Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Merry Christmas, Now get the hell out of here!

November has been a rather cruel month for Canadian workers, as a string of high profile plant closures and corporate restructurings has laid waste to a number of high paying Canadian jobs. While many Canadians begin to think about Christmas presents, others wonder where they’ll be working next year and how much they’ll make, if they can even find another job.

Among the noticeable cutbacks and eliminations of November were:

MTS Allstream eliminates 800 jobs nationwide, 12% of its workforce

Domtar closes sawmills and pulp mills in Eastern Canada, 1800 jobs lost

Merck pharmaceuticals cut back at its Montreal plant, sending 235 Canadians to the Unemployment lines.

Canada Post decided to cancel more than stamps this fall, as the Post Office announced it would no longer sort mail in its Quebec City plant, moving the workload to Montreal and eliminating 300 jobs in the Quebec capital.

A rail car manufacturer in Nova Scotia, Trenton Works lays off over 400 workers, production previously done in Nova Scotia now destined for the US and Mexico.

The folks at Humpty Dumpty Snack foods must see a slimmer nation ahead; they plan on closing a plant in Ontario and consolidating the eastern provinces. Not wishing to give a number yet, they instead will leave hundreds of employees on pins and needles through the holidays.

But by far the grand daddy of all downsizing so far this year, goes to last weeks announcement from financially troubled General Motors, of its plans to eliminate 3900 positions at plants across Ontario, still to drop the shoe from the various auto parts suppliers in Canada who may soon have to follow a similar plan as GM.

But hey, one mans suffering is another ones gain; GM has announced that it plans to increase its workforce in India by 30%! Need a job head for Halol.

Basically, what has been happening over the last couple of years and seems to be picking speed in rather frightening fashion, is a shift of industry not seen since the Industrial Revolution. No longer a nation of manufacturers we are becoming the land of the service providers, in most cases making much less than what we once did.

With the majority of these well paying jobs going, going and gone, Canada is in danger of eliminating its middle class, leaving the nation in a two tier system of economic happenstance. Either you’ll be part of the very rich, or you’ll be joining the ranks of the working poor and dis-enfranchised.

Something to ponder as our politicians come knocking on our doors in the next eight weeks, if our economy is so vibrant and growing as we continue to be told, then where exactly are all these jobs going.

Now repeat after me the mantra we’ve been told, the economy is strong, the economy is strong!

Strong that is, as long as its part time and minimum wage work that you’re looking for.

Electoral Grab bag (December)

As we progress towards our date with destiny and the ballot box, we'll make note of the election items that catch our interest during this campaign.

December 12-- Youthful directions Conservative style, the young Conservative blog site.

December 12-- Youthful directions Liberal style, the young Liberals website.

December 12-- Youthful directions NDP style, the young NDP website.

December 12-- Youthful directions Green style, a young Greens journey in the campaign.

December 12-- Youthful directions Bloc style, forum jeunesse de Bloc Quebcois.

December 9-- They love me, they hate me, they love me, they hate me, Paul Martin's love hate relationship with the folks below the 49th.

December 9-- The 411 on the NDP's 911 schtick, how a over zealous NDP supporter is getting his party on the nation's police dirt list.

December 8-- Quick of the Lip, some of the interesting utterances of the political class in the election campaign.

December 4--Blogging the Election, Lotusland, quirky and fun ideas from the far left coast, some interesting viewpoints on our civic duty.

December 4-- Blogging the Election, The Blog Quebecois, the view from the distinct ones, includes a bit of welcome news that the folks at Elections Canada havn't quite figured what to make of the blogsphere, hence they won't enforce any rules on it this election.

December 4-- Blogging the Election, The Phantom Observor, analysis of the election in the Ottawa area, including interesting sideshows, be sure to check out Poker Night!.

December 4-- Blogging the Election, Alberta Avenue, this one featuring the thoughts of an Alberta blogger.

December 2-- CTV's Election site, a comprehensive site for all information about the 2005-06 campaign, highlighted with contributions from the CTV News team.

December 2-- Campaign 2006, the CBC's portal to all things election. With a number of links to different features, including their unknown candidate feature, Campaign confidential.

December 2--Decision Canada, Global News election site with features on ridings, leaders and links to the network of newsgathering. For those tired of dealing with the politicians you can always whack a politician.

November 30--The Predictor, Hill and Knowlton's website of political punditry. Follow your favourite party as they travel the path to electoral success or down the slope of inevitable defeat. Read the polls, compile your info and feed the computer. Want to see a Liberal slump, then swing that vote to the NDP or the Conservatives, play kingmaker in Nova Scotia or Quebec, its all up to you as you get out the vote. It's your very own War Room right there on your desktop!

November 30-- Scott Feschuk's Blackberry blog, Paul Martin's speechwriter provides glimpses of the campaign trail from his perch in the campaign bus/plane.

November 30--Stand up for Canada e cards. Have a Liberal or NDPer you're dying to torment, then take advantage of the Conservatives bandwidth and send someone an e card. On the same page you can also request a Lawn Sign, check out a podcast or sign up for late breaking Harperisms!

November 30-- Wallpaper your world, The NDP invites you to check out the great heroes of Socialism collection, downloadable wallpaper of those that fought The Good fight. Tommy Douglas, Stephen Lewis, Ed Broadbent or Agnes McPhail, you can have them all with a click of your mouse. And for the youngsters there's the join the club wallpaper, no little socialist should be without it!

November 30-- Je me souviens! Somebody got value for their advertising dollars in Quebec! The Bloc have an interesting collection of election slogans for the oppressed Quebecois. The multimedia page includes photos of Smiling Gilles, musical selections (catchy beat even if we only catch every second word, ensemble Bloc Quebecois!) and lots of other fun for those with a rudimentary knowledge of Canada's other langue official.

November 30-- As Kermit might say, It's not easy to be Green, but they'll give it a shot. Join up with the newly enriched Green Party (those Federal funding monies are going to be a godsend) as they spread the gospel of enivornmentally friendly politics. While it seems rather far reaching to have one, they offer up their shadow cabinet for your examination. Policy papers, Employment ads (if you can dial a phone they have a spot for you!) the leader's Weblog and much, much more if you really want to be the well rounded elector!

The troublesome case of Mike Danton.

The CBC's Fifth Estate examines the controversial life of former NHLer Mike Danton, the young man presently serving time in an American jail, for putting a hit out on his former agent.

It's a convoluted story line, with former agent David Frost seemingly taking on a much more important role in the young mans life, much beyond that of an agent and former minor hockey coach. A situation that gave Danton's family cause for concern over the years.

FBI surveillance tapes will be featured in the CBC program, tapes which shows an unusual amount of control by Frost over the life of the young man who would eventually seek out someone to kill his agent. Interestingly enough those tapes include jailhouse conversations between Danton and Frost, shortly after he's been arrested for conspiracy to murder charges. It's certainly a strange situation when the target of a murder, continues to offer advice and representation to the person who tried to have him killed. A situation that has raised more than a few eyebrows and red flags over the last couple of years.

The background aspects of this story paint a picture of a troubled young man, who's family life seemed to disintegrate as his time with Frost went on. As time went on Danton would become self destructive and more distant from his family, eventually changing his surname from his birth name of Jefferson, to the name of Danton that he goes under now.

For his part Frost suggests that this story is not over yet by a long shot, stating that once Danton is back on Canadian soil the real story will come out, which according to Frost involves wrongdoing by the FBI. Danton, presently incarcerated in New Jersey, is seeking out the opportunity to serve his sentence out in a Canadian jail which he says was promised to him at the time of his sentencing, which is a regular practice when nationals of each country are convicted in the other.

The show airs across Canada at 9 pm local time on the national CBC. It should make for quite a bit of conversation over the next while, as the Fifth Estate investigates a troublesome relationship between player and agent.

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

The law is an ass (again)

Not much need be said about the ruling from the Quebec Superior court today, the sense of disconnect between the legal system and the public's wishes has never been so glaring.

Quebec Superior Court Justice James Brunton, lifted all restrictions on Karla Homolka (Teale) today, striking down all fourteen of the conditions originally placed upon her at the time of her release from prison. Complete freedom found Homolka today and one wonders if the Justice knows what he has unleashed.

The fact that Homolka/Teale was released from prison stuck in the craw of many Canadians to begin with, but most were pacified with those fourteen conditions for her release. If she could no longer be locked up, at least she could be monitored. But not any more, no conditions to follow, no reporting to police, she's free to go on with her life and do as she pleases.

Most disturbing of all, is the possibility that Ms. Homolka/Teale may now contact the families of her victims if she so desires. A concept that baffles one beyond comprehension. Surely those families have suffered enough from this woman, and should have been guaranteed by our Justice system that they would never have to fear a correspondence from her ever.

If nothing else, Homolka/Teale should have been informed that any attempt to inflict herself on those families would be dealt with harshly and with the full weight of the law. Then again it would be an empty threat, as it seems that in this case that weight isn't very heavy at all.

Somewhere to run to, somewhere to hide!

Fifty five days, that's the amount of time we're expected to spend deliberating the merits of our federal electoral candidates. They'll knock on our doors, phone us in polls, asking for our vote as we weigh their pros and their cons.

8 weeks less a day, which includes time off for Christmas as promised by all. Though one wonders just how good they'll be at keeping to that promise, whenever self interest is at stake, politicians can be expected to bend a few promises and what screams out self interest more than an election.

Our televisions will be filled with those glad tidings of joy of the season and the dour demonizing of the negative ads all in the same block of advertising time, one part Santa, one part Satan depending on when you click the channel on and who you're viewing at the time.

It will be an all inclusive blitz of media information, talk shows on the radio will be filled with electoral rhetoric, television shows with the latest miscues or the latest data on who is ahead of the pack and where. The newspaper columnists will sharpen their sticks and prepare to prick those balloons of pomposity, that tend to be puffed up in any campaign. And of course our own blogsphere will be a new tool for information delivery, everyone has an opinion and you can find one to agree with, or one that you find reprehensible all with the click of a mouse.

Fifty Five days, it's enough to make your head swim with a jumble of facts, figures and personalities. Crowding you doors, your television shows your daily newspaper!

Where, oh where can we go to hide?

Well, as a public service the National Post delivered word of an island of sanctuary for Canadians fearful of their politicians. Just go shopping says the Post, indeed it seems that many privately owned Shopping center's in Canada have a no politics order for their properties. Which means that once you open those doors to the mall, the politicians can't chat you up, hand you a pamphlet nor pound a lawn sign into your hands.

The mall is a no go zone for politicians, left to cool their heels in a Canadian winter, as you wander at leisure in the climate controlled artificial universe of the shopping Mecca. Already a crowded place at Christmas, the mall may soon be bursting at the seams, as Canadians seek out some peace and quiet in the midst of the Christmas throngs.

Shopping, it's good for the economy and as it turns out will be good for your sanity as well!

Pictures of Podunk: Rotary Waterfront Park

The western end of the waterfront walk from Atlin Terminal in Cow Bay to the Rotary Waterfront Park and Kwinitsa station. The building in the background is the old Via Rail Station.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

And the yeas have the vote!

Oh the weather outside is frightful, and the leaders they are all quite full, As long as we’ve no place to go, let us vote, let us vote, let us vote.

And so it begins that long slow crawl to a new government. Or maybe the same old government dressed up as new, we’ll know better towards the end of January.

Paul Martin will be at the front door of the Governor General’s residence bright and early on Tuesday morning, with a date in his head and bearing writs of election in his hands for all 308 seats of Parliament.

At dissolution the Parliament consisted of 133 Liberals, 98 Conservatives, 53 Bloc Quebecois, 18 NDP, 4 Independents and 2 vacant seats. Hundreds of Canadians will place their names on ballots over the next few weeks, in hope of becoming one of the next group of 308. Many are nominated but only a few are elected, Tuesday launches the latest collection from the starting gate.

This campaign promises a two stage evolution, a phony campaign of the next couple of weeks followed by a Christmas break and then a dash for the finish line of Election Day. Will the campaign be a negative affair before Christmas, or shall glad tidings and peace on earth wash over the campaigners until that last New Years toast has been made? It seems unlikely that any of the political parties will strike quickly with negative tones and unseemly ads while we all have thoughts of family, presents, religious devotions and holidays on our minds. But once we ring in the New Year, we’ll no doubt see the gloves come off.

Each party has something to gain and just as much to lose as they begin the quest for our votes. The Prime Minister of course has his job to lose, should the people of Canada not accept his solemn word that the Sponsorgate scandal has been effectively dealt with and won’t ever happen again on his watch. The stench of that pile of rotting fish has been filtered to a degree through the Gomery Inquiry; the hope of the Liberals is that enough of that smell is gone and that the Canadian public is a forgiving lot. Having spent the pre-amble days to the election call in an orgy of spending, the Liberals will be counting on their feel good agenda of growth and social programs to bring the voters back to the fold.

The Conservatives under Stephen Harper have an even more important date with destiny, with a nervous Canadian public worried about hidden agendas and secret plans, it will be up to Harper to shake off his cloak of distance and give the Canadian voter a reason to take the great leap to his platform. The Conservative task is quite simple, show Canadians that there is nothing to fear from a Conservative government; in fact they must prove to Canadians that a tired old Liberal government is better off in opposition for a spell. The only way that happens is if Canadians are convinced that Harper and his fellow Conservatives have a sane, stable and inclusive plan for the nation.

Gilles Duceppe is perhaps the one guy most looking forward to knocking on doors and drinking egg nog with the voters. In his province of Quebec (the only place that his party runs candidates) the mood is one of euphoria for the Bloc. There is an undercurrent of anger against the Liberals that Duceppe has tapped into. There’s a very good chance that Bloc MP’s of the recent parliament, will have a large number of new faces crossing the bridges of the Ottawa River by next January to join them. Quebecers will be looking to send the Liberals a message and there isn’t much of another option beyond the Bloc at the moment in the province for that. It will be interesting to see if an increased presence by the Bloc after this campaign will be considered a strong sign of support for independence. So far in the life of the Bloc that has not been the case, it’s been more like taking out an insurance policy, hedging ones bets if you will. Regardless, a strong Bloc return will have a resonance in the rest of Canada and will most certainly shape the tone of the next Parliament.

Then there is Jack Layton, the NDP leader has played both sides of the fence in this 38th Parliament. Layton spent the spring and summer wringing concessions out of the Liberals to keep the government alive, only to offer up his own timetable for an election. His suggestion was summarily rejected by a rather unimpressed Prime Minister. Now Layton has combined forces with Stephen Harper and Gilles Duceppe, singing the chorus that his government has lost its authority to govern.

The trick for Layton will be to try and convince voters that he’s more than just an opportunist. The one advantage the NDP always have in these campaigns is that they can promise the world and never expect to have to deliver it. The test of a serious campaign is the ability to promote realistic options for the Canadian public, plans that tap into the nations desires while at the same time keep the finances in check. The cynicism with our government is at one of its highest levels ever, the NDP could pick up some seats by feeding off of that feeling of frustration that Canadians have, all he has to do is explain why he supported the same government he now feels is unworthy of his support and that of Canadians. How the NDP leader navigates this minefield, should go a long way in determining if the NDP will finally make that breakthrough to rival the days of David Lewis and Ed Broadbent.

Both Layton and Duceppe are in positions of strength this election, Duceppe will come out of this campaign an even stronger force in Quebec than he enters. Simply by picking up more seats at the expense of the Liberals, he entrenches his spot in both Ottawa and Quebec as a force to be reckoned with. Layton on the other hand can increase his hold on his new NDP by picking up seats and perhaps once again wielding some power over an upcoming government. By the time the votes are counted in January, Layton and the NDP may find themselves in the position to punch well above their weight.

For Martin and Harper this election is much more than a campaign for office, it’s a struggle for political survival. It’s hard to see one or the other surviving his position should they not successfully sway the voters to their point of view. One man will win and the other will go home when all is said and done by the end of January.

We will have more time than usual this election to think over the issues, weigh the differences and decide who we shall trust to run this country for the next few years. All that is left to figure is what kind of a leash we wish to put them on for the next Parliament.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Roll over Beethoven and Tell Tchaikovsky the news!

The class of 2006 is about to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And it’s a rather diverse group of rockers destined for their moment of fame. From metal to punk, new wave to southern rock all the way to progressive jazz, it should be quite the cross section in New York City on March 13th.

One wonders if the folks at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, host for the induction ceremonies, plan on putting away the good china and bringing out the cheap chairs when they get a look at the roster of inductees.

Black Sabbath which was formed in 1968, will take their bows as the lads who brought us Paranoid, Iron Man and Fairies wear boots to name a few, receive the accolades of those who like to rock and shock. At the onset of the days of Sabbath, the music was loud the antics outlandish and the shock value immense, as the era of the peace and love pop songs gave way to an avalanche of guitars and drums and of course Ozzy.

The Sex Pistols, the UK quartet that put the fear of anarchy into the Margaret Thatcher era, will be recognized for their achievements in the late seventies, they and they alone took a disjointed punk movement of the time and gave it a platform, paving the way for other shift change musicians like the Clash and the Ramones to push their way onto the stage and change music forever. When Never Mind the Bollocks, here’s the Sex Pistols was released it was one of those events of rock history, that defined a change of guard for the industry. Indicative of the excess of the era, their time in the spotlight was short (as was the life of Sid Vicious) greeted by equal parts of glee and horror at what would unfold

Blondie took advantage of the groundwork laid by the punk movement and took the music into the mainstream. The album Parallel lines defined the impact of the band that mixed the early days of punk with the soon to explode disco era, fronted by the luscious Deborah Harry the Blondie machine ruled the New Wave waves for most of its ride in the eighties.

Lynyrd Skynyrd defined the southern rock sound of the seventies, their answer to Neil Young’s Southern Man was Sweet Home Alabama, which to this day the unofficial anthem for southern rockers everywhere. At one time in the seventies you could not turn on an FM rock station and not hear Skynyrd's Freebird, the song featured guitar licks that were the homework of many a garage band in the seventies.

Miles Davis will get the nod of the hall in March based on a lifetime of change in his concept of where music is, was and should go. Over the years he’s been a chameleon in his musical output. Davis put his soul out for six decades covering every era of musical change and style, from soul to funk, jazz to hip hop Davis was the conductor of change and godfather to many of today’s musical stars.

Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss will be recognized for their contributions to rock in the Non Performer Category, receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award for their long time work in giving new artists a place to record and distribute their music. The roster of bands that got their start thanks to A & M include the Police, Supertramp and Peter Frampton to name a few.

About 700 International Rock experts were provided with ballots of nomination for the 2006 induction year and cast their votes for the fortunate five. The induction takes place in New York City but the memorabilia and permanent tributes will be placed in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio. The shrine and hands on destination for Rock and Roll the world over.

Living the theme of the meeting

It’s the favorite topic of Canadians from coast to coast to coast and today we take our talking onto the world stage.

8,000 Climate Change experts are to gather in Montreal today, their mission to try and get a handle on what we can do to reduce the dramatic weather changes we are facing now and for the future. They also hope to sign on some recalcitrant nations to the Kyoto accord. Besides the USA which has not adopted Kyoto, other nations such as China, India, South Africa and Brazil have also taken a pass on the Kyoto proposals.

They will also probably want to knock a few of the heads at the table together, those who have signed on to Kyoto already, but not met their targets.

As they begin their deliberations, the environmental experts may be wishing for a little more global warming however. Montreal’s forecast for Day one of the seminar was 2-4 centimeters of freezing rain and judging by the television pictures a mess both on the roads and the sidewalks. To give you an idea of what’s ahead for the delegates, here’s the Environment Canada forecast for today.


Severe weather bulletin

(There is good news for the delegates though, they can watch the melt in person)


If nothing else the immediate weather, should give them all something to talk about.

Pictures of Podunk: The Courthouse

A view of the Prince Rupert Courthouse grounds, on a rare snowy day in Podunk. The Courthouse sits at the foot of 2nd Avenue West and dominates the entry to the downtown area of the city. In less than a couple of weeks these trees will be lit up in a colourful Christmas season display.

Redemption Day for Ricky Ray!

In one of the most memorable days in Grey Cup History, one statistic tells it all, Ricky Ray played a complete game when it counted. The Edmonton Eskimo quarterback, who had been pulled in two previous playoff games this year, went the distance and led his Edmonton Eskimos to Canada’s Holy Grail of Football. In a thrilling finale to the CFL season, Ray’s Eskimos prevailed over the Montreal Alouettes 38-35 in a game that went deep into the CFL’s unique overtime format.

Ray took charge of his Eskimo offence and put points on the board in overtime to claim the victory. While the first half was a rather humdrum affair, the second half more than made up for it. With end to end excitement and big plays galore, both Ray and the Alouettes Anthony Calvillo traded offensive weapons in their bid to claim the Cup.

Ray was named the games MVP and was most deserving of the honour, having put aside the controversy generated the last two weeks. He went to work and methodically put his game plan into effect. Short hitch passes, long bombs, crushing runs he used the majority of his line up to move the Eskimos down the field, even taking the ball in himself to answer Montreal scores almost point by point.

By the end of Ray’s work day he had a remarkable 359 yards in passing, completing 35 of 45 passes. In fact his stats would have been even more impressive, if a few of his first half passes had been caught by the normally sure handed Eskimo receivers. The Eskimos day was aided by a spectacular record breaking 96 yard, kick off return by Tony Tompkins, (and something he actually predicted on Saturday) picking up important points when it looked like Montreal was planning a replay of last weeks Eastern final comeback.

From the second half kick off on, the viewer was on the edge of their seat wondering which of the gunslingers would be the last to lay down their arms. In the end, it was double shot by Calvillo that proved to be costly. In a mental error, Calvillo rethrew a ball that he caught off of a rebound; a violation of the rule book providing a costly penalty that seemed to put the Als on their heels for good. Calvillo's move resulted in a few Als fans painting him as the goat of the game, but in reality it was only with Calvillo's stable hand on the offense that the Als were close.

From that point in Overtime though, it was time for the Edmonton defence to shut down the Alouettes offence, which it did quite successfully in the last gasp moments of the overtime.

Once again the CFL delivered on its usual spectacular finish to the regular season. It would be hard to think of a more exciting finish to a championship game, than that provided by Ray, Calvillo and their team mates on Sunday afternoon.

For Ray it marks a final exclamation point on any questions of his ability to put away the big win. His stats tell the story of this one, passing yardage, ball control and points on the board. All will go a long way to making Sunday the day that the Eskimos finally became Ray’s team, his MVP trophy a testimony to his place in the CFL history books and in the every growing library of Eskimo lore.

The above posting first appeared on my Twelve Men on the Field blog, for more information about Canadian football check it out!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Matchmaker, Matchmaker, make me a match!

At the risk of turning our Podunkian window on the world into a tabloid tattler, we gingerly tred the land of the formerly broken hearted.

When we last left poor Peter McKay, he was seen forlornly walking the potato patches of Nova Scotia trying to put the pieces back together, after being callously bounced by his beau Belinda.

Well good news, it seems time heals all wounds as Petey has bounced back and bounced back big.

Peter McKay has been spotted squiring around a young lady named Sophie Desmarais, daughter of Establishment legend Paul Desmarais the head of Power Corporation one of Canada's largest corporations. It's reported that the net worth of the Desmarais clan, checks in at over 3.94 Billion dollars. Meaning Pete had best pick his restaurants with care.

The Nova Scotia MP and Deputy leader of the Conservatives, can thank Mila Mulroney for the new gal in his life. It seems that Mrs. Mulroney set the two up at a dinner party at her house last month and since then it's been a relationship in incubation. Sophie even made an appearance to the visitors gallery of the House of Commons to watch her new friend at work, maybe Belinda noticed a new face, oh payback it's a b, er beautiful thing, eh Pete.

If nothing else Peter knows how to pick his ladies, he's moved up from the 50th richest family to the power brokers that truly make a difference, the Desmarais family is listed as Canada's 6th richest families.

Should the relationship move further along than these early days of dates and dinners, it could make for a hell of a family reunion for the Desmarais clan. Sophie's brother Andre, is married to France Chretien, the daughter of Jean and Aline Chretien. Small town that Ottawa!

Mulroneys, Chretiens, Desmarais the names certainly symbolize the establishment of Westmount and Quebec. Could make for a darn fine base for a leadership contenders financial core, Stephen Harper could only dream of such connections. Just thinking ahead there folks. just thinking ahead.

It may be politics, it may be love, but unless your an heiress, there seemingly is little chance to get on Pete's dance card anytime soon. However a word of advice for the Thomson, Weston, Skoll, Irving and Pattison families; lock up your daughters if Pete goes on the prowl again.

In the world of power couples, Peter has made a big step from those now forgotten days of Belinda. This time he really is part of a POWER couple. But there's still some room to move up!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Federal Bureau of Infection?

There's yet another internet virus making the rounds these days, one that seems to prey on guilty consciences. The virus that is sent via e mail, alerts the reader that they have visited a number of illegal sites and have been tracked by the FBI, CIA or the German security service BKA.

The e mail then invites the "guilty parties" to answer a short questionnaire regarding their internet usage, once the questionnaire is opened, a malicious virus becomes active and goes to work infecting the recipients computer.

The FBI have been quick to advise that they don't actually conduct their business in such a manner and you have to wonder about the gullibility of those on the net. Normally as any viewer of such shows as Law and Order and such present, the first time you hear from the police is usually when they're knocking down the door and taking your computer. The idea of a survey and a chat seems kind of beyond belief.

The virus first broke out on the 22nd of November and has traveled quickly since then, already qualifying as the biggest of the year so far. According to virus hunters, the e mail solicitation has so far trapped millions of net users (most of whom live in North America) willingly ready to confess their surfing sins and fess up to the Feds.

If this were a confessional, they would be asked to recite web surfing for dummies as penance.

For those that have yet to click on the link but may be tempted to come clean about their surfing there's a simple choice to make, they can call their lawyer or call their computer repair person. Either/or may be the most valuable support person once they hit enter.

All Jacked UP?

Dick Pound launched a verbal missile over Gary Bettman and the NHL’s bow on Thursday and by Friday night the echoes was still being heard in every NHL city.

Pound who is the head of the World Anti-Doping Agency made headlines with his declaration that one third of all NHLers were taking some form of performance enhancing substance. With those words Pound found himself public enemy number one in all segments of the NHL structure. From League officials to union reps, all claimed that Pound’s numbers were way off base and his knowledge of the NHL and its players was so significantly lacking, that they rendered his opinions of no value.

The firestorm first broke on Thursday with an interview with the London Free Press; he then went on the Fan 590's Prime Time Sports with Bob McCown and reiterated his claims, without providing any tangible proof to back up for his controversial and attention getting comments.

Pound has been having a running battle with sports for a number of years, always trying to keep his agency up to speed and ahead of the issue of performance enhancing substances. His comments on NHL players are probably designed to move the NHL more in line with his wishes for a comprehensive drug strategy for athletes. At the moment the NHL policy is for players are subjected to a minimum of two drug tests a year without warning. A first-time offender would receive a 20-game suspension. A 60-game suspension would be given to a repeat offender, with a permanent ban for a third offence.

In Pound’s opinion that is not near enough, to remove the temptation of performance enhancing agents. Never afraid to rattle a cage, his blazing headline grabber will no doubt have the effect he wishes, the topic of performance enhancing drugs will now become a much more prominent item on the NHL agenda.

Without substantial proof of his statistics it’s akin to pulling numbers out of thin air, no doubt even the most Pollyanna of NHL observers, would admit that some of the current players in the league are probably using drugs they should not be. But to use a broad brush and claim without proof that one third are currently juiced up seems a bit much.

If he has proof he should provide it, the idea of being guilty by association should have gone out of vogue a long time ago. If there is a serious problem in the NHL then it should be addressed, but dropping a bomb and then heading for the hills does nothing to create a sense of credibility for Pound. It doesn’t do much to further the debate, nor does it solve a problem if one truly exists.

The above post first appeared on my HockeyNation blog, to read more about hockey check it out.

Pictures of Podunk: A View of Downtown from Service Park

A view of Downtown Prince Rupert looking westward from Service Park. The tall building in the middle of the shot is the Highliner Inn, Prince Rupert's tallest building. In the forefront with the blue roof is one of the buildings of the Prince Rupert Campus of Northwest Community College.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Long time Prince Rupert Icon passes away

The announcement of a long time citizens passing, appeared in the Memorials section of Friday’s Daily News classified ads. Dr. Lawrence Mitchell Greene, had passed away suddenly on November 23rd at the age of 92, bringing to a close a long and illustrious career in the service of Prince Rupert.

From R. G. Larges’, two volume; Gateway to Alaska collection about Prince Rupert, we can trace his impact on Prince Rupert and the North Coast. Dr. Greene arrived in Prince Rupert in 1949, relocating to Prince Rupert to take over the local medical practice of Dr. C. H. Hankinson. Founder of the Greene Clinic, he had a long a respected career in medicine, always in the forefront of local medical affairs, a constant proponent for improvement to the health care system of Prince Rupert. He was recognized in 1996 by the Canadian Medical Association for his distinguished medical career. The world renowned Doctors without Borders, also recognized his involvement with their organization listing him on page 34 of their 2004 annual report.

He was heavily involved in local political affairs as well, from the fifties on through the decades. From terms on Prince Rupert City council, to social causes, his was a name synonymous with Prince Rupert in those prosperous and growing years of the sixties and seventies. He was quite involved in the local Chamber of Commerce and had an avid interest preserving the Heritage of the city, serving for a time as the Chairman of the local Heritage Committee. For his many contributions to the life of Prince Rupert he was named a Freeman of the City.

An interesting fact from the Large books, is his involvement in the development of the Prince Rupert Airport. It was back in 1955 that Dr. Greene and J. T. Harvey served on a committee to prepare a presentation to the Federal Government. Their efforts in Ottawa resulted in the Federal Government approving the construction of the Digby Island Airport back in 1961. A much needed and vital transportation link for the north coast.

Another advertisement in the Daily News, reminded many Prince Rupert residents of Dr. Greene’s business success as a long time owner of Philpott Evitt. In respect of his contributions to Prince Rupert, that store is closing its doors on Monday for four and a half hours.

His Memorial Service takes place Monday, November 28th at 11 am at St. Andrew’s Cathedral, and in keeping with his desire to improve the city he shaped, memorial donations are being directed towards the North Coast Health Improvement Society.

He was one of the pillars of Prince Rupert in the last half century, someone who made a difference in this North coast city. One hopes the Daily News will put together a suitable retrospective befitting his achievements and the impact he had in the area he chose to live, work and gave much of his time to build.

Conny Canuck!

Conrad Black wants his citizenship back! His Lordship, who presently finds himself in a wee bit of trouble in the old colonies, has discovered that the old Maple Leaf passport is a pretty good thing to have after all.

Black surrendered the Maple Leaf embossed documents four years ago, when it became an impediment to his dreams of peerage and glory. At the time his entry to the House of Lords in England was the most important thing on the Black agenda and nothing should stand in its way, now of course there are a few more things on the Black dockets.

His Lordship was involved in many a battle with former Prime Minister Jean Chretien, who took steps to block Black’s peerage by invoking the Nickel resolution. It was a piece of ancient legislation going back to 1919, when a Canadian government requested that the Crown not confer titles on Canadian citizens. Judging by the animosity between Black and Chretien at the time, a modified resolution might be named the Knuckle resolution but we digress.

With His wanna be Lordship, sidetracked by the hinter Landers he thus renounced his loyalty to Canada and took up his honours as Lord Black of Crossharbour, after which he promptly began a cross Canada tour besmirching the government of his former citizenship.

He called his former home, a one party federal state with no deliverance in sight. Proclaiming the nation was on the road to ruin with the leftist bent of the current government. Now these are comments which in some cases could have had some valid debating points, if only they had been delivered by a less pompous guy. Needless to say, there wasn’t a great grip of sadness when Conrad the Orator, chose to take his leave to Mother England.

But like a Dr. Seuss character, that cat has come back. And as he does, he comes home with more baggage than when he left. Black presently finds himself in a much publicized legal situation, or a giant smear job as he refers to it. Black feels that in the end he will be vindicated, but it's a situation that could very well find him ending up in jail if things go against him in the USA. It will be interesting to make note of the reaction to his desire to reclaim his citizenship, now that he seems to need it.

And that some speculate, is why his Lordship is willing to return to his common roots and once again join the land of the hosers. If Black’s lawyers fail in their bid to deliver him unscathed from the US Judicial system, he would have to do his time in the USA. His abandonment of Canadian citizenship four years ago, would rule out one of those cross border jail time exchanges. Leaving him at the mercies of a US Justice System which put Martha Stewart away for a silly little stock tip. It's the same US Justice System that Black is not doing a great job of ingratiating himself to these days. Imagine where they may place a giant of industry who has not willingly played along with their tactics thus far.

Others suggest that Black's legal troubles (in his non Canadian status) could very well see Canadian immigration officials coming after him for expulsion from this country, one of course he self expelled himself from four years ago. In fact legislation that was introduced last week (but now is in danger of not passing) could be the largest roadblock to his return.

In the end, it could be that he won't even be allowed to keep his peerage, so hey, may as well go back home and kick back by the lake.

Like many a tourist to Europe before him, suddenly Mr. Black has discovered that the little Maple Leaf on a backpack, or even on a passport, can be a truly valuable thing to call your own!

Bono goes to Bytown!

If Paul Martin was hoping for an endorsement from one of the world’s most popular rock stars, then he still hasn’t found what he’s looking for.

Bono landed in Ottawa today, on a day the locals declared was U2 Day in Ottawa. The band of Irish rockers prepared on Friday, to make good on a promise to play the capital made back when Paul Martin and Bono were more or less on the same song page. It seems that things aren’t quite as familiar these days, those harmonies are a little off and they're playing the wrong chords. Bono declaring in Martin's own backyard, that he was crushed by the guy that calls 24 Sussex Drive home and his reticence in reaching out to dedicate 0.7 of Canada’s GDP to eliminate poverty.

Bono took advantage of his Parliament Hill appearance to once again issue his plea for relief for the world’s poorest regions. He urged Canada to step up to the benchmark first raised by Lester Pearson in the late sixties, an initiative for the world’s richest nations to dedicate a portion of their GDP to assisting parts of the world in dire need of assistance. Of course, since those halcyon days of global thinking Canada (like all other rich countries) has stumbled in its dedication to the goals as outlined by Pearson.

Bono may be crushed by our leader but he still has high hopes for the nation. Proclaiming that he was a fan of Canada he pointed out that Canadians are fully in favor of the idea of helping others. He made mention of a recent Ekos poll in September, that stated an increasing number of Canadians were ahead of their government in their desire to spend Canadian tax dollars in aid of desperate nations.. A situation that has not been acted upon by the government and one that the U2 front man finds baffling; as he put it Martin mystifies him in his reluctance to take the lead in the battle against world poverty despite Canada's large budget surpluses.

With a Canadian election about to be declared next week, Bono didn’t weigh in too heavily on political preferences (there’s still hope there Paul), though he did suggest that Canadians ask those looking for their votes to be upfront on their thoughts on world poverty and how to end it. While it would be nice to think that Canadians would put such an issue on the front burner of an election, it isn’t likely to happen.

If one looks at the avalanche of spending announcements in this run up to an election that has not even been called yet, foreign aid and foreign issues merit neither a line of policy, nor a dollar of increased assistance (Not to mention the poverty in our own country that has yet to be properly addressed). It is a situation that is more than a bit shameful, considering the obscene amounts of monies offered up to the voters in the last week.

When the concert was first announced, Bono said that the event would either be a night of celebration or one of protest, depending on the progress of the 0.7 initiative. Judging by his words on the Hill on Friday, it’s more likely going to be the latter.

If Mr. Martin is a wise man, he’ll stay away from the telephone tonight, U2 have a habit of urging their concert goers to use their cel phones to register a protest by calling the number on the overhead screen, usually the office number of a government official. Perhaps like a certain Prime Minister that is hesitant to take the 0.7 plunge.

Instead perhaps the Prime Minister should slip on the headphones and listen to a few tunes from what is supposed to be his favorite band. Grab the iPod Paul, (the U2 special edition of course) and check out these tunes from How to build an Atomic Bomb; Crumbs from your table, All Because of you and Sometimes you can’t make it on your own. Music that should give him cause for inspiration, contemplation and maybe even one day some consolation.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Pictures of Podunk: Cow Bay Cafe

A soggy day at Cow Bay. The Cow Bay Cafe and Eagle's Bluff Bed and Breakfast, part of the scene down in the Cow Bay area of Prince Rupert.

Enjoy your turkey!

To the Podunk browsers from below the 49th and to the upper left hand side of the map as well, a Very Happy Thanksgiving Day.

American Thanksgiving is truly one of those amazing holidays where Americans travel some great distances to share turkey, football, parades and friends and family. Think Planes, Trains and Automobiles to understand the length that some Americans go to in order to be home for Thanksgiving.

If you have a friend in the USA perhaps send them a card to celebrate the big day, but don't expect a reply until the days of sloth die down.

May the family be well, the Turkey well done and the football entertaining.

Try and run the ball through this line!

Now if the BC Lions had put this defensive weapon to work last Sunday, then Bobby Ackles would be celebrating Grey Cup Week in a whole different way!

With a naval escort from Victoria and a Coyote ride to the Coach's press conference, one could say that the Grey Cup was in good hands.

HMCS Vancouver made the journey from CFB Esquimalt on Wednesday, proudly displaying Lord Grey's Drinking cup on the frigates helicopter deck as it passed under the Lions Gate Bridge and headed for Canada Place.

Once there the crew of the Vancouver turned over to the Cup to the Army who stood on guard for Grey and got the trophy to the conference on time. The military will continue to be involved in Grey Cup week right up until the big game on Sunday.

Grey Cup festivities have begun to pick up in Vancouver, as the locals shake off the disappointment of the Leos not taking part in the final game of the 2005 Canadian Football season. The Alouettes and Eskimos are in town preparing their game plans to try and lay claim to the championship of Canadian football.

BC Place was sold out a number of months ago for the Grey Cup finale and surprisngly few of the tickets purchased by Lions fans have been dumped on the open market. Perhaps BC's football fans have finally figured out that Montreal and Edmonton having participated in more than their share of Grey Cup games, these two teams might actually put on an entertaining affair this Sunday.

With a week full of activities this is possibly the closest Canada gets to a Mardi Gras and one can't let a little thing like the home team's absence get in the way of a good time.

As for the military escort, Ackles may wish to give Wally Buono the Coyote units home phone number. It could go a long way to solving any further controversies in the Lions Den in 2006!

(photo credits Canoe/DND)

The above posting first appeared on my Twelve Men on the Field blog, for more items about the CFL check it out!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

It worked on Al Capone

Chilean judicial officials are taking a page out of past American history to try and finally bring former dictator Augusto Pinochet to justice. Pinochet has been charged with tax evasion and corruption, a far cry from what many suspect he has done over the years, but it may be the last shot at the former dictator that Chileans may get.

Pinochet who was President of Chile from 1973 to 1990 was leader over a country with one of the worst human rights records in history. During the seventeen years of Pinochet, 3,000 people died and 30,000 more were tortured in political violence, the bulk of which took place in the early years of the Pinochet regime. There was also a list of 119 dissidents who it is alleged were killed or disappeared during his regime, a case file that has never been properly investigated (for obvious reasons) by Chilean authorities over the years. It's only these last few years where prosecutors have felt confident enough to try and tackle the General and his record.

Pinochet stepped down from power in 1990 when he surprisingly allowed a plebiscite on his governance and was voted out of office. But in a strange arrangement remained on as the nations Commander in Chief of the military, which allowed him to quash any investigations to abuse of power. He finally stepped away from the Commanders job in, only to take up self appointed position in the Chilean Senate as a Senator for Life.

Eventually the slow climb to democracy would begin anew in Chile and Pinochet found himself up on a number of charges over the next five years, as Chilean prosecutors attempted to bring him to trial from 2000-2005. However, poor health and questions of his mental stability circumvented the path to justice time and time again.

With Pinochet turning 90 on Friday, one suspects that the odds are quite slim of him spending a day in jail over any of the horrendous things he's been accused of over the years. The tax evasion charges are most likely a last gasp for the prosecution, to seek out some sense of justice for the families of those who suffered and indeed for the people of Chile.

Pinochet may even dodge these most recent charges, but his time is quickly running short for our planet. His next appearance may be in front of a much more judgmental tribunal one who may be able to recite many names. Pinochet had better have enjoyed his mortal years, one gets the feeling that his next locale won't be much to his liking.

With friends like Ralph.......

The Federal election hasn't even been declared on yet and already Ralph has spoken, we need not waste our time in a voting booth, a Liberal minority is on the way.

Ralph Klein continued his cross canada tour today with less than glad tidings for the leader of Her Majesties Loyal Opposition and fellow Conservative Lodge member Steven Harper, Ralphie said if he was a betting man, he'd bet on the Grits. We assume that a traveling physician administered CPR to Harper immediately upon hearing the word of Ralph.

Klein has said he wants the Tories to win, feels the Canadian public needs a Conservative government, he just doesn't think that we're going to elect one.

With Tory blackberries zipping and zapping the dreadful news, Conservative handlers got a hold of Ralph and suggested a "clarification" might be in order and rather quickly.

So out trotted Ralph one more time with an update on his Nova Scotia musings, said Klein; "I believe that the Conservatives are the right alternative to govern this country," "While the polls show the Liberals with a slight lead, the campaign can change everything. I urge Canadians to vote Conservative." Ralph also added in his later clarification that he fully supported Stephen Harper as leader of the Conservatives, good thing too, cause if he really didn't like him one wonders just what he might have said.

Peter McKay took the latest wildcat blowout from the deep Conservative well of Alberta with fairly good humour. Said McKay with great understatement, "Ralph said he would be helpful, this was not helpful".

And as far as what to do about any future thoughts from chairman Ralph or any other tattle tale Tories? McKay jokingly suggested duct tape, at least, we think it was jokingly. Stock up on your duct tape before Monday, be watching for a run and your chance to make some money off the upcoming election.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Pictures of Podunk Archive

We'll keep an archive of our Pictures of Podunk feature.

November 30, 2005--Rotary Waterfront Park
November 28, 2005--The Court House
November 26, 2005--Downtown Prince Rupert from Service Park
November 24, 2005--Cow Bay Cafe
November 22, 2005--Kwinitsa station

Pictures of Podunk: Kwinitsa

A view of Kwinitsa station at Rotary Waterfront Park (not Mariners park as previously identified) a former train station from up country, it now serves as a Museum on the waterfront.

Printer's packs his bags

With the BC Lions quest for a Grey Cup at an end by Sunday night, could it be that the season long controversy over quarterbacking has come to an end as well.

It was an emotional Casey Printers who addressed the media following the Lions elimination from the CFL playoffs, a frustrated quarterback who vented about how he gave it his all this season, but that this team was never really his. And while his tenure this season in the Lions den has been a roller coaster ride of emotion, he probably spoke more than a bit of truth that will need to be examined by the Lions management.

Printers was unfairly tossed into the Western Final with only three minutes to play, expected to pull off a last minute miracle to salvage a Lions season that was filled with high expectations but ended with a free fall of major proportions.

Many an arm chair coach and GM will be questioning Wally Buono’s hesitation in going to Printers earlier in the fourth quarter or even in the third. As Printers’ rightly pointed out, this has always been Dave Dickenson’s team and on Sunday Buono kept it that way til almost the very last minute.

At the start of the season the Lions were the envy of every franchise in the CFL, two capable exciting quarterbacks each possessing the skills to lead a well stocked offense on to victory. It was the dream of any GM to have such depth at the most vital position on a team, but by the end of the season that gift had become a curse. As the season went on and the Lions began to stumble the reticence to move Printers into the lineup seemed to split this team, players unsure who their QB would be, no one seemingly on the same page as Buono.

With the early exit one week before a Grey Cup Game hosted by the Lions management, the Lions will need to address the situation once and for all. Printers was saying all the right things that he wants to come back to BC, but underlying his words is a sense that he only wants to come back if he becomes the go to guy in the Lions den. However, if his agent is to be believed (and hyperbole was created to describe this guy) then Printers may very well be NFL bound by January. Printer’s agent says that Casey is scheduled in for up to 21 show and tell sessions with NFL franchises once the New Year beckons. Considering the kind of money that Printers wants (the same kind of cash as Ricky Ray) there’s every chance that he’ll end up holding a clipboard and biding his time below the 49th.

Then again, the Lions could swing a deal to send Printers off to a new CFL destination. There’s a need for a starting quarterback in Hamilton, Saskatchewan and (hot rumour of the week) Winnipeg and who knows what the Toronto needs will be, Damon Allen needs to make a decision now that his remarkable year has come up one game short from what could have been a story tale retirement saga.

And with the circus in Ottawa one wonders if Kerry Joseph is even safe from the mercurial nature of the Gliebermen. That’s five of the nine teams in the league that would probably give their right arm for a quarterback with the potential of Printers.

Somehow, unless Wally Buono has a major change in his mindset, you get the idea that Printers will be wearing somebody else’s colours next year, whether they are NFL or CFL, they most likely won’t be BC Lions orange and white.

The above post first appeared on my Twelve Men on the Field blog, check it out for more items about the CFL.

Better late than never

Some sober second thoughts in Victoria over the weekend, have put an end to those outrageous pay raises that MLA's voted themselves last Thursday. But in the true spirit of BC politics, some of the MLA's are not happy with having to hand back their recently captured loot!

NDP leader Carole James finally saw the light by Monday as the overwhelming sense of outrage managed to resonate at the NDP offices (they, the party of the little people remember). James called a rare NDP caucus meeting on Sunday, where the party read the tea leaves and realized that as a party, they probably were on the wrong side of a contentious issue. By the time everyone had vented on Sunday, James was ready to advise the Liberals that they were withdrawing their support for Bill 17.

Mike de Jong, the Liberal house leader who had to introduce the legislation to repeal the raises, pointed the finger at the sudden change of heart by James as almost a form of double dealing. Suggesting that she now has poisoned the well of democracy in Victoria by her quick turn around on the issue. Somehow the Liberals were still oblivious to the publics outrage and instead of accepting the fact that the people were not impressed, they turned the issue into a partisan situation.

Even more unseemly for the Liberals were the wild ramblings of Lorne Mayencourt the MLA for Vancouver-Burrard, or as David Schreck calls him Sideshow Lorne. Mayencourt became the only MLA to vote against the newly introduced Bill 19, which would rescind the pay boosts, Mayencourt made an emotional plea for his pay packet, quoted on CKNW that "the pay increase worked out to about 11 dollars a week or the cost of three lattes." We can see the protest signs already for Mr. Mayencourt, "Let them drink coffee".

But as Schreck correctly points out, as greedy as Mayencourt appeared, at least he had the courage to speak out for his beliefs (wrong as they may seem). NDP MLA Harry Lali, took a pass on the vote on Bill 19, suggesting that he was now against the pay increases, too bad he didn't find the time to actually vote against it then.

Lali's leader, Carole James is to be commended for at least coming to her senses and moving the government away from the misguided plan to reward our elected officials so unseemly. Though to be frank, it seems that the NDP only found their conscience when the public roar became to great to ignore. But at least she has admitted that they made a mistake, the Premier and his party seem to think that we the people are wrong in our opinions. There has been no sense of mis-step by the LIberals, they seem to still believe they made the right move by sneaking the pay raise in under the radar and in record time. Once again showing that they may be a tad out of step with the people they govern.

Thankfully this pack of greedy buggers will be away from us for awhile, the Legislature finishes off business on Thursday, with nary a session planned until the House returns in February. (Which should be a debate for another day, just what are we getting for the pay we give them already?)

For British Columbians this is surely a time to say; out of sight, out of mind and out of our pocket$!

Monday, November 21, 2005

God Damn's and God Bless: Brian Mulroney wash your mouth out!

The much ballyhooed Secret Mulroney Tapes aired on the CBC Monday night and you know it’s not your normal Canadian documentary when you get the warning ”This Program contains coarse language, viewer discretion is advised”, it was a warning that appeared after each commercial break over the 104 minutes of the documentary.

With a musical score by Bruce Fowler that leaned heavily on ominous synthesizers and reminded one of such television fare as Miami Vice; or the movies Manhunter or Midnight Express, the illusion of great tension was kept alive throughout the program.

For those wishing to keep score at home, here is the scorecard of Mulroney’s verbal vulgarisms; one assumes he’s been to the parish priest for confession more than a few times in the last twenty years.

Number of times he barked out a God Damn – 17
Number of times he used the term Bastards-- 2
Number of variations on the word shit
(Horse shit, Bull shit or just plain shit)-------- 6

Using the F*&$ word for full effect---- 3
Number of times he said Jesus or Jesus Christ—8

If nothing else he seems to be fond of God and his only begotten son’s name, just not in the best use of those names.

Total number of obscenities 36! This works out to 1 obscenity for every 2.8 minutes of programming.

But if you could get beyond the shock of hearing a former Prime Minister sounding like the local guy on the docks, there was a world of interesting material in the CBCs’ Passionate Eye special.

Taken from the tapes of Peter C. Newman’s recent book, the documentary presented a picture of a Prime Minister so obsessed with his image and his place in history that he failed to take any responsibility for any of his own shortcomings.

This was a two hour expression of cattiness, cheap shots, bold faced bitchiness and a tinge of vindictiveness.

Mulroney was portrayed as a guy fixated on the media and its impression of him; he referred to the press as practitioners of mediocrity. He would express disgust and contempt for many of the major media figures of the time. Outlining how he frequently had to go above or around the media to get his messages out to the public. Mulroney was convinced that there was a whole cadre of journalists just in the game to get him. He seemed to smell conspiracy with the approach of every journalist in Ottawa, a town of which he said was crawling with an incestuous media with their own agenda.

He goes over his days of sharing the world stage with Ronald Reagan, expressing a rather steep sense of delusion over his importance with the American President. True he did seem to have a great personal relationship with Reagan, but as far as foreign polciy went, the Americans were just glad to have someone more onside with their beliefs. Iin the end American interests were much more global, than just that nation above the 49th.

There were clips of the much vaunted “Shamrock Summit’ of Quebec City held early on in the Mulroney years, the beginning of closer ties with the USA. With a musical score and visual images out of a Lawrence Welk episode it had a surreal quality in review, as the Prime Minister took the microphone to serenade his new best friend with a chorus of when Irish eyes are smiling. It of course was an image that gave many a journalist, satirist and editorial cartoonist a free reign to make mischief.

If as Mulroney believes, it was a period of time which the media tried to paint him as being in servility to Reagan, he really had no one to blame but himself. His whole agenda was to create closer economic ties to the United States, even if the country seemed rather split on the idea at the time. Surely even he must have realized that there was going to be some press coverage that did not fall into lock step with the Mulroney camp.

Using his chats with Newman (who comes across as rather sycophantic in his dealings with the former PM), he continually reinforces the importance of these sessions that he and Newman share together. Newman in fact seems to relish in the impression that he is perhaps the Prime Ministers' closest confidant at times,(or as Newman self describes himself, I was “Mulroney’s Pet Journalist”) in one memorable exchange Newman is found urging Mulroney to distance himself from Joe Clark and effectively hang Clark out to dry. Newman apparently became not so much a journalist, but apparently someone so close to a Prime Minister that he felt comfortable in making policy and internal discipline suggestions. Another telling moment is when Mulroney cautions Newman that thses conversatons are "just between us" and as things would turn out about 30 million other Canadians!

But it was his impressions of the other public figures of the day that served up the most contemptuous of statements. Mulroney seems dismissive of pretty well every other political leader of the day, no one apparently equal to his brilliance as a Canadian leader.

On John Turner he’s almost patronizing, saying how he feels sorry for Turner who in Mulroney’s impression had become nothing but a broken down and beaten man. Sharing an inside story on how Turner was making the rounds looking for corporate work but was having no luck, something that didn’t surprise Mulroney at all. At one point, Mulroney trots out some internal poll that shows of 17 key points of leadership, he trounced Turner on all 17. In the end he dismisses Turner as a shell of a man, stepped in bitterness and malice. An interesting observation, considering that by the end of the documentary one might say the same thing about Mulroney.

Betrayal was another one of the themes that would re-occur in the documentary, the betrayal of Clyde Wells on Meech Lake ; Mulroney denigrates Wells education suggesting that a simple tax lawyer from Corner Brook surely could not have the necessary intelligence to see the big picture of Constitutional studies. With Wells stand on Meech Lake part of the end of that Constitutional battle, Mulroney lashed out at the Newfoundland Prime Minister as well as former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. Trudeau was in Mulroney’s mind, so jealous of the Conservative Prime Ministers success that he purposely had the Meech Accord scuttled, and then went to work on the Charlottetown Accord. Mulroney proclaiming that it was Trudeau that ruined this country and it was up to me to save it again. He seems to frequently take on the role of the great knight battling the forces of darkness.

He’s equally dismissive of Jean Chretien, a man that Mulroney seems to have little good to say. His demeaning language about the successor to Turner shows a certain amount of snootiness that seems steeped in the old Westmount traditions, rather than the streets of Baie Comeau that Mulroney frequently rattled on about. Mulroney shrugs off any importance of Chretien by suggesting that he’s not a well read man. Barely able to get through the Montreal Gazette, said Mulroney, “I’ll bet you the man has not read a book in twenty years”. We’ll hazard a guess that he’s read at least one book in the last three months!

But if you want to hear the pain of betrayal, it was the era of the ugly split with Lucien Bouchard that brings out some of the pain of the Mulroney years. In this section of the show he seemed to wear his emotions on his sleeve as he expressed the hurt of having a close friend betray him in such a public fashion.

The program ends with a look at the most disastrous election campaign of Kim Campbell, a person that Mulroney claims threw the election away. Suggesting that even at his worst John Turner was a more competent campaigner (about the only nice thing that Mulroney had to say about Turner) than Mulroney’s successor. Mulroney was shocked that she distanced herself from his legacy and ran her campaign without mentioning his record or achievements while in office, in the end he feels this is what cost her the election. When he describes her as vain and arrogant, well, geez are we the pot calling the kettle black here, the viewer wonders.

It was a most fascinating glimpse inside the deepest thoughts of a political leader in Canada, an expose full of rudeness, vulgarity and steeped of vanity to make one wonder what power does to those we send to elected office.

While he would frequently proclaim a God Damn during his screeds, Mulroney curiously would also offer up a God Bless to Newman, at the end of many of those same conversations, making for a strange combination of rudeness and reverence.

In the end we are left to wonder if power truly turns our leaders into bitter individuals, steeped in venom and self-importance? If this is the norm rather than the exception, then all we can say is God Help Us!

Update: Sean at seanincognito has an interesting take on the story from the point of view of Peter Newman's side of the screen, well worth the read to see the machinations of the reporting class.

Rick Mercer, photo shop fanatic!

Rick Mercer's blog has some pretty good submissions from fans of the Rick Mercer Report, on his TV show he asks viewers to take a photo from his blog and let their imaginations run wild.

This week, it was the mighty little guy from the Shawinigan himself, Jean Chretien who got the Mercer Report Photo challenge and healthy helping of photo shop treatment.

Check things out for a couple of chuckles!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Brian Mulroney, unplugged!

The CBC will once again poke that media stick into the eyes of Brian Mulroney, as the Mother Corp airs an interesting documentary Monday night at 8 pm on the main network. The program is based on Peter C. Newman’s book; The Secret Mulroney Tapes. Part of the Passionate Eye series, the documentary will show a rather passionate and occasionally profane Mulroney as he chatted with Newman about the events of the day during his time as Prime Minister.

The course of the evening’s show will feature, Mulroney in his own words expressing his contempt at some and delight with others and features that Irish bluster of his that made him fodder for satirical magazines and television shows for years.

The main target of most of Mulroney’s most vociferous venom is none other than the press, with special attention paid to the CBC. This should make the show Must See TV at the CBC, as layers and layers of bureaucrats secretly hope they’ll be called an asshole or something much worse.

There’s a small preview of the program’s highlights in the Globe and Mail, another part of the media that frequently found itself on the Mulroney dirt list. The Globe interviews the director of the Tapes, Mike Sherrin who poured over nine years of taped material to put together the overview of the Mulroney Tapes.

From Ronald Reagan to Lucien Bouchard, John Turner to Pierre Trudeau, Mulroney had comments for all and didn’t hold back with his thoughts. The documentary also explores the rather unusual relationship between Mulroney and Newman, sometimes appearing to cross the lines between journalist and subject and turning more towards confidant at times. Regardless, with it all on tape, we’ll get to make our own decisions about who was using whom in that relationship.

Mulroney was reportedly devastated that his most innermost thoughts had been turned into a book, one which seems to have made Newman a fair amount of money. One wonders what he will think of becoming a prime time attraction on the CBC!