Sunday, February 29, 2004

We hate her, we really, really hate her!

Tonight is Oscar night, the night of gowns, clowns and even frowns. The night where they'll walk the red carpet for miles, just to flash their smiles! Billy Crystal will guide us through three, maybe four hours of excitement as we await the results of the Academy. Of course many of us won't have seen many of tonight's featured movies, but that won't stop us from viewing, waiting for the speeches and whomever will tempt the fates tonight.

But before we get to the OSCARS, there has to be the RAZZIES. And yesterday was a bad day for JLo, the former almost Mrs. Afleck, has been honoured? with the Golden Razzie for her stellar performance in Gigli. The movie fell one statue short of breaking Showgirls domination of worst film ever, as it picked up only six Razzies for JLo and Ben's hard work. Gigli was panned by one and all, and collected Razzies for worst movie, worst actress, worst actor, Screen couple, director and Screenplay. A treasured moment no doubt for everyone.

However, as bad as the news is, JLo can take heart that she has a while to go before she reaches the Razzie Godess category. Demi Moore has the most nominations and most wins of a Razzie with four trophies and 9 nominations. And Ben, well he has nothing to worry about. Sylvestor Stallone has the Razzie sewn up seemingly in perpetuity, with 10 Razzie wins and a whopping 30 nominations, including this year for his work in Spykids where as the Razzie people put it, he played five roles all of them badly.

You too can become an Academy members check out the link to the Razzies and get your name on the membership list. Save up your dollars and you can play Ebert or Roper for the cynical set..

Friday, February 27, 2004

Employment Equity 101 at Via Rail

Hmmm, sounds like some sensitivity training is needed at VIA Rail, ASAP. Already stepping in a giant pile of you know what, over the advertising scandal, Via Rail Chairman Jean Pelletier decided he wasn't on enough of a hot seat. Pelletier managed to draw even more attention upon his stewardship of the national passenger railway, when he conducted a bit of character assassination on a former employee, one who was a former Olympic hero to boot.

Pelletier was responding to the remarks of Myriam Bedard, a two time Olympic gold medalist, who used to work for VIA as a PR marketing person. Bedard was removed from her job in 2002 when she complained about possible over billing at Via Rail involving the now scandal plagued GroupAction advertising agency. VIA management, apparently didn't enjoy having it's employees watching out for it's monies.

Mr. Pelletier, who took over at VIA Rail after working as Chief of Staff for Prime Minister Jean Chretien, took offense at her comments to La Presse newspaper, calling her a liar! He then leveled a blistering and mean spirited attack on her character. Said Mr. Pelletier: "I don't want to be mean, but this is a poor girl who deserves pity, who doesn't have a spouse, as far as I know," he said. "She is struggling as a single mother with economic responsibilities. Deep down, I think she is pitiful."

When word of the chairman's comments were made public, the condemnation was universal, the opposition called for his dismissal immediately. As it turned out Pelletier was not only a boor, but an uninformed one at that, Ms. Bedard is presently married, but now is a beacon for single mom's everywhere.

The uproar even caught the ear of an ever attentive Prime Minister, who said the comments were completely unacceptable. Suggesting that not only would Pelletier want to withdraw, them he would no doubt want to make an apology. Shortly afterwards an apology to Ms. Bedard was made public by the embattled chairman, who is now involved in a fine bit of damage control.

It may all be a lost cause for Pelletier though. Prime Minister Martin has made executive accountability his highest priority in the wake of the scandal. To have a federally funded corporation treat it's employees with such callous dis-regard, won't do much to make the public believe anything is changing, especially when the employee under attack was only trying to bring to light the ugly side of government financing.

One would think Mr. Pelletier is busy preparing his resume, waiting for word to take the last train out of town.

Tweaking Dennis Miller's show

Not too long ago we posted a story on A Town Called Podunk, expressing great anticipation for the new Dennis Miller show on CNBC. Long a fan of the caustic comedian, it was thought his brand of satire and pointed barbs, would find a ready made target in the political and financial world. Launched to take on CNN's Larry King show, many thought that the hipper more in touch Miller would quickly cut into the King's audience. But after a month, it would seem the King is safe in his reign for a while yet.

This has been a rough little month for Dennis, and a painful one for Podunk to watch. He's seemed unusually unsteady in his present set up, the hour long program chopped up into disjointed segments, many of which not only fail to inform, hell they fail to entertain.

His comedic observations many of which are brilliant, tend to be greeted by uncomfortable silence or light giggling by the stage hands on site for the show. No audience was included in the original design of the show, thus his rapier like wit went mainly un-noticed, the odd viewer at home might have chuckled a bit, but the group guffaw of a studio audience was never there, a dead zone for any comedian.

His guests for the most part haven't been particularly helpful either, many of them probably don't know what to make of a wise cracking host asking them pointed questions about terrorism or financial malfeasance. You find that they tend to offer up nothing resembling an indepth answer or analysis, some appeared to be clinically dead.

The Varsity panel has had potential, but far too often it seemed as though the Republican's and Conservative thinkers, not only outnumbered the Democrats and Liberal believers on the panel, but tended to act like bullies in a school yard with no principal to be found. It only reinforced the stereotype of Republicans being rude and obnoxious, something not normally associated with Miller's comedy for thinkers.

Miller has experienced a political epiphany of sorts, coming out now as a Proud of Bush kind of right wing wiseguy, which is ok, everyone is entitled to their opinions, but the old Dennis Miller of SNL days would be mocking the new one unmercifully. And that's before we get to the chimps, the first one got the punt after about a week on the show, replaced by a new, larger and more active one, with a penchant for the Howard Dean scream button, which it pushes with relish. An inside joke by Miller at the expense of Democrats. But the image of an ape pounding away on a button just distracts you away from the content of the show.

Now comes word that the chimps and a few other things might be deep sixed (for the benefit of the SPCA, that is just a figure of speech). Miller will take a two week hiatus, while the producers work out some new ideas, move things around and scramble to find 100 seats for a studio audience. Realizing that a comedian with topical material needs feed back, they plan on having a studio audience in attendance for the taping of the show each night. The plan is to give things more of a nightclub feeling.

If things don't improve pretty quickly, they may want to improve on the nightclub feeling with happy hour drinks for guests and host. It won't hurt the content that much, and you never know, somebody might end up saying something interesting.

Wal Mart Sucks! But she'll take their bucks

Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry is counting not only on the financial support of his wife, but her moral contributions as well. But he might wish that she'd be a tad more circumspect with her pronouncements. Therese Heinz Kerry, is taking an active part in the Kerry presidential campaign, so her statements become public record and with that subject to public ridicule.

And nobody can hold up the public figures to ridicule better, than Matt Drudge. His decidedly anti-Democratic party website, has produced a bit of an embarrassment for the Kerry's.

Last Week Therese was on the stump, making speeches and addressing the fine women of the Democratic party. Her cause, the ever increasing foothold of the Wal Mart chain of stores. She is not pleased with the effect that they have on small town America. Said Mrs. Kerry, "Another thing that drives me crazy, and I hope I don't offend anyone here, is WAL-MART," Mrs. Kerry told a group of Democratic women activists at a luncheon in St. Paul last Tuesday. "They destroy communities."

Not bad, something that would make John proud, touching the soul of the heartland. A nice way of relating to many of the small business types in the Party, that may have suffered at the hands of the retail monster chain. Makes you think that despite their wealth the Kerry's might actually have some sympathy for the "little guy and gal".

Except, Drudge has had it leaked to his website that Mrs. Kerry is the proud holder of 1 million dollars of Wal Mart stock, purchasing much of it in 2002. She's made a modest dividend return from her retail investment, nothing huge but still every penny counts these days.

While she may be entitled to her opinion that the company "destroys communities", she could have mentioned that it certainly helped to top up her bank account.

Cost effectiveness! The BC Liberal Way

"It wasn't about money, it was never about saving money!" That according to Stan Hagen, the minister in charge of Human Resources, currently on the hot seat over a rather over the top study by his department.

Hagen's department spent 5 million dollars to eventually eliminate 46 people from the welfare rolls, a pretty extravagant "cost - result" ratio, even for this government. In the process, his department's officials caused far more stress on disabled British Columbian's, than really was necessary.

British Columbia's Auditor General, Wayne Streiloff released his report to the legislature this week. In it he blasts the government for it's project, which he says "was not well thought out" and "unecessarilly increased anxiety within a particularly vulnerable group of people". Streiloff went on to say, that while the government needs to investigate that those receiving benefits were eligible, this five million dollar project was not very successful at it. Instead he recommended that a simple statistical study, would have come up with the desired results at much less cost in finances and even less cost on the health of those investigated.

For all it's trouble, the government found out that less than one percent of the folks receiving disability benefits, weren't entitled to them. One wonders what better use five million dollars could have found around the province. But as Minister Hagen said himself, "it was never about saving money".

Indeed, money is not any object. Especially, when the BC Liberals put their dogma ahead of their dollars!

Smilin' Jack Layton's grand debut!

"This Is It"

Overture, curtain, lights
This is it, the night of nights
No more rehearsing and nursing a part
We know every part by heart
Overture, curtains, lights
This is it, we'll hit the heights
And oh what heights we'll hit
On with the show this is it

Tonight what heights we'll hit
On with the show this is it!

copyright 1961 Warner Bros.
thanks to Karen_Hope and DPJOHNSON

And now, that Oscar spotlight stealing Politician, Smilin' Jack Layton.

The NDP flush with cash, is about to launch the .Jack Layton show , as they buy time on the Oscar broadcast Sunday night. Getting the Gospel of Jack out to those casual viewers who only watch the BIG EVENTS! You know those that might just turn the channel, when the image of a politician shows up on the tube. If last years statistics are any indication, over 4.6 million Canadians could be exposed to the thoughts of Smilin' Jack. It's expected that the one time blast of exposure on Oscar Night, will cost the NDP around 90 thousand dollars

The ads are designed, to portray Jack as a credible alternative to the governing Liberals. Painting them as Goliath to Jack's, David. It will target the Liberals as the party of corporate Canada, while Smilin' Jack is the champion of the little guy. Not necessarily that "little guy" from Shawinigan!

The NDP ad buy is part of a comprehensive strategy by the party to get the message out. With over 650,000 dollars to spend, they have great plans for introducing Jack. Ads are also slotted into a variety of television shows, which do seem oh, so NDPish. Such programs as; Sex and the City, Queer Eye for the straight guy, Home and Garden Television, everything but test match cricket between India and Pakistan. The NDP will even approach the Holy Grail of Canadiana, purchasing advertising time on Hockey Night in Canada. One assumes those ads will not run anywhere near Coach's Corner!

Stephen Harper's, Stockwell Day moment

In 14 hundred and 92, Columbus sailed the ocean blue
In the year 2 thousand and 4, Harper's reputation hit the floor

What do would be Conservative leader, Stephen Harper and Christopher Columbus have in common?
Both seemed to get lost while looking for India!

Stockwell Day had his problems with geography, it would seem that Stephen Harper's weakness is going to be History. Stock may not have known which way the rivers ran, but at least he had an inkling of who lived along the shores. Stephen is wearing egg on his face, after his aides sent out celebratory salutations to an aboriginal group, wishing them a very happy Republic Day! Only problem is that Republic Day is celebrated by the folks of Indian heritage as in Calcutta, Bombay and other points far south and east.

"As you partake in cultural festivities and events, which honour your ancestors and celebrate your heritage, I am pleased to pay tribute to the members of the Indian community in Canada," the Jan. 26 letter signed by Mr. Harper said.

Needless to say, the aboriginal group, the Ontario Federation of Friendship Centres, is making pretty quick use of the speed dial on their fax machine, sharing the glad tidings with one and all. Comparing Harper to Christopher Columbus, who mistakenly landed in North America while searching for the sub continent. The aboriginal group is upset with the Harper teams lack of sensitivity on this issue, saying that it's shameful for a national leader to be so uninformed. For his part Harper claims a simple data base error is to blame, no malice intended.

Columbus at least got a feast as he sat in wonder,
Harper probably won't get fed because of his blunder.

Should the Tories ever get back in power, the first thing they need to take care of is education. It would seem that History and Geography are need a bit of work. Instead of a leadership debate, what they really need is a Canadian Geographic and History Channel quiz!

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Is Paul Martin the superstitious type?

Does PM the PM believe in bad omens, is he superstitious, will history repeat itself. All questions we should ponder at the news that Alfonso Gagliano can't possibly appear in front of the sponsorship scandal inquiry tomorrow, as originally planned. Gagliano, the guy in the middle of the current controversy, has told organizers that he's not prepared to testify tomorrow. Having just returned to Canada from his recently terminated position as Ambassador to Denmark, Gagliano says that his lawyer is not available tomorrow and that he needs more time to be properly briefed on the situation.

He would like a bit of time to get things organized, thank you very much. Offering up March 15th as a much more workable date to appear.

An interesting choice for Gagliano and a worrisome thing for Mr. Martin. The committee chair says he is considering his request, wanting to be fair and all of that. But expect a bit of pressure to be put on them to push that date up, just a little bit, lets say five days or so. You see March 15th is also known for the Ides of March, which didn't work out too well for another famous political leader. Things are going bad enough for the government right now, why tempt the fates of the Gods! Then again all of the current Liberal machinations are worthy of ancient Roman times, perhaps it's a blue print for what's ahead for Liberals!

Et tu Alfonso, et tu?

An army of nine

Well we've heard that times are tough for the Canadian Armed Forces, cost cutting and shameful government neglect has taken it's toll on the pride of Canada. But surely things are not so bad, that we can't cobble together more than a recon squad for duty.

With the continuing unrest in Haiti and seemingly a blood bath awaiting President Aristide, the Canadian government has decided to send some troops to protect our property and aid our people. A squad of nine, yep nine, Canadian soldiers have departed for Port au Prince, to take up residence in the official residence and try to quell any disturbances there. They join the existing group of five, currently holding down the fort. While not confirmed (as it never is with this group) the group of nine are suspected to be from the ultra secret JTF 2 force.

Haiti is on the brink of full scale civil war and many non residents have been making plans to leave the country, if they haven't done so already. The rebels are moving closer and closer to the capital and the expected showdown with the Aristide loyalists, which is causing much anxiety in the capital.

The USA has already sent 50 Marines to the Haitian capital to protect their interests. And it's expected that as the violence increases the rush for a safe haven will quicken, with many Haitians hoping for asylum in America (not likely) and possibly Canada (better chance).

With that in mind, all is not lost for our troops. A small contingent from CFB Gagetown has been put on alert in case the numbers need bolstering in the next little while, if things deteriorate they, more JTF troops and a Hercules aircraft will be dispatched to Haiti. They may actually get that call to action sooner than they think. The French and the Americans watching things spin out of control too fast, are calling for an international security force to be placed in Haiti, to try and calm things down as soon as possible.

For now though it's the lucky thirteen, between us and anarchy. They'll no doubt do us proud, but you kind of hope the gov't can get them some back up fast when things turn ugly.

The Little Hotel of Hell

Probably at the time it seemed like a nice little gesture, make a phone call, have someone at the Business Development office take a look at the file, cut a cheque. Yep, that little hotel in Quebec just seemed like business as usual. But from that little hotel comes the dark side of politics, a side that may make Paul Martin's job of governmental clean up guy a little harder to push forward.

Almost lost in the blazing headlines of the Auditor General's report on sponsorship, was a little court ruling at the same time that said; the former president of the Business Development Bank, Francois Beaudoin suffered a vendetta at the hands of associates of the former Prime Minister Jean Chretien. His apparent sin, not approving a grant for an inn in Jean Chretien's riding.

In a well thought out and comprehensive report Toronto Star columnist, Chantal Hebert connects the dots and fills in the blanks, at just how dark things could get in the era of Jean Chretien. Ruined reputations, petty vindictiveness, scandals all keep percolating under the surface. It's like a game of pop the mole. Bad news appears like the mole from one hole to another, bang on one, another pops up.

In fact the recent suspension of BDC president Michel Vennat, has nothing to do with the ongoing sponsorship scandal investigation, but rather the shocking revelations of the Quebec court in the matter of Mr. Beaudoin vs the BDC. Further investigation of the circumstances of Beaudoin's departure from office and the handling of the affairs at BDC, can't be leaving the current Prime Minister hopeful that the bad press will end any time soon. The continual stream of bad news, must be giving him pause at the idea of approaching the electorate any time soon.

It had been thought that the saga of the inn would close with the retirement of Jean Chretien. Yet here it is back on the front pages, like an abscess on a tooth, flaring up waiting to be treated. The Eagles have a song about a famous Hotel, somehow the lyrics seem hauntingly appropriate for the current mess:

We are all just prisoners here
Of our own device
And in the master's chambers
They gathered for the feast
They stab it with their steely knives
But they just can't kill the beast
Last thing I remember
I was running for the door
I had to find the passage back to the place I was before
Relax said the nightman
We are programmed to receive
You can check out any time you like
But you can never leave

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Striking while the iron is hot!

Well they may not have a leader yet, indeed it's still up in the air who will take the newly reconfigured Conservative Party into battle, but they sure know who they're against. Launching the election campaign before it's even called, the Conservatives have put the finishing touches on some radio ad's, that take the advertising scandal to the airwaves of Canada.

The radio commercials, five of them in total, will hit the air next week. They touch on a number of themes, one of them Paul Martin's Canada Steamship Lines tax avoidance issues, the rest deal with the current sponsorship scandal.

One commercial features the voice of a Caribbean sounding actor advising that "our Prime Minister has figured it all out a long time ago " a suggestion as to why CSL registered in the Caribbean at a tax rate of 2% as opposed to Canada at 41%. A woman then adds a line at the end about how if Paul Martin is leading by example, what is he tellilng us? Ouch, now that's something you might expect the folks at Smilin' Jack Layton productions to come up with, but alas, asleep at the mic, the NDP find themselves trumped on their own pet issue.

The Tories may not have a leader yet, but they certainly have a team on top of the undeclared campaign. It will be interesting to see how the pre-occupied Liberals bounce back to challenge the attack ads (or factually correct as the Tories like to refer to them as) and craft their message. That is as soon as they figure out what that message is going to be.

Sloggin' through the Victoria slush!

Environment Minister, David Anderson is used to dealing with hazardous waste issues. However, Anderson may have a little toxic waste site of his own to clean up. The Victoria area MP finds himself feeling the opposition heat, over a music festival of all things. What's up for debate, are some differing opinions, over a fifty thousand dollar grant to the Victoria Rootsfest music festival of 2001.

Jamie Kelley a participant in the festival says that he talked directly to Anderson about getting a grant for the project. Put in touch with Anderson's constituency office, Kelley says that Anderson's aides told him that there was money available for friends of the party. According to Kelley, Anderson aides said there was no need to fill out any forms, the aides went on to jokingly describe it as it as kind of a slush fund for these types of things.

Kelley went on to write a letter to Public Works of Canada, but never heard from the ministry. Instead, he later learned that the festival was receiving funding from a Montreal Ad Agency. Hmm, strike up the Dragnet theme folks, dum de dum dum. It's that little tid bit that has the opposition parties up in arms, as it turns out that the ad agency is one of those caught up in the current sponsorship scandal. The opposition took time today to recount for those MP's, the words of Prime Minister Paul Martin. For those that may have drifted off during his press conference, he said any MP involved in the sponsorship scandal should immediately resign, or be fired. Needless to say, the opposition parties are demanding that Anderson step down immediately.

For his part Anderson says nothing wrong has taken place, his aides were merely putting a constituent in touch with a government agency, like they would do for anyone in the riding. He's not inclined to resign and the Prime Minister has not made any statements suggesting that he do so. With that, the ball is now back in the opposition's court. Expect them to utilize the services of the Toronto Star Newspaper, Chantal Hebert has constructed a wonderful timeline of how one applies for these government grants. After reading this article, you certainly get the feeling that David Anderson's slush problem, isn't going to melt away in the Victoria rain.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Printing your Postie!

If Andre Ouellette has his way, or to be precise his bureaucratic managers, have their way, suburban and rural mail carriers will soon be subject to a fingerprinting as part of their job. Canada Post is in negotiations with it's union over the controversial plan to have fingerprints on record of their employees. The plan gained new life, with the discovery of 31,000 pieces of mail at the home of an Athabasca, Alberta postal worker.

The Canada Post Corporation wants it's prospective employees to also pick up the tab on the fingerprinting procedure, as part of their application for employment. It's not the first time the issue has come up. Some fifteen years ago the Corporation and Union went to battle over the issue of fingerprinting prospective probationary employees, an issue that was eventually ruled a violation of the members right to privacy.

The union is once again taking the stand that it's against this thin wedge of invading it's members privacy.
And well they might have a point, considering the current scandal involving the advertising revenues from Canada Post and the troubled ad agencies in Quebec. With Canada Post executives scheduled to testify at the upcoming hearings, perhaps the first fingerprinting session should take place at the Post Office headquarters in Ottawa.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Was Lady Barbara A Boor?

As the Black empire suffers under the weight of a shareholder revolt, as well as media and judicial scrutiny, the Black's must now endure the revelations of their social foibles.

Lady Barbara Black is using the pages of the Spectator to battle back against an article, in that same newspaper, that called into question her social mores as hostess of a dinner party. An article by journalist Eleanor Mills of the Spectator, tells the tale of Lady Black, dismissing Ms. Mills from a party, after deciding the lady wasn't needed there anymore. Kind of a here's your hat, what's your hurry, bum's rush out the servant's door.

The two have been trading insulting letters back and forth in the paper since the first article appeared, which painted the Black's as a couple who let power and money go to their heads. Excerpts of the point - counter point letters, can be found in a story in the Globe and Mail.

What must be particularly galling to Lord and Lady Black, is that the Spectator is one of their publications. You could be sure this kind of mutiny would never have happened, if the Lord were still on the Bridge!

Speaking of the Lord, it's interesting to note is that His Lordship Conrad of Blackharbour himself, also urged Ms. Mills to "skeedaddle", Skeedaddle? Is that any way for a pontifical, palaverous, pleonastic author, not to mention oratorically, magniloquent, redundant member of the House of Lords to speak. One would expect a long, laborious, discourse on the best possible way, for one to exit the dinner party without being noticed. Skeedaddle just doesn't sound like Lord Black. But then perhaps he was starting his personal cutbacks at that time, desperate times require desperate measures, perhaps his vocabulary was merely the first victim.

Lessons Learned from Bill

Stand by for the flood of television commercials, the negative radio ads, the unflattering newspaper pages. George W. Bush has over 100 million dollars to spend, and the copywriters are at the ready. The film is in the can and the time has all been bought, all that's missing is the schedule and the viewers.

Taking a page out of that wily ole Politico Bill Clinton, Bush is about to use his "soft" money to wreak havoc on the early stages of a Democratic nominee. Back in 1996, Bill Clinton used 30 million in money raised from unions, corporations and wealthy individuals to paint Republican nominee Bob Dole in a most unflattering light. And the Republicans being the party of the elephant, never forget. It seems they will be returning that favor and in a sizeable increase in scale.

The President's people have amassed the largest war chest in American political history, with over 104.4 million in the bank as of the end of January. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the Democrat front runner John Kerry, with his still clinging to life competitor John Edwards along for the ride. Kerry is reportedly in a negative cash flow situation so far, with 2.1 million reported in the bank at the end of January, and a 7.2 million dollar campaign debt. Of that debt 6 million is a loan he gave to himself. For Edwards after the debits and credits are tabulated at HQ, the candidate only has around 100,000 dollars to play with.

Now before you hold tag days for either one, keep in mind that Federal funding will provide each party nominee a total of 75 million in post convention money to be used in the Presidential campaign. As well each party plans on adding their own funding as the race heats up.

As a matter of fact the Bush team intends to raise close to another 50 million dollars before the August nomination convention, as the money has to be spent by then. So with roughly 150 million dollars to toss into advertising, look for some serious attack ads on the Democrats.

For the Democrats part, they'll be playing catch up for a while as they wind their way down the nomination trail, and possibly may never catch up to that Republican feed bag.

With all these millions of dollars getting tossed around like penny ante poker bets, one wonders if the average American citizen even bothers to make political donations, let alone bother to vote anymore. It used to be that you got the government you deserve, now it's you get the government you buy.

A conversation piece for the couch potatoe

Your nights not too exciting around the family table these days, looking for a way to liven things up? Kevin Williamson at the Calgary Sun gives us some fodder for an argument, with a list of the top 25 shows on Television, including a reason or two why. A wide ranging list it includes many, that certainly would be on everyone's favorites list.

Some of the highlights on the Must have seen watch include: Seinfeld, The Simpsons, All in the Family, Homicide: Life on the Street, Twin Peaks, Sesame Street, M*A*S*H, David Letterman and The X-Files to name a few. Many of the shows were critically acclaimed but viewer ignored, Homicide for instance, was by far one of the smartest TV cop shows ever on, yet floundered at times in NBC's lineup. Others like M*A*S*H and All In the Family went on to change the way we approached television viewing.

Of course for every winners list, you have a loser's list. And Williamson doesn't disappoint with a list of the worst television shows in history. If you remember or still watch these, you are part of a elite crew of folks destined for history: The Jerry Springer Show, Cop Rock, After M*A*S*H, Hogan's Heroes, Dukes of Hazard, The XFL, Dallas, Seeing things, Joanie Love Chachi or Baby Bob. Find out if your favorite is actually a stinker by checking out the list.

The piece even includes a trivia section where you can play along.

For instance, who or should that be what, kicked the bionic brains out of the bionic man? Sammy Davis kissed which TV character to cause a shock in TV land? Check out the list for the answers.

Now if you know every show on both lists, perhaps a little less time in front of the television might be your best option. If you can name the shows, actors and plotlines of each and everyone, chances are you don't get out much.

Billions and Billions

Carl Sagan would be proud. NASA released statistics today that shows earthlings have a great fascination of Mars. In the last six weeks, the amount of visits to the NASA website for the Mars Rover project has numbered more than the amount of people living on earth.

Since January 4th, the site has been accessed more than 6.5 billion times. It's now more popular than the NOAA site for tracking hurricanes and the IRS site for tracking taxpayers. Not surprisingly really, at least with the NASA site you can see where your tax dollars are going, as opposed to watching your tax dollars go on the IRS site.

Friday, February 20, 2004

Saving for a rainy day!

Ah the timing, it just couldn't be any better. As the Canadian public is focused on the image of millions of dollars of public monies getting shoveled to like minded advertising agents, we are asked to shift our gaze just a little. While most of us would rather keep a laser focus on that ever growing boondoggle of pork in sponsorships, perhaps we should broaden our horizons just a wee bit.

Jean-Pierre Kingsley, the Chief electoral officer says: "it's now impossible to know, just how much money MP's and other past candidates, have stashed away in trust funds, but it's hard to believe the figures won't reach into the millions." The dollars have been stashed away in private trust funds, that have for years remained out of public reach and out of site.

It's a topic that has remained out of the spotlight for years, as candidates amass huge war chests that can be spent on anything at anytime, with hardly any sense of control or transparency. As one critic explained, "If people can give money in secret, it's a recipe for corruption"

Through the years, there have been suspicions that some of these trust funds could total up into the six figures. The beauty of the trust fund, for the MP anyways, is the ability for the recipient to pocket any excess monies from their funds, not used on campaign expenses.

With all the attention on money these days, that which we send, and that with what they spend. The time might be more than right for an investigation into these funds and how to reel them back in. I'm sure in the spirit of the day, they'll all be more than accountable for us. Now normally these funds might be considered a "rainy day" fund, and there's certainly no doubt that right now Ottawa is more of a tsunami of water than a rainstorm. But many Canadians might at the moment resent being considered as the umbrella for our elected officials.

Pound Foolish, by a Furlong!

A scathing newspaper article that could have been the unraveling of Gordon Campbell's Olympic dream, ended with smiles and handshakes all around by the end of the day. Earlier in the morning, a cold wind from the East blew across the Rockies, settling over Vancouver when Dick Pound, Canadian Olympic official started tossing words like rigged and hijacked around. Throwing a bit of taint on the Vancouver candidate for the position of Vancouver Games CEO, John Furlong.

Furlong an ex-patriot Irishman, now Canadian, was the gifted orator at the final session of the IOC, he has long been credited for his hard work in getting the games for Vancouver. His closing argument for Vancouver, steeped in a glowing love of his new land, left barely a dry eye in the house on decision day. From day one, it was basically considered his job to lose, which seemed to set Mr. Pound into a blue funk. The Montreal lawyer, who has been hanging around the Canadian Olympic movement for years, took offense to a newcomer, interloping into the bureaucratic maze that is the Canadian Olympic movement.

Furlong who quite possibly is the most respected guy in Vancouver these days, was taken aback by the blistering condemnation of his skills by the pious Mr. Pound, who trashed his reputation in a press piece in the Vancouver Sun today. Apparently not the first time he has taken his self proclaimed status as a deep thinker to heart, Pound managed to annoy not only every single COC member in BC, he also spoke out of turn as Eastern members tripped over themselves to dis-associate themselves from his rant.

Paul Henderson a member of the 2010 Olympic board and a member of the IOC, said that Pound tends to like to do this. It's just, I think, totally out of order. Henderson was the point man for the unsuccessful, Toronto bid a few years ago, and speaks as though he's had more than a few run ins with Dick.

For Furlong, the decision today was vindication for the high road taken. He never said a negative word during the whole drawn out process. He now takes on a daunting challenge, a 6 billion dollar project, watched by millions of would be CEO's, one wonders if he should not have run from the job as fast as possible. Then again, the pay ain't half bad, $300,000 a year and a 25% bonus each year if the targets are met. More than enough to withstand the slings and arrows of the likes of Mr. Pound. For Gordon Campbell, getting Furlong into the office and off the front page should come as a relief. With a relatively competent point man on the Olympic project, it should be one less thing that could go wrong for him in the near future.

Saying that it's not a job, it's a cause. Furlong appears to be off and running, as opposed to the now disregarded Dick, who should learn to keep his mouth from doing the same.

A shift in the wind

Well the agents of right wing political thought, speech and deed, seem to be cannibalizing each other with glee. While Richard Perle and David Frum make the book tour rounds, flogging their latest tome, "An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terrorism", the critics are stomping over each other to rebut their theories.

Now you might expect Michael Moore to compose a weighty response, to the Armageddon like ravings of the right wing doubles team. Or Al Franken, to vent with a sequel to his Liars collection: Really Rightwing Rejects; and The relatively ridiculous righties who repeat them. The book reply would be right up their alley.

But what's this? The most thoughtful, if slightly histrionic, rebuttal to everything Perle and Frum believe in, is none other than Patrick J. Buchanan, with a piece for the American Conservative. Huh, what? Yep Pat who is slightly to the right of Augusto Pinochet at times, has put together a scathing indictment of the Terror Twins, as they put forth their pax Americana militaris. Buchanan who has always been a walls up on the drawbridge kind of guy, takes them to task for their belief that American force must be used in every brush fire in the world. He lashes out at the duo of doom, as they put forward a Monroe Doctrine for the new century. Your mouse will move at a rapid clip down the page, devouring every word, watching shreds of Perle, pieces of Frum scattered along the bytes, barely taking a breath with Pat, as he spits out more venom, an evisceration by illiteration.

Mostly Buchanan, focuses on Perle, as a matter of fact he's quite dismissive of young David's talents. Saving his most succinct put down to a simple term, "he's not even American, he's a Canadian" apparently that explains it all one assumes. For surely a Canadian has no right to give guidance to the world's strongest super power, and uh, well sometimes even Pat hits on the head. Because young Mr. Frum really does not have the gravitas nor the resume, for solving the world's problems on a few scraps of paper and some binding. But, for God's sake, don't tell Pat I said that.

Over at Sean Incognito is a well thought out, excellently prepared review of this right wing brouhaha. Sit back, grab a brew (or something stronger if you're a right winger) and check it out. Pick your sides, sit back and watch the fireworks. A red, white and blue, cascade of criticism.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

I think I can, I think I can.

Like the little engine that could, the Belinda Stronach campaign keeps on a rollin. Tonight Belinda turns her attention from Tony and Steve and targets the big man himself, PM the PM. Stronach, tonight blamed Paul Martin for the current scandal whipping around the Ottawa streets. Telling one and all that she was ready to be Prime Minister (uh, might want to win that leadership thing first there Belinda!), she questioned the Prime Minister's competence and accused him of shirking his responsibilities.

Pulling out the cliche-o-matic, she spoke about captains taking responsibility of the ship, can't run from your own track record and the ever popular time for a change. She went on to explain how she is a good team player and can build a strong team.

As a matter of fact her current team is getting quite a bit of exposure of late, as three members find themselves under the bright lights, from past transgressions. Three men, who have endorsed her campaign are soon to be given the punt by the candidate, Belinda saying she wants nothing to do with them.

"They will not be staying," she said of ex-MPs Gabriel Fontaine and Michel Cote as well as Harry Bloomfield, a longtime Conservative supporter who was convicted on one count of conspiracy and 16 counts of falsifying records.

Fontaine was convicted in 1999 of defrauding taxpayers of $100,000, while Cote was fired by former prime minister Brian Mulroney in the 1980s for breaching conflict of interest rules.

While she's busy accusing the Prime Minister of incompetence and shirking responsibilities, she had best keep one thing in the back of her mind. We tend to be judged by the company we keep. A few more skeletons like these three and her train may be heading for a siding for a lengthy rest.

Thank God! For Rosie.

Love Is A Burning Thing
And It Makes A Fiery Ring
Bound By Wild Desire
I Fell Into A Ring Of Fire

I Fell Into A Burning Ring Of Fire
I Went Down, Down, Down
And The Flames Went Higher

And It Burns, Burns, Burns
The Ring Of Fire
The Ring Of Fire

I Fell Into A Burning Ring Of Fire
I Went Down, Down, Down
And The Flames Went Higher

And It Burns, Burns, Burns
The Ring Of Fire
The Ring Of Fire

The Taste Of Love Is Sweet
When Hearts Like Ours Meet
I Fell For You Like A Child
Oh, But The Fire Went Wild

I Fell Into A Burning Ring Of Fire
I Went Down, Down, Down
And The Flames Went Higher

And It Burns, Burns, Burns
The Ring Of Fire
The Ring Of Fire

I Fell Into A Burning Ring Of Fire
I Went Down, Down, Down
And The Flames Went Higher

And It Burns, Burns, Burns
The Ring Of Fire
The Ring Of Fire

And It Burns, Burns, Burns

The Ring Of Fire

The Ring Of Fire

Yes! A classic Johnny Cash tune, one many of us learned from our parents, handed down as if a gift. So what the hell, was song co-writer Merle Kilgore thinking, when he seriously considered the idea of using the signature tune to flog anti-haemorrhoidal products. Kilgore was approached by Florida TV producer, Sula Miller, who apparently suffers from said affliction. Her idea was to use the song as the theme to an advertising campaign.

Fortunately for Cash fans and fans of good taste, the idea was vetoed by Roseanne Cash, who blocked the move saying she would never let his music be demeaned that way.

In the past, Johnny Cash had done his share of advertising, one of his most kitschy ads was for the Canada Trust banking service in the 70's, his Johnny Cash card commercials still a pop culture hit. But this idea, was too off the wall for any fan of the Country legend, not to mention the bad precedent it might have set.

Imagine if it were the thin wedge of commercializing his hits. Other Cash tunes may have followed, Pickin'' Time for Kleenex, Get Rhythm for Trojan condoms, A boy named Sue for transgender clinics, just to name a few.

Sometimes it's best to leave our icons alone. Let the music rest as it was composed, without the need to trivialize it in a commercial. Thank Heavens that Rosie is on the job to guard her father's legacy. It appears that it may be full time job.

My Scandal is bigger than yours!

Tomorrow morning should make for some interesting listening for the Bill Good radio audience. Mr. Good has not one, but two scandal touched leaders penciled in on his agenda for the day. The CKNW morning talk show has long been the sounding board for the province, a place where the citizenry can vent and expel their venom. Long the domain of the likes of Jack Webster, Gary Bannerman and Rafe Mair, it now is home to multi task Bill. A guy with so many jobs, it explains where all the media jobs went to, Bill has them all.

Anyways tomorrow morning, Premier Gordon Campbell will guest early on, pumping up the new budget, the new cabinet and hopefully (for him anyways) dodging any nasty remembrances of the last year of scandal. Fat chance, Gord! At any rate, he is just the warm up act.

After the premier takes his leave, it's the main event. Prime Minister Paul Martin takes to the NW airwaves, still on his "no stone unturned tour". He'll join Bill via phone from Ottawa, to get the message out that the Liberals are changing their ways, out with the old, in with the new.

For Bill Good it's a chance to clean up the audience for the day, from 8:30 until noon, you can be sure most radios will be tuned to NW. For Rafe Mair it's a chance to rail on about how none of the leaders will appear on his show at AM 600, because he asks the "tough" questions. Rafe has long said that his confrontational style leads to cancellations, or out right refusals of the politicos to show up. He also coyly suggests that over at his old stompin' grounds, guests get an easier time of things from the new host of his old time slot.

As for Campbell and Martin, I'm Not sure what is in it for them. Perhaps its just a case of misery loving company.

Like finding a rotten fish in the fridge!

With the two malcontents, Sheila and John finished with the agent provocateur role, for the time being. The remainder of the Liberal caucus has begun to circle the wagons regarding the sponsorship scandal. Using a variety of analogies, Liberal MP's are offering their take on the situation and the handling of it.

Toronto area MP Dennis Mills (unofficial minister for Rolling Stones concerts, Papal visits, etc.) chose to compare the scandal to a case of cancer, eating away at the public trust. He went on to compare the Prime Minister to a skilled surgeon. One who was passionately committed to getting the cancer out of the patient. Dr. Mills, however had a long period of convalescence for our patients Mr. and Mrs Trust. He believes that the period of recovery may be longer than April or May. So does that mean bye, bye election plans?

Not if Joe Fontana is to be believed, Fontana came out of caucus ready to rumble. He said that the Prime Minister was "pumped" and that Belinda, Tony, Jack and Stephen, had all better watch out. Cause this guy is fired up!

Many MP's expressed the belief that the Prime Minister did what he had to do. Taking the situation in hand, addressing the issue and facing the public. Human Resources Minister Joe Volpe said, "I think it's always a good thing when the prime minister of the country is accessible to the people who put him there." Certainly a novel concept for our elected officials.

The recurring theme from one and all as they exited the power of positive thinking session, was that it's time to get on with governing. According to Liberals, that's the message they are getting from the public. I'm sure that's not the only messages they're getting, but then, some of us haven't been very polite I guess.

By far though, the most original comment came from Liberal (and former separatist) candidate Jean Lapierre. Who came out of that meeting in Ottawa today, with the gift of a silver tongue. Lapierre, said that Paul Martin inherited this scandalous situation, from the Jean Chretien team. He drew the analogy of a family inheritance, of someone inheriting a house full of new furniture, only to discover there is a rotting fish in the fridge.

Hmm, wonder if the fish came from the Irving Lodge in New Brunswick?

Your Turn


My various blogsites now have the HaloScan comment feature added to them. Here's your chance to toss your two cents worth at me, in an easy to work with format. If you disagree with something I've said, shout out at me and let me know the error of my ways. If you think I'm an undiscovered genius, well I'll blushingly accept your accolades.

Whether you are a regular reader or just a fly by, if you have something to say, drop a line.

You can also still use the e mail contact link at the bottom of the right hand column, the choice is yours.


Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Slowing the Steamroller

John Kerry did not get his way tonight, he still was still victorious but the expected margin of his victory might well serve as a warning. There is still work to do on his fellow Democrats, the near loss will serve to get him back on message for them. Having taken advantage of his front runner status the last few weeks, Kerry had shifted his candidacy to more of an attack George Bush front, taking for granted that his Democratic opponents were soon to disappear.

Taking advantage of that window of opportunity to sell himself to Wisconsin voters, Sen. John Edwards found himself a close, very close second in that state's primary tonight. Edwards had been busy exploring issues close to the hearts of the folks in Wisconsin, unemployment and health care. Like many Northern states, Wisconsin has been hard hit by a number of issues, closed or re-located plants, farms in crisis, rising health care costs and concerns. The issues that real people are truly concerned about.

Kerry's campaign got caught up in a sideshow of bimbosticity, the Drudge Report, letting loose with wild rumours of supposed womanizing by Kerry. While certainly not a campaign issue, Kerry had to at least address the problem, which he did, stating that there was nothing to the reports. So far it hasn't developed into a campaign crisis for him. His other focus this last week or so has been the George Bush war debate, caught up in the sparring over whether the President actually served any real purpose during the Vietnam War, or if he even served at all.

While those two brushfires burned, Edwards just shook hands, made speeches and apparently won some votes. For Edwards his presentation as a son of a mill worker who made himself better, had more resonance to the common man or woman, than Kerry's monied past and present. Edwards' populist image has been giving his campaign a certain boost. Making Kerry realize that this may not be the slam dunk, he previously thought it was going to be.

Now Kerry is still in a commanding position, and more than likely at the end of the day will be the Democratic nominee (unless his campaign dissolves into repetitive bouts of scandal). The victory as close as it was, is still a victory. It's his 16th primary win out of 18, Edwards has won only one. Kerry also holds almost a three to one lead in delegates to the convention, so Kerry is still in fairly good shape.

What the Edwards near victory does do though is create the perception of a race. It raises questions about whether Kerry is as electable as first thought. And with key primaries to come in California, New York, Ohio and other states in two weeks, Super Tuesday should be a good barometer for the Kerry campaign. There are 1,151 votes are up for grabs on March 2nd, should Edwards continue to do well then, the Kerry machine will have to readjust their candidates platform and presentation.

The big loser again tonight was Howard Dean, who finished a disappointing third. The Dean campaign has been in free fall for the last month or so. Yet another senior campaign official was dumped earlier today, the candidate not willing to hear the message. Most of his labour support has drifted away, while the voters take a look at him and then choose to go in a different direction.

His speech tonight was actually one of his better ones, reminiscent of the early days of the campaign when the buzz for him had started to build. He touched on the issue of unemployment and jobs that have left the state never to return. A theme well received by the population but not rewarded at the ballot box. It was a passionate address, one in which he did not say he was quitting the race. Indeed earlier in the day he had been suggesting he wants to carry on until Super Tuesday.

Many now think it's only a matter of time for Dean. He might hang around for a bit so as to be a kingmaker or angle for a position on any eventual ticket. But his dreams of becoming President were dashed long ago. His campaign was rather mercurial, a fast launch he raised millions of dollars off the internet. Democrat activists and newcomers showering his campaign with the funds to carry on. It's actually quite ironic, as his campaign has crashed to the ground, much like those dot com stocks of a few years ago. Lots of flash, but after a sober second look the investors, in this case the voters, have gone on to reinvest elsewhere.

The question now is will they go with or, Super Tuesday will go a long way to giving us an answer.

People of Quebec: "I'm an albino Jackass!"

Conan O'Brien faced the fallout from his recent give Toronto a boost programs, by "apologizing" Conan style to the people of Quebec. On the first show back after his Toronto junket, O'Brien set the record straight. Using a French translator, O'Brien issued his mea culpa which featured much self deprecation. The translator's version of Conan's comments, appeared in English in subtitles at the bottom of the screen.

O'Brien got into hot water last week, when Triumph the Insult dog, insulted a wide variety of Quebecois. Taking to the streets of Quebec City, Triumph became the most politically incorrect puppet to ever wander the Grande Alle. Nothing was sacred to the caustic canine, who expressed great delight in mocking any Quebecois who stumbled into his path.

The resulting firestorm, threatened to take away Don Cherry's status as public enemy number one in brasseries around the province. Interestingly enough, the most vociferous critic of the Triumph skit, was not from Quebec. Nova Scotia MP, Alexa McDonough was seemingly the most offended, calling the project "racist filth" and "utterly vile". She went on to demand that the government seek to recover the million dollar subsidy, used to bring O'Brien to Toronto for the week. God help the sheltered Alexa, should she ever happen to tune in to some of the programs offered up on TVA and SRC, some of which don't treat their fellow Quebecois with much respect.

For O'Brien the "apology" was brilliant way of making hay out of a controversy that was limited to a small viewer base north of the border. By reviewing the events of the controversy, O'Brien has gone on to garner even more publicity for his show in the US, and highlighted the ultra-sensitive nature of Canadian cultural relations.

As that old show biz adage goes: "all publicity is good, as long as they spell my name right"

It's a safe bet, everyone in Canada, including Quebec can now spell CONAN.

One Big Happy Family?

The current difficulties for Paul Martin seem to be bringing out the conspiracy crackers from all corners. On the Borque Newswatch this evening is the Banner headline: LIBS PONDER SUCCESSION.

Here's the entire script as it appeared on Borque.

The governing Liberal Party is nothing, if not pragmatic. Its one and only reason for existence is to govern. Period. Leaders, as a recent succession of leaders have sadly found out along the way, come second ... unless they are potential winners at the ballot box. Bourque can reveal that, as the Party continues to free-fall (internal party numbers now show the Libs at 30%), a growing number of disgruntled Liberals, already unhappy with their leader for a variety of reasons (Chretien/Copps/Rock supporters, still-on-backbench Martinites, sponsorship-shocked trench warriors, ordinary members disgusted by the $1/6 Billion CSL scandal, etc), have begun pondering the imponderable: if not Martin, then who to lead the party into the next election ? The basic issue is this: Martin is a one-trick pony, integrity. If he loses that, he loses the party. A critical mass is forming around the shocking notion that the incumbent leader is a lame duck who will have to go before the next election. Developing .

Above it was the smiling visage of Frank McKenna, I assume we are to believe he's to be the picker up of pieces, after things implode.

Such is the scent of blood in the water these days around Parliament Hill. While the Borque Newswatch is not the definitive word in newsgathering, it has it's followers. Needless to say if there is anyone out there with a grudge to settle or with a bit of mis-information to plant, the job is a lot easier on the internet. Borque takes advantage of our need to view the car wreck. Look for much more of the same as this scandal reveals itself.

A Liberal drop out

John Bryden struck a blow for self preservation today, becoming the second Liberal MP to openly criticize Prime Minister Paul Martin. Sheila Copps, of course led off the attack last week with her critical comments about the Prime Minister, regarding the ongoing scandal over advertising payola. Interestingly enough, both MP's are members from the Hamilton area, not sure what to make of that geographical tidbit, other than an affinity for money laundering in the area or something.

At any rate, Mr. Bryden is sufficiently outraged over the Prime Ministers brief stewardship over the scandal, that he's apparently had enough! Openly making overtures to the Conservative party, hoping to stand in nomination for them, if they will have him. (Don't hold your breath Johnny boy, Tory nominations are about to become the hottest ticket in the land)

All day we've been treated to video clips of Bryden, explaining how he was a happy Liberal for ten years. Leaving us to believe that the Happy Family Days of Liberalism, came to an end that fine November evening in Toronto. To hear Bryden tell it, when Paul Martin became leader the fun came out of being a Liberal. Now put that into context with what we've learned about Liberals in the last week or so, doesn't that make you just a little bit nervous.

Ok, so while we're here John, lets review the last week. A visibly shaken Prime Minister expresses outrage over the perception, no lets be frank, the evidence of corruption; permeating the Liberal party at the moment. Saying that anyone in the party that may be involved, have known anything or have evidence to present, should step forward right now. Vowing to clean things up, he then goes on the point to take the incoming flack from an extremely angry public. Now whether you like Paul Martin or not, believe in his policies or don't, or consider yourself a Liberal or say not a chance, you at least have to give him credit for taking on the issue head on. Truth be told, he probably had no choice, such was the outrage across the land last week, but he at least has begun steps to get to the bottom of the rot.

So what is it that Mr. Bryden is so disappointed about. If he was a happy Liberal for ten years under the regime that seems to have refined pork barreling to a new level of contempt, where is the outrage from that period of time? If he personally was not part of the problem then, he certainly wasn't part of the solution. All day we've been told how he was a constant critic of government waste, an avid proponent of access to information. Long identified as a Chretien loyalist one wonders if not a small shred of hypocrisy can be sensed here. While on one hand he was railing on about gov't waste, the inner circle of Liberal loyalists was doling gov't monies out in a wasteful fashion. And he heard not a rumble?

Sorry, John, but if you're going to pretend to be taking the high road in this debate, better get a firmer grip on the reality of the situation. Most Canadians polled would probably come to the conclusion that the various government scandals of the last ten years, were the responsibility of Mr. Chretien, not Mr. Martin. How Mr. Bryden has gone from point A-B with his judgments is too say the least baffling.

In his various media appearances, Bryden went on to say that the Liberal party "is one full of cynicism today", well stand in line Liberals, we've got a whole nation of cynics ahead of you. He then went on to blast Martin for his handling of the scandal, as well as for the long drawn out leadership battles of the last four years.

For Martin, the news certainly isn't helpful, but I can't see it being particularly apocalyptic. There is certainly no secret here that the Liberal party has a mighty chasm within it right now, but I somehow think the Canadian people will be able to figure out which politicians are truly interested in preserving some semblance of ethics, and which ones are interested in self preservation.

Bryden was on a Calgary talk show today on which he said: "I've been holding off these past number of weeks as I've watched things happen here in Ottawa, and I've been very disturbed,". Now while that's a very strong statement to make, one filled with all sorts of innuendo, one thing sticks in my mind. That's three weeks of concern, very nice, but what about the last nine years and 47 or so weeks in Parliament, how come we never heard from you before John? Canadians have been disturbed about events in Ottawa for more than three weeks, buddy, a lot more than three weeks.

Monday, February 16, 2004

"I don't think anymore"

Ah, Jean, it's just not the same without you. Former Prime Minister Jean Chretien offered the above quote, when describing his thoughts on the financial sponsorship scandal, presently haunting his successor. A scandal that many people argue, had it's genesis under the leadership of the former Prime Minister. Chretien who now toils as a lawyer and glad hander for Canadian law firms, had just returned from a trip to Asia. Reporters caught up to him during the noon hour, at his offices in Ottawa. Joking with them that he'd rather be skiing today, Chretien had little else to say about the woes currently dogging Prime Minister Paul Martin.

His only commentary on the situation was a return to his good ole days of cipher like quotes, "I was the government I replied to all of your questions - a lot of them. Now if you have questions, go ask the government"

And with that he was done talking, a style he refined over his years as Prime Minister. A couple of jokes, a quip or two and then up or down a flight of stairs. It was his template for dealing with scandal during his time on the Hill. He had no reaction to the rumbling in the Liberal party, of his responsibility in all of the turmoil. But if he's not talking, there is no shortage of others willing to tackle the issue.

In today's editorial page of the Montreal Gazette, L. Ian MacDonald, writes of Prime Minister Martin being adrift in a perfect storm. MacDonald traces the various ingredients for this perfect storm, suspicious fires at a rural Quebec hotel (yes THAT hotel). The troubles of the Business Development Bank with that same hotel. The former fired president of that bank, now vindicated in court last week. The money laundering of the advertising scandal and all of it's repercussions, with Crown Company heads soon to roll for their sins.

As MacDonald wraps up his travelogue of misfortune, he warns of a pending civil war among the Liberal Party. With Martin staking out the high ground for himself, Chretien be damned. As a closing argument MacDonald goes on to refer to Chretien as a bully, who ran the country ruthlessly, abusing his power at every turn. It's a powerful condemnation of the Chretien legacy, one which no doubt be examined closely, by his fellow lawyers at the law firms he's now employed by.

Now in the spirit of fairness, it must be pointed out that L. Ian MacDonald was once a biographer of Brian Mulroney. So, one suspects his point of view may not be a completely balanced affair, having a bit of a Conservative bias in them. Many will consider it a provocative piece from a long time adversary. However, his comments will certainly find a wide ranging audience, willing to consider the evidence and decide accordingly. For many, it will ring as true as the gospel from a Sunday pulpit.

Perhaps this is why the former Prime Minister chooses not to think anymore. It's been said you should always think before you speak, so I guess if you're not going to speak, the theory is why think. As this scandal continues to unravel, the former Prime Minister may have to give up some time for contemplation. He may also be forced to offer up an explanation. And if Mr. MacDonald is correct, be prepared to accept some vilification.

Blowin' off the border guards

The United States government likes to point out that we sometimes don't take border security seriously, so they'll be pleased to know that our gang is on the job. Earlier today, one of the busiest border crossings between Canada and the United States, was shut down for almost an hour.

Al-Qaida, no not them; Islamic fundamentalists, guess again; irate anti Conan O'Brien fans from Quebec? Nope! Today's deadly insurgent, was a lady with a poor sense of direction and a hand grenade. A 28 year old American lady, somehow got her Vancouver's mixed up, traveling 400 miles in the wrong direction. The wrong way motorist ending up at a Canada Customs border post at the Peace Arch crossing.

The lady was apparently supposed to be traveling to Vancouver, Washington, from Olympia, Washington. Somehow while traversing the Washington state highway system she turned right instead of left, going North instead of South. A few more hours on the road and she becomes the subject of an international incident.

When she arrived at the border, she was asked if she had anything to declare and subjected to the traditional vehicle search. It was at this point when the Customs agents found the grenade rolling around in the glove compartment. The woman's husband, is apparently a soldier posted to Fort Lewis in Washington State. She hit the highway this President's day, unaware of her cargo. The grenade it seems belong to him, or so she told the Customs folks.

The RCMP were called in, as was a bomb disposal unit, so as not take any chances. After a one hour delay, the border was re-opened to the traveling public. It's not expected that the woman will face any charges, though it's unlikely she'll be allowed to take the grenade back home with her.

It certainly takes that whole American right to bear arms concept to a new level. It's not known why her husband would have had the grenade in his car, perhaps it was take your weapon home from work day.

Today's terror alert colour is RED, as in red faced.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Vindication or Resignation!

PM the PM went to the media dogs again today, appearing on CTV's Question Period in the morning and CBC's Cross Country Check Up by the afternoon/evening. Press conferences, television shows, radio call in sessions, such is the life of a leader facing a question of credibility. Mr. Martin, who has been earnestly portraying himself as the sheriff best able to clean up Dodge, faced a rather well versed audience on the Rex Murphy gabfest. He listened intensely, as caller after caller expressed shock, disappointment and well expressed outrage over the latest financial mess out of Ottawa.

His energetic agenda, that of those halcyon Bono days at the Liberal convention, has seemingly been tossed into a back corner of the PMO, as he struggles to gain the high ground in the all enveloping scandal. He offered the suggestion that this current situation offers up a window of change for his party, the government and the country. About an hour into the two hour session, he invoked the memory of his late father, Paul Martin Sr., the much respected Liberal statesman of days of yore. Providing the opinion that like his father, he believes strongly in the spirit of public service, for the good of the nation. Expressing the sentiment that he didn't get into politics to play the kind of games currently being discussed by the nation, played by an elite crew, on a business as usual basis. He said, if he can't change that culture then, he would get out. Pretty strong words, but ones which you may be inclined to give him a bit of acknowledgment for.

Some callers questioned his comments about the integrity of Jean Chretien. Early on in the interview, Martin expressed admiration of the former Prime Minister and said he was a man of great integrity. Now one wonders if he truly believes that in his heart, or was taking the high road of debate in this tense time. Only he, himself will know. However, you must wonder just how he long he might wish to defend the regime that created this crisis. If indeed, he was on the outside looking in on the shenanigans, it would serve him well to let the "chips fall as they will" a comment he stated during the interview.

As a regular follower of A Town Called Podunk would know, I have been trying to finish off the book Juggernaut by Susan Delacourt. My tardiness on completion, is no reflection of Ms. Delacourt's talents, rather it's my consumption with this blog. But, what I have digested thus far from it, shows almost a parallel governance system in place over the last five years or so. Truly, it's not hard to believe, that he may very well not have had any hard proof, of the skullduggery happening in the advertising world of Quebec. Surely he must have suspected that things weren't particularly transparent, but he may not have been at the table when he cheques were cut.

The book paints a disturbing picture of petty bickering and churlish behaviour from the troops of both men. In his press conference of a few days ago, Mr. Martin suggested that things were not particularly rosy between he, Prime Minister Chretien and his circle of advisors. If you skim the chapters of Juggernaut, you'll have that little tidbit flushed out in full for you. While not wanting to become a shill for an author, heading to your local bookstore or library and picking it up, will give you some excellent background on the animosity that percolated in both camps in the last five years.

The Prime Minister says that the accountability of the issue is his and his alone to solve. Having faced the wrath of the callers he expressed his personal anger, shock and dismay at the situation and vowed that he would get to the bottom of the scandal. As the talk show wound down, Martin expressed the belief that anyone found to have had knowledge of falsifying documents, kiting cheques and such, should resign, he or anyone else. The country he wishes to continue to govern will be taking him at his word, playing his words back to him at some time in the future, if we don't get the answers we are demanding today.

Want to strike it rich in the lottery?

The Georgia Straight has come up with some interesting statistics for us to ponder. While you and I might spend our dollars on scratch and win, 649, Super 7 and BC49 tickets. The real winners, know where the cash is, it's as close as the Human Resources office of BC Lottery Corporation. Never mind filling out a Sports action or 649 form, what you need to do is fill out an application form!

Five executives, were each paid more than 180,000 dollars per year, for their work on behalf of the gambling population of British Columbia. The five pulled in salaries and bonuses ranging from $253,000 to $182,000. The bonus program is part of the pay for performance program at the lottery corporation, available to all employees, though on differing and less rewarding scales.

The BC government is forecasting gambling revenues to rise to over 900 million dollars by 2005, that will be an increase of 300 million dollars, from the 2001 revenues of 606 million. Which should help us remember that age old saying about gambling, "The house always wins".

Getting out, while the getting is good?

If nothing else, we can credit Jane Stewart with good timing. Ms. Stewart who apparently read the tea leaves early on in the Paul Martin ascension, is moving on. The billion dollar lady, remember it was she who inherited that missing billion dollar boondoggle called HRDC, is leaving federal politics.

It's off to the rewarding world of International Labour, as Ms. Stewart takes on a new career opportunity in Switzerland. She has accepted a job with the International Labour Organization in Geneva, a UN agency that specializes in promoting social justice and internationally recognized Human and Labour Rights.

She was apparently first approached with the job offer in December, until then she was busily planning her re-election team, claiming she had full intentions to run again in the next election. A faithful Chretien soldier in the past, she was passed over when Prime Minister Paul Martin put together his recent cabinet. Perhaps she realized that her career peak, was that special time at HRDC, indeed her time there certainly could be considered a definitive career moment. So now it's on to other bureacracies, new endeavours, time to spread her wings.

Her departure comes as yet another scandal nips at the heels of the Federal Liberals, drawing attention to past events. It gives us all a chance to revisit that special time at HRDC, where they mis-managed over one billion dollars. The halcyon days of boondoggles.

As she leaves the federal stage, she was asked if she might one day return to elected politics. In her reply, she offers this interesting turn of phrase: "I've never been very good about planning....."

One must know one's limitations!

Weather watching with the smug!

PODUNK Forecast for the next three days:

Sunday: High 6 Cloudy, Low 6 Cloudy with showers
Monday: High 7 Partly sunny, Low 3 Cloudy
Tuesday: High 8 Light rain, Low 4 Light rain

Other Canadian Locales

Sunday: High -16 Cloudy, Low -17 Flurries
Monday: High -11 Cloudy, Low -17 Cloudy
Tuesday: High -8 Cloudy periods, Low -23 Cloudy

Sunday: High -2 Sunny, Low -8 clear
Monday: High 0 Cloudy periods, Low -8 Cloudy periods
Tuesday:High 0 Cloudy periods, Low -7 Cloudy periods

Sunday: High -11 Sunny, Low -15 clear
Monday: High -6 Cloudy periods, Low -15 Cloudy periods
Tuesday: High -1 Cloudy periods, Low -10 Cloudy periods

Bounce or Free fall!

The fall out over, uh advergate I guess, (God! I hope somebody can come up with something better to describe this stink) continues. As Canadians rush to their favourite pollster to advise, "we're fed up and we're not going to take it anymore", or something like that.

An Ipsos-Reid poll taken immediately after Sheila Frasers' grim announcements, shows the Liberal Party taking a 9 percent plunge in public opinion. The newly merged Alliance/Conservative combination getting a 5% bounce up and Smilin' Jack Layton's NDP picking up 2%. Poll taker Darrell Bricker said, the plunging results are like a wildfire, with the flames getting blown higher every time the Prime Minister tries to do something.

The party dropped most in the area it had hoped to finally return to the Liberal fold, Western Canada. Spurned on by the talk show culture of BC, where the Martin Liberals have been bashed for days now, the party dropped an amazing 15%. The Bill Good show on CKNW took the cause on as his own over the last part of the week, fueling a raging storm of contempt. The debate in the province was fierce, very one sided and very critical of the Liberals, and Rafe Mair's not even back at his pulpit yet! God help the Martinites when he returns from his foreign expedition.

Liberal support declined 7% in Alberta and 13% in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. They lost 10% in Ontario, 5% in Quebec and only 1% in the Atlantic provinces. Congratulations Frank McKenna, you may have the only safe electoral road in the country, should you choose to climb aboard.

Paul Martin's own people, are also doing their own polling, trying to gauge the fallout, without an independent filter. Senior Liberals have already appeared (much like groundhogs, looking for their shadows) in public saying that they believe the decline is only temporary, and that support will rebound.

The party faithful however, might be a little less sure, perhaps asking whether anymore scandalous revelations, may be made public any time soon. The results of all the poking and prodding of the population, will go a long way to determining whether the Liberals will be able to call that Spring election or not. If it appears that the public are still hopping mad over the blatant disregard for their wallets, expect the election to be delayed until a more amenable crowd of voters can be found.

For his part the Prime Minister will take his battered image to the air again tomorrow, having agreed to appear on CBC Radio's cross country checkup with Rex Murphy. The Liberal party machine will no doubt be listening intently to the populace, trying to best paint their message accordingly. The court of public opinion is about to go into session, Judge Rex at the bench, and the jury all ears. One wonders if they're in the mood for a hanging?

Saturday, February 14, 2004

A must read, if I say so myself, and I did! is wearing a bit of egg on it's bookish face these days. None other than the New York Times has revealed, that the book review system is a little flawed. An apparent software glitch, took away the anonymity of the book review process, replacing the fancy pseudonyms with the actual reviewers name and hometown.

Now you would think so what, no big deal. And normally you would be right, but a nasty little secret has been revealed by the faux pas. It seems some of the authors of books being reviewed, took it upon themselves to review their own works in glowing terms. Hard to believe I know, but some authors are self promoters, no way!

It turns out there's a whole dark culture out there in the wired world, using the Amazon site to drum up interest in their works, or rebut critical offerings from others. One author stated that he jumps on, when he notices reviews getting particularly nasty and out of balance. He then goes and puts together a review with the complete opposite opinion, so as to bring things to an even keel. Kind of a guerilla critical force.

Amazon says they have fixed the "unfortunate error" and will review procedures and make sure that the problem doesn't resurface. There are over 10 millions reviews posted on the Amazon site now, and growing every day. Perhaps we should be taking their veracity, with a grain of salt.

Love is in the Air!

Happy Valentine's day to those so inclined to celebrate the day. For those of you who are married, better luck next time. (LOL) Yes, the day that Carlton and Hallmark Cards colluded together on, clear cutting forests and increasing profits. Where bad poetry is rewarded with a paycheque and a greeting card.

It's been a rough year for romance, Ben and J Lo called it splits, Liza Minelli and David Geist apparently sobered up and realized they had married each other, even Barbie and Ken have called it quits. Ken apparently moving to Canada, to take advantage of newly liberated same sex marriage laws.

Indeed, it's the day of L'amour and in honour of the great day of our hero Valentine, we offer up a double shot of Fives. First off, Five songs to stir those romantic thoughts, setting your heart on fire. As Pink would say, "Let's get this party started"

SHANIA TWAIN-FROM THIS MOMENT. Ah, yes the popular wedding starter can render the strongest male weakened. The Canadian chanteuse weaves us a tale of undying love, growing stronger as the years go by. Definitely one to go to the Kleenex box for.

GROVER WASHINGTON JR.-JUST THE TWO OF US. Put this on low in the background with dim lights and let nature take it's course. You'll be humming along in no time. May even get lucky! BE sure to let the dog out before you start the CD though.

PEABO BRYSON and ROBERTA FLACK- TONIGHT, I CELEBRATE MY LOVE. Another song you would find at many a wedding. A stirring tribute to faithfulness, undying love and great harmony. If you count the ways you love, and celebrate them properly, you too can find romance.

STYLISTICS- YOU MAKE ME FEEL BRAND NEW. The standard bearer for high school students of the 1970's. It was long, real long, or happily at least it seemed like it at the time. Causing many a teacher chaperone to scowl disapprovingly at the DJ. One of those songs, where you just spin around and gaze into each other's eyes. Who care's if you can't dance!

ANNE MURRAY-COULD I HAVE THIS DANCE. Who knew that Canadians were such romantics, must be all the cold weather. Our second flag bearer finishes up the list with the timeless classic dedication to a lasting love. Will you remember the song they were playing, as we danced and held each other tight. Always popular at weddings, it was for a while, one of the more popular songs to launch one's matrimonial adventure.

Of course not all those journeys worked out. As Barbie and Ken can testify to, sometimes love just doesn't last. So in support of hearing out both sides of the story. Here, we feature Five songs about Love that just went plain wrong.

CAROLE KING-IT'S TOO LATE. Stayed in bed all morning just to pass the time, there's something wrong here, there can be no denying. One of us is changing, or maybe we just stopped trying. Hmmm, any bets she was in bed by herself. By the time you are repeating it's too late, baby, it's too late. You get the drift. Bye, bye, boyfriend .

BILLY JOEL-SCENES FROM AN ITALIAN RESTAURANT. Originally tempted to put Just the Way You Are on the Happy Love Song list, I then listened a few more songs down and there it was, the perfect song about relationships gone awry. From a perfect start, to the bitter ending all in less than eight minutes. This one follows Brenda and Eddie, from the highs to the lows, it's all the same in the end. They started to fight, when the money got tight. They get a divorce as matter of course, parting the closest of friends. Wave bye, bye to Brenda and Eddie, then down that bottle of red or white.

FLEETWOOD MAC-GO YOUR OWN WAY. You can call it another lonely day. You can, Go your own way. Well the band was as messed up, as any failed relationship by this time. Swapping partners within the band, from town to town. Hardly talking to each other, from gig to gig. No wonder the song went on to be a monster hit. It was therapy for millions. If things are bad in your relationship, the mantra is Go Your Own Way.

THE POGUES-FAIRYTALE OF NEW YORK CITY. Ah, and they say the Irish have no romance in them. Come along as we follow a happy go lucky couple, exploring life in the big city. Our hero, is dreaming of his beloved from the drunk tank. (not a good start to any relationship) By the time the song has ended , the refrain to remember is; You scum bag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot, Merry Christmas my arse and pray God it's our last. You get the feeling that Dr. Phil isn't going to be able to save this relationship.

MEATLOAF-PARADISE BY THE DASHBOARD LIGHT (Part III) The tribute to youthful love where all possibilities are still fresh. The song starts out as an upbeat cavalcade of joy, where they find Paradise by the dashboard light. But man, do things go wrong. STOP RIGHT THERE, I gotta know right now! Our hero being asked if he'll love her, forever? What'll it be boy, yes or no, yes or no, boy? Will you make her so happy for the rest of her life, will you love her forever, will you make her your wife." By the time he gets to the chorus, you know this is not going to work out. After agreeing to love her til the end of time, he's resigned to his fate! "he's praying for the end of time, to hurry up and arrive, cause if I have to spend another minute with you I don't think that I can barely survive", "it's all that he can do, so he can end his time with you". "Long ago and far away, it was so much better than it is today" Put a fork in this couple, they're done.

Here's hoping your Valentine Day songs, are more Murray and Twain, than Joel and Meatloaf!

Friday, February 13, 2004

(update) Russian politico, I was kidnapped!

The incredible journey of Russian politician Ivan Rybkin, continues along as he nears his date with Russian history. Rybkin is the Kremlin critic, who backed by a rich ex-patriot living in England, has launched a bitter campaign against President Vladimir Putin.

When we last left ole Ivan, he had just re-appeared after "disappearing" from the scene for five days. He now says, he was kidnapped, drugged and then forced to partake in an activity, which he describes a revolting. He declined to go into any further details about the incident, except to say that his captors told him he was part of a "special operation."

Rybkin has since left Russia, heading for England where he says he plans to stay until after the March 14th election, claiming he fears for his life. Rybkin never really had a chance in the election, gaining less than 1% of support during the campaign. He has managed to spend quite a bit of offshore money during the campaign and to have published a number of blistering attacks on the Putin regime. His story is just the latest in a long line of wild stories, as Russia works out the kinks in their experiment in Democracy.

Bad Dog

Surpisingly the reaction to Triumph the Insult Dog's ministrations in Quebec last night, has been rather muted. Perhaps it was the hour of the insult, the fact it was on an American network or maybe a talking hand puppet, just doesn't boil the blood as much as a senior citizen hockey commentator. Or it could have been they were pre-occupied with the funeral of former Premier, Claude Ryan. Whatever the reasons, Quebecois commentators haven't reacted quite as hysterically to Triumph, as many, including me, expected.

The usual suspects expressed their shock and dismay at the caustic canine, politicians of all stripes endeavoured to distance themselves from any kind of controversy regarding Triumph's tirade. Mauril Belanger, Deputy House Leader for the Liberals, said he found nothing funny about the American comedian. Alexa McDonough of the NDP, called it vile and vicious. Even Stephen Harper of the Conservatives weighed in, saying we can all make jokes about each other, but you can't tell people in Quebec they have to speak another language. Harper, commenting while at a Conservative leadership function in Quebec City, called the skit unacceptable. Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty advised one and all, that Triumph does not speak for Ontarions. Quebec Premier Jean Charest, simply had no comment on the issue what so ever.

CHUM television, no doubt mindful of CRTC and CAB regulations and protocols, issued an apology and promised to edit Triumph out of the nightly rebroadcast on their Star channel.

Conan O'Brien himself addressed the issue, during the taping of his final show in Toronto this afternoon. O'Brien, reportedly told the crowd and assembled media types that; "I'm the guy they hired to make Don Cherry look good".

I think I've figured out where all of this went so horribly wrong. Surely what was supposed to happen was that Triumph was to make a guest appearance on the Mike Bullard show. Instead, the misguided mutt must have made a wrong turn. Had he gone to the right theatre, none of this would have happened. And as most television viewers and ratings service executives know, there wouldn't have been much chance of anybody watching that show, let alone get offended by it.

Look way up, Look way down..

Well events are happening far too fast to properly compose entries for each and every one. So as a way of making amends, I'm offering up two new items on A town called Podunk. Check out the right hand column for these (hopefully) entertaining additions.

At the very top of the page I'll pick five items of the day that have caught my eye. I'll call these the "Daily Essentials", some may make it as blog entries, some may not. But, they'll be worth exploring a little further on your own, call it home study.

At the bottom of the column you'll find a new category called "Boondoggle", a site dedicated to those fine items that just make you shake your head. Interestingly enough, so far they all seem to revolve around the current government of the day, go figure. I suspect that Boondoggle, will grow and grow and grow. Maybe one day spawning it's own spin off Blog, who knows.

At any rate, check them out as you're browsing. This way, on the off chance I've neglected my postings, there at least will be something new every day.


Own some Rider Pride!

They have fans in every province in the country, in some stadiums they're fans can outnumber the locals. They consider themselves Canada's Team, and now Canada can own a piece of them. The Saskatchewan Roughriders have put themselves on the open market. Hoping to sell 20,000 of the 250 dollar shares, Rider management hopes to be able to sell out, raise the six million dollars and put it to use improving the stadium, installing a better training facility and providing for a more stable financial picture for the team.

There will be two types of shares offered, Type A and B, A shares entitle the bearer to attend the share holder meetings, B share are considered non voting. No individual will be allowed to own more than 20 class A shares, so the team can't be taken over. Since the team is not listed as a charity, the shares will not be tax deductible. You truly will be buying them for the love of the game.

The share sale is taken from the pages of the Green Bay Packers. The Pack had a similar offering in 1997, raising over 24 million dollars for renovations to Lambeau field. The Packers, like Riders have fans all over the world. Saskatchewan can only hope they have half the reaction that Pack got for their sale.

Will we survive Triumph the Insult Dog?

Well, Canada we'll be having another Royal Commission in no time. All those nasty things we may have said about President Bush over the years, that comment by Chretien's press secretary about him being a moron, the suggestions that he might not be the smartest dude in the world. Well, it all came back to kick us last night. Triumph the Insult Dog went to Quebec City, and folks if people think that Don Cherry was over the top, don't let them anywhere near a tape of Triumph's visit. It's a good thing there's a language gap, because Triumph would have sent a CBC tape delay guardian into rehab, such was the nature of his vitriol. Last nights performance will be the topic of almost all conversations for the rest of today and beyond.

Triumph the insult dog, for those not in the know, is a recurring character on the Conan O'Brien show. He makes Muchmusic's Ed the Sock, look like Casey or Finnegan from the old Mr. Dressup show. Conan's had a pretty successful run in Toronto this week, but one suspects he won't be asked to do a show in Quebec anytime soon. Hell, there may be calls for Conan to be deported this morning. Triumph lived up to his obnoxious self, savaging everything Quebecois, the food, the language, the bodily odours, Triumph showed no mercy. And the crowd ate it up, Ontario/Quebec relations may never be the same.

Dyane Adam, the Language Commissioner who found Mr. Cherry's comments of interest, is going to be positively beside herself this morning. It'll be all hands on deck at the investigative branch at the Official Languages bunker, if they needed two bureaucrats to examine Cherry's comments, the entire department should be on overtime for a year. In a country steeped in Political correctness, this is going to be a wild ride.

It may even take the heat off of Paul Martin for a few minutes, but not many. Expect the Bloc Quebecois to rail against this canine of culutural assasination. Triumph found the submerged anxieties of Quebec and the rest of Canada, ripped them open and then trotted off. No doubt lifting his leg all the way.

Imagine how the promoters in the Federal cabinet and the Province of Ontario, are going to explain away the million dollars spent to bring the show to Toronto. For the Quebec media and the politicians there, it's like a gift from heaven. They won't care that Triumph routinely savages all things American, he will have hit a nerve. If Jack Layton was so terribly disappointed with Don Cherry's little visor commentary, Lord knows what he's going to do with what was about a seven minute travelogue of bad behaviour. Early commentary from Quebec is showing a shocked reacton to the skit, one communications specialist said that it wasn't going to be well received when Quebec awakens.

Canadian satirists can only dream of the chance to do that kind of material. Had Air Farce, 22 minutes or Mercer tried the same kind of comedy, their funding would have dried up in mere seconds. Had the CBC aired the Conan show, heads would be rolling out the Barbara Frum atrium, all the way down to Lake Ontario. Last nights show may be like that wild party you once attended, overindulging in everything only to wake up the next morning and wonder what the hell happened. Eventually, you suffer a bit of that guilty unease about what took place, and how you reacted. Such will be the shock value of Triumph.

Don Cherry actually put the segment into perspective, said Cherry: "It's easy for Conan, he can leave the city after Friday" Interestingly enough, Cherry turned down an invitation to appear on the O'Brien show earlier this week, as he didn't like the way Torontonians were reacting to the whole visit. Talk about a brilliant stroke of luck, after Triumph's appearance, Cherry could very well qualify for an Order of Quebec citation for cultural awareness.