Friday, April 29, 2005

Counting up the homeless in Vancouver

With the provincial election in full swing and the ruling Liberal party having an easy time of things thus far, there finally is a bit of ammunition for the NDP leader Carole James. A count of the Vancouver homeless numbers was released today and those that wanted to be found, but have nowhere to go number over 2100 for the last year.

The homeless figures come out one day after a Stats Canada survey that says BC is leading the country in economic growth good news no doubt, especially for the 2100 listed above who surely might wish to join in on the provincial renaissance.

But while they wait for their ship to come in, they can wonder how many more will join their numbers in the near future. The frightening statistic on the homeless census is that the numbers have doubled in only three years. Another disturbing trend in the homeless question is the number of working poor who live on the streets, going to work by day and finding someplace warm and dry to rest in the evening.

The homeless crisis in Vancouver is partially attributed to the extremely high cost of housing in the superheated real estate market of the Lower Mainland. And suburbia is no panacea for those looking for a place to rest their head and store their stuff, in the last three years suburbs such as Port Coquitlam and Langley have seen homelessness increase by 200 per cent. Obviously not everyone is poised to share in the Golden Decade ahead!

This seems like an issue that the NDP should seize upon and offer up some creative solutions to a terrible problem and while they make the usual noises about the situation, the status of their campaign thus far is one of benign neglect. A few stumbles out of the gate seem to have sapped their energy for the fight in many ridings.

With the weeks til election day dwindling down, the NDP had best start making some headway, otherwise the Campbell Liberals are looking to seize a rather large majority government once again. With an unlimited money truck on the trail, maybe even the homeless problem will be properly addressed by the Campbell Liberals. If it is indeed going to be a Golden Decade, it would be nice if those that wanted to hang around for it had a place of their own to hang their hats!

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

We can't handle the truth?

With the Gomery commission uncovering skullduggery at every turn of a page, one of the original participants has weighed in with a warning that all this uncovering is bad for the country.

Alfonso Gagliano has issued a warning to the nation stating that Prime Minister Paul Martin is leading us to ruin. In Gagliano's opinion the Gomery commission's findings is only going to result in the separation of the province of Quebec from Canada.

Gagliano made his comments on Monday to an Ottawa radio station. The former public works minister and ambassador to the folks of Denmark (may they forgive us) says that the Prime Minister is leading the Liberal party and the country down the road to ruin. Claiming that the path to sovereignty for Quebec will be unavoidable, once the Liberals are removed from power and the Conservatives form a government. Somehow in Gagliano's world the Liberal party is the only thing that keeps this country together, a rather large does of arrogance from someone who has not exactly been a shining light of transparency.

There may be many who can find fault with the Prime Minister over the last year, but surely even the most bitter rival or critic would give him points for setting up an inquiry to explore just went on under the banner of national unity. And while of late the Prime Minister has looked rather desperate in his bid to hold onto power, he surely needs no lessons in ethics from the former Public Works Minister. His tenure as Prime Minister may be shortened in the near future, but he has at least taken the high road on this problem, unlike those who spent their time shoving brown envelopes across tables and covering up paper trails over the last few years.

If the people of Quebec were to decide to leave Canada based on a corruption scandal based in their province, then so be it. If the truth is so fragile that our democratic base is at stake, then perhaps we've been holding together a rather flimsy house of cards for far too long. If the people there are truly as disgusted as they are reported to be as to what has been done in their name, then they'll be able to sort through the bombast of the Bloc and the cynical machinations of the Parti Quebecois.

Corruption is not limited to the Federal Liberals (though at the moment in Quebec they seem to have it down to a science). From provincial governance down to the municipalities there are no doubt people in office across Canada, who are only interested in their own well being. Root them out and send them packing would be the advice offered up from this corner.

If the despicable money laundering of the sponsorship scandal is all that holds this country together; then perhaps we need to rethink the whole grand project known as Canada.

I don't quite share Mr. Gagliano's dire warnings, the Gomery findings surely will impact his former friends in the Liberal party of that there is no doubt and justifiably so. But are the people of Quebec so shortsighted as to their own best interests to walk away? I think a thorough investigation by the voters of Quebec will show that Canada is not the enemy, the enemy was within their own citizenry all along. There's a chance here to change the culture of Canadian politics, to toss away the dealings of the Chretien era as administered by Mr. Gagliano, there's no reason that the people of Quebec can't share in that change without leaving the table.

Perhaps now the days of blackmail and fear mongering have come to an end, if so somebody share the news with Mr. Gagliano. This country will either stand united for a more transparent and representative system of governance or it shall implode upon the greed of the few.

138 years of collective history says we'll survive those that don't necessarily have our best interests in their hearts. The mark of a truly great nation is its ability to overcome the incompetence of it's political leaders. It would seem we are ready for another test.

As for Mr. Gagliano the time has come to exit the stage for good, his credibility is certainly shot and his contributions to the public debate beyond worth. In other words it's time to shut up and take your medicine.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Robert Gordon Orr to the rescue!

Finally someone with the intestinal fortitude to tell it like it is. Over the weekend Bobby Orr put pen to paper (more likely keyboard to byte but no one has come up with a catchy little way of describing the puter revolution yet) and fired off a treatise to the Sunday Lawrence Eagle-Tribune. ( click on sports to view the letter, after April 25th click on their archive and select sports to view the letter)

In his letter he put both Gary Bettman and Bob Goodenow in their place, suggesting that if they can't get a deal done then they should step aside (or as he put it "get out of the way") and let people of good faith sit down and hammer out an arrangement to get the game back on the ice. Orr observed that neither side seemed to interested in cobbling together a fair deal.

It was a passionate plea for some action before the gave slips further into the irrelevance that it has thus far. Orr rightly points out that this protracted grandstanding by both parties is putting the game of hockey in serious peril. This game is not ingrained in the American psyche as football is, baseball still has it's romantic past which occasionally rises above its steroid and greed fueled present and basketball has a core of fans that keep it going as the fairweather fans drift in and away from the game.

Any of those three sports would most likely survive a year long shutdown, in fact the NFL did and became stronger afterwards though it took a bit of union busting to accomplish that. Baseball has had numerous stoppages over the years and only now is beginning to sort out its attendance and television woes. Basketball had a bit of a dip with the Jordan retirement but seems to have re-invented itself as a team oriented game, where the five men on the court make the difference not necessarily one man. All are finding success in their markets and are financially sound. But hockey is not part of the culture in the States and if this mess continues much longer there may be a cost to be paid in Canada as well.

Spring is here and a hockeyless spring is introducing the hockey fan to other pursuits, the golf course beckons the cabins and campgrounds are almost open for the season. Sitting around the home or in a bar to watch hockey used to be the thing to do in Canada, with a year off from the obligation one wonders how many will return next year.

All of which makes Orr's points even more vital for the powers that be in hockey to consider. As a player agent many might find it a bit self serving on his part as of course he has money to be made with hockey back in play. But one thinks that his is more a plea from a hockey guy who fears for the state of the game that gave him a career and one which he always loved. Orr said he hesitated to speak out loud before as he had hopes that things would progress towards a solution, but with both sides scheduling meetings to just trash the other side that doesn't seem to be on the horizon, hence his contribution this weekend.

Good for him to now step up and say what needs to be said. Maybe now some other powers of hockey will add their voices to his chorus to spur this thing onto a solution. Solve this mess or "get out of the way". Once again Orr showed the leadership that made him famous and is sorely lacking these days. Those are wise words from number 4, lets hope they're ones not to be ignored!

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

Adventures in Anthem singing

Once again the sordid saga of anthem singing has raised its head. The latest installment of the botched song of national pride happening in Quebec City, when young Caroline Marcil forgot the words to the Star Spangled Banner, well before the rocket's red glare Caroline blanked out, stepped out and then nearly passed out. Heading for an exit she went to get a lyric sheet, returning to the ice only to fall backwards as the red carpet underneath went in a different direction than her.

By now completely flustered and deciding that this show doesn't necessarily have to go on, Marcil fled for the safety of the dressing room as the crowd expressed it's displeasure. For Caroline however the ending to a nightmare would be a feel good story after all, she was flown to New York at the expense of Good Morning America Sunday where she belted out the anthem to an appreciative crowd.

This brings back memories of past anthem debacles, the most glaring one from a Canadian point of view had to be when the CFL launched it's ill fated expansion to the USA. With a smattering of teams in far flung cities whole new audiences would be introduced to the joyful musicof Calixa Lavalle's Oh Canada with english lyrical content courtesy of Robert Stanley Weir. Although many might be forgiven if they thought they had heard that tune before, in a seasonal nature.

KC Parks a Las Vegas lounge singer was given the task of introducing Nevada to the glory of Canada. Struggling with his pitch and his tone, KC decided to free form it' giving Oh Canada the musical timbre of O Christmas Tree.

It was a cause celebre above the 49th parallel for a few weeks and eventually died down, in fact if memory serves correct KC was given a second chance as well, at a CFL game in Canada where he pretty well figure out the scales for the tune. So lets call it a draw in the great anthem adventure.

However, the USA is still ahead in upside down flag parades. Many Canadians still remember the Blue Jays-Braves World Series where the Maple leaf was led onto the field stem up, point down.

In the end all is forgiven, for truth be told there's enough bad anthem singing and pre game miscues to go around. So Caroline has nothing to worry about, her moments of horror turned into redemption. But perhaps we're learning why the big stars lip sync their moments of national passion, better to be rehearsed than cursed!

The above item first appeared in my HockeyNation blog for more items on Hockey (and occassional anthem singing) check it out!)

Sunday, April 24, 2005

A week of essentials April 18-24, 2005

Another seven days has gone by here's what caught our interest over the last week.

18-Apr-05 As the conclave begins
18-Apr-05 Asian Cold War
18-Apr-05 Cold feet Camilla
18-Apr-05 The Boss ain't happy
18-Apr-05 There's no otiosity in these kids!
19-Apr-05 The smoke was black, so tomorrow they're back
19-Apr-05 The roar of the Engines and the Gushiness of the letters
19-Apr-05 No handmaiden Nation here
19-Apr-05 Smilin' Jack wants to have Paulie's back!
19-Apr-05 Perhaps a film festival may have been a better choice!
20-Apr-05 White puffs of smoke and clanging bells
20-Apr-05 Stalemate at the Hill
20-Apr-05 The suicide of the Liberal government
20-Apr-05 Burgers up, overweight drops to seventh on the death list
20-Apr-05 The Red Green award for Space Travel
21-Apr-05 Prime time Paul
21-Apr-05 Benedict a uniter not a divider!
21-Apr-05 No replacements for the NHL
21-Apr-05 Rough ride ahead for the stock markets?
21-Apr-05 Alfonso fears for his country
22-Apr-05 Give me just a little more time
22-Apr-05 The Earth Day blues
22-Apr-05 Rebound
22-Apr-05 Pope Benedict is just waiting for your to drop a line
22-Apr-05 Working overtime to make your popcorn pop
23-Apr-05 Smilin' Jack is in the spotlight dance
23-Apr-05 From bad to worse, Bono shares his verse
23-Apr-05 Not the best of role models for electoral success
23-Apr-05 She's Running back to Saskatoon
23-Apr-05 They seemed like good ideas at the time
24-Apr-05 No items today took a break

Time to clear the Campbell Ipod

While the Campbell re-election campaign in BC seems to be staying on track, musically things are falling apart for the governing Liberal party of BC. The Liberals who apparently have not studied past musicalogical miscues, had taken to using Bruce Springsteen's "Glory Days" on the campaign trail, the catchy up beat sound of the Boss and the E streeters apparently just the sound the government had been looking for to showcase it's re-election platform. Only problem is nobody listened to the lyrics, actually Glory Days is about looking back at better times and examining things that didn't quite turn out so good, somehow you would think the Liberals would be all about the future.

From whistle stop encounter to money shovelling announcement, the Boss was there in full volume hailing the great times, while the Liberal boss would bask in the glow of another vote sought.

Alas all good times must come to an end and quicker than you can say cease and desist Glory Days will be no more on the happy Liberal trail.

Past political types that have tried to usurp the Springsteen catalogue have quickly learned that the Boss' legal types don't take kindly to having their music used to bolster a campaign. Especially when the man who champions the struggles of the working man and woman, the dispossessed and those that have been give a raw deal from the powers that be, finds out that those people are not the candidates target audience.

Ronald Reagan ran into the wrath of Springsteen in the 80's, when he tried to take Born in the USA from the charts to the campaign trail. Twenty years later Tony Blair found that just using U2 music doesn't quite amount to an endorsement by Bono, the Edge and the rest of the gang.

Campbell too now finds himself in the same spot. He wasn't well served by his political advisors with the selection of Springsteen, besides the already mentioned dislike of the politicians who take his songs for their own advancement, there is the matter of his new album. Devils and Dust, which in the spirit of the Ghost of Tom Joad and Nebraska sessions, explores themes of those left behind by society. Not exactly the target audiene of the current regime in BC.

So it's on to plan B for the BC Liberals, another click on the Ipod and up pops REM, Shiny Happy People the song for all occasions, for now. One wonders how long Michael Stipe will take to call in the legal team, Stipe who actually has spent a fair amount of time in Vancouver recording his music, also is of a rather socially conscious bent. He like Springsteen, may not appreciate having the Liberal message put to an REM soundtrack.

One wonders what's next on that Campbell Ipod,for surely it won't be long before someone calls to say "push delete". The answer my friend is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Vote me out now, or vote me out later?

6 minutes and 53 seconds, the length of PM the PM's plaintive plea for more time to straighten out his crowded closet of troubles. Paul Martin took to the airwaves on Thursday night to beg Canadians to let Gomery finish the job. Vowing that upon receipt of the Judges final report (expected sometime in December apparently) he would immediately call an election for the peoples verdict his stewardship of the Sponsorship scandal.

It was a rather strange sight, the leader of a G-8 country admitting that malfeasance had happened while he was around, but at the same time claiming a mild self propelled pat on the back for canceling the program, creating the inquiry, cashiering an ambassador (and rather successful fund raiser it seems)and issuing many a mea culpa to boot.

The time flew by as the Prime Minister admitted that there were some serious problems with his party's fundraising apparatus, regretting that those on watch had not been more vigilant to the horrors happening in the Liberal name.

The basic tone of the 6:53 of television time was that Canadians deserve to be fully informed on the results of the Gomery inquiry before they make their minds up. A nice bit of wishful thinking on behalf of PM the PM and his handlers but judging by the various opinion polls making the rounds the Canadian public seems to have already heard enough and are voting with their feet, in a mad stampede from anything Liberal.

With his time about up (at least on the broadcast, but feel free to accept the double entendre) the Prime Minister looked forlornly into the camera asking for just a bit more time. Hoping against hope that Canadians will understand his current position, a situation not particularly reflected in the polls of late.

Of course his mea culpas and pleas for understanding fell on deaf ears when it came to the opposition leaders. The lead off hitter was Stephen Harper who basically dismissed the speech as a sad moment that showed that the PM can barely govern the country anymore. Harper said that his party would decide on the fate of this government after consulting with the Canadian people over the next little while. Coming soon to a town near you, the Conservative listening party.

Next up to whack the pinnate was Gilles Duceppe and almost instantly Canadians must have realized that this was a rather interesting time for the nation, as Mr. Duceppe actually dedicated part of his speech time to English, something rather rare for the separatist leader. In fact he made a fairly good argument for himself en anglais making some solid points about the crisis not being a national one but a Liberal party problem. Take out that leaving Canada and taking as much money as possible with us plank and he might have won a few seats in Ontario such was the strength of his speech.

The final combatant of the night was Smilin' Jack Layton, who led off with some bizarre recitation of what Canadians really want. Which is nice to have at your fingertips but hardly appropriate to the topic at hand, that of the Liberals governing as their moral compass does donuts around the credibility line. Layton also offered up an out for the beleaguered Libs, just drop the corporate tax cuts and bring in your budget and we'll support you said Jack. Which is an interesting position for the normally highly outraged NDPers, basically it translates into sure we'll support a bunch of highly suspicious types as long as we get what we want too! Going to be hard to play the ethics card after that little exercise, which would be for naught anyways as even with every single Liberal and NDPer onside the combined numbers would still not overtake the Conservative/Bloc lets go to the polls vote.

The scrums would follow and then the talking heads, many who feel that the Liberals may have made things worse for themselves by now creating a national crisis rather than and internal one.

So now Canadians are left with an option or two to ponder, an immediate election where they can weigh in with their judgment on the mess or an election 30 days after the whole sordid mess is finally put to bed.

Martin is to be commended for having tackled a situation that wasn't necessarily of his making, for taking some heat for doing the right thing. Unfortunately the smell of rot is just too strong, it's hard to believe that the Liberals themselves believe that they have a moral right to govern at the moment. Martin might have better luck dealing with his problems in making Parliament work by having the Governor General ask Steven Harper to form a government, one with a rather short list of quality cabinet types.

Putting Harper in the hot seat immediately might work out in the Liberals favor, for one thing with summer almost here, Parliament would soon rise anyways, it would take Harper about six or seven months to get his feet wet and a government up and running full tilt. By then the Gomery inquiry will be out, Martin can then address the problems of his own party first, clean up the mess and then bring down the Tory minority, reminding Canadians that he and he alone took on the problems of his own party and rectified a rather sad period of Liberal history. It's not the normal way of doing things, but these don't seem to be particularity normal times in Canadian Politics

You do get the feeling that Martin truly is repentant for the sins of his fellow travelers in the Liberal party, but there comes a time when possibly it may be better to punish the whole at the expense of the one. Paul Martin came to office with big plans, high expectations and a desire to make Canada important again. Unfortunately for him, none of that will happen while the clouds of suspicion continue to gather over the Hill.

The Liberal party of late is all about survival, so one thinks that they will cling to power until the very last finger is pulled from the door to the gov't side of the House of Commons. All that is left is for Canadians to wait to see whether they will either help rip the fingers off that door clearing a path for Stephen Harper, or hold the door open for a return of the reformed and chastened Liberals who will thus live a life of honesty for forever and a day.

Desperate Housemates

Prime Time Paulie takes to the airwaves tonight, to try and buy some time for his increasing wobbly government. The continuing saga of the Gomery inquiry which is fast approaching some common ground with the Soprano's has PM the PM wondering how to stem the flood of would be voters away from his Liberal agenda.

The Liberals weary of the never ending attack from the opposition as each new revelation is broadcast on Newsworld and Newsnet must be wondering why that nice Justice didn't keep his publication ban in effect until he puts pen to paper with a final report. The damage of the daily explanation of what appears to be a rather well designed little numbers racket, is causing no amount of distress in Liberal ridings from coast to coast to coast.

In fact Alfonso Gagliano, who more or less got the whole ball rolling down the hill a number of months ago has been quoted as fearing for his country with all the dirt that has been shoveled via Gomery. Too bad nobody in the Liberal party didn't think of that while they were shuffling brown envelopes around finer restaurants in the Greater Montreal area.

Word on the Hill is that finding a sword carrier in Quebec for the Liberal brand is getting harder and harder, as many would be troughers appear nervous to be lumped in with the practices of the past regimes. You know you're in terrible trouble, when you can't find candidates in what once was a guaranteed invitation to a life of leisure. One might also say the end is nigh when politicians or would be politicians develop a sense of right and wrong!

The six minute fireside chat tonight has been portrayed as a Prime Minister reaching out to Canadians to be patient, as the Gomery festival wraps up it's deliberations. However, he runs a terrible risk of appearing to be simply trying to paint his party in the best light under rather dark circumstances. Requests for television time are generally reserved for times of National crisis not party meltdown, there may be a backlash for the Liberals for the appearance of crisis. Not to be outflanked Studios Steven Harper has requested his own shot at prime time, Gilles Duceppe too has asked for a block of time on behalf of the Bloq and no doubt Smilin' Jack Layton will want to be able to wave his hands in prime time as well.

If each were to receive equal time the Canadian networks could turn this into a half hour series, our only question then would be is it a drama, reality show or a sit com. Survivor? Canadian Distained or Fantasy Island; we'll have a better idea after 7 pm eastern 4 o'clock on the far west coast!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Daydreaming with Delacourt

It's officially the silly season in Ottawa, with Parliament in a virtual state of chaos neither governed nor closed we find some wild suggestions making the rounds. The rumours of a possible election call of June 27th keeps making the rounds of Parliament Hill, as the Martin government tries to outflank its allied opposition forces in a procedural game of hide and seek as outlined by Jane Taber of the Globe and Mail.

All of the Machiavellian workings of late have Susan Delacourt the Ottawa Bureau Chief for the Toronto Star putting forward some interesting options for the folks (fools?) on the Hill. In this article from the April 15th Star, she works out a number of scenarios for governing this rather splintered group of malcontent MP's.

Among the notable options; Paul Martin plays turtle (perhaps more the fabled tortoise than Ninja Turtle one suspects), PM the PM tosses the keys to the PMO bathroom to Stephen Harper and the heads for the Gatineau Hills and one final apocalyptic option, that of the possibility of a Prime Minister Duceppe Prime Ministership (just watch that loonie drop then eh!).

All quite plausible if all the stars were to crash into place at the same time. All symbolic as to just how crazy life in Ottawa must seem these days.

Meet the New Pope, Same as the Old Pope?

With the puffs of white smoke (for the folks at CNN it was white) and eventual clanging of the bells of St. Peters the worlds 1.1 billion Catholics had a new leader on Tuesday.

Pope Benedict XVI the former Cardinal Ratzinger of Germany takes over control of the Roman Catholic church and many are wondering where the Church will go over the next few years. Ratzinger who was the right hand man of Pope John Paul II is not expected to deviate very much from the path laid out by his predecessor.

As a matter of fact as Cardinal, it fell to Ratzinger to enforce Vatican discipline on the many controversial issues of the day. Which in a way makes his selection an interesting study in Catholic church internal politics. Considering how his past position would have had him putting fellow Cardinals into line over the various issues, one would thought he would have built up a rather sizeable "enemies" list over the years, Cardinals who might not be willing to cast their vote for such a rigid doctrinaire leader.

But after four votes and less than two days the conclave came to an end and Benedict XVI stepped out onto the balcony of St. Peters to greet his worldwide flock.

It's expected that his papacy will be very much the same as that of John Paul II"s, strict adherence to absolutes, little room for liberalism and a certain insistence on not deviating from the current path. His is going to be a papacy of traditional beliefs.

Those in the Catholic faith looking for a sign that the Church was going to change it's direction on the many controversies of dogma are going to be a very disappointed lot. Married priests, birth Control, abortion, homosexuality and women in the priesthood will not move very far along the talking points of this new Pope. Considered by many to be a very Conservative religious leader, the proponents of a liberal direction for Catholicism may find their audience not inclined to listen at the highest levels.

It will be a fascinating study of faith to see how the larger flock react to a Pope steeped in unswerving doctrine. Of course the new Pope has yet to make much in the way of public pronouncements, so it will be a bit of time before we get a handle on what his true intentions may be. If his reputation as Cardinal NO will be replaced by a more inclusive leadership looking to include many different thoughts on the faith.

Many say that the Catholic church missed an opportunity to reach out to the new world this week, by not selecting an African or South American pontiff, however it may have been too radical a step for an organization that seems to move in glacial speeds on matters of hierarchy.

At 78 years of age this pope is considered to be a transitional pope, leading the Church from one era to the next one. But it's not expected his role will be that of a care taker, he will most likely put his stamp on his time as leader of the Roman Catholic church.

The papacy of Benedict XVI will be watched with much interest to see where we are at the time of the next transition, especially as it evolves (or doesn't) from where we begin the journey today.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Ain't no shovel big enough!

British Columbians go to the polls in exactly one month. May 17th is election day in BC and with only thirty days to go, one wonders if Gordon Campbell will run out of money before his subjects reach the polling booth.

In an atmosphere unrivalled since the WAC Bennett pave the highway days, the Liberals have run a money truck run each and every day of the last three weeks it seems. The latest a combo deal with their Federal relations from Ottawa providing 30 million dollars, matched in Federal dollars as seed money for a container port in Prince Rupert. A much desired and needed boost to a moribund Rupert economy and a hell of an election gift for Bill Belsey, who is in a tight race with local teacher Gary Coons in the North coast riding.

Well perhaps it was a tight race before Friday, but with 60 million dollars promised (though not necessarily quite delivered yet) the 10,680 fine voters from the last election on the North Coast must surely have visions of golden streets dancing through their heads, as they wander through the potholes to the voting booth. Lets see 60 million divided into 10680, each vote is worth 5,618 dollars. One must wonder if Mr. Coons suddenly woke up today and decided not to bother to knock on anymore doors.

Now to be fair to Mr. Belsey this project and the new college recently completed were both projects long on the drawing board and finally proven to be real rather than rumour. Both should go a long way in turn around a local economy that appeared to be rushing into a death spiral the last few years. And in politics, it's all about timing, Mr. Belsey happens to be in the right place at the right time, as long as the traditionally finicky North Coast population doesn't decide to go against the current here.

But the Rupert announcement was just one of many photo ops of the last little while which have given the Liberals much more publicity over the stumbling campaign of the NDP and Carole James. The only real part of the province the Liberals were in trouble was the Northern portion from Kamloops north and then west to the Ocean.

With a spending spree in Prince George including the twinning of a vital but dangerous highway south, a new bridge for the Fraser river and new sports facilities for the University of Northern BC, most Liberal candidates must surely be sleeping a little sounder these nights.

The Premier has been protecting his base as well, the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island as well as the lower Interior have recovered nicely economically, but there's still some goodies to share there as well. Improvements to public transit and infrastructure in Vancouver and Victoria, more funding for police, new Universities in the Okanagan everyone surely can find something that has touched their day to day lives the last few years.

The same day as the Rupert port announcement was made, Campbell received more largesse from his friends on Parliament Hill. Prime Minister Martin handing over a cheque of over 600 million dollars in Gas tax revenues, for use on transit and even more infrastructure. Fix those roads and sewers and the voters are yours!

But while the election goodies trucks continue to roll, they're roadworthiness will come to and end on May 18th. Already the BC budget documents give indications that the orgy of announcements will cease after election day.

But until then, it's gas up the truck and head out on the road. Somehow you just know that WAC Bennett would be proud.

Whistling through the electoral graveyard

Jean Lapierre has thrown down the gauntlet to Little Stevie and the Conservatators, an election if necessary but not necessarily an election. With the Tories finding themselves at the suddenly dizzying heights of 36% support, the ole election drum is getting a pretty hearty workout in the city on the Canal.

Apparently taking a "C'mon' on if you dare" approach to Parliament these days, Lappierre said that his boys were ready to rumble if Little Stevie (and to a lesser degree gleeful Gilles) decides to go to war, this despite trailing the Conservatives by 9% and trailing the Bloc charge by a whopping 44% in that province that so was lavished with sponsorship moolah (now doesn't that seemed to have worked out well eh Jean?) .

An even more disconcerting little bit of news for the Liberals is the fact that for the first time in decades, they are having problems finding willing candidates to run for office in Quebec, normally a direct line to a fully indexed pension . But Lappierre seems quite bullish about his Party's chances or perhaps that's another form of that word we should be thinking of, regardless it seems in the Liberal camp the best defence these days will be a strong offence. And Jean is ready to take the ball down the field and run it hard.

Bravado seems to have been dished out with the morning croissants in the Liberal caucus room. Lapierre put on his best face and said that he didn't believe the polls that stated the Bloc had benefited so heavily by the Liberal's aromatic dysfunction in La Belle Province. And in a line that gives one a wish for Jack Nicholson to suddenly appear on the Hill, Lapierre said "I hope that we aren't close to an election because we want the truth". Oh can't you hear Jack warming up his vocal chords for that one "You can't handle the truth" comes to mind as a rather obvious answer to the Gomery mess.

But hey, for the Libs things are going well eh! The PM's upcoming fundraiser has already sold 700 tickets at 500 bucks a seat at the rubber chicken table. And they point to surveys that state the Canadian Public doesn't hold PM the PM responsible for the Sponsorship saga, perhaps, but one suspects that he may thus become collateral damage as they say in the upcoming bombing of all things Liberal.

Wonder how good a whistler the PM is?

Friday, April 15, 2005

Boating tips and a whole lot more!

Boating enthusiasts in New Brunswick are certainly learning more than just the local weather conditions and safety tips for safe sailing on the Atlantic.

An apparent mix up in toll free numbers has Atlantic Boaters mixing their birds and bees with their knots and sea heaves. Callers to the Transport Canada safe boating line are currently greeted with a lurid invitation to pull out their credit cards and learn much more than how to tie a sailors knot.

apparently the toll free telephone industry is heavily into recycling, when one organization no longer requires toll free numbers the lapsed number goes back into the pool and gets reassigned.

This is not the first time that wayward travelers have been surprised by a suggestion of sex rather than a briefing on travel conditions.

A few months ago the Highways information line for Northwester British Columbia also was directing callers to reach out and touch someone, for a price.

Whether it's on the road or on the high seas, we can only assume that folks do get lonely.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Top of the first in a brand new year at home

The commentators and writers were giddy with delight as they proclaimed that Baseball was back in DC, no looking back now, baseball was back. The return of America's past-time, by way of Montreal was complete tonight, as the newly Christened Washington Nationals took to the field at RFK stadium to play the Arizona Diamondbacks in the home opener for the National leagues latest transfer.

This was the story of the day in the place they call the beltway, the talk of the Senators and Congressmen who apparently found seats to the home opener (one wonders if they'll be there game in, game out especially if they have to pay!).

George Stephanopolous must have spent countless hours in the lap of George Will such was his glee at spending a half an hour of ABC's nigh time newsmagazine Nightline reporting on the return to Washington of baseball. George was like a kid at his first game with his observations and interviews. Everybody giving the aural version of a back slap and a guffaw, as they recounted how excited they were to learn that baseball was back.

Nowhere in the midst of today's joy was a thought given to a city far to the North, to an empty stadium and a city that once too felt the joy of DC. I can relate to the exhilaration of the folks in Washington today as their team took to the field, for I too felt that same glee when I traveled to a small band box of a stadium called Jarry Park in 1968 to watch a funny looking team in three colour hats take on the Pittsburgh Pirates. On that day, began my infatuation with Les Expos and through the slimmest of years and on to the near grasp of destiny I lived and died with the likes of Rusty Staub, Mack Jones, John Boccabella, through to Gary Carter, Tim Raines, Steve Rogers, Andre Dawson and those that went beyond. I felt a sense of finality for my team today as they were welcomed by their new family, over 40,000 strong for the opener.

I'm sure in Montreal life has gone on, the Expos long ago really ceased to matter in the city, part economics of Canadian sport, part economics of baseball greed and part apathy from the fans and disinterest from the folks at MLB. It all became a poisonous brew that really would only end with the team leaving as it did.

But yet they were still my team up until the day they pulled up stakes and finally settled inside the beltway. I wish the folks of Washington well with their team, though the record of supporting baseball in the capitol of the land that gave us the game is rather suspect. But perhaps third time lucky will be their mantra.

I wish the players well also, they deserve to play in front large crowds for a while after the purgatory that became Montreal over the last few years. But I wont be cheering for them anymore, nor shall I look for a boxscore first thing into the sports section. Now these Nationals are just another team in baseball, I'll shift my allegiance to a team more easily followed, the Mariners and maybe the Jays if I really feel dedicated to supporting a quasi Canadian cause.

But the deep seated joy of following a team is now extinct. Baseball took that from me the way they slowly drained the life from the Expos, treated the fans of the Expos with contempt and showcased duplicity in all it's evil form.

I am now a mercenary fan, my affiliation goes to the team that best suits my situation and for that I hold the powers of baseball in contempt. It's no longer a game to nurture, nor a past time to truly enjoy, it's really just billion dollar business now, cold, cruel and uncaring of a fans lost hopes.

While the folks of Washington revel in their newfound love, may they keep the reality of what baseball has become in mind. If they don't believe it can happen again, just go through the history of the Montreal Expos, from the early days to when they were the team of a nation, to the last sad days of the team expiring. The business of baseball has no emotion, no respect for the fan, it's all about cold hard cash, keep handing yours over, for when you stop, Baseball will move on to the next locale.

Oh what should have been!

Tonight, April 13 would have been the start of the march to the Stanley Cup Finals in four cities the rinks would be alive with anticipation, the beer vendors in full throat, the trinket marketing gurus counting the bountiful cash as the locals purchased the loopy foam fingers, fat head hats and such that go with the terrain of playoff hockey.

The networks would begin the money season, where 30 second spots turn into gold nuggets for struggling public network and profligate cable outlets alike. And hockey fans from St. John's to Tofino, Inuvik to Miami Dade and all the points in between would finally have had something worth watching, may in the East staying up late into the morning to follow the games from the far flung outposts .

But, and this is no bulletin, there is no playoff action to recount tonight, no surprises as an underdog sneaks out the first win of what would become a long drawn out thriller. There will be no breatless following of the office hockey pool a rite of passage for every red blooded Canadian hockey fan at playoff time!

Instead we're left with poetic odes to a season lost and simulated playoff games played out for our amusement. And worst of all we learn that the battle for Stanley will be played out this year in the courts, a sad, pathetic fate for such a storied piece of Canadian and hockey history.

No, North American sleep patterns are safe this year, somehow I don't see Canadian and hockey loving Americans staying up late into the night wondering how the petition to the courts will play out in the coming morning. No one will be checking the boxscores to see if the plaintiff has pulled ahead or if the defendants have held off the power play.

In fact as Spring marches on without hockey, many won't even notice. A tale of warning for those that have brought the game to the place it's at today. The latest word has it that the two sides at war shall return to the discussion table next Tuesday, may they take a memoment to contemplate what should have been and this year never will.

The above post first appeared in my HockeyNation blog, for other items about hockey check it out!

The week of essentials April 5-10

With a sudden burst of energy and functional hard drive we managed to cobble together some links for a week and actually save them for future reference, we list them now for your perusal.

5-Apr-05 Millions to pay their respects
5-Apr-05 The secret Cardinal
5-Apr-05 Perhaps they should have eloped
5-Apr-05 Victims or suspects to a fraud?
5-Apr-05 Juno who won?
6-Apr-05 Lockdown of Rome!
6-Apr-05 Monaco mourns
6-Apr-05 The puzzling campaign of Carole James
6-Apr-05 Where is my bike?
6-Apr-05 Canada's Newsman in New York faces a battle
7-Apr-05 A never ending line
7-Apr-05 Canada's A Listers on the way to Rome
7-Apr-05 Osama's going to be a lot easier to find!
7-Apr-05 Decisions, Decisions
7-Apr-05 May the Force go with them
8-Apr-05 No links today watching a funeral!
9-Apr-05 The farewell from the people
9-Apr-05 Hell of a way to kick off your married life
9-Apr-05 Freedom of the press started in Minneapolis
9-Apr-05 Gomery backlash strikes Liberals
9-Apr-05 An army that won't travel on it's stomach
10-Apr-05 They're off an running
10-Apr-05 Thanks for the Royal memories
10-Apr-05 The Queen tries out her new material
10-Apr-05 A Canadian Pope
10-Apr-05 Will they use a plain brown envelope as well?

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Charles takes a bride

Perhaps they thought it may never come to pass, but finally the stars did shine on these star crossed lovers eh! Charles and Camilla finally made their confessions, took their vows and headed for the Scottish Hills all in one day, no doubt not wanting to tempt the fates.

With the happy festival delayed by a day due to the death of a Pontiff, the tabloids favorite pair finally made a walk down an aisle. As far as Royal Weddings go, this one was pretty underwhelming, no breathless coverage from the networks, Canadian Television gave it a brief mention and then went back to the conspiracy and money laundering theories tied to the government of the past day, while American TV gave it some coverage but nowhere near the recent wall to wall infatuation with the Schiavo and Papal stories.

And perhaps that is as it should be, this was certainly not the wedding of the century, hell it probably won't rate as the wedding of the year should some of the Tabloids favorite movie and television stars regain their marital form. Compared to the coverage of Charles' first walk down the aisle, this was a movie trailer as opposed to a featured attraction.

But when all was said and done, the Happy Couple hopped into their car, rode off down the road and headed for a Honeymoon in Scotland. The Best wishes of their friends, family and Queen herself ringing in their ears. Her Majesty apparently showing some rare comedic form by including the race results of th day in her message to her son and latest daughter in law. One wonders if the she made a wager on the event herself, and if she selected Charles to Win, Place or Show!

The colonies paid their respects (and some former colonies their disrespects) and went back to sleep, though the latest public opinion poll suggests that Charles and Camilla won't have to pack for a trip to Canada anytime soon. For the first time since the always popular Republican question has been posed a majority of respondents suggested that Canada's ties to the Monarchy should come to an end when the Queen gives up her throne. Even the Prince's own subjects are suggesting that the hand over skip a generation with Prince William becoming the eventual ruler. All in all a nice little wedding present for the future King and his consort.

But that's all details to worry about in some long time future it seems. The Queen shows no signs of passing on the family business anytime soon, the Prince content to settle down with the woman he loves. And after the amazing zig zag course they've taken to make it to the altar you can only imagine how relieved they must be to actually have had the bloody thing actually take place. Even more relieved that Charles and Camilla are finally hitched are the many merchants who feared a glut of out of date memorabilia, it seems the change of date created a rush on mementoes as Britons scrambled to grab instant collector items. For the merchant class it is God Save the Queen and thanks for shopping!

From a confusing bit of site planning, on to suggestions that the marriage may not be legal, to external events far beyond their control it seemed like this Royal event was doomed from the start. With the original wedding day pushed back a day due to the Pope's funeral (Perhaps God's payback for that whole Henry the VIIIth situation eh) one half expected some other major event to rise up and delay their special day once more. The Prince must have entered the Church today with one eye on his bride, the other on the sky checking to see if either was going to fall before the vows were exchanged. His loyal subjects were there though to wish him well as he came out the other side, though the immense collection of headgear showcased by Royals and commoners alike, gave one the impression of an Alice in Wonderland Mad Hatters Tea party at one point. Hats, Hats, Hats in every shape and size, hat shops must have felt like they hit the lottery this week!

But now it's off to the honeymoon, a bit of quiet time in the hinterlands of Scotland while they plan their future together. With the Prince's recent tirade against the press one suspects that the quiet moments should be enjoyed this week, they may be few and far between in the future.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Return of the Head tax?

While the Gomery inquiry tries to decide whether a publication ban is an effective tool in our wired universe, another possible scandal flies slightly below the Parliamentary radar. And this one much to the relief of PM the PM revolves around a Conservative MP and some possibly questionable requests of his constituents.

Stephen Harper was busy putting out a small fire prior to his trip with PM the PM to Rome for the Popes funeral. Harper was busy denying that Conservative MP Gurmant Grewal had requested that a constituent put up 50,000 dollars in guarantees, to help arrange for temporary visas for family and friends.

And in fact Grewal himself issued a statement late in the day Wednesday, that he had not solicited any money, nor had he cashed any Chicago. Grewal was responding to the suggestion by Immigration Minister Joe Volpe that the ethics commissioner might required on this file. Grewal went on to recommend to the Minister that he had best be careful with his suggestions, lest lawyers be required to sort out the whole sordid mess.

Grewal in the past has floated a trial balloon about having Canadians post a bond when they have high risk visitors that are being considered for admittance to Canada. There is a bit of confusion on the Hill at the moment, as to whether Mr. Grewal has been field testing out his theories on various constituents who approach him for assistance.

One thing is certain in the super charged atmosphere that seems to be Ottawa these days, any chance to deflect the heat from the Liberal advertising scandal will be jumped upon without delay. Mr. Harper and his fellow caucus members had best consider that old adage about those living in glass houses, not tossing stones.

With the Liberals on the run over Gomery, they'll be digging deep into the Conservative bench to try and balance the current ethical difficulties that they are suffering courtesy of Gomery.

The professor gets an A

Frank Clair passed away this week, the football icon of Bank Street who brought many, many great moments to a stadium that would finally bear his name.

Known as the Professor (and an absent minded one at that) Clair resuscitated a floundering franchise in the Capital in the late fifties and into the sixties and turned it into the kind of team that the word dynasty is used about. He has been described as possibly the best coach to ever prowl the sidelines of a CFL franchise and it would be hard to come up with many other names to add to the list. His team appeared in four of ten Grey Cups in the 1960-1970 period, winning three, losing two.

Clair's Rough Rider teams of the late sixties were by far probably the best assembled squad to every play the three down game. With Russ Jackson, Whit Tucker, Ron Stewart, Margene Adkins, Bo Scott, Vic Washington to name a few, the Black and White unis of the Rough Riders put fear into the hearts of those that made the mistake of traveling to Lansdowne Park. Back in the day the Defense was known as Capital Punishment, the Riders were a well rounded machine that should have won more than those two Grey Cups they collected in the last half of the sixties.

Somewhere in a pile of papers I have a yellowed newspaper clipping, the Riders have just returned home to the Airport in Ottawa with the Holy Grail, the Grey Cup. A wide eyed ten year old is in among the crowd watching his heros bring the treasured trophy home. My Dad had taken me down to the airport to welcome the Riders back home, the wait was long, the arrival seemed far too short, but for a brief moment there I felt on top of the world. It was a much simpler time I guess, the athletes seemed to play the game for the love of the game, not for the endorsement value or the chance to move on to greener pastures.

The Riders would win only one more Grey Cup after Frank Clair's spectacular teams of the sixties, the team would eventually fold, return and now linger in some kind of limbo not quite broke but certainly not stable nor solid at the moment.

Once again the team needs someone like the Professor to take charge and return Ottawa to football glory. Unfortunately, someone like Frank Clair doesn't pop up every day. He was truly one of those "one of a kind" characters that seem impossible to measure up to. His ability to beat the bushes and find talent had no equal, his knowledge of the game and his respect for the Canadian player changed the face of the CFL.

Not many people truly deserve the title of Legend, but in the case of Clair the title is more than appropriate. The halcyon days of the CFL were those riveting years of the late sixties, the league owes a huge debt of gratitude to "The Professor", perhaps the latest team to wear Black, White and Red, can go back and learn from his study plans, a great game has lost a great architect.

I think I'll go look for a yellow dog eared clipping, I lived and died with my Riders from the sixties to their very end. It's said that the Clair family plans on sharing his ashes with the people of Ottawa, bringing them to the park he loved so much. I'll raise a glass in toast to the man who made football the sport to watch in Ottawa. Here's a hope that the current team can find a way to live up to that spirit that will be watching from the stadium that has his name!

Monday, April 04, 2005

The final journey of a much traveled Pope

One approaches commentary on the passing of John Paul II with a bit of trepidation. For one flippant comment could render your humbled servant off to eternal damnation, a fate that I for one would like to avoid if at all possible.

However, where angels fear to tread we shall weigh in. Having spent the better part of the last 72 hours watching television and for the most part watching CNN (which surely must be applying for a name change to VNN for this week only) it's hard not to get caught up in the momentous nature of this passing of the Pontiff.

The sheer numbers of those passing through St. Peter's Basilica to pay there respects or spend mere seconds before his body is testimony to the impact that this humble son of Poland brought to our world. With his passing brings to an end a most remarkable papacy, from his very early days as leader of the Worlds Roman Catholic community he was like no other Pope that we have ever seen. By far the extreme high visibility of this Pope was something that the world had not experienced before. Past Pontiff's had led a rather cloistered life, rarely straying from their base at St. Peter's their dictums put forward by Cardinals, Bishops and Parish priests, to travel to the people to make these bold and sometimes controversial decisions in person was something that just never happened before.

While John Paul II was very much a Conservative in his adherence to Catholic dogma, his willingness to take his beliefs to the very corners of the world, guaranteed that no one would be able to say they did not know where this Pontiff stood on his issues of faith and morality. Roman Catholics have many questions on some of the edicts from our church and certainly the debate continues on as the Pope takes his leave, but in this Pope there were no grey areas, we knew where he stood on every issue. Never shy to challenge us to explore our faith, he set the agenda each and every time. His commitment to his beliefs would never be questioned, his desire to form Catholicism to his understanding of the traditions would continue to the very end.

An outspoken advocate for the poor, the weak and the sick he took world leaders to task many times for losing sight of the bigger picture for all. Rich countries ignore the plight of the poor ones at their peril, it was a cause that the Pope frequently championed, one picked up by politicians and pop stars alike, but for those that are starving or weak in health, the voice of the Pope was the one they heard and responded to, a little less alone in their struggle with his prayers.

A frequent Apostle for peace he must have felt many days of frustration as our world seemed to spin more and more into the dark of war, fear and hopelessness. As he passes on to his next challenge, there are still so many troubled parts of our planet, yet he can take his leave with the respect of a world that yearns for his message to find ears willing to hear.

This was a Pope that made decisions never seen before, striving to bring the world's religions closer together. He made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and with a visit to the Wailing wall built bridges to the Jewish community, likewise a trip to Syria brought this Christian leader to a Mosque, a sign of respect to a growing force in the world and one which is much misunderstood. His travels to Poland are legendary, one man returning home seemed to give an entire nation the strength to loosen the bonds of Communism. While Ronald Reagan urged Mikhail Gorbachev "to tear down this wall", the Pope had already been chipping away at the foundation, setting in motion many of the amazing changes that Europe has seen over the last twenty years. He interceeded on behalf of many other persecuted peoples of the world, his trip to Cuba giving hope to a nation that officially has no need to religion yet continues to profess faith despite government advice. He sought to provide a light in the window for those that perhaps were close to giving up hope.

His introduction of World Youth Day was originally greeted with a healthy bit of cynicism, many observers questioning what an elderly man of a conservative religious bent could offer to the youth of today, a very liberal, materialistic and self centered generation more in tune with its own wants and desires than on serving the greater good. Yet over the years they have arrived in the millions to share with him the word of what can be done by those that care. These World Youth Day Gatherings have been perhaps John Paul II's greatest success, for they brought together the young with the old and if even only a portion of those that attended have gone out and lived a more noble life, striving to make their world just a little bit better, than these gatherings were surely worthy of their designers dreams.

As John Paul II rests in the Basilica of St. Peter this week for the millions of pilgrims that will pass by to pay their respects, the Catholic church will begin the task of finding someone to fill these shoes. A task that will dictate the path of the world's 1 billion Roman Catholics and set a moral windvane for the rest of the world as well. There are many points that Catholics wait to see addressed, the question of a stronger role for women in the church, the issues of homosexuality and birth control, indeed there are many factions in the tent that is Catholicism all with an opinion on where the Church should go in the future. While John Paul II is much revered, there still are many questions left unanswered during his time, questions of faith while deeply personal now become part of the debate with his passing.

Will the next Pope allow a more liberal interpretation of Catholic law or will the Conservative leanings continue on to the next pontificate? This is just one of the many things that the conclave shall ponder, as they gather in Rome following the Pope's funeral. Their decision will set the tone for the followers for years to come, will the next Pope be from Africa? From Asia? Or will the Church return to its Roman roots and elevate an Italian to lead the flock on to the future. Regardless of who they choose, the task must surely be daunting. The next Pope has an incredible challenge to take on and the shoes that are to be filled are large. The next Pope must truly understand that he will be in the shadow of John Paul II for many years to come. It will take some bold measures to place a new stamp on the next papacy!

Friday John Paul II will be laid to rest, in what will be most likely the most watched television event in our History. Presidents, Prime Ministers, Religious leaders and the rich and the poor alike shall gather in St. Peter's Square to celebrate the life of John Paul II. Perhaps billions more will watch around the globe in a spectacle rarely seen in our times. While many will have a difference of opinion on his path traveled these many years, no one will question his dedication to his beliefs. His ability to not only share the word of God with his flock, but to bridge the gaps between the World's religions, could be why his passing has become such an all encompassing event this week.

It's a recognition and a celebration of a most extraordinary life, a historical moment that we travel together. Whether you agree with many of his beliefs over the years or not, one thing is certain, there are few people in our world that have had as much of an impact as this Pope has had on our society. He brought the Catholic Church into the modern era of communication, while at the same time he seemed to remain steeped in the ages of ancient tradition.

On Friday, we share together a major timeline in our history. His journey on earth will have come to an end, ours will continue on. How our world evolves over the years will be a testimony to his time with us and what we have taken from his stewardship over the last 26 years.

The Week of Essentials March 28-April 3, 2005

Hmmm, I thought I saved all my files?

With my computer crashing far too frequently the last three weeks or so, I decided that it was time to take it in for some professional advice. So with that in mind I dutifully got to work making back up copies of all my files. Well, uh, almost all of them. Seems I neglected to Back up my Blog file (the price you pay for working over a weekend with a time change I guess).

So in addition to having absolutely no record now of my work over the last three months I also have lost my Podunk essentials of last week.

And yes I've learned a valuable lesson people, back up frequently and back up fully....

Friday, April 01, 2005

To the Woodshed, then the polls!

Well isn't that nice, after sitting through months of mindboggling bafflegab, bouncing golf balls and sullen looking former Cabinet ministers we miss out on the juicy stuff.

Having gone in camera, the Gomery Inquiry apparently has heard "devastating" testimony, apparently so shocking as to bring down the Liberal Government of PM the PM.

One wonders what heinous activities have so excited the opposition to start pounding out the ole electoral drums? Regardless the stench of corruption now seems to be permeating these hearings even if we can't actually learn what the good Justice has learned. It was a case of dueling lawyers today as the witnesses, soon to be defendants one assumes all scramble to have their lawyers get them into court before the Gomery Inquiry becomes public, tainting any potential jury pool.

Peee U, that's one huge pile of effluent that PM the PM is about to find his party covered in. The Conservatives and Bloquistes now can spend sleepless nights wondering if they have more to gain by forcing the electoral hand now, or wait for even more damaging things to eventually come out.

Of course now that the Gomery folks have found the sanctity of the publication ban, all the dirty laundry can be aired without the folks that paid the bills becoming aware of the massive stench that was and possibly still is, the Sponsorship inquiry.

How will Canadians react once word finally does leak out about this "devestating" testimony, will it have sufficient impact to shorten Paul Martin's time at the helm of the Nation. For PM the PM, the Sponsorship program is the gift from Jean that just keeps giving!