to fight a war nobody could really explain, there really shouldn’t have been much of a youth vote for Nixon. Except maybe for all those accepting their deferments of the day and even they would be questionable Nixon supporters.

Millhouse, which never got the wide distribution that Moore’s film has, none the less did attract quite a bit of official attention. It is disclosed in the Slate article that the some of the President’s men had prepared a dossier to release about the major figures behind the movie should it begin to garner much interest. Perhaps a cautionary tale for Mr. Moore, expect the IRS to be checking box office receipts and bank account deposits to make sure Mike’s not stuffing bucks in the mattress for a rainy day, or an emergency relocation to Canada.

The current climate in the USA seems positively late 60’s early 70’s, we’ve got an unpopular war dragging on with no end seemingly in sight. An election coming up featuring a very polarized electorate and low polling results for the incumbent president. We have rhetoric on both sides of the debate showing us that the middle ground is a so far in the distance, as to be non existent.

Add to the mix the confusion of the average American, the intransigence of the government and its supporters as well as the coalition of the artistic community and you’d swear we’ve been time warped back to Chicago 68 just before the Democratic Convention. Except this time around it will be New York as the focal point and the Republicans playing the part of LBJ’s government of the day. One wonders how New York Mayor Bloomberg will like the role of Richard Daley!

We’ve been watching the broadsides against President Bush and the backlash against those that speak their minds. For the Smother’s Brothers we introduce Whoopi Goldberg, Moore is taking de Antonio’s place and while no Baghdad Babs, one is just waiting for the comparison of Barbara Streisand to Jane Fonda’s taking to the streets of the late 60’s, though in Bab’s case we suspect it would be in a chauffeured limousine, surrounded by personal bodyguards.

Whoopi just got fired by Slim Fast for her X rated Bush comments at a Kerry/Edwards rally in New York City last week, Moore of course is frequently eviscerated by the right wing for his stance on the Bush regime and Streisand frequently finds her personal details featured on the Drudge Report every time she makes an announcement regarding the Kerry campaign.

As I said, it’s all so everything old is new again. While there are newcomers taking the stage to express their opinions Hello Dixie Chicks, Susan Sarandon, Jon Bon Jovi, John Mellencamp and Mary J Blige to name a few, the atmosphere seems positively retro.

As if to bring us full circle I find that 60’s anti war icon Country Joe is still kicking it around. And if you doubt that everything old is new again, check out his website! His latest song is called Cakewalk to Baghdad. While not as infectious as the Fixin to die rag, Country Joe is still a biting wit, his latest effort reads like the Richard Perle playbook. The world waits to see if his satirical look is more prescient than parodical!

Sunday, July 18, 2004

The week of essentials

From Politicians to Potties, Downloaders to Dubya, Martin to Martha and Belfast to Bono; the week was full of twists and turns. For those previously engaged playing scrabble or hanging with the rabble, here's the weeks essentials.

13-Jul-04 The More things change, the more they stay the same
13-Jul-04 This Bud's not for Canada
13-Jul-04 If a tree falls in the forest
13-Jul-04 How much ice, would a chipmunk chip, if a chipmunk could chip ice
13-Jul-04 Scambaiters revenge!
14-Jul-04 CRTC pulls plug on controversial radio station
14-Jul-04 Ashcroft's Patriot Act explained
14-Jul-04 Who's winning it all for 1 million Alex
14-Jul-04 Da coach, for Da Senate
14-Jul-04 CRIA says the judge erred in his ruling and here's how
15-Jul-04 Fun with George and John
15-Jul-04 Dubya's dilemma
15-Jul-04 Speeding to a standstill
15-Jul-04 Michael Moore, honorary Canadian?
15-Jul-04 Portage and Main, 40 below
16-Jul-04 They Still haven't found what they're looking for
16-Jul-04 Martha's ready for the Big House
16-Jul-04 Oops She's done it again
16-Jul-04 Ready to face the elecotrate again?
16-Jul-04 Do they have an O'Laden Report?
17-Jul-04 Just call her Martha Mandela
17-Jul-04 If the Donald were CEO of America
17-Jul-04 Flip flops with the flap jacks?
17-Jul-04 Hawking loses a bet
17-Jul-04 Sending Svend to Scotland
18-Jul-04 Some options for debt free Alberta's spare change
18-Jul-04 Building up a business one brick at a time
18-Jul-04 If you can't regulate them, buy them
18-Jul-04 Elton sings a mournful tune
18-Jul-04 An antidote but not a cure
19-Jul-04 Sometimes Nepotism just isn't appreciated
19-Jul-04 An idea whose time has come
19-Jul-04 Do you get a squeeze for the road?
19-Jul-04 Flick or swat the choice is yours
19-Jul-04 If they don't like it he'll pump them up

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Still regulating after all these years

Over the years the number of decisions provided by the CRTC has caused many a listener/viewer and broadcaster/owner to shake their head in wonderment. The awarding of Broadcast licenses seemingly drawn out of a hat, regulations enforced or ignored with nary an explanation. The power of the CRTC has become an all encompassing fiefdom of cultural imperialism.
The likes of any programming from American sources such as HBO, SHOWTIME, ESPN or Fox News will never lighten up our television tubes on conventional cable or satellite services. Despite the demand for them, the CRTC knows what’s best for us, they’re more that willing to choose our viewing pleasures. Dare to watch a grey market sat dish and eventually they’ll come for you.
In the last week the CRTC has been feeling a tad empowered, having dodged the Conservative house cleaning that had been hinted about, the Commission unleashed a number of decisions sure to set a clamour about the nation. Most of the weeks work out of Ottawa is seen to be appealing to the altar of Political Correctness!
Radio Station CHOI in Quebec City was the first to feel the fire, when the CRTC announced that the station is to surrender its license to broadcast at the end of August. The decision comes after a long hearing process where CHOI found itself under attack for comments from its controversial morning show host. The station features a morning host Jean Francois Fillion, who apparently uses Howard Stern as a template, taking on the politically mighty as well as those struggling in society. The comments about immigrants and the mentally ill were loathsome to be sure, but to have a station taken off the air over the comments of one person seems a tad overbearing. If the comments were indeed slanderous let the courts handle him. There’s sufficient legislation in place to ensure that comments of that nature would be addressed properly. Sizeable fines to the owner of CHOI would have had more than sufficient penalizing powers. To punish the rest of the station’s staff by sending them to the Unemployment lines seems to be a stretch of the Commission’s responsibility.
Adding to the controversial decision is the fact the CHOI is one of the more popular radio stations in Quebec City. Which means that the CRTC has decided to deprive hundreds of thousands of listeners, a listening choice that they’ve freely made over the objections of perhaps hundreds of complainants. You can’t legislate taste even the CRTC must surely realize that. CHOI most likely would not be my cup of tea, besides a certain linguistic handicap on my part, making fun of people on welfare, immigrants and such is not for me. But who am I to dictate what others can listen to, if the station was overly offensive then the ratings would reflect that.  More importantly this decision will come back to bite them in the long term, culturally aware Quebec will not take kindly to the CRTC taking a station off the air, look for the Parti Quebecois  and Bloc Quebecois to make this a provincial rights issue in the not too distant future.
The other head shaker is the sort of approval for the arrival of the Al Jazeera news network, sometimes referred to as the CNN of the Middle East. Al Jazeera has been held up as a small step for the democratization of the media in the Arab world by some, demonized by others as a propaganda tool of the likes of Osama Bin Laden. Regardless, the Al Jazeera of Qatar and as seen in Israel, Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries will not be the Al Jazerra seen in Canada. In an unusual condition of transmission, cable operators will be expected to monitor the broadcasts of Al Jazerra 24 hours a day, seven days a week, altering or editing any objectionable comments. This is a process that is generally known as censorship. Interestingly enough Al Jazeera with its warts and all, is available in the USA untouched and airs uncensored in Israel as well, a nation that is frequently the subject of many of Al Jazeera’s more strident comments.
Cable operators basically say that the monitoring  condition is prohibitive and will result in no cable system taking the financial hit to provide the service. The net result of which will be to send those folks that wish to watch Al Jazeera back to the Grey market satellite dishes that currently provide the service. Again Al Jazeera is most likely not my brand of newsgathering, neither would be the jingoistic Fox News Channel which by the way is not available in Canada legally. But again, if they were blatantly one sided, engaged in propaganda and undermined our sense of values I’m quite sure the Canadian public would quickly render a verdict and tune them out. More importantly to understand the view of the Arab world perhaps it wouldn’t hurt to get a first hand look at how they relate the news to their own audience. Personally I think Canadians are more than capable of discerning right from wrong.
The Al Jazeera decision came out the same day that the Commission declined an application from RAI in Italy, the public broadcasting channel that is available on Satellite, providing comprehensive broadcasting from Italy. The decision was announced despite the appeal of over 100,000 Canadians who expressed a desire to view the best of Italy. Whatever logic was used in allowing Al Jazeera, shutting down CHOI and declining RAI has been lost to the common viewer/listener.
The flurry of decisions this week only goes to highlight how out of touch the CRTC is with Canadian society. With one click of our mouse, we can access the Al Jazeera website, the Fox News Website, RAI and countless others. Some provide video streaming so whatever the CRTC wishes to protect us from is out there and coming into your home as we speak. In the era of the internet and satellite communications the CRTC still treats us like a nation of tv viewers struggling with the rabbit ears on top of the tube.
It’s time for the CRTC to unlock our skies and let the world come on in. Bring us Bill O’Reilly at Fox, we’re not afraid.  The Al Jazeera editorials won’t frighten us and surely there is nothing on RAI that will cause us to worry for the future of the nation. If the CRTC truly feels that Al Jazeera is a threat, then why go through the farce of granting an application but with conditions. If indeed they feel it's nothing  but a nest of vipers then by all means don't grant the application, just be prepared to defend your decision with facts. 

 Then again this is a country that apparently has to be protected from the verbal broadsides of Donald S. Cherry on Hockey Night in Canada, Lord Help us should we be exposed to Fox News or Al Jazeera, we may barely survive as a nation!      

Sunday, July 11, 2004

The week of essentials

Where does the time go heh! Here we are another seven days done and gone, for those that may have missed them (suntanning, visiting the zoo or checking out your garden). Here's the week of essentials.

July 6 - All in the Mexican political family
July 6 - 6/49 backlash!
July 6 - Kerry Hits send on Tuesday
July 6 - Hardly Punishment
July 6 - It's not hard to make money if you have no employees
July 7 - We love our country, but not so much its politicians
July 7 - The choice of the people: a smile or a scowl
July 7 - Preston seeks some bridge builders
July 7 - And He WON the election!
July 7 - The Gold Medal in non service goes to Greece
July 8 - Making Lemonade from your lemons
July 8 - Suddenly someone came to their senses
July 8 - Is your housing bubble about to burst?
July 8 - A law even dumber than a bag of hammers
July 8 - When Kangaroos go bad
July 9 - And this time Moe, there's no recount
July 9 - Don't know when, who, how or where, but just to be on the safe side
July 9 - Polkaiing back to Saskatoon
July 9 - Just wait for the movie rights, any idea for a director?
July 9 - Next up his grocery list
July 10- All in all take another brick from the wall
July 10- Smilin' Jack's latest tact
July 10- Dump Cheney?
July 10- The Frugal gourmet passes away
July 10- Lottery winner barks back at third wife
July 11- When Intelligence operatives aren't too intelligent
July 11- The Critics choice, No Boss,No Birds, No Band
July 11- Ooops went the records
July 11- He's not lovin' it
July 11- By the time he gets to Phoenix he'll make bail
July 12- Saudis: Taliban in luxury?
July 12- He was no starving actor!
July 12- Is it possible to cancel an election?
July 12- The golden days of government excess return to Ottawa
July 12- Will the strong prey on the weakened?

Her trip to Bountiful!

They’re back and not a moment too soon. Your faithful servants at Boondoggle were becoming quite worried that a culture of restraint had enveloped the capital. There was admittedly some trepidation at Boondoggle, as reports of fiscal excess had dried up during the election campaign of 2004.

But with the MP’s safely tucked into their seats on the Hill, the gates are starting to crack open once again. And lo and behold we have ourselves an old favourite kicking off the summer edition of the Boondoggle reporting season.

Out of Ottawa comes word that over at the Official Languages Offices, Department Czarina Dyane Adam, has been on a bit of a European spending binge of late. The language office’s top bureaucrat (salary $216,000 a year) spent over 11 thousand dollars of taxpayer loonies, on a one week trip to Scotland and Ireland to address a gathering at Cork University. The commish was invited to be a guest speaker at the conference. She then took the rest of the week to as they bureaucratically put it, “raise awareness of Canada’s language planning model.” Her European jaunt broke down to $8,733 for airfare, $1,441 for hotel accommodation and $742 for meals. Making up a total amount, which would make for a fair amount of Haggis and Guinness in her travels?

Adam has been a busy traveller at home as well, and when she must leave Ottawa she goes top dollar. She recently flew from Ottawa to Toronto at a cost of $2,479 and somehow found a way to spend $1,643 dollars to travel to Sudbury. The excessive cost of Ms. Adams travel arrangements is explained away as due to the open ended nature of her travel. Due to her “fluctuating schedule” the Commissioner must only take those last minute dashes that can be oh so costly. Ms. Adam became a noteworthy person most recently for her investigation of Don Cherry’s comments while on Hockey Night in Canada. One can only imagine what Mr. Cherry would make of his investigators financial resolve!

Perhaps a more comprehensive day planner could be provided for the Language Commissioner, something to assist her in those time management shortcomings. Short of that, at least have the poor woman book a few days in advance, thus saving the poor beaten down taxpayer a few dollars now and then.

Even better some comparison shopping couldn’t hurt. Boondoggle did a Google search for Greyhound pricing and VIA Rail pricing for trips to Sudbury. Ms. Adams could travel return by the sleek grey bus to the Nickel city for only 172 dollars, and should she need to travel more frequently she could always take advantage of Greyhounds Discovery Pass, a sure fire hit for the Bureaucrat with lots of exploring to do.

Over at Via Rail, things are a bit more complicated, as there is an overnight stop in Toronto before the big 7 hour trip North to Sudbury Junction (sorry you’ll need to cab in into Sudbury proper). It’s truly a bureaucrats dream to travel south to go north, so hey take advantage of the confusion. To soothe those shattered nerves we’ve booked a double bedroom northbound. Total cost $781. A bit pricey, but if you have business in Toronto you can kill two birds with one stone. There will of course be a hotel room needed but we’re sure you can find a respectable hostel close by Union station.

But you had better hurry VIA may be on strike within the next two weeks.

Just a few options for the folks at Official Languages, glad to have you aboard the Boondoggle express! We look forward to future entries in Boondoggle as the season progresses.

The above posting first appeared July 11th, in my Boondoggle blog, for other items about Government in Canada check it out!

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Oh No! They've busted Kenny!

Just in time for the Democratic National Convention and all that free network air time coming up to the likes of Al Sharpton, Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy and Jesse Jackson, comes word that former Enron chair and President Bush buddy Kenneth Lay, is going to be spending quite a bit of time in court.

When the US Justice Department announced that the big fish was being prepared to fry, there was little sense of accomplishment from the Executive branch at the White House. Long forgotten is that pledge during a state of the union speech to address the need for some corporate accountability. No high fives from the President, nary a word from the Veep, only the lonely PR flack in Scott McLellan at the White house to say that the President was not really very close to Lay, rather the Enron chairman was just a political supporter who happened to favour the Republican cause. The fact that George Bush referred to him as Kenny Boy apparently just a term of official thanks and recognition, no personal relationship is to be inferred or accepted. This despite some pretty obvious instances of a rather close relationship.

Enron became the scourge of Wall Street, a picture of excess as the nineties came to a conclusion, Enron is the five letter word that defines the worst of American business. The high flying energy company which collapsed in 2001 has seemed to set back the cause of corporate accounting for centuries.

One wonders what kind of media frenzy will take place when this case makes its appearance in court. The Enron scandal makes the Martha Stewart case look like a ticket for parking in the yellow zone at the local Sears store. And in the center of this controversy is an old friend of George W. Bush’s. How’s that for teeing up the ball and letting the Democrats play Home Run Derby.

We can already see the Democrat speechwriters and spin masters preparing their barbs from the podium, When you count up the connections to the Enron mess and add of course VP Cheney’s friends at Haliburton, well it won’t take much to get the crowd worked up in Boston! Perhaps Ann Richards the former Governor of Texas can be counted on to deliver her famous Poor George speech over again. It was a hit during the Clinton run when she used it against Papa Bush, surely there is a bit of play left in that golden oldie!

Then again perhaps turn the job over to the new generation, with a Democratic VP candidate in John Edwards who seems more than capable of delivering a speech, one sits and awaits the verbal tongue lashing that is to come.

President Bush and Veep Dick Cheney had best get their best Teflon, fire retardant suits on, Boston promises some pretty hot days and some of the fuel for that fire is going to come from Kenny ”Boy” Lay!

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Kerry makes his call!

The New York Post not withstanding, the Democrats will send a Kerry/ Edwards ticket on to Boston for the convention later this month. John Kerry the Democratic Party nominee for President of the United States, decided to tap the southern vote for his Vice Presidential candidate. Selecting North Carolina’s John Edwards to be the second in command should things go the Democrats way in November.

Proving that the Democrats can keep secrets, Kerry didn’t let slip his choice until Tuesday morning, so covert was his decision that Edwards wasn’t even in Pittsburgh to share the stage and acknowledge his new challenge. In fact if the spin is to be believed, Edwards did not get formal notification til early Tuesday morning in the form of a fifteen minute phone call. Kerry then announced his decision at the rally in Pittsburgh, the crowd rushed for the new signs and Teresa smiled, such is a photo op in the Democratic campaign these days.

The actual decision is being hailed as a victory for the Democratic machine, which wanted Edwards and his southern populist ways, to mesh with Kerry’s Northern establishment persona. Both are considered to be the friend of the common man, though considering the bank rolls that both bring with them, it’s hard to see either one as hanging out at the local Wal Mart checking out the rolled back prices.

However, if success is measured by how your opponent reacts to your decision, than this was probably a very astute move by the Kerry team. After the niceties of a few congratulatory phone calls were done, the Republicans came out with their own interpretation of the Democrats big announcement. The Republicans couldn’t wait to declare Edwards to be: a “politically inexperienced phoney, one who is disingenuous and an unaccomplished Liberal”. You could almost see the spittle flying as that final word was pronounced, LIB-ER-AL!!!

In an era of mean spirited and frequently churlish behaviour by the right wing, you sense they are licking their lips at the chance to paint the Democratic ticket as nothing but a tax and spend coalition, preparing to pick the pockets of Americans from coast to coast and lead the nation to ruin.

In fact first out of the blocks into attack mode was the American business community which suggested that a Kerry/Edwards ticket was a recipe for higher taxes, and restrictive trade policies. They are against Kerry not for his relative inexperience as a politician, but for his extensive experience as a trial lawyer, who frequently took big business to court and won. The largest business lobby group the Chamber of Commerce, has come out solidly against the Edwards addition and plan on taking an active roll in the campaign.

The worrisome thought for the Republicans may be the ability of Edwards to deliver the wavering Southern vote, in polling done in the primaries it was found that Edwards did better among Republicans than did Kerry and he may be able to deliver not only his state but that of his neighbours as well. Something the Democrats did not receive in 2000.

His constant message about the polarization of America under George Bush also hit a note with the voter during the primary season, his ability to get out his attack on Bush and the Two America’s syndrome, one for the rich and the other for the rest of the people found a receptive audience in the primaries. With Edwards able to deliver a powerful message, Kerry may find a wider audience for his ideas as the real campaign begins after the conventions are done.

There really wasn’t any other choice for Kerry despite his secretive handling of the decision and the launch by e mail to his supporters. Edwards found his voice in the primaries and represents the future of the Democratic party, the other mentioned options Dick Gephardt and Bob Graham are more to the past. The much rumoured Hillary Clinton candidacy was never going to fly, more time and distance is needed before that flag is run up the pole if it ever is.

The only drawback to Edwards selection may be his rather limited experience in government, being a first time senator Kerry mocked him on the campaign trail as being too anxious to be President, citing a lack of foreign affairs knowledge and his lack of military experience as being detrimental to his quest. Those quotes may come back to haunt Kerry, but as a war drags on in Iraq with seemingly no end in sight, Kerry’s military bona fides may more than make up for any shortcomings on Edwards end. In fact in recent speeches it has been Edwards who has been touting Kerry's military experience against that of the current President's, should the Republicans choose to use that card, Edwards has already shown he has a plan to handle it.

The decision adds some life to the Kerry campaign which had been slowing down the last few weeks, as Kerry kept a low, almost non existent profile, while Bush handled one international disappointment after another. The peek a boo campaign couldn’t have gone on much longer, and now with Edwards to share the load Kerry will be able to regain some of his momentum from the early nomination win.

While its still early. the election at the moment seems to be the Democrats to lose. Kerry didn’t hurt his chances to seize victory by selecting Edwards, indeed he may have boosted the odds of changeover at the White House come January.

Monday, July 05, 2004

***Correction re: Darth Nader***

Faulty fact checking leads to mis-information. Lazy I am, said Podunk man. Well what do you know I occasionally mess up! In a recent post, I recounted the backlash to the candidacy of Ralph Nader in his Presidential bid for 2004. Somehow, I neglected to notice that Mr. Nader was actually an unwanted spoke on the Green party wheel, instead running this years campaign as an independent candidate.

My apologies to the faithful readers of podunk for the oversight, in the scheme of things tis not the end of the world, but hey one should try and get the facts straight from time to time. We shall endeavors to follow the Nader juggernaut with more dedication, and shall watch for signs of life in Mr. Cobb Green Party candidacy. Though judging by the press accounts their campaign is for the dust bin.

The week of essentials

Well it would be nice if we were all Greek today, since they seem to have some kind of party thing happening eh! Souvlaki for everyone and don't forget the Ouzo. While the Greeks celebrate their domination of European Football, the rest of us can look back at a week of essential links.

29-Jun-04 Handing off
29-Jun-04 Inconceivable
29-Jun-04 One call you'll never get
29-Jun-04 Her majesties expense
29-Jun-04 Trickle down economics
30-Jun-04 Minority man
30-Jun-04 The Dirty Dozen of Iraq
30-Jun-04 No writers block at Hogwarts
30-Jun-04 Bureaucracy rears its ugly head
30-Jun-04 The next flashpoint
1-Jul-04 Speaking Canuck, making the dictionary
1-Jul-04 A 550,000 dollar nipple
1-Jul-04 The Ralph show opens in Edmonton
1-Jul-04 Downloaders win another battle
1-Jul-04 The Dark side of Ralph Nader
2-Jul-04 Playing the Lottery with your computer
2-Jul-04 Finding the right mix
2-Jul-04 Saddam's show trial
2-Jul-04 A mule named Sheila Ann
2-Jul-04 On the march for rights
3-Jul-04 He was the contender, He was a somebody
3-Jul-04 Deducting from her assets
3-Jul-04 And for my next number
3-Jul-04 The candidate from spam
3-Jul-04 Martin must make nice with the West
4-Jul-04 Some disgruntled Liberals put Martin on "probation"
4-Jul-04 Iraqi militants claim another beheading
4-Jul-04 The downfall of the rich, "the love of a woman"
4-Jul-04 The path for Canada's Minority government
4-Jul-04 Public enemy number 1 in Iraq
5-Jul-04 Hellas!
5-Jul-04 I hear a train a comin'
5-Jul-04 US Marine may still be alive!
5-Jul-04 It wasn't the in flight snacks?
5-Jul-04 All in the name of science, towards a pain free hangover

Saturday, July 03, 2004

An electoral post mortem

The ballots have for the most part been counted, the pundits have written, the talking heads spoken. All that's left is for the backroom handlers to try and figure where they went right and more importantly where they went wrong. Below some links to the state of the political nation after judgement day!

June 29-Separtists in good cheer
June 29-Hold onto your wallet
June 29-Fortress Ontario
June 29-Prediction of Grit demise off the mark
June 29-Ontario barred the door
June 29-A campaign of fear and loathing
June 29-The East is red
June 29-The greens pass the test
June 29-Thinking about his options
June 29-Voter participation level drops
June 29-Tory hopes dashed
June 29-Duceppe strenghtens grip on Quebec
June 29-NDP comes close
June 29-Martin gets a message
June 29-Atlantic provinces stay Liberal
June 29-Libs lose ground in Quebec
June 29-Ontario stays the course
June 29-Tories dominate the west
June 29-Greens pick up some green stuff
June 29-The land of Saint Tommy shut the door
June 29-What's wrong with those easterners
June 30-Western voices in anger
June 30-Cool to the right of centre
June 30-Do a Tony
June 30-Who has his hand out?
June 30-A fight for survival
June 30-Liar, Liar, Liar
June 30-The Beatiful victory
June 30-The one that got away
June 30-House on the edge
June 30-We'll work hard to make it work
June 30-Harper needs time to think
June 30-Liberals owe the cities
June 30-Kreskin called the election
June 30-Of fear and hidden agendas

June 30-Putting it all into proportions
June 30-Cadman's the one to watch
June 30-A sea of red in Toronto

July 1-Martin's dilemma
July 1-Ruling out a coalition
July 1-Vote gives the provinces a stronger hand
July 1-Blame Ralph
July 1-Finding a speaker job number 1
July 1-Harper should stay
July 2-Martin must make nice with the West
July 3 - Some Disgruntled Liberals put Martin on "probation"
July 3 - The path for Canada's Minority Government?

Friday, July 02, 2004

In praise of Canada

One day after our 137th birthday we scour the newspapers for reports on all that is Canadian. We find that across this fine land, even in those parts still bitter about the most recent electoral count, things began to return to normalcy.

Never an overwhelming spectacle the day dedicated to Canada is spent much like it was in Podunk, with a gathering at your local park. It’s a simple event, not overly organized, cobbled together with a spirit of shared celebration. There’s a band, a few singers, some cake, a flag or two for the kids, some games and lots and lots of food. We cautiously sing or in most cases mouth the words to O Canada, some politician or another will make a speech, generally listened to by few, for this is really not a day of politics, but rather one of goodwill. From East to West, North to South we gathered, some will have reflected on their good fortune for the nation they live in, others would just be glad to have the day off from work.

The day will have ended in many places with the spectacle of fireworks, always an eye opening celebration that brings the day to a conclusion. Somewhere along the way you may have waved a flag, sang a song or just people watched. Wherever you were the Diaspora that is Canada would be in front of you, for the most part we carry on, warts and worries, concerns and glories. We did it today, and God willing we’ll share it again in 365 days.

The beauty of this land is that the differences, while sometimes exasperatingly clear, never seem to detract from the genius of the whole. The following links lead you to some of the things that make Canada a great land, if in doubt check around this troubled world and try to find a place you would rather live in. Don't take too much time, there's none to be found. We may complain, express indignation and occasionally throw our hands up in frustration, but it’s an intoxicating mix this land provides, drink it up and enjoy.

The bond that ties this land
The man on the hill attends a party
Celebrating a great nation
Waving the flag
Our adolescent years
The key is to know each other
A place for Haligonians to gather
A double celebration
Get out and see something
Eat to your way across Canada
Test your Canadiana
Do well on that one, take another!
Take a tour of Canada Day festivities
Can't get to the hill, check it out here
It's Canadian to be Hip!
The Sultan says hello
Peggers know how to party
Face painting and flags
The tapestry we call home
Parades and Packing
Canada Day with the Aussies
Canada from the cottage
A newcomers view
Salmon fest at Steveston
Taking time to give thought to those who gave us our freedom

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Pundits unleashed 007: Election post mortem edition.

With Paul Martin waiting for the final, final results to come in, he and his advisors begin the task of putting together a cabinet reflecting the new reality of Liberalism. Some of his old hands have been given early retirement, some of his hand picked wannabes aren’t going to be and then there’s the Jack Factor! Keeping Smilin’ Jack and his merry men and women happy is going to be a key for the Martinites in their quest for a stable governing experience. While we wait for puffs of white smoke from 24 Sussex the pundits are keeping busy studying the entrails of election night.

Anger management is going to be a key in the Canada of today, Roy MacGregor of the Globe listening to the rumblings of disappointed westerners many of whom seem ready to follow the lead of Quebecers and vote in a party determined to lead the West out. His counterpart Jeffrey Simpson explores the repudiation of the right of centre, a result on Monday that as Simpson described was perfect for an angry electorate. With every party not getting exactly what they wanted, Canadians united in their own form of proportional representation.

John Ibbitson offers up a bit of advice for Stephen Harper as he contemplates his political future. Ibbitson suggests that Stephen do a Tony, as in Tony Blair. Purging the radicals of the Conservative movement will be the key for the leader if he hopes to win the all important urban areas. The advice while valid in content is a hard sell considering Blair’s current popularity. Then again judging by the results perhaps a chat between Tony and Steve would serve both nicely.

Who has his hand out after the votes have been counted? Why its Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty, with the Liberal campaign saved by the voters of Metro Toronto McGuinty will be looking for rewards from the Prime Minister. The Globe’s Murray Campbell examines what Martin owes McGuinty and how payment may be made.

Chantal Hebert at the Star tells us its all about survival now, the party leaders need time to digest the results and make the adjustments for the next round. Paul Martin will need to pursue legislation that will not attract the guns of the opposition parties, survival of his government depends on keeping everybody relatively content for the short term. And for two of the four leaders the next months will go a long way to determining their survival as party leaders. The Liberals not used to these near death experiences will be keeping an eye on their leader, while the newly amalgamated Conservatives have a bit of housekeeping to take care of, as Hebert points out in most cases it was old Alliance members that caused Harper his most trouble in this campaign, his survival as leader will depend on his ability to show that the far right wing is not the dominant force in his party.

Richard Gwyn calls us liars! Yes we apparently fibbed, to the pollsters, the open line shows, the local pulse takers from the parties and even to ourselves. When he’s not recounting our mistruths he takes time to examine the two main parties and where they’re going. The results of Monday putting the Liberals back into the era of Trudeau, this coalition of Liberal voters the replica of Trudeau’s meshing of urban and socially active Canadians in the seventies. For the Conservatives Gwyn says think Stanfield and Clark, the only hope that they have in retaking some of the centre which they lost badly on Monday.

Miro Cernetig and Graham Fraser in Quebec followed the Bloc’s happy gathering Monday night. Separatism is alive and well with the Bloc supporters dreaming once again of the battle of all battles finally going there way. All that stands in their way is the provincial government in Quebec City. Until the Parti Quebecois get back into power there will be no referendum. And should the separatist party find electoral success in three years time, Cernetig says that they may have on Gilles Duceppe leading the battle for independence. Fraser spent time reading the tea leaves for the federalist parties in Quebec, he mentioned the name of Bernard Lord in his article. The New Brunswick premier has seen his stock rise in the last 48 hours, for a breakthrough in the east he may be the right guy at the right time, but one wonders what that would do the party in the West?

Greg Weston of the Sun papers examines the one that got away; an election that the Conservatives believed was theirs for the taking. Weston examines the fall out from the disappointing returns and suggests that if there is to be a change of fortunes they may need a change of leader. He also has some words of advice for us all, take two aspirins and hold on to our wallets!

And how will our next Parliament function, Dean of the Hill Douglas Fisher takes us for a stroll through the upcoming days of legislation. Like the ghost of Christmas future Fisher rattles his chains and points out the highlights and low points ahead. Fisher says he expects an edgy place during the next term, a livelier place than the past few years and most importantly a well attended forum, if we’re paying our MP’s for the amount of time they spend in the House, we may finally get our money’s worth for a change.