Thursday, September 30, 2004

Nos Amours are No more

Major league baseball performed euthanasia on the Montreal Expos Wednesday, confirming that the franchise will be relocated to Washington D. C. for the 2005 baseball season. With the deed done, 36 years of history and memories will come to a rather inglorious close.

There are many culprits in this horrid story, neglect by previous owners, indifference by a terribly run league and resignation by its fans all contributed to this final day, which had been expected for many years. Yes, it is true that a professional sports franchise surely cannot survive with only 4 to 5 thousand fans in a building, little or no media exposure and a marketing program that has no takers. But how did they get to here from there?

In 1969, Nos Amours as the Expos were known as in Montreal, were the talk of the town. They played in a tiny aluminum bleacher park called Jarry Park, located in the heart of a working class neighbourhood a fitting place for a decidedly working man kind of team. Night after night the place was rocking, I had the chance to take in more than a few games at Parc Jarry, when my Dad would take the two hour drive down to Montreal on a Saturday or Sunday, we’d get there early around 11 or so, find a place to park near the ball park and grab a bite to eat at some little restaurant. Around the noon hour we would then hike up to Jarry and take in the batting practice before an afternoon game.

The place was alive with chatter, new fans to baseball would trade quips with the age old veterans who had followed the Royals a for years in the minors. They will tell you today that Montreal didn’t know baseball, but I disagree the Montreal I went to knew its baseball. The names still bounce around in my head those first few years, John Bocc-a-bella, Le Grande Orange Rusty Staub, Mack Jones ( I loved sitting in Jonesville waiting for a toss of home run denied by Mack). They may not have won very much in those early years but there can be no doubt that Les Expos were the pride of the city, finally stepping up to the Big time.

Jarry Park was only a temporary stage, the Big Owe would be the place to call home. And for a while it worked fine, while there are only 5000 on a good night now, back then 40-50,000 fanatics would take the Metro to the far east end and follow their love. The Big O while a nice big stadium, didn’t have the same intimacy of Parc Jarry, but this was the seventies everything bigger was better, and you know while the team was a winner, while they didn’t sell off their players the fans went there too!

They never won a World Series though they came oh so close, I was in Montreal for game two of the series between the Dodgers and the Expos, a win if I remember correctly, far up on the third base side in a jam packed Big O, I cheered on my team and its step towards destiny. One of those special sporting moments you never forget.

Eventually things returned to Montreal for a game five showdown, as the ninth inning , moved along Steve Rogers gave up a two run homer to Rick Monday on a Blue Monday in October, ending the Expos dream of a shot at the World Series. Oh so close, yet so far, far away now! To this day baseball fans (and they’re still there in Montreal despite the opinion of Bud Selig) wonder why the Expos would turn the pivotal moment in a game over to a starter, instead of trusting the bull pen. Like many I was watching that heart breaking game on television, hoping against hope that the Expos would come back. Alas the ending not quite what we had hoped, the Dodgers forever earning my hatred by eliminating my team, denying it the destiny we all thought was ours. Dawson, Carter, yes even Rogers (we’ve long since forgiven the two run homer), long suffering and in our eyes deserving heroes, left to ponder what could have been.

Yet the fans continued to care about this team, though baseball strikes and tight fisted owners would eventually wear them down. The final blow was that strike of 1994, the Expos running away with the East would never get to put a powerful line-up into action in a NLCS or a World Series. The labour disruption which resulted in the cancellation of the World Series would spell the end of baseball in Montreal. The team may officially be dead today, but it long since expired on that black day for baseball in 94.

When the game returned to the field, the players on the Expos would find themselves in different uniforms, management having decided the new reality of baseball meant dealing away the heart of the team. The term fire sale became part of the Expo lexicon. Larry Walker would leave Canada for the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, a marketing dream for what used to be Canada’s Team now sent south like a side of beef, back when beef was allowed across the border.

The inevitable followed, fans frustrated with a game that showed them no respect, returned the favour. A few more half hearted tries at building a downtown stadium would be launched and then abandoned. Our final act in this miserable play, involves a carpet bagging owner that parlayed the Expos into a Miami franchise, taking most everything but the seats with him as he crossed the line. Leaving the Expos in the care of Major League baseball’s owners, if the Expos were a child someone would have phoned Family Services, for this was a near a case of child abandonment as you’ll ever find.

They struggled on for a few more years becoming a travelling side show, half the season on the road, the other half spent split between “home” in Puerto Rico and the other home the “true home” of Montreal. The announcement today handled with all the pomp and ceremony of a boarding call at the airport, which considering the recent history of this team seems almost appropriate.

Insult of all insults, they finish off their history in Montreal against the Florida Marlins, owned by Jeffrey Loria, the above mentioned schemer who ran one team into the ground so as to pick up another.

With the clock ticking down on the franchise the 30,000 fans who attended this wake began to make their feelings known. The game was disrupted a few times due to fan misbehaviour but overall, things remained calm as Florida finished off the Expos with a 9-1 victory. A quick Shower, hit the bus turn and out the lights, the era is over.

The Expos players now move on to a road trip and then re-location. They will move the team that once was the pride of Canada to Washington DC. A city that twice has had a major league franchise only to lose it both times. Think three times is the charm? Not the way Baseball runs its shop, how long before the Whatever's start to make noise about moving on again? If Montreal is a “bad” baseball city, one wonders just what special affinity Washington has with the game. Hello Minnesota, Hello Texas does anyone remember your team for its Washington roots? For those above the 49th there will be no great attachment to the DC Whatever’s. Like the Nordiques and Jets of hockey who also left for the south, the DC franchise will find little interest from fans up north.

They move the Expos to DC without an owner, a decrepit stadium and a possible confrontation with the owner of the Baltimore Orioles. While we wish the players well, a curse upon Bud Selig and his band of corporate weasels, may they continue to find nothing but troubles in what was once a worth while sport to watch.

Perhaps the two sides in the current hockey showdown can take a look at how Baseball never recovered from its 1994 labour dispute. Gary Bettman should need no further studies on how a disruption can have long term repercussions on the sport. For those that claim Montreal was not a baseball town, remember this, when the team was competitive and the game worth watching the Big O was a place to be, filled with patrons in love with their team. Sadly that relationship never recovered from the incompetence of the sports power brokers.

The heavy thinkers in the NHL and the NHLPA should take note, they may have seen a vision of their future, and its name was Nos Amours, Les Expos!

Thanks for the memories, there were far too many to count. There are baseball fans in Canada, bet on that Bud, but fans of Major League Baseball? There may not be near as many as there were a few weeks let alone years ago. But then Major League Baseball never really cared about its fans eh Bud, its all about greed. And frankly that’s a game we can do without. Paging Messrs. Bettman and Goodenow, anybody listening?

Sunday, September 26, 2004

The week of essentials September 21-26

More than one way to ground a Cat!
An anchorman who maybe shouldn't have said that!
The rich get richer, the fish numbers poorer.
Seven days went by again, here's the replay on demand!

21-Sep-04 Danny's mea culpa
21-Sep-04 The Cheshire cat
21-Sep-04 Michael Moore boosts the forces of Kerry
21-Sep-04 Where have all the fishies gone
21-Sep-04 Waiting on the Kabul precinct numbers with Dennis
22-Sep-04 Location, Location, Location
22-Sep-04 Peace plane is flying, fly on the peace plane
22-Sep-04 Scapegoat, thy name shall be Mary!
22-Sep-04 That's where all the fishies went!
22-Sep-04 But Chief! they did it on Backdraft!
23-Sep-04 Uncle Paul lays down the law!
23-Sep-04 A most expensive breast
23-Sep-04 Batman in London, Spiderman in Paris, Where's the Green hornet?
23-Sep-04 Explaining Dan
23-Sep-04 That thing got a hemi in it?
24-Sep-04 Look up in the sky, it's a plane, it's a missile, it's a policy!
24-Sep-04 Stand by your man
24-Sep-04 The Rich, just get richer and more numerous
24-Sep-04 Rested! Ready! Running!
24-Sep-04 Baby you can drive my car, but you pay the taxes!
25-Sep-04 Randy and Neil clear the air
25-Sep-04 All's well says Big Paul
25-Sep-04 Never mind the fish! Where did the dollars go?
25-Sep-04 Dean Wormer would not be amused
25-Sep-04 Then stop acting crazy!
26-Sep-04 Planning for the Spring election
26-Sep-04 From the guys that gave us NOOOOOClear
26-Sep-04 It's as easy as ABC
26-Sep-04 When the agent and the homeowner are in perfect synch
26-Sep-04 To dream the impossible dream
27-Sep-04 Payday!
27-Sep-04 Live near a pulp mill? Prepare for tough times!
27-Sep-04 Keeping tabs on Danny
27-Sep-04 If we had our choice, neither would be just fine!
27-Sep-04 We gotta get out of this place

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Whatever happened to.....

Anybody notice that the "new" Iraqi flag hasn't been seen since the day it was unfurled!

In every public appearance or special event the commonly accepted flag, which was used prior to the events of the last year has been used. As it should be, since the people of Iraq should have been given the option of picking a new flag, not a bunch of bureacrats! While there may have been many proper reasons for a change, the way it was handled pretty well guaranteed failure from the day it was first displayed.

Controversial from the get go, the "new" flag never seemed to gain widespread acceptance and in fact only served to further complicate the task at hand. Instead of providing some semblance of normalcy to a decidedly troubled country, the new flag only seemed to stir up emotions even further. The colours had no resonance with the people and conspiracry theories were a hard currency when it was first introduced to a less than overwhelmed populace. The kiss of death no doubt a slight similarity to the flag of Israel.

Like the days of the "new" coke, the "new" flag has just disappeared.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

As seen on Jay Leno

Leno was in fine form on Thursday night, his monologue hit all the right points.

Best hits

"Big special on NBC: Cat Stevens at Guantanamo Bay"

"It's bad enough that the two candidates are stuck in the seventies, but Homeland Security definitely stuck there as well looking out for Foghat and Air supply as we speak!

"John Kerry's doctors have advised him to rest his voice: only take one position on a given point!"

And a great bit on President Bush asking "if anyone from CBS was at his press conference", a situation that was then rectified by the Secret Service.

Check out the website for more entertainment.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Training camp Opens!

For those already suffering Hockey withdrawal the CBC offers up a little diversion for the winter. Starting tonight the “docu-drama” (also known as a reality series for the less highbrow CBC viewers) Making the Cut debuts tonight with a two hour opener, at 8 pm local time on your CBC affiliate across the land, 8:30 in Newfoundland as Bob Cole would say!

Scotty Bowman and Mike Keenan have their whistles at the ready, the drills set up and their cutting remarks prepared just waiting for the fresh legs to hit the ice. For the next thirteen weeks we’ll follow a band of wanna be’s trying to work their way towards an invitation to an NHL training camp (whenever that may take place again).

When the CBC first came up with the idea it was thought it would make for a nice little story tied in with the NHL season. Now it may actually be the season. It might make for an interesting bargaining chip should negotiations between the players and the league remain in the deep freeze.

Should these guys actually show some talent, maybe the CBC can put together a league of guys that made the cut! Find enough guys to fill out six teams (the Canadian cities!) and we can call it the Original Six! With six hours of Hockey Night in Canada time to fill on Saturdays, who’s to say that expanding on this idea might not work. Really if Survivor and its like can reach the top of the ratings, who doesn’t think that a hockey starved public won’t follow suit.

An even more radical idea might be to challenge for the Stanley Cup, since it was originally designed as a challenge trophy" it just might be available after the thirteen week run.

Move the final players from the cold neighbourhood rinks of their past and into our temples of hockey across the land. If they make it, maybe we just might come!

The above post first appeared in my HockeyNation blog, for more items about Canada's game check it out!

Putting the PAY into Strike Pay!

Well this could explain why the negotiations between the government and its public servants have dragged on and on with seemingly no light at the end of the table. It seems due to a “computer” glitch; those pounding the payment are pounding it all the way to the bank! No wonder the rank and file are jumping at the chance to hit the bricks!

Greg Weston reports in the Tuesday Sun papers that our public servants have discovered the best of both worlds, exercising their collective bargaining rights while at the same collecting a full pay cheque. Not bad work if you can find it, avoid it or not even report for it!

As Weston says, “in a situation that could only happen in government", the public employees who currently are engaging in rotating strikes, are finding that there’s not a lot of sacrifice involved when you walk a picket line. In fact when you add in the strike pay provided by the union, the workers on the line are actually coming out further ahead, solidarity forever indeed!

The government officials are tripping over themselves trying to deflect responsibility for the mess, eventually coming up with the “computer glitch” story and that’s what they’re sticking with. By modest calculations each striking worker has been paid 200 dollars a day for their days of inaction, a situation that has been carrying on for the last six weeks! We’ll leave the fancy mathematical work to you dear Boondoggle reader, but be prepared to give your abacus a work out. Considering the Government officials don’t seem to know from day to day how many of their employees are out on strike, the total cost could be anyone’s guess.

Government officials have stated they have begun the process of “recovering” the “un-earned salary from their workforce, but they plan on doing it in a gradual basis. Apparently just taking a lump sum of monies owed by the workers from their next "earned" paycheque is not a proper way of handling this problem. It seems something that simplistic is not the way to go in Government circles. Instead it will take a battalion of non striking accounting clerks and supervisors to determine where the money went and who received it, and when they might feel like paying it back.

Certainly it makes for gentler, more understanding form of monetary recovery for our civil servants. Of course the Government isn’t quite that understanding of the tax payer on the 30th of April now is it?

The above post first appeared in my Boondoggle blog, for more items about Government spending (and occassional collecting!) check things out.

Black Eye at Black Rock!

Oh Danny Boy, the pipes they are a piping,
From net to net, they all do tell the tale.
The ratings they are gone now boyo and your credibility it is dying,
Oh Danny boy, can you ever read the news again!

Dan Rather’s week of hell came to an inglorious end Monday, when the CBS anchor took to his desk to issue a corporate and personal mea culpa. Having rushed onto air a story over President Bush’s National Guard service, the long time CBS icon was forced to recant part of his story due to “sourcing” troubles.

Rather admitting that his main source on the story lied to him resulting in CBS presenting a story not fully researched nor authenticated for truth. Rather then went on to say that CBS regretted airing the story.

With that Rather became the bloodied whale in the media ocean as pundits, politicians, late night comedians (including CBS’ own David Letterman) and other news services circled the carcass smelling blood.

Monday, September 20th will be one of those watershed days for CBS news, the day when it’s credibility as a major news gathering service was called into question. Allowed to be misled by a questionable source, the credibility of what was considered one of the best news services in the business is on the line.

The reaction by its media competitors has been swift and merciless. The controversy first came to light when a number of Bloggers (no doubt Republican) brought to light some glaring errors in the Rather piece. It was suggested that a simple examination of 70’s era typewriters may have killed this story long before air time. Something one would think a multi million dollar news service might have checked into. Another alarm bell involving faxes from a Kinko’s, which many screamed were questionable, didn’t ring any alarm bells on the smell o’ meter at CBS, and now the smell is sticking to their prime talent.

All major news services tackled the Rather controversy with CNN and Fox putting Rather through the wringer with their examination of the story. With his past run ins with the previous President Bush, Republicans have long been quick to suggest that Rather has a vendetta against the Bush family. Many have been calling for his head, feasting on the discomfort presently lingering around Black Rock. Anyone ever treated to a withering interview with Rather and his CBS compatriots is now suggesting that research is a long lost thought at the network.

His sloppy handling of this story has not aided his bid to appear as an objective reporter; instead with the rush to get the story to air it appears to be seen trying to capitalize on the current focus on the Bush rumours making the rounds. In fact as the story as reported by Rather was unravelling last week, Rather instead of double checking his facts went on the offensive, demanding that the President answer the questions. Which would be a legitimate purpose of a new gathering service, if only it were sure of it’s questions in the first place.

With the mess Rather finds himself in at the moment the ironic thing is that instead of putting a sitting President on the hot seat, the story has the ring of a hatchet job by a Democrat insider which should only go on to help Bush’s image. Even better for the Bush family, the apology by Rather on a story supposedly researched by a crack news team, will help deflect that other major bit of Bush whacking out there, the Kitty Kelley book: The Family.

You wonder just how many Americans will look at her book a little differently now. If Dan Rather can be hoodwinked on such an important story as this, then just how much credibility should one attach to the epic tome from Ms. Kelley. For the Bush’s the negative press from the last week suddenly gets a pass. More importantly the spin from the Republican party is going to be fierce now about any negative story. With such a massive breakdown in journalistic principles Rather and CBS may have inadvertently given the Bush forces a giant get out of trouble free card.

Rather than be annoyed at Danny, perhaps an invitation out to the Crawford ranch might be in order. His story has gone a long way, to possibly burying forever the National Guard mystery surrounding Bush. How many other news agencies are going to be willing to tackle that story now, lest they be compared to CBS or Kitty Kelley?

Even worse for Rather and his network, there will be a parallel drawn between the two controversies. Is CBS News apparently willing to use the same researching skills as an author know for her less than flattering character examinations? Is Rather the victim of a witch hunt? Or are there some serious problems that need to be addressed at CBS News?

It will be interesting to see if the CBS piece brings down the career of a news anchor instead of a President!

Monday, September 20, 2004

The week of essentials Sept 14-20

A Hurrincane named Ivan and writer named Kitty,
both of whom made us say what a pity.
Bono found his way back to the studio and Brittney down an aisle.
The PM had a case of potty mouth and Martha wants to go to the big house.

The week in review, in our essentials for you.

14-Sep-04 Type-phoon Kitty comes ashore Tuesday
14-Sep-04 Now he's an ink stained wretch
14-Sep-04 It appears that Mississippi is the place you don't wanna be
14-Sep-04 In order to save money, we have to spend money?
14-Sep-04 Chicks and cars and the television show
15-Sep-04 Mayor Drapeau's spirit lives on
15-Sep-04 You too can pick up your own little out of the way town
15-Sep-04 John Kerry's bad day, Ralphie Nader's on his way
15-Sep-04 With the conventions over, Bono finds his way to the studio
15-Sep-04 Paul Martin's potty mouth
16-Sep-04 Public speaking advice from Mario Cuomo
16-Sep-04 They ran through the House like a Fox on the run
16-Sep-04 Martha wants her medicine
16-Sep-04 Winter is going to get an awful lot longer now
16-Sep-04 A drink to your health
17-Sep-04 Paul's last day at the filling station
17-Sep-04 Putin puts the breaks on democracy
17-Sep-04 Christy's had enough: from one daycare to another
17-Sep-04 The top ten reasons that he still has a chance
17-Sep-04 Taking television to a new low?
18-Sep-04 Nader's in the race in Florida
18-Sep-04 Virtually Kerry
18-Sep-04 Going back to school can make you sick
18-Sep-04 Child stars gone wrong
18-Sep-04 Rumours of his demise were greatly exaggerated
19-Sep-04 Seymour Hersh and the war the media missed
19-Sep-04 The mayors want their share
19-Sep-04 Ladies and Gentelmen start your lederhosen
19-Sep-04 Arnie terminates a minimum wage increase
19-Sep-04 We’re fatter than we thought
20-Sep-04 Angels, Devils and the Disappeared
20-Sep-04 The artful dodgers?
20-Sep-04 Palimony producer passes on
20-Sep-04 Talk, talk and more talk, Kerry and Bush set date for debates!
20-Sep-04 Ooops she's done it again

Friday, September 17, 2004

George W exposed!

Fed up with the unsubstantiated hero worship attached to the George W brand, some veterans have finally said enough is enough.

With a well thought out website, these brave vets have finally put to rest the military record of George W. Hero or zero, you do the reading and decide.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

The Bush's unbound

George W. Bush man of letters, George W. Bush movie reviewer, George W. Bush comedian. George W. Bush unbound!

Everything George is here for our examination, as the folks at Slate save us the
C$ 27.97 needed to purchase Kitty Kelley's The Family: the real story of the Bush Dynasty.

Slate take the highlights (or lowlights depending on who is doing the reading) of Ms. Kelley's latest efforts in celebrolism (i made that word up, so should it take off all credit to moi, svp) and list them one after another like a Cole's notes primer. (Dubya for Dummies Maybe?)

Papa Bush and Grand Poppy Bush have their fair share of exploits recounted in capsule form as well. As do Mama Bush whose many familial pet names are revealed for us. Ah yes the Bush's up close, bawdy and crude.

A must read for fellow celebrities as the likes of Henry Kissinger, Dan Rather and Vladimir Putin will find their ears burning from the pages of the Family. Papa and Mama Bush and all the kiddies have an opinion on everything and everyone. From Paula Zahn's legs to Bill Clinton's uh, reproductive plumbing everything is up for discussion around the Bushs' dinner table. Take in one rowdy tale after another, as those Crazy Bushies tell it like they see it.

Slate brings us up to speed and puts us in the know. And best of all nobody will see us leafing through the book.

A most unwanted day finally arrives

Perhaps it’s fitting that the image projected by Gary Bettman Wednesday was that of an undertaker. Bettman who always gives one the impression of being the guy at the funeral home handing out the programs; lay to rest the hopes and dreams of hockey fans across Canada and some parts of the USA today.

At 2:30 pm New York time, he put on his most serious face, intoned in a sorrowful tone that it was his “sombre duty to report that NHL teams will not play at the expiration of the CBA until we have a new system which fixes the economic problems facing our game,"

And with that, he opened up the floor to questions and spent over an hour basically blaming the players and their spiritual leader Bob Goodenow for all that ails the sport today. Claiming that the union is in denial, Bettman rehashed the various arguments made of late about massive club losses, while salaries have skyrocketed out of sight.

Basically drawing a line in the ice, Bettman said the league would effectively be closed down until the owners have a system in place that will fix the problems with their game.

The announcement was covered by all three sports networks in Canada as well as the CBC Newsworld and CTV Newsnet news channels. All of the sports networks featured a panel to examine the announcement, suggesting that the declaration meant that hockey fans in North America will be without the NHL for quite a while. And when it comes back it may not resemble the game we remembered last spring and celebrated Tuesday night.

Bob Goodenow followed the Bettman performance with his own announcement, expressing disappointment at the turn of events, and blaming intransigent owners for all the problems. Claiming the union has made many proposals that should have avoided the scenario played out on Wednesday.

With these two sides so far apart, one tends to believe those who feel this is going to be a long, nasty and eventually bitter disruption, with no winners and losers all around. If the feedback from day one of the dispute is any indication, so far its advantage Bettman, Canadian fans siding with the League's position in a poll taken by Ipsos-Reid. As long as the League feels the public understands its stand, don't expect them to back down, or give in on their main point of cost certainty.

As the two sides hurled themselves towards today’s version of Hockey Armageddon, there have been numerous articles pointing out just how much peril the game has been in over the last few years.

Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe has put together a story on how the game in the US won’t be “fixed” until the CBA issue is taken care of. Considered a peripheral sport in all but the most rabid American hockey cities, Dupont suggests that with the number of distractions for the American hockey fan such as the NFL season and the baseball playoffs, many Americans may not even notice that hockey is missing until a two week window in February. Give up any thoughts of public pressure becoming a force to get these two sides back to the table.

The Christian Science Monitor examines the financial implications of the labour dispute, but not how it affects the teams or the players. Rather The Monitor looks at how the bar owners, hotel keepers and television networks will suffer with hockey banished for the foreseeable future.

Adrian Dater of the Denver Post compares the two sides to Rush Limbaugh and James Carville in a room together, magnifying their bluster and bravado by tenfold. That says Dater is the atmosphere in which the NHL and the NHLPA approach the labour issue. And he’s probably not too far off the mark, the last week prior to this black day has been filled with vitriolic rhetoric, basically setting up entrenched positions from which there apparently is now no middle ground.

Newsday from New York wraps up our little tour of bad news, featuring Alan Hahn with a well researched article on the ailments of the NHL. Hahn traces the troubled television deals of Fox, ABC and ESPN in the US, the expansion program put forward by Gary Bettman that brought the NHL to the likes of Nashville, Atlanta and Anaheim, as well as allowing relocation to Carolina. Those are all areas now where the teams are suffering terribly at the gate and in the case of Nashville, Atlanta and Anaheim the owners are desperately trying to unload their teams. It paints a picture of a league in a terrible amount of trouble, much of it self inflicted. With a situation in place now, where they have nothing to lose by keeping the league’s thirty rinks dark, the prospect of a quick resolution to this mess is slim.

Watch the TV replays of that sombre announcement, Mr. Bettman’s words and body language certainly seemed funeral like. All that was missing was the soft organ music playing underneath, the quiet crowd gathered murmuring in respect. We all have nice things to say about the recently departed.

“It was such a nice game, always so much fun to be around. It passed on far too soon. It’s so sad that nobody could step in before it was too late.”

And then the undertaker leaves the room, a sense of finality settles in, for a game that may have changed forever today.

The above posting first appeared in my HockeyNation blog, for more items on Canada's national sports of hockey and labour disputes, check it out.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

A pint for your health

Ah, tis a wonderful world after all, this will go down as welcome news for those carb counting, health conscious folk. A beer a day could help keep the doctor away!

Those hard working researchers at the University of Western Ontario have come up with the good news that a beer, one single bottle of your favourite ale or stout, is just as helpful to your health as the previously saluted Red wine.

It seems one glass of the golden nectar contains the same amount of antioxidants as a glass of red. It’s a discovery that has surprised those conducting the survey. “We were very surprised one drink of beer or stout contributed an equal amount of antioxidant benefit as wine, especially since red wine contains about 20 times the amount of polyphenols as beer.”

Polyphenols are apparently one of natures little wonder workers that prevent the oxidization of the blood, a helpful thing in combating aging diseases, cancer, diabetes and cataracts.

However, for those that think loading up on the brews will lead to a lengthy and healthy life, think again. It seems as soon as we pop that third beer the good deeds are for naught. In fact once you pass the third drink per day you actually run the risk of bringing on all those diseases that the first beer was fighting off.

Maybe it’s true, too much of a good thing just might kill you.

Brian Burke's plan of action

The CBC put Brian Burke to work yesterday as an arbitrator, giving him the task of providing a blue print for the owners and players to consider before they lock the doors later today.

It consists of 15 different points, dealing with length of a contract, money issues and joint respect. Having been involved in both sides of the NHL dynamic, as a player agent and a GM/President, Burke probably has as much knowledge on the issues facing the league as any talking head or fast writing scribbler/blogger.

His call for a 72 game season would certainly come as welcome relief to players and fans, since the current schedule set up drags the season on far too long. This makes for many nights of meaningless, going through the motions hockey. Of course the owners are probably not too thrilled with losing out on six or so home dates, especially in a gate driven league. But at least it’s a starting point for discussion.

But judging by the “negotiating” session the network organized last night that’s a lost cause for now. The two participants. Ted Saskin for the union and Bill Daly for the owners, were seen on different screens, kind of like a satellite hot stove set up, the only problem was they were both in the same hockey rink at the same time. If things have come to the point that the two sides won’t even talk to each other face to face, then Hockey fans we’re in for a lengthy shut down.

For those that missed out on the second intermission of last night’s hockey game, here’s the Burke proposal. Take your time crunching the numbers, with an expected lock out announcement at 2:30 PM (est) 11:30 AM (pst) this afternoon, time is all we have now, time is all we have.

The above posting first appeared in my HockeyNation blog, for more items involving hockey (and apparently labour relations) check things out.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Shane Doan's Finn-ishing touch

After 52 seconds of Tuesday night’s Championship game at the World Cup of Hockey it looked like any Finn who had stayed up late to watch the game could go back to bed. The same could be said for those early rising Finns, who pulled themselves out of bed at 1 am Helsinki time, hoping to start their day with a World Championship performance from their side.

For at the Fifty two second mark, it appeared that Canada had come to the rink determined to run their Finnish guests right out through the end boards. Mario Lemieux put an eye of the needle type of pass onto the stick of Joe Sakic, who quickly deposited the puck behind Miika Kiprusoff, the goal counting as Sakic’s fourth goal of the series, this one on the first shot of the Championship game.

However, loyalty should be rewarded and for all those Finnish hockey fans who put on the coffee on and stayed up, their heroes came right back and put some pressure on the Canadians. Echoing shades of the game against the Czech Republic, the Finns kept the play hopping in the Canadian end. Martin Brodeur, back in the Canadian nets, held the fort for Canada, while Canada got their attack back into motion. In the first part of this game the Lemieux, Sakic and Iginla line were on fire, wheeling down the ice setting up chances and keeping the Finns occupied in their end. At the five minute mark Kiprusoff saved his team with a point blank save on Mario Lemieux, if that had gone in, perhaps a rout would be on; instead the second chance sent the Finns back down the ice more determined than ever.

With Canada in trouble in their own end, a collision at the blue line left the Finns with a man uncovered in front of Brodeur, a double tip at seven minutes gave Riku Hahl the first Finnish goal and tied the game up, silencing the robust Canadian crowd temporarily.

Using an effective fore-check and a frustrating dump and trap the Finns kept the pressure up as the period wound down, both teams heading for the dressing rooms tied at one. They may have been rattled after the first minute, but they were a rather confident looking lot by the final one of the first period.

Three and half minutes into the second period Kiprusoff let in a rather questionable goal on a long shot by Scott Niedermayer, with the lead the crowd was back in the game and the Canadian bench was a bit more animated. But once again, the Finns battled back as Tuomo Ruutu scored on a beauty of a chance with less than a minute left in the period, once again sending the teams back to the dressing room, this time tied a two and giving the Finns a bit of momentum to face period three.

But momentum was broken with a shot by Shane Doan at thirty four seconds of the third, Doan knocked in a pass from Joe Thornton for what would eventually become the winning goal. From then on, with a 3-2 lead, the Canadians shut down the Finn attack, the Doan, Thornton and Draper line checking the Finns into the boards, knocking them back into their own end time and time again. The Lemieux line as well did its part in a defensive scheme, fore checking the Finns heavily not giving them a chance to really challenge the defence at the Canadian blue line, let alone get near Martin Brodeur. When they did manage to get into the Canadian end, Brodeur was there to close the door. As the game wound down the crowd began the countdown at around two minutes rising to their feet and cheering the victory on home, the added enthusiasm seemed to spur on the Canadians who bottled up the Finns in their own end for the final two minutes of the game.

With the win Canada continues it’s domination in International hockey, a 2002 gold medal from the Olympics, two world championships and now a World Cup to put on the national mantle, a sign that all is well in Canadian hockey.

However, we should take note of the upcoming charge, the Czechs and Finns have shown us that they’re right up there with us now, the Americans will retool, the Russians are young and starting to come on as well, Sweden while a disappointment in this tourney will once again find its way to the top of world hockey. For now we enjoy our victory, celebrating a team that didn’t lose a game in this tournament and won when it had to.

And while we keep an eye on the folks coming up the list, we can take some comfort in the young talent in our talent pool, which it seems is more than up to the challenge ahead. This is nothing but good news for our continuing success at our game.

And for our friends in Finland who stayed up late, we think they’ll agree the game if not the result, was worth all the bleary eyes at the office today. Finland had a terrific tournament, earning the respect of hockey fans everywhere for their never say die commitment. It was an entertaining show, one which shows that hockey when played at a high intensity and with a passionate effort, can truly be one of the world’s great team sports.

The above blog first appeared in my HockeyNation blog, for more articles on hockey check it out.

The Kitty Litter has hit the fan

Type-phoon Kitty arrived in your local bookstore today by way of Kennebunkport, Houston and Washington DC.

The celebrity biography/character reviewer (some would say assassin) took her pen to the Bush Family Dynasty and with her latest book “The Family: the Real Story of the Bush Dynasty.” She laid waste to the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue; while at the same time took on his father a former President, his mother the ever popular Barbara and host of other Bushes major and minor.

With bits and pieces of it being leaked over the last couple weeks, there’s probably not much more to discover between the covers for the 736 pages of this most unflattering portrait, full of telling tales recounted by those that have been associated with or victimized by this particular American political dynasty.

MSNBC published an excerpt from the just released tome and it paints a picture of a vindictive, at times petty family who remember their friends and take care of their enemies. Kelley explores the many advisors and hangers on who have helped to protect the President’s image through the years, suggesting that they have the power to make people disappear or change their opinion in a minute’s instance. Which makes you wonder if true, how long Ms. Kelley’s professional career will continue? Then again they said the same thing when she published her Sinatra expose and she managed to keep all her fingers attached.

In this book, she recounts how George Bush believes he was chosen to be the President of the United States at this time, a sentiment shared by his cadre of insiders and his own mother. However, Papa Bush apparently spent many dumbfounded moments trying to understand how his son became the new saviour of the Republican Party, Papa never expecting his first son to ever amount to anything according to Kelley’s sources.

The MSNBC primer gives us the names of the big money in Texas that funded his run for the leadership of the Party. How George parlayed a 500,000 dollar investment in the Texas Rangers baseball club into a 15 million dollar win fall as Tom Hicks purchased the club in 1998. Hicks, as it turns out, was one of the largest contributors the senior Bush campaign for President. And as that circle went round and round, George would find himself set for life financially.

The lost years of his National Guard service get another go over from Kelley, who spends time examining his days as a pilot who frequently found himself grounded. Considering all the talk over missing documents and conflicting opinions on that issue, one wonders why Ms. Kelley’s sources haven’t offered up their information to all the other investigations into the issue.

Kelley suggests of the current first lady an entrepreneurial streak, having according to one source worked as a retail/wholesaler in the marijuana trade in her college days. The “go to” girl as she’s described in the book, Kelley also recounts the various rumours surrounding the President’s past use of drink and drunk. Accounts of the parties they attended, his adulterous moments and the marital turmoil as a result, also meander their way through the article.
All of which paint a picture of a rather dysfunctional first family in their formative days. An image that is at odds with the perception of America’s clean cut, God fearing family unit presently in place in Republican ads and background pieces.

The irony of a then Governor of Texas with a hard on drugs policy while in office was not lost on the author, as she recounted the many “sources” who listed Bush’s many adventures in that same scene, some seemingly while in office.

As with most of her other works, Sinatra, The Royals and Nancy Reagan to name a few, much of the book seems heavy on innuendo and less so on hard fact. Undisclosed sources remain nameless, a rather handy device when painting a picture steeped in negative images.

With the release of The Family, all the old disreputable questions about the Bush’s will come back to the forefront, joined by new ones about odious issues not previously known. However, one suspects that like the other epic works about Sinatra and the Royal Family, this too will simply titillate and intrigue a public, some of which seems always desperate to hear the dirt on someone in the public eye.

The Royal family never fell after her book and Sinatra’s image never seem too tarnished after Kelley’s poison pen letters, so all in all the Bush’s probably aren’t overly worried about her efforts. In fact, the dirtier things get, more sympathetic leanings could end up being directed to the Bush’s. Unless the secretive sources come out of the shadows and produce their facts and arguments in the light of day, this effort will seem more like one of those tabloid stories that you read for sheer lunacy of it all.

As a biographer of political dynasties, Ms. Kelley is no Ted Sorenson or Doris Kearns. As a purveyor of gossip, innuendo and scandal she’s found her niche. Described by her PR people as "the book the Bush's don't want you to read." It’s up to the reader to determine if there is any fire in all of her smoke, any reflection from all those mirrors!

Though the Bush's can take solace in one thing, according to some reviewers Ms. Kitty was actually a pussy cat as opposed to a tiger, still out there is a "real" tell all biography waiting to be written.

Lord Black bites back

Well he’s up to his waist in alligators, but His Lordship continues to fight back against all enemies foreign and domestic. Conrad Black today launched a 2.1 million dollar lawsuit against Toronto Life magazine, over an article which as his Lordship's lawyers put it “brought him into hatred, ridicule and contempt”.

The Toronto Life article from Robert Mason Lee was titled “A toast to Lord Black and his arrival in Hell”. An accompanying illustration features Black dropping in at Hell and being met by an assortment of ghouls, devils and demons, apparently giving them a collegial thumbs up upon his arrival. For his artistic rendition, illustrator Barry Blitt has been named as a co defendant in the proceedings with Lee.

The Toronto Life website offers no archived articles available for printing, so a trip to your local library might be in order to examine the July 2004 issue for yourself to see if satire has transcended the barrier of litigation.

For those that don’t want to make the trip, check out the voiceprint audio service, they have an audio version of the article on their archive. But best hurry, one suspects that it’s only a matter of time before the lawyers pick up the phone and say that magic “slander”.

For Mason Lee, a guy that's been knocking around Canadian Journalism for a while the attention may actually be beneficial. A number of google searches for him, as well as look sees in Canadian Journalism and in the Literature site Books Canada , Indigo and Amazon for instance, provided little to no background on him a small listing of his work and that was it. Finally through the services of Alta Vista we were able to learn a bit about the man that has annoyed his Lordship. So as the old saying goes, any press is good press as long as they get your name right.

Suddenly a little known article in a regional magazine will become a national story, if Toronto Life is smart; they’ll be ordering a second press run of the July edition. Short of that, a best of issue for year end might make the perfect Christmas gift, well for everyone but his Lordship and his lawyers.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

A week of essentials Sept 7-13

The golfing hero came up just short, the current president won't discuss those past reports. The VP he says they'll be tempting fate, if they make Kerry President of the States. There's one big hole in North Korea and Canada discusses Sharia.

Seven days they've gone by fast, join us now as we live the past.

7-Sep-04 Kerry awakens from his summer slumber
7-Sep-04 The end of the check is in the mail
7-Sep-04 ViJay day
7-Sep-04 Michael Moore has his eye on the prize
7-Sep-04 Maybe Ken just wanted the day off
8-Sep-04 Bush won't take our cows, Kerry refuses our trash
8-Sep-04 Sheila Speaks, as adscam sideshow begins anew
8-Sep-04 George's middlin' marks
8-Sep-04 But can it predict when you'll have that next heart attack
8-Sep-04 Everything Old is New again
9-Sep-04 Message to Paul: take your time on this strike
9-Sep-04 The True North Strong and smelly
9-Sep-04 Sadly for Kerry, getting out that vote won't help!
9-Sep-04 Ivan the Terrible
9-Sep-04 The beer around here? Not likely!
10-Sep-04 Kerry back in play
10-Sep-04 Going where our beef and lumber isn't allowed
10-Sep-04 The Vice President of the Apocalypse
10-Sep-04 And again the world sat back and watched
10-Sep-04 The people's workers want more!
11-Sep-04 Rather sticks to his guns on Bush story
11-Sep-04 Clinton becomes the cardiologists teaching aide
11-Sep-04 Take two aspirins and call your Premier in the morning
11-Sep-04 Shedding the shine from your musical idols
11-Sep-04 Homegrown hero leads Canadian Open
12-Sep-04 Big Bucks for BSE assistance
12-Sep-04 Two peas in a pod, with business accumen quite flawed
12-Sep-04 Dan Rather becoming the story he covers
12-Sep-04 Sharing thoughts on Sharia
12-Sep-04 The Kid must have a heck of a curveball
13-Sep-04 Kim Jung Il's Big Bang theory
13-Sep-04 It was his to lose, and so he did
13-Sep-04 Not that he's talking about anyone he works for!
13-Sep-04 Dinner and the Dance
13-Sep-04 Kerry staffers hope to reverse the curse

The sounds of dissenting opinion

Dissent is suddenly a hot commodity again in America. Whether it’s the film making offering Fahrenheit 9-11, by Michael Moore, the outspoken touring minstrels travelling from swing state to swing state in a bid to defeat George Bush or authors of magazine articles and books dedicated to shining some light into events that many people just don’t understand. Speaking out hasn’t been this intense and at times frantically desperate, since the days of the Vietnam War.

A recent edition of Rolling Stone magazine seemed to be almost totally dedicated to those that are speaking out against the administration of George Bush and the policy of war in Iraq. No stranger to political positions, Rolling Stone cut its teeth during the Vietnam War, considered then to be a counter culture publication it has long since evolved into a mainstream journal of social, political and cultural exploration.

But with Edition Number 957, published in September, the magazine seemed to step back in time, back to any issue of the early to mid seventies as a then unpopular war continued on without an end, no progress being made and far too many of a nation’s youth coming back maimed, confused and tragically dead.

RS 957 featured an in depth interview with film maker Michael Moore, the perpetual stone in the shoe of the Republican Party. It also included a stinging article about the failures of Dick Cheney and how he may be dragging George Bush down with him. It featured more news on the upcoming Vote for Change tour by such luminaries as Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, Bon Jovi and many, many others. Ready to hit the road those troubadours are taking the gospel of change to the masses in a bid to stop the Bush forces from achieving a second term. With their blitz of vote for change concerts, they may be providing a soundtrack for those hoping to make America change its current course.

But for sheer will, there is no one more dedicated to trying to derail the Bush re-election train than Steve Earle. And he too is featured in RS 957, with a two page question and answer session about his new recording and long held beliefs in social activism. A long time observer of the dispossessed of society, Earle’s music has been reflective of troubled times. He frequently explores themes of those that have been left behind in American society. They are the folks that have lost their jobs, abandoned by their employers they now wonder how they’ll get by on reduced incomes, no health insurance and a society increasingly splitting into haves and have nots.

Earle is no stranger to political awareness, In the past he’s spoken out against land mines and the death penalty. Currently when he's not on tour, or working in the recording studio he's holding down a Sunday night shift (10 pm EST) at the Liberal radio network Air America. He's had his share of personal demons as well and perhaps that gives his views some real time resonance. A suggestion of a guy who's been to hell and back and is here to tell you about the journey.

An outspoken critic of the current administration and its moves during the war on terror. Earle has not been afraid to take a public stage and say what he believes. While the Dixie Chicks were being taken to a whipping post over their comments about the President while on their tour in England, Earle was speaking out against the suspension of basic civil rights in pursuit of the war on terror. His John Walker Blues off of the Jerusalem CD, stood out for its timing and content.

Taking a look at things from the point of view of Walker Lindh the
”American Taliban” it was released during the patriotic overflow of such songs as “courtesy of the Red, White and Blue. While the media and a lot of the American public were calling for revenge, Earle was looking for answers.

His latest examination of the state of the American union is a recording called “The Revolution starts Now”. Released in August, it features a number of songs that while never mentioning President George W. Bush by name, certainly challenge all that he has spoken of in the last four years.

Two songs that set the tone of the album and reflect Earle’s anger over the war in Iraq are Rich Man’s war and the Title Track “The Revolution Starts Now”. Rich Man’s war follows a young American who joined the Army to escape poverty in his home town and finds himself sent off to war, in an interesting twist Earle ties in that soldier’s life with that of a suicide bomber from Gaza, both off fighting a “rich man’s war”. It’s a powerful song and may find life as an anthem for the growing anti war movement in the USA.

The Revolution Starts now is a call to action to those that have sat back and tried to make some sense of what has happened in the last three years in America. Earle has issued a challenge to get involved, make a difference and to take a stand. One set of lyrics in the title song sums up that call;

Yeah the revolution starts now
In your own backyard
In your own hometown
So what you doin’ standin’ around?
Just follow your heart
The revolution starts now

Earle sat down and pounded out tune after tune for the new album in just a few sittings, wanting to have it out and available before the election takes place. He had a deadline he had to meet, as he sees it, this is the most important American election of his lifetime, and he and the band just wanted to weigh in.

And weigh in they do, The Revolution Starts Now is going to attract some attention and to make sure that as many people hear his message as possible, Earle has three of the more controversial tracks on the CD available to listen for free on his website, Rich Man’s war, The Revolution starts now and F the CC all await the click of a mouse and the bend of an ear.

Radio is where a musical artist gets his exposure; it will be interesting to see how an industry as corporate as American radio is, will react to a rebellious minstrel out to win hearts and minds. Though even Earle must know that F the CC is not going to be making it near any radio station play lists.

With the political rhetoric heating up as the election nears, Earle is taking point in the battle for the vote. He wants to challenge the voter to look around, observe and take action. After a couple of years of accepting all that they have heard, Americans may finally be returning to the days of honest debate and examination of all points of view.

If the Republicans thought that Michael Moore was going to make their lives difficult, they may find more trouble blasting out of car stereos and MP3 players across America. The Revolution starts now complete with driving guitars and bare knuckle lyrics, is driving home a point harder than any stump speech ever will!

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Too close for comfort

Disaster was averted Saturday night by Vincent Lecavalier, as the Tampa Bay Lightning star scored in the first period of Overtime, sending Canada on to the final of the World Cup of Hockey. Lecavalier allowed Canadians to breathe again, when his shot went top corner left, to finally put away a Czech Republic team that refused to quit.

Prior to Lecavalier’s heroics it was finger nail chewing time for Canadians from coast to coast to coast and all environs abroad, as the never say die Czech Republic squad battled back time and time again to bring things to a tie in the highly energized and entertaining match in Toronto. The Canadians would take a lead, the fans would begin to celebrate only to have the Czechs fly down the wing and score a reply before the Canadian scoring announcement would be finished.

For a good portion of the game the Czechs had the Canadians on their heels, sending wave after wave of the likes of Jagr, Hejduk, Rucincsky and Havlat, all of whom made life difficult for Roberto Luongo. He entered the tournament after Richard Brodeur was unable to play due to an injury to his wrist, thus the Florida Panther was sent into battle in the do or die semi final. Luongo faced 40 shots from the Czechs, who outworked the Canadians for long stretches of the game. And while a couple of the goals were unfortunate in their time frame, Luongo very much kept his team and his country in the tournament. His performance Saturday, most likely saved scalpers in Toronto from taking the worst bath in financial history since the great depression of 1929. Without Canada in the final, the price of a World Cup ticket would have tumbled faster than an Enron stock after the arrest warrants were issued.

Luongo faced shot after shot turning them away one after another, sending his team mates back up the ice to try and put this thing away. In any other game most of the Czech chances would most likely result in a goal. But Luongo found a way to keep them out, much to the joy of the capacity crowd at the Air Canada Centre.

No save was bigger than in the overtime period when he stared down Milan Hejduk and deflected a sure fire goal into the corner. It was head manned up the ice by Dany Heatley, ending up on Vincent Lecavalier’s stick, a few seconds later it was behind Tomas Vokoun and Canada was on to the final Tuesday night with a 4-3 victory.

Pat Quinn admitted that his team was fortunate to come out of the game with the victory, realizing that his team did not have its best game on the ice Saturday night. The Czechs must be hugely disappointed with the result, they were quite close to sending the Canadians to the sidelines, sometimes it’s worse to lose a game you should have won than to be blown out, this is the feeling the Czech players must have today.

Canadians respect hard work and in the Czechs on this Saturday night there was an awful lot to respect. Considering the way they entered this tournament; with the tragedy of their coach’s death, the discord in the dressing room and some early games that showed a less than hearty interest in the games at hand this one game more than made up for their past troubles. It was a performance that announced when the Czechs want to play; they can play with the best and possibly be the best in the world.

For Canada the near death experience may serve as the best possible wake up call imaginable. They must know that they barely advanced to the final, with the Finns rested up and waiting for the Canadians, concentrating on correcting the breakdowns of the semi final is an urgent requirement. After the game, Pat Quinn disclosed that he didn’t like the way they practiced the last few days and the result today hammered that point home nicely. More attention in their own end and getting back to a forceful fore-check will be the key to success on Tuesday night. Expect Quinn to remind his charges just how close they came to exiting this tournament early.

Hopefully for Canadian hockey fans, Saturday night will be the only surprise of this tournament. A near miss that would have shocked Canadian hockey fans across the land.

The above posting first appeared in my HockeyNation blog, for more items on Hockey check it out.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Non, Nyet, Zadna, Nej, Nie, Nein, Ei, NO!

Whatever language an NHLer may speak, the answer was still the same today. Bill Daly poured a huge bucket of cold water, on any thoughts of starting the NHL season on time; when he declared “We are extremely disappointed in what the Players union presented to us today.”

That after a four hour session that apparently solved nothing, hardened positions and set the stage for a lock out on September 15th. Trevor Linden speaking for the players said the players’ position was the “last chance to save the Hockey season.” That “position” was the first one presented to the league by the union since October of 2003. It called for a wage rollback of 5%, revenue sharing between clubs and a luxury tax system.

Bill Daly who has taken to speaking for the owners called the union’s proposal “recycled”. Rejecting it out of hand, he described it as a step backwards in the negotiations.

The sticking point, as it has been all along is the salary cap provision, which the league wants in place and the union rejects from the get go. No amount of fancy wording, is going to change that aspect of the dispute. It is the major hurdle in these negotiations and everytime it fails to be addressed, all discussion comes to a standstill.

The argument from the league is that too many of its teams are losing money and without a cap on salaries it is not feasible for some of their teams to keep operating, Daly said that even using the players associations’ model of economics, half the teams in the league would lose money, while one third of them would lose more than 10 million dollars. A situation the league feels is unacceptable.

The finger pointing and catcalling of the last couple of days will quiet down now, as the two sides return to their corners to plot further strategy or make other plans for the fall. But the sounds out of the NHL head office are ominous.

With no further talks scheduled “at the moment”, it would seem that all in the world of NHL hockey will come to a complete standstill almost as soon as the World Cup is handed out next Tuesday night. Wednesday, September 15th, may be one very long day for hockey fans everywhere!

The above posting first appeared in my HockeyNation blog, for more items about the "good old hockey game" check it out!

The same old song, the same old song and dance!

One has to admit that Adscam II (the judicial sequel), just doesn’t seem to have the nation in as much of an uproar as the Original version of: To tell the truth (or your version of it anyways) did. The talking heads from the networks aren’t hanging on every word here; the background pieces don’t have that same smell of attack as those heady early days did. There’s no sense of outrage in the land, the talk show hosts aren’t screaming for blood, the callers aren’t expressing shock and disgust, in fact most aren’t even discussing the hearings in any form.

All in all, the entire thing so far is rather boring, bland and bloody tedious. And perhaps that more than anything was the purpose of this second wave of Adscam remembrances, under the watchful eye of Quebec Justice Mr. Gomery. Keep it low profile, keep it on the low burner. And for God’s sake don’t wake up the well rested Canadian public, fresh from their summer siestas.

Admittedly the players are somewhat different this time around as is the tone of this debate. There are no partisan parliamentarians jockeying for television time, in a pre election orgy of self importance. The first go round in the parliamentary committee meetings resembled an episode of Jerry Springer or Maury Povich, there was banging on tables, suggestions of cover up and political shenanigans and threats to shut things down in disgust, all of which the media gleefully recounted day in and day out.

Instead, this time the media seem to be treating the hearings like some ways and means accounting review, a bunch of bookish accountants settling in for the day to go over the books, chew the fat and run up some expenses on the Government tab. In other words: its business as usual in the capital.

The original outrages are still there, those little accommodations that the various ad agencies made to siphon off hundreds of thousands of dollars for work (if we can call it that) which was hardly transparent let alone accountable. The funny little deals spun through a labyrinth of advertising firms, most of which seemed mainly to be interested only in making it to the bank quickly to cash some cheques.

The star of the first show Auditor General Sheila Fraser is back, reprising her role of the sheriff of the town trying to clean up this mess. Ms Fraser spent part of Tuesday and all of Wednesday basically re delivering her now famous report of the damned, where she opened the eyes of a normally dis-interested public to the shadowy world of Governmental contracts. Back then she was hailed as a hero, talk show hosts had flowers sent to her in honour of her stand, Canadians read daily dispatches of the fall out from her report. Fraser became a Canadian icon for a period of time, the last person in Ottawa willing to take a stand and say something here is wrong.

Of course a lot of water has run through the lake since that heady time of public outrage, we had an election that put the same gang basically back into office, all be it in greatly reduced numbers. The country then promptly purged politics from its system, so as to get on with the real challenge of Canadian life; that being the fine art of fitting as much of summer as one can into a very short window of time before the fall frost.

With vacations, barbeques, fishing trips and such to tend to, not many Canadians probably felt the need to aggravate their ulcers over the cavalier ways of spending in Ottawa.

With Labour Day come and gone and with it our summer, perhaps the venom has been leeched out of our system. Maybe we think that the folks in Ottawa have learned a lesson, or perhaps there are just more pressing matters on our plate these days. At any rate, it all bodes well for Justice Gomery, who said he was going to take his time to explore the controversy. And take his time he will, Gomery will have over 70 witnesses drop in on the proceedings in phase one. The Ottawa sessions will deal with all matters governmental. There is some talk that former Prime Minister Jean Chretien may make an appearance if he's asked, which should stir the media to attention. Not to mention the sessions where the likes of Alfonso Gagliano and Andre Ouellette may get to tell their side of these many tales.

The Justice then takes the show on to Montreal where the folks that received the Sponsorship monies will be providing the entertainment. The only folks taking copious notes at the moment, are lawyers for Chuck Guite and Jean Brault, preparing to recount the smallest detail when they get their chance. And if you think this is going to be some quick examination of events, think again. Slow and steady is apparently the byword at the hearings, the Justice does not have to provide an interim report until the fall of 2005. His final report is not due until December of 2005.

The length of these hearings may be the key for the Government, if we’ve already lost interest by September of 2004, will we even remember why the hearings were held by 2005. Fifteen months seems an awful long time to try and get to the bottom of what would appear to be a rather cut and dried case. The hearing will however provide one little sub drama, a just under the surface reminder for all of the excess of a government, that has no check or balance.

It will make for nice theme to follow, as we watch our Minority government work its way through the minefield of governmental duties. Fifteen months, hmm, one wonders if the government of the day will last as long as the hearings.

The above post first appeared in my Boondoggle blog, for more items examining the government check it out.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Uniting the Right in BC, with not a supporter in sight!

The news slipped in under the radar so much that hardly anyone noticed, nor seemingly did they care. While we were all watching the ravings of the Republicans gathered in New York City, BC’s own right wing zealots were busy taking care of some housekeeping.

The BC Unity Party and the BC Conservative party apparently decided that it’s better to be ignored collectively, than as separate entities and so chose to merge. The Unity Party’s Chris Delaney made the announcement on September 1st, receiving little more than a side bar box in the Vancouver Sun and a couple of mentions on CKNW.

Other than that, the creation of a Right wing colossus was met with a collective yawn! Of course the fact that the Conservative Party of BC registers somewhere in the zone of 0% and the Unity flag bearers only collected 3% of the vote last election, may have something to do with the less than excited coverage of this momentous event.

Delaney says that members of the two parties will hold a meeting on September 25th to set in motion plans for a leadership convention in December. Delaney did take the time to issue the usual bon mots about the new adventure, things like how the new party will be appealing to the grassroots and would be more than capable of taking on both the NDP and the Liberals in the next election.

It would seem the party is designed to appeal to the old Socred Guard who of course ran off and basically took over the BC Liberal party a number of years ago, considering the fact that they are government in power at the moment, its doubtful that many of them would be leaving the embrace of the Gordon Campbell crew any time soon.

And while the current Liberals and general public may be keeping their distance, the new collection of the right has at least received some attention from an unusual spot in the media. Charlie Smith of has suggested that the new merger might threaten the Liberal hold on power. And while I would not argue with many of his suggested points about the new venture, I’m afraid I just don’t see Gordon Campbell staying up late at night planning ways to put the new collection of right wingers in their place.

When push comes to shove and X goes to paper, the folks on the right are not likely to throw their lot in with yet another combination of interests on the right wing, when they can keep their power base alive with the current Liberals.

Instead the Libs are probably more concerned about any eventual merger or accommodation between the Green Party and the NDP. With the Greens still hoping to flex their muscles in BC, they will only take votes away from the NDP. A merger of the Greens and NDP would send off some alarm bells for the Campbell followers and certainly solidify the NDP’s claim to be representing a good portion of British Columbians. But to achieve that, the party would need some leadership and at the moment there seems to be a bit of a void happening there.

Carole James, who still continues to run the lowest profile leadership style of any Canadian politician, should make getting the Green vote back on side as her main priority. She’s been the reported leader of the NDP for months now, but yet has absolutely no public profile, should you happen to cross her path in the streets you might never have a clue that she is a possible Premier in waiting.

As a matter of fact, the NDP should seriously consider purchasing some space on Milk cartons and getting her picture out there like a missing person. If you're an NDPer, here's a little experiment for you, try typing in your leaders name into a Google (or pretty well any other) search engine! The results will give you cause for thought about the leaders relevance to the province.

There are folks across BC, who probably still think Joy McPhail is leading the party and for all intents and purposes she and Jenny Kwan are still the face of social democratic beliefs in BC. Ms. James, if she is to be taken seriously needs to be far more visible and engaged with the people of British Columbia.

Until that happens, Gordon Campbell really has nothing to worry about from either the right or the left.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

A week of Essentials Aug 31-Sept 5

For Canadians this was a week that saw our challenge for Hockey Supremacy begin and our Olympic dreams come to an end. In our essentials we followed Zell giving Kerry hell, Arnold looked out and saw girlie men and Bubba goes for a bypass. The internet celebrated a birthday and the RIAA choked on some cake. A fast paced week that amazed and terrorized us and here it is in review!

31-Aug-04 More churchgoing than Churchillian
31-Aug-04 Tucker Carlson undecided voter
31-Aug-04 12 medals worth 2.5 million each
31-Aug-04 The Republicans find a pinata
31-Aug-04 The answer to what would Jimmy Buffet say
1-Sep-04 Ralph's dilemma: what to buy, what to buy
1-Sep-04 Milking the cow with Lord Black
1-Sep-04 On second thought, maybe we will win that war
1-Sep-04 Challenging the economic girlie men
1-Sep-04 Big lotto jackpot win leaves retailer blue
2-Sep-04 Setting the table for George
2-Sep-04 Mommy makes the bail
2-Sep-04 That's a lot of Passion
2-Sep-04 The General declares that history is repeating itself
2-Sep-04 The Beerhunters remain on the job
3-Sep-04 Tying the bell to Zell
3-Sep-04 Yikes, a Liberal with a backbone!
3-Sep-04 Happy Birthday to all of us Netizens
3-Sep-04 Sticks and Stones will break his bones, but…..
3-Sep-04 All in all, I'd rather have Grey hair and dandruff
4-Sep-04 Bubba for the Bypass
4-Sep-04 Ralphie's last round up
4-Sep-04 No cause can justify this horror
4-Sep-04 TIME gives George a bounce
4-Sep-04 Ever wonder what they spend your service charges on
5-Sep-04 Hand it over Connie!
5-Sep-04 Bush's Big bounce
5-Sep-04 -*** -*-- *, -*** -*-- * to Morse Code
5-Sep-04 A storm the size of Texas
5-Sep-04 The RIAA's latest headache
6-Sep-04 From his sickbed, it's Cllinton to the Rescue
6-Sep-04 If this can't get you deported, then what can?
6-Sep-04 Frances checks out, Ivan comes knockin' on the door
6-Sep-04 They loved the night life, they loved to Boogie
6-Sep-04 Is that a flashlight in your suitcase? Or are you just glad to see us?