Saturday, December 31, 2005

Seventh Avenue East shooting?

It's unknown at the moment as to what the police action at 7th Avenue East and Frederick might be about, but pretty well the entire detachment was called out at one point as things developed.

Seven police cars responded to what is believed to be a shots fired call around 7:30 or so, since the initial arrival of the police only three cars have remained on the site, but traffic has been blocked at the top of the hill by Plaza and the corner of Frederick and 7th Avenue, a number of people were seen being led away from a residence in the 1400 block of the street.

One officer was spotted standing in front of the front door, while onlookers were directed away from the scene. It's not believed that anyone has been injured in the incident.

Update: A 34 year old Prince Rupert resident was arrested and charged with a number of offences. Two officers were injured in the incident. One officer sustained a broken toe when a bullet ricocheted off of his boot, another officer received a broken wrist in the altercation.

Full details of the situation are available in a posting from January 3rd.

A New Year comes to Europe

The New Year arrives in Europe, celebrations in Germany (top left) London, England (middle) and Germany (bottom)

Welcoming 2006 to Asia

Taipei (left) Singapore (top) and Sydney (bottom) celebrate the arrival of 2006!

Should Auld acquaintance be forgot!

For those that need the words (and a wee bit of musical accompaniment), we present to you the Auld Robbie Burns classic, a tune which has welcomed many a New Year's gone by.

I'm not a Scot, but I assume that the bagpipes make the song. But for those who may not want the pipes a piping, try this version.

For those house parties that can't find the tune, turn either version up and let er blow!

Have a Happy New Year!

Advice for the over indulgent

Just in time for your New Year's eve bash, a few suggestions on how to avoid that end of the world feeling on the 1st day of a brand new year!

One if by land, two if by sea

There's been a bit of talk lately in the USA about building a great Wall of America between the US and Mexico and a Northern version to keep us pesky Canadians and our silly ways away from the heartland of America.

From many of the fifty states, senators and congressman have suggested that having America become a gated community, might be a dandy idea in the post 9-11 American reality.

This of course has been shrugged off in Canada as folly, the idea that the Northern flank is some kind of gaping hole waiting to be over run by ne'er do well and terrorist alike seems rather silly. But still it's an issue that seems to be picking up speed with each successive disagreement between the two countries. The idea seems rather ludicrous considering the amount of trade between the two countries, not to mention the tourist industries that are dependent on a smooth and easy crossing between the two nations. But even the craziest of ideas can find a supporter (especially the crazy kids at Fox Television News) if there is some funding available.

Now just in time for a brand new year, the Washington Post has published an interesting bit of reading material that may give Canadians cause to reconsider our objections to a giant impediment to our friends to the south. As a New Years Eve present, the Post has dusted off the ancient plans for attack from the USA on Canada that date back to the 1920's.

With the title "Joint Army and Navy Basic War Plan - Red", the 94 page document that once was listed as secret, provides a step by step description as to how our friends and neighbours would come across the line to annex our home and native land.

The shock and awe Northern style would begin in Halifax, where the US Navy would take control of the port city (it could explain that recent visit by the American Nuclear sub). The plan in Nova Scotia would be to ensure that the British Navy would not come to our aid . Somehow we think that a country that would sell us such quality marine hardware as our four subs, won't be making the crossing but you never know, they may feel guilty or something.

From Halifax the Americans would take Niagara Falls (they've always been jealous of our Horse Shoe falls haven't they) where power plants would be shut down to leave Ontarions to freeze in the dark. Hmm, perhaps they Americans have heard from the land of Ralph with a few words of advice for the Pentagon as they upgrade the plan.

After Ontario has been neutered, it would up through Vermont into Quebec, across the plains to the railway city of Winnipeg, across the great lakes to seize the ports and then finally to those shipping lanes leading to the Atlantic and Pacific, to cut us off from the world, as the Americans prepare to lock us down.

The original plan back in the 1920's was designed to actually fight a war against the British, a war which would lead to the American's becoming the dominant world power as the last century moved along. As things turned out, the British would fight the Germans instead, the Americans would catch up to the action as the forties got underway and by the fifties would actually become that dominant world power, all without one shot of anger fired in Canada's direction.

By then any plans to attack Canada were shelved, the Battle plan declassified by 1974 and available at the American National Archives for photo copying at fifteen cents a page. If you see a CSIS agent with lots of change in his pockets, perhaps he's on a secret mission to obtain more details about any pending hostilities.

The Post by publishing the details of the American plan, may bring back those fond memories of the days of Paul Revere and stir up those latent national feelings for Manifest Destiny.

To stand on guard for thee, the Canadian Department of Defence put together its own review of the American war plans, provided here for those looking for a little light reading to ring in the New Year.

After perusing the various documents and factoring the current state of Canada US relations, we may have to take a second look at that old wall idea. Perhaps that it may not be such a bad idea after all, not so much as to keep us out of America, but to keep them away from us.

If nothing else, with a wall up (and a few doors we assume) we'd have a better idea where we should watch, should the neighbours get a little to covetous of our property line.

Friday, December 30, 2005

A missed opportunity for Podunk?

Was it not so long ago that wind power was going to be the wave of the future in Podunk? And no we're not talking about the gusts of verbiage from politicians, but actual harnessing of the wind (of which we seem to have no shortage of) and turning it into electricity for the power grids.

While not much has been heard of that around here for a while now, down Squamish way they're heralding the new year with new employment opportunities. Quantum Wind Power Corporation is planning on investing 250 million dollars on a wind turbine factory, manufacturing the turbines to supply renewable energy to a number of companies around North America.

Squamish was touted as the ideal location because of its deep water port, railway access and warehousing infrastructure. Not to mention the need to bring new jobs to the community. Hmm, sounds like a place on the north coast we all might know.

The project will initially provide full time jobs for 300 residents, who have suffered setbacks in the forestry sector over the last few years, including the closing of the pulp mill and sawmill there. Industry officials suggest that with the wind power infrastructure soon to be in place, Squamish stands to be on the leading edge of a new and growing industry.

Good for them, but too bad that a project that had been touted for the North Coast for so many years, seems stalled while other municipalities put together a plan to bring home the deal. We wonder what ever happened to the plans for development at our end of the province?

Pictures of Podunk: The Port of the Future!

A rather desolate looking place at the moment, but by early 2006 it should be bustling with construction. The home of the future Gateway to the pacific, the Prince Rupert Container port. Located on the west side of the city, the massive port project could redefine Prince Rupert's place in the shipping world!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Perhaps a time out is in order!

Ah yes, another day, another idiotic comment from a Liberal. Paul Martin must be wondering what he's done to deserve to be saddled up with such a bunch of stumble bums. In what is becoming a daily parade of mis-steps, the Liberals once again find themselves under the glare of the spotlight, as yet one more candidate or political hack finds that he must dig his way out of a latrine of his own making...

The latest Liberal candidate for self destruction is David Emerson, who recently compared Jack Layton to having Boiled dogs face smile. Apparently a quaint Chinese statement taught to him by his Hong Kong born wife, Theresa Yeuk Si-Tang. Who it seems is at least more entertaining than Emerson as far as public speaking goes and one suspects better at recounting Chinese sayings. Emerson says he only used the term in jest, a happy go lucky bit of reverie, designed to entertain the local Liberals at one of those interminable bun fests one must go to as a candidate.

Of course, some folks might argue that suggesting that someone has a Boiled Dogs Face smile is not exactly a Dale Carnegie moment. In fact some suggest that it's a literal translation of an old Chinese insult, and considering the recent Liberal travails with Chinese dogs and such, probably it might have been a wiser strategy to find a less abrasive bit of verbal battle. Better yet, perhaps the Liberals should just stay away from those wonderful, yet not easily translated bits of Chinese lore.

Not wishing that the nation descend into politically correct boredomfest, we at the Podunk truly hope that the Liberal handlers and candidates keep on trucking. They've taken over that wonderful turf held by the Conservatives of the last election, where every day offered up yet another bombastic bit of theatre, guaranteed to make Stephen Harper wish he'd stayed with the exciting world of Economics, tax matters and lobbying.

No instead in this election, Harper has been able to keep his shoot from the lip gang tightly monitored, there have been no sound bytes from hell to deal with thus far, as the Conservatives reveal remarkable discipline.

Instead all the gaffes belong to Paul's pals, the formerly urbane and supposedly sophisticated Liberals, who always seemed to look down their noses at the uncultured ways of the opposition parties. Now its that same Liberal gene pool that makes up the growing group of chatty cats, a group who deliver to the media on a daily basis, the grist for the lampoon mill.

Somebody at Liberal control had best get the word out that a few time outs might be timely things at the moment. Advice from old Mama Liberal, that if you don't have anything nice to say about someone, then don't say anything at all, just might be the golden rule to self preservation to live by.

Perhaps Mrs. Emerson can provide the Prime Minister with a quaint expression to describe a candidate who causes his leader much in the way of political indigestion. Otherwise if this trend continues, the Liberals may find themselves out of time and out of office by January 23rd.

Christmas is for families!

The long arm of the law was a rather short one in Springfield, Illinois. William Ginglen, 64, received a forty year prison sentence after being convicted Thursday, of a string of armed robberies over the last three years.

Ginglen, who up until the robbery spree was considered a model citizen of the community, had been turned in by his son, a Peoria, Illinois police officer. It seems that Ginglen Jr., recognized Dad on surveillance tapes from the string of robberies and went to work to bring in the fatherly felon.

The life of Mr. Ginglen Sr., began to unravel in 2001 when he lost a number of jobs and descended into a life of crime and drug use. During the crime spree, the elderly bandit committed at least seven robberies, two of them armed. In the two year crimewave he stole over 53,000 dollars, lavished his girlfriend with numerous presents and consorted with a number of prostitutes and crack dealers.

It all ended in November of 2004, when his son went to his house and confronted the father seizing a various pieces of evidence, taking Dad into to the local police which eventually led to his fathers incarceration.

In the understatement of the year, Ginglen's son said "there are no winners here today".

We've got the job, even some money!

Are you good at math? Have the ability to balance a chequebook? Able to make the occasional deposit to the bank?

Comfortable in chasing down tax revenues? Willing to make cold calls in a quest for delinquent tax payments?

Do You like the music of Kenny Rogers and the Pet Shop Boys?

If you answered yes to all of those and are not concerned about short term financial shortfalls, increasing debt or crumbling infrastructure, Then Podunk wants you!

Check out the specs for the job of Chief Financial Officer and see if we can count you in!

Podunk, a Herb Pond joint!

Terrace aircrash affected Rupert business and government services

The tragic crash of a Navair plane of December 20th at the Terrace airport has had a slight ripple affect on the business and personal transactions of Rupertites. The Navair flight was a charter flight that many banks, businesses and government institutions utilized to ship time sensitive documents and such to their various head offices.

In fact Service Canada the folks that do up our EI, Old Age Security and Canada Pension Plan accounts and such, have advised those clients who filled out forms on December 19 and 20th in Smithers, Terrace and Prince Rupert to contact their local office to make sure that their paper work is still progressing as intended. Otherwise delays may result in payments out.

The Terrace Standard has done a number of follow up pieces on the crash and its aftermath in its most recent edition. Among the articles is the report of Navair surrendering its operating license to Transport Canada, details of the ongoing crash investigation, as well as very interesting story on the firefighting requirements for airports the size of Terrace and Prince Rupert. It makes for fascinating reading for anyone who flies out of any Northwest airport.

Because bandwidth is a terrible thing to waste.

For all the good that the wired world has brought upon the world, there are reminders that in some spots of world wide web, there are still bytes devoted to that which should remain unknown.

Here is one such site.

We're not sure if this is a promise or a warning!

Serious Stevie comes to town!

Not that I actually have any real desire to see any of our current political types these days, but it was with interest that I read in the Daily Podunkian that Conservative Leader Steven Harper was in town Wednesday.

Of course by the time I picked up my copy of the Podunkian at 3 pm, he may very well have been out of town, his plan was for a quick visit to the Container Port construction site, a stop out at Ridley to see the sights and then a meet and greet bunfest at the Crest.

The only real indication that there was something up, was the plethora of Mike Scott signs that suddenly appeared along the highway. Lining the route out to the Grain elevator (perhaps so the handlers -political ones not the grain guys and gals- wouldn't get lost) they gave the impression that the Conservatives might have actually had some folks around campaigning for them, though sightings of Mike Scott around these parts have been rare since the campaign first got under way.

It's kind of a confusing little campaign this one, local candidates that keep the lowest of profiles and a national leader that comes to town under some kind of stealth plan. Normally you trumpet your leaders arrival days in advance so as to get a big turnout for those ever popular crowd shots and such. More importantly it might be a handy way for the National leader to find out what the local issues might be in this oft forgotten part of the nation. Not here though, there was precious little advance notice of the visit. Here in Podunk we find out almost by accident that somebody is in town.

Hope Steve enjoyed the stay, wonder if he met any of the locals along the way?

Bad Boys, Bad Boys, whatcha gonna do when they come for you?

It's never a good thing to have the RCMP investigating your government, when you're trying to convince the people that everything you do is on the up and up. Yet with the election campaign about to head into the home stretch, there it is in big type across the land "RCMP to investigate allegations of income trust leaks".

The gist of the investigation is to see if anyone inside the Finance ministry might have given a heads up to investors, prior to the public announcement, a situation which of course could have made a few fellow Canadians (and out of country investors as well) very very rich.

The potential scandal has been brewing for a number of weeks now, but it's with a letter from the RCMP commissioner to NDP Finance critic Judy Wasylycia-Leis that things begin to pick up steam. In his correspondence, Commissioner Guiliano Zaccardelli confirmed that a review had been held and an official investigation was now under way.

This as they would say, is not a good optical moment for the Paul Martin Liberals, in the midst of a campaign in which the credibility of the government has been called into question time and time again, a new concern raises its little flag.

The opposition have been calling for the Finance Minister to step down during the investigation, something that Ralph Goodale has refused to do, as he claims that the RCMP say there is no appearance of wrongdoing on his part.

The latest bit of bad news follows a stream of miscues by senior Liberal strategists who seem to be studying from scripts of the gang who couldn't shoot straight. From insulting seniors and abandoning Liberal leader Jean Charest in Quebec, to suggesting parents aren't competent enough to figure out how to care for their kids, it's been a cavalcade of errors that somehow have yet to resonate in the polling numbers ---- yet.

One wonders if the latest bit of trouble over at finance will be the final hole in the good ship Liberal's bow. Perhaps like any good captain, Minister Goodale wishes to go down with his ship! If so he may have company, it may be a fate that may befall a former shipping line owner we all might know, if these inconvenient little negative events keep popping up in this star crossed campaign.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Just a little rumble

Hmm, guess I wasn't imagining things after all. Just after 2:30 this morning, felt about a five second rumble and shudder and that was that. Was wondering if it was an earthquake or a rogue wind. Guess I know now! Turns out that Podunk had a wee little temblor overnight, just a 4.1 enough to wake you up, but not enough to shake you up!

Pictures of Podunk: Idle Fishing Lodges

On the opposite side of Seal Cove, towards Butze's Rapids is the winter home for many of the fishing lodges that call the Northwest home. In the summertime, sport fishermen from the world over travel to this part of the country to try and reel in the big one. This shot is taken from the Industrial park, looking across the inlet to the Northern shores.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Burden of Being George

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind,
The Jib Jab boys are back again, to roast George one more time!

One mis-step after another

It's baffling sometimes to see that the Liberals continue to lead the polls in the election, considering the amount of damage they seem keep trying to do to themselves.

First there were the snide remarks destined to the representative of the Canadian Association of the Retired Persons early on in the campaign, then the famous Beer and popcorn shot directed towards the average Canadian and their daycare aspirations. There have been references to Nazism in Quebec and then suggestions that the Conservatives won't be tough enough with Quebec.

Today it's the revelations of a reference to Jack Laytons wife and a Chinese dog. Mike Klander who is or maybe that should be was, a high ranking Liberal official in Ontario has been forced to resign his position after his blog put up a photo spread with a "separated at birth" section, featuring Olivia Chow, NDP candidate in Toronto and wife of NDP leader Jack Layton side by side with a picture of a chow chow dog. It also included rants and tirades directed at other figures in the campaign, none of them in a particularly flattering light.

Mike Klander stepped down, after his photos which were posted on December 9th became more commonly known as the campaign moved on. Of course besides the embarrassment of being told he's off the campaign the other worrisome trend for him is the fact that no one seemed to notice his blog until now, and with the outcry of disgust at his postings, the Liberals have pulled it off the net. One suspects that his former blog site, which is now vacant with the blog being purged, probably gets more hits now than it ever did before!

Many of his compatriots point out that blogs are highly personal and he was just expressing a personal opinion, all be it in rather crude and childish verbiage. But he should have realized that his position as a high official of the Liberals in Ontario, would make him fair game for those wishing to point out his poorly handled and apparently not very funny witticims. His entries are a signal to many, that the Liberal negative campaign is in ready mode and we guess that he just beat the crowd to the mudpit.

Sounds like he could use the skills of this guy in rebuilding his particular image at the moment.

Update: Thin skinned political hacks? Hmm, you may notice a couple of the links above no longer lead anywhere, seems the folks at Klander et al, didn't like the increased traffic we guess. Too bad cause it was a nice little bit of irony there, what with the principals self professed ability to bring people together and all of that!

Monday, December 26, 2005

Pictures of Podunk: Cow Bay Shopping area

One of Prince Rupert's "Boutique Shopping areas", the Cow Bay shopping district. Items for tourist and resident alike, busiest during the cruise ship season and that two or three week window of Christmas shopping.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

As the guy in the Red Suit says; Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Night!

Peace on Earth
and Goodwill to all Mankind!

May we all find peace in our troubled world, as we share in the joy of this Christmas season.

A few salutations of the season, courtesy of the folks at the Toronto Star who have done all the hard work here!

We wish one and all a Very Merry Christmas! May these glad tidings of this season of hope, touch us all and last through the year!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Claus Lit 101

Break out the egg nog and shortbread cookies, cause Santa Claus is coming to town! Here for young and old alike, the timeless classic to set the mood for Christmas Eve. Not only is it a Christmas tradition, but it makes a wonderful crib sheet to help you to remember each and every reindeer name!

Frenzied Friday!

We shall know them by their blisters and vacant stares!

Last minute shoppers were out in force on Friday as what was expected to be the busiest shopping day of the year did not disappoint retailers. Historically, Canadians hit the malls in full force on December 23rd, many with a plan to dash in and out, others to wander aimlessly, zombie like, lost in the aisles as they try to come to grips with having waited until the last possible moment.

According to VISA Canada, 37% of us still had gifts to purchase as the stores opened on Friday morning. Before the last store locked its doors for the night, over 8 million of us, or one in every four Canadians would venture into the stores in hopes of finding that one last must have gift.

It was a day expected to put 1.9 billion dollars into the economy, in a one day shopper’s blitz. The busiest time for those tempting the supply Gods, would be between 2 and 4 when it was anticipated that 600 debit and credit card transactions would be handled per second across the country.

Clothing, wine and spirits were popular options for those who were tardy in their Christmas shopping this year. But once again it was something simple, that would bail out the most hapless of Christmas shoppers.

For those that didn’t quite find that special something, the fall back plan was a traditional one. Canadians will purchase Gift Certificates or gift Cards once again, taking the pressure off those that forgot to make a list and check it twice.

They will however prove to be a sensible and timesaving option for their intended ones. Saving the happy recipient one other traditional step, this of course the Boxing Day returns line.

Pictures of Podunk: Looking North over Mariners Park

Taken in November, this view is looking North from Mariners Park, with the Atlin Terminal off in the distance. The surrounding mountains featured a light dusting of snow, the closest Podunk would get to a White Christmas this year.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Are we chasing a wave that's already crested?

With Royop Corporation making its plans to build a shopping village on Highway Sixteen, the various concerns over potential business losses have been expressed quite a bit in the last two months.

But could it be that the Downtown business owners may be worrying about the wrong competitors?

CKNW's Bill Good had an informative half hour of business news at 11 am on Thursday morning as regular contributor Michael Levy provided some interesting food for thought. Internet shopping is up 28% this year from last years Canadian totals. With more and more Canadians preferring to click their basket full rather than walk the aisles of their local stores. So not only is the small business owner suffering a reduction of walk in shoppers, but so are the Big Box retailers on the edge of any town.

Anybody watching the streets of Podunk these last few weeks has seen those white postal vans, the Purolator guys or the Loomis couriers making their frantic deliveries, dashing over town from east to west sometimes late into the night.

The volume of their loads and the lateness of their hours a testimony to even Podunkians love of internet shopping. The internet experience is so simple now, the delivery system almost seamless, that it sometimes seems quite silly to trudge through the monsoon rains to stand in line to make an actual personal purchase.

In most cases the items ordered from the likes of, Future shop, Indigo books, et al takes less than a week to go from mouse click to doorbell ring. And in quite a few cases the price of the product to your door is up to 40% less than a local purchase, freight included.

It's a trend that should give many retailers cause for concern, as the process becomes simpler and simpler. The sea change of commerce has just begun around the world and Podunk will be be no different.

But it makes you wonder if perhaps the biggest concern of the local retailers should not be some bogeyman called Wal Mart or Canadian Tire. But rather our very own local Citywest, that portal that connects us to the shopping carts of the world.

So who's running this team anyways?

The ink had not even dried on Wayne Gretzky's Men's Hockey roster for Team Canada's Turin bound Olympic team and it was caught up in all sorts of intrigue.

The Canadian Olympic Committee had to make sure its messy fingerprints were all over the final decision. For some inexplicable reason, all of Wednesday's feel good announcements were left to the background on Thursday as the bureaucrats at the Olympic Committee decided to hold a cross country conference call to decide if a few of the more controversial selections were truly of Olympic mettle.

What was supposed to be a simple and short press release turned into a day long soap opera as apparently the Olympic handlers wrung their hands over the names of Bertuzzi and Doan and maybe even Heatley.

Word leaked out in BC first that the Olympic Committee was particularly disturbed with the inclusion of Todd Bertuzzi to the 26 man roster, his misdeed in the Steve Moore incident in the NHL of a few years ago, still apparently resonates in the halls of the COC.

The drama played out on the sports talk stations of the country through the day, becoming the thing of farce later in the afternoon. As even more details began to filter out, suggesting that if the Gretzky chosen team was over ruled by the Olympic body, then Gretzky would walk away from the National team. An incident which would have sent a domino theory of happenings that could have ended up with a mess of Olympian proportions and no doubt become the most intriguing story in Canadian hockey history.

By days end it seemed it all ended as it began, the Canadian team roster would proceed as announced, the only change in the situation the embarrassment of a clueless Olympic committee that managed to shoot their own messenger in the foot while at the same time alarming the nation's hockey fans.

The simple question to ask this bureaucratic buffoons is this; why did they not address their concerns to Gretzky and Co. in the weeks leading up to the selection of the team. By handling this situation in such a ham handed manner, they not only cut the legs of their hand picked Hockey manager out from under him, they also could have potentially have sewn the seeds of a hockey rebellion at home that would have had major ramifications for Canada's international hockey reputation.

There are many that don't feel that Todd Bertuzzi should have been included on the Canadian roster, they have valid concerns but in the end one has to decide that if he's been re-instated in the NHL then he should be available to play in International events. And if he's not to be allowed it should not be decided after he's been named to the team.

All we can say is it's a good thing none of the Committee members actually play the game of hockey, a disorganized group such as this would have a hell of a time getting out of their own end of the rink!

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

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Two more sleeps till lift off!

Santa makes his annual trek around the world in only a few more days and the folks at NORAD are set for another night of Santa tracking.

The NORAD website has been updated with the latest technology, to give all those that believe, the chance to track their favourite Chief Executive Elf. Be sure to check out the cool download section, where there are a number of activities available for the young ones to use before they get ready to go to bed.

With radar scopes and fighter escorts, Santa will travel from East to West on Christmas Eve, marking the 50th year that the Continens Defence units have been tasked to keep Santa safe and lend a helping hand.

Check it all out at the NORAD site, where on Christmas Eve video reports and radar projections will follow Mr. Claus as he makes his rounds.

Twenty six for Turin!

The list has been handed in, the players advised. All that's left now is to head for Italy and go for the gold. Hockey Canada named it's roster for the Turin Olympics today, a list of twenty three names on active duty and three others standing by if needed, a group heavy on experience and featuring few real surprises.

The exclusion of Sidney Crosby has had a few fans chattering all night long, but the backlash against the rapid rise of the Nova Scotian of the last few weeks might have been a hint that he might not get the nod. The impression of the Pittsburgh franchise at the moment is one of a rather divided group, that's something the Olympic team would most definitely wish to stay away from in a short elimination tournament.

Crosby will no doubt get more than enough chances to take part in International hockey over the years to come, with many of the current players in what will surely be their last competition on the international stage, Crosby will be handed a torch just in time for the Vancouver Olympics of 2010.

Todd Bertuzzi and Dany Heatley made the grade and that seems to have a few folks concerned as well, many feel that the different situations the two have been involved in over the last couple of years should have weighed against their participation, the managers of Team Canada obviously saw things a little differently. The inclusion of the two will certainly not detract from the on ice effort, which in the end is pretty well all the folks on Team Canada were probably concerned about.

The goaltending situation looks fairly set, Martin Brodeur, Roberto Luongo and Marty Turco will be the last line of defence for the red and white, with Brodeur expected to receive the bulk of the work.

No one could argue with the selection of Joe Sakic to be the captain of Canada's team, Sakic has long been a participant in the International arena, his quiet leadership will be prove to be a solid choice to help bring together a veteran line up.

The joyous nature of the announcement was overshadowed a bit by the sadness at the passing of Wayne Gretzky's mother Phyllis, earlier this week. Gretzky of course could not attend the announcement today as he was tending to family matters in preparation for the funeral, but he did issue a statement thanking Canadians for their kind words in his families time of sorrow. He also congratulated the successful aspirants to the quest for Olympic gold.

With less than two months to go until the puck drops in Turin, there will be lots of debate regarding the names selected today. The Canoe website has a good number of stories on today's development, available from this link!

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

Pictures of Podunk: Besner Block

One of Prince Rupert's older buildings the Besner Block is located in the heart of the downtown area. Dating back to 1928, it's been part of the city's landscape for over 77 years. Presently home to a bank, realtor and lawyers offices to name a few, it's a dominant site on the corner of 3rd Avenue and 3rd Street.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Where were you when the votes were held?

It’s been a pretty quiet Federal election campaign in the Podunk area, but just to the east of us there’s some serious dirt getting tossed along the old election trail.

Conservative Mike Scott and incumbent Nathan Cullen have been busy taking shots at each other in the Terrace area, as the trail to the January 23rd vote gets set to take a Christmas sabbatical.

The latest issue of note is Scott’s former attendance record when he was the Reform MP for the riding back in the 1990’s. Cullen had questioned his dedication to the job back then, suggesting that Mr. Scott was absent from the House of Commons more than 50% of the time during his years in Ottawa.

Scott countered that claim by stating that he was a hard working MP, given to having 14-16 hour days at a time and spending a good portion of his days traveling the nation in his positions of Fisheries and Indian and Northern affairs critic. He also suggested it would be hard for Cullen to know anything of his work back then, as the NDP candidate was busy sitting on a beach in Costa Rica or something. The statement was a reference to the land of Cullen’s previous employment, prior to moving to Smithers.

Scott also put forward the idea that the NDP incumbent did not really have a good feeling for his riding, being a late arrival to the area. Scott feels that Cullen has no concept as to what the people of Skeena-Bulkley Valley do for a living or how they live their lives. Scott played up the concept that Cullen is but a Johnny come lately to the area, not aware of the ridings past history or the issues of the area.

The nasty bit of acrimony has played itself out in the pages of the Terrace Standard as voters there prepare for their all candidates meeting of January 11th, when the two candidates will once again renew acquaintances and one liners for a live audience.

And while our friends in Terrace are treated to some live theatre, we in Podunk would hardly know there is an election underway. Precious few lawn or street signs dot the landscapes and spotting a candidate in the area is an ever rarer occurrence. One thing seems certain though, it truly is but a two man race in Skeena-Bulkley Valley, the remainder of the candidates have such a low profile as to be invisible and apparently mute.

Lets hope these two more talkative Sunshine Boys bring the road show to town before Election Day, the locals could use a little entertainment.

Anybody but Tony!

Sheila Copps is standing by her men, as long as they don't go by the name of Tony.

Copps the former Deputy Prime Minister in the Jean Chretien government, has offered assistance to the Conservative candidate in her former riding of Hamilton East-Stony Creek, providing Frank Rukavina and his campaign with advice on how to get out the vote. Interestingly enough though, she's urging residents of the riding to throw their support towards the NDP candidate Wayne Marston.

In fact, it seems that anyone running in the riding is in the running for Copps assistance, as long as they aren't a Liberal or named Tony Valeri. Neither Mr. Marston nor Mr. Rukavina however should expect a long term relationship, comittment may be something not to be taken to seriously for Ms. Copps, her blog site for Copps and Associates has not been updated since March of 2005, when she advised she was about to address a meeting of Green Party members. Have a party, Sheila will travel!

Copps and Valeri had a bitter dispute prior to the last general election, when Valeri effectively booted her not only out of her own riding but out of the government of Paul Martin. Two years later it's apparently payback time for Sheila.

Valeri who only won the riding last time by 972 votes is apparently not concerned about the Copps advisory roles. And he probably hopes she continues to help out both sides of the political road in the campaign. If she convinces enough voters to split their vote, the old Liberal tradition of coming up the middle could work out quite nicely for Valeri.

Courier Plane crashes in Terrace

A courier plane from a company called Nav Air crashed upon take off at the Terrace airport, shortly after 6:30 on Tuesday night. The twin engine charter on a regular run to Vancouver, was apparently in the air for only a minute before it crashed in woods south of the Northwest Regional Airport.

Fire and Rescue officials from Terrace were on the scene quickly, but sadly the two pilots on board both perished in the crash.

Weather in Terrace at the time of the crash was listed as overcast with a visibility of about 15 kilometers.

The Transportation Safety Board is currently investigating the incident to determine the cause of the fatal crash.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Rampaging Santa's wreaking havoc!

Tis the season to be Jolly, fa la la la la la $#@% &~#!

The Bad Santa syndrome has struck again as reports of erratic and hostile behaviour make the round of the nightly news.

Pretenders to the throne of the holly jolly head elf continue to make more naughty than nice, running the risk of rather bleak Christmas for some of these over inebriated Claus impostors.

Should this keep up much longer this week it very well could be Coal for everyone!

Blame Canada, again!

The neighbours are at it again. With the chilly Canadian/American relationship playing out from the Ambassadorial level, to the right wing press, it’s no real surprise that the politicians are getting into the act.

Last week it was MSNBC weenie Tucker Carlson crapping all over the Great White North, describing us as a nation of stalkers, likened to a retarded cousin who needs to be patted on the head from time to time.

Now it’s the turn of a rather insignificant United States Senator from Montana to speak his bit, once again trotting out one of the greatest urban legends of current time. Rep. Conrad Burns yesterday uttered the apparently still held belief, that those terrorists that brought down the World Trade Centre and attacked the Pentagon had all gained entry to the United States through Canada.

Senator Burns repeated this bit of bumph while discussing a possible need for a great wall of America across the frozen tundra of the 49th parallel. It seems in addition to a flood of terrorists running through Burns’ mind, there are drug runners and other miscreants of society just waiting to cross the ole Sweetgrass border crossing, something that sends shivers down the uh, (spine?) of the good Senator.

Burns in a hyperbolic display of ignorance claimed that those that brought such misery to America came through the porous borders of the longest undefended border. It’s an old bit of rhetoric that pops up from time to time, despite the facts to the contrary. For the record Burnsy, NOT ONE evil doer snuck across the 49th in the middle of the night to bring terror to America in those fateful days. The terrorists of 9-11 actually all gained legal entry to the United States from other nations, not Canada. But hey, never let the facts get in the way of a good story eh Connie?

Even more disturbing is the revelation that prior to becoming a US Senator, Burns was a journalist and then broadcast executive in Montana. There’s nothing like checking the facts out before getting the story out, not that the US media has shown signs of being a cadre of deep thinkers over the years. The problem is when these people make their statements; it seems it’s considered to be as though Moses himself has transferred the Good word to the tablets.

Burns is apparently in a spot of trouble in his district, so ganging up on Canada makes good copy on the Northern Plains. He’s been in the forefront of the keep Canadian cattle out of America campaign, when he’s not busy getting into trouble over improper campaign contributions.

The worrisome thing is that it seems despite the truth, many Americans seem to buy this blarney that Canada is constantly sending squadrons of trouble makers through the border to wreak havoc.

The idea of a huge wall of America is something that the Canadian government really has no interest in, preferring to let the free passage of goods and people continue on as it has over the last hundred years or so. With that thought prevalent in Ottawa, we are urging for saner heads to prevail in the USA, only problem is, one is beginning to wonder if such a thing exists in those corridors of power below the 49th!

Pictures of Podunk: Breakers Pub

Taken from the water side of the pub in Cow Bay, this is Breakers Pub. The entertainment hot spot of the Cow Bay area. The popular watering hole features one of the nicest views in the city, with the yacht Club below and to the right and the Cruise Ship terminal just steps away to the West.

Come Sing a Song of Joy?

Gather round the family hearth and join in on these songs of the season, no not the Christmas season but the political season. The CBC website has asked it's readers and the networks viewers to offer up their take on some of the old time Christmas classics, given a political makeover!

If you can top these samples, send them your creation.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Canada's Hockey Mom passes away!

Sad news out of Brantford, Ontario as Phyllis Gretzky lost her battle with lung cancer on Monday evening. Mrs. Gretzky, 64, had been sick for the last number of years, diagnosed with the disease in 2004. Being the mother of a high profile Canadian, her situation certainly received much more attention than the average family might expect. Such was the importance of her to her family and by extension to the nation.

Wayne Gretzky had flown back to Brantford over the weekend, which became a signal to many that time was short for his mother. Questions of his participation in the Team Canada process were left for a different day, as many hoped for a turn around in her condition. A turn around that sadly never came to pass.

Anyone who has played minor hockey, knows the importance of parents to a young hockey players life. They rise early to get them to practice, drive long distances to make games or tournaments, hold the fundraisers, take second jobs to pay for equipment, it's very much a family commitment in many cases. Phyllis Gretzky was no exception, Wayne has recounted how she would drive him to the early morning practices and while she seemed to stay very much in the background, "she was glue that held it all together".

We offer our condolences to the Gretzky family, while their loss is very much a private matter it's also in a way a national loss. It will bring back for many the sacrifices of parents the nation over to pursue our national sport, losing one of your biggest backers is a hard thing to try to understand.

Lets hope that the Gretzky's feel the support of an entire nation who truly understand as they face their time of sadness.

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

And then there are those that just don't get it!

Well that was a quick expression of humanity at its best. In a previous posting, I recounted the glad tidings of joy exhibited by a guy named Tom Hedican of North Bay, a fellow that exhibited all that's best in people.

The digital bits had barely been circulated to the Blogger home site before another story made the rounds that makes you realize we still have a long road ahead of us.

Hockey fans in Chicoutimi presented their worst face over the weekend as Ted Nolan coach of the Moncton Wildcats brought his squad into Chicoutimi for a Quebec junior league match. Nolan who is of First Nation's descent was shocked and dismayed by the recpetion that greeted him as he coached his squad through the game.

The Chicoutimi crowd exhibited some reprehensible behaviour by uttering racial ephithets and making obscene gestures and racist gestures to the Moncton coach. Nolan, a former NHL coach of the year with Buffalo has seen a lot in his career, but nothing prepared him for the outright racism that he faced in Chicoutimi.

The folks there have more than embarrased themselves, they've shown a side of their culture that is not a pretty sight and should give them all a cause to ponder exactly their place in a modern society.

The management of the Sagueneens have been quick to get a press release out saying how disgusted they are at the behaviour of a number of their fans, but their disgust seems rather hollow. Nolan reported that the security guards at the rink were laughing at the comments and did nothing to expel those that were the worst offenders.

Management claim Nolan may have misunderstood some of the actions of the fans as racist, when they were apparently doing a tomahawk chop to celebrate a goal by one of their own players, Francois Verreault-Paul who is of aboriginal heriitgae. Now perhaps that is correct, know one really knows for sure but it certainly doesn't excuse the other actions by their fans, Nolan probably knows racism when he comes across it and it seems he feels that he has seen it and didn't like what he saw this weekend. The Sagueneens management may be talking the good talk about ridding sport of racism, but frankly they're nowhere near walking any kind of walk.

Nolan deserves much more than just an apology, but one wonders if the folks of Chicoutimi really get it anyways. They claim that the behaviour of their fans is not indicative of the beliefs of the people of their community, but you would have a hard time persuading Nolan of that at the moment.

Someone who gets it!

There's an interesting story out of North Bay, Ontario about a guy that actually gets this helping mankind thing about Christmas.

Tom Hedican, who works as a professional hockey coach in Europe is home in North Bay for Christmas. He came up with what seems like a terrific idea to help out the North Bay Food Bank while at the same time getting the young people of North Bay involved in helping those less fortunate.

Since his arrival back in Canada for the Christmas break, Hedican has been running hockey practices for the youth of North Bay, the only stipulation is that they must bring a donation for the North Bay Food Bank. He's volunteered his knowledge, while the kids bring the goods.

And so far it's been a major success. All of Hedican's planned sessions have been booked solid and his truck has been filled to the top with donations for the Food Bank. Hedican credits his respect for Bruce Springsteen for the idea, Springsteen regularly donates to Food Banks wherever he tours, his donations to the Toronto Food Bank the Daily Bread have been regular and apparently quite generous over the years. For Hedican it seemed a natural fit to combine his love of hockey with his need to help out.

It's something that seems so simple one, wonders if others have attempted it before. It makes everyone a winner in a season when far too many get left behind. You get the feeling that those kids that are learning the skills on the ice are probably taking a heck of a lot more than hockey lessons home with them this Christmas!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Smile, are we still on Candid Camera!

With all the discussion of domestic surveillance in the US this weekend, you would think that it was a practice that has just commenced. But in reality this isn't really a ground breaking announcement. In fact, considering all the excitement of the last 48 hours, it seems timely to look back at a Sixty Minutes transcript from March of 2000, pre 9-11 and how even back then, we routinely could find our correspondences investigated for troublesome behavior.

Back then they had an interesting look at the process of eavesdropping and how Canada was providing services to the USA's NSA in its quest for terrorists, criminals and other ne'er do wells.

The only problem is a lot of other folks are finding their correspondences routinely screened and information compiled regarding their everyday communications. The Top Secret (well I guess until the Sixty Minutes report aired back then) program was (and most likely still is) called Echelon and is used by the USA, Canada, United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia to process details of e mails, phone calls, data transfers and even baby monitors for possible illegal activity. (How many babies planning trouble before those terrible three's, is no doubt a topic of much discussion in the land of electronic surveillance, but one pities the poor operative given that thankless job )

The main subject of the segment was information provided by a former employee of Canada's CSE, who explained how Canada's monitoring agency worked and what they were looking for. He recounted how the computer programs picked up a conversation between a mother and her friend critiquing her sons performance in a school play, she apparently said that he "bombed" that night and bingo, her conversation was flagged for further analysis. In this season of Christmas concerts be careful how you describe your young ones night of stardom (or your drinking habits for that matter), lest you find yourself on an open file in Ottawa!

He also explained how the Canadian agency in the past, spied on citizens of the United Kingdom at the behest of Margaret Thatcher. It seems that Madam Thatcher was suspicious of two of her cabinet ministers and asked the CSE to check them out. They did, reported back but gave her a cloak of anonymity as in this case the United Kingdom was not actively spying on its own citizens but the required information was provided as requested.

The I'll scratch your back, if you'll scratch mine system provides each country with a veil of deniability should anyone begin to question the optics of spying on your own people. Though in the post 9/11 world that really isn't much of an impediment to the cause of total information surveillance.

The increasing frequency of regularly examining even our most mundane correspondences is a worrisome trend for our civil liberties and one that should be addressed more publicly for us. Somehow we think that the mother discussing her child's play should not be tagged as a potential terrorist. The sense of accountability is lacking currently, with innocent people finding their names flagged for future examination. A watch list if you will.

Criminals and terrorists are obviously fair game for the likes of the Echelon program, but keeping a steady hand on the reins of the program should be the guiding principle for the government. It would be worth knowing if Canada is still heavily involved in the program and if we continue to regularly log our citizens conversations, what the process is for seeking that information and what the government does with it should the target be of no national threat. Those babies on the monitor are now heading into their seventh year, how many of them should we be worried about for future wrong doing?

The world today is an even more troubled place than it was on the broadcast day for this segment. There is a need for information about those that wish us ill will, but there's just as much a need, if not more of a need, for the protection of our civil rights.

Awaiting glad tidings from Beijing

The saga of the Watson Island pulp mill will now play out in the offices of the Chinese People’s Government, as the local consultants on the sale to China Paper Group sign off on their end of the documentation.

The decision is in the hands of the company now, is the hopeful word from those involved locally, in over a year of file clearing regarding all the outstanding issues of the old Skeena Cel site.

China Paper’s subsidiary Sun Wave kicked the tires in February and purchased the assets of the old/new Skeena and put an offer on the table in May for the land on Watson Island. Since then it’s been meeting after meeting as the folks at Sun Wave have conducted their due diligence on the feasibility of running the mill locally as opposed to the initial fears of carting off every salvageable piece of equipment off to China.

The long winding road of Skeena Cel has been in the forefront of Podunk history for years and seen more than one extension in its day, so it’s probably not surprising to see that yet another bit of time will pass before some kind of definitive word on the plan will come down.

What’s at stake for China Paper is the realization that it will probably take an investment of more than 100 million dollars to rejuvenate the mothballed mill and get it back in operating order. That in an economic climate that has seen numerous pulp mills shut down across the country.

At stake for the Northwest is the viability of its forest sector and even more importantly, the rebuilding of an employment and tax base for a rather devastated part of the province.

Mayor Herb Pond had been hoping for a Christmas present for Podunk with an announcement from China Paper about its intentions on the mill, but perhaps we’ll just all have to wait for Chinese New Year and a shot a good fortune for 2006. The Year of the Dog enters on January 29th, bringing with it a year that promises to root for the underdog, of which there surely can be no bigger underdog than the long troubled course of Skeena Cel. On the upside one of the traits of a Dog year is that it makes for an excellent business person.

Hopefully it’s a year that also brings an end to the uncertainty that hangs over Watson Island and the Northwest.

Pictures of Podunk: The Atlin Terminal

The showpiece of the new Prince Rupert waterfront. The Atlin Terminal is the focal point of redevelopment in the Cow Bay area. A shopping area, art gallery and offices for the Port Corporation, Customs Department and the Visitors Bureau, it has been the long awaited first step in developing a cruise ship industry in Prince Rupert.

A Big Brother named George, or is he a King?

Has the Administration of George Bush made one step too many in its fight against terror? The latest revelations that the President authorized the internal spying on tens of thousands of American citizens, has many wondering if their democratic rights are no longer guaranteed under the US constitution.

Using warrant less eavesdropping, the current US government has conducted an information collecting binge unseen in current times. Telephone calls and e mails have been examined by the NSA without notice to the federal court, as has been required since 1978. Anyone perceived as a danger to the American state and by association its government, finds themselves subject to investigation and added to a data base.

Financial records, employment histories and any other pertinent information has been assembled and traded among different US government agencies since the days of September 11th, 2001. A reversal of a former safeguard order to destroy all files after an investigation has been closed, causes even more concern for those looking to guarantee their liberties. Now a file can float around from agency to agency for years, long after the subject has ceased to be a person of interest. Making matters even more intriguing is the revelation that in the most part many of these people were never suspected of any actual wrongdoing in the first place. Why they would have their entire lives put under a microscope is a question that screams out for an answer.

The Pentagon has compiled a database of peace protestors and other activists, “internal enemies” in the eyes of the government, an ever growing data base of those that don’t quite see eye to eye with the Bush Administration’s direction. The Iraq war has become more controversial as the years go by, but the basic touchstone of the American fabric has been the ability of the people to express their displeasure over government policy. Questioning the wisdom of a war or the need to send American sons and daughters into harms way should not be the thing of covert internal action.

The revelations of the internal spying of the last four years has many worrying about a return to the days of McCarthyism and of the tumult of the sixties, an era that very nearly tore a great Republic apart.

The president has stated that these measures are required to battle the terrorist threat to America that has manifested itself since 9/11. Many however suggest that five years after the fact, the need to intrude on the most private conversations and correspondence of American citizens is a step far removed from what is really needed.

One can understand the need for credible information in these post 9/11 days, but going beyond the rule of law and in fact creating the rules as you go along, is not solidifying the concept of Democracy in the land that likes to ring that clarion bell frequently.

The President by issuing these edicts by rite of office, is coming dangerously close to moving beyond the role of an elected official and more towards the demagoguery of Royalty.

The last time the American people were subject to rules by imperial edict a revolution broke out in thirteen colonies. The King at that time was a fellow named George and he lost his empire. A current George may best take note of history and seek out a way to avoid having it repeat itself. His Imperial tones are starting to gain notice among his subjects and the opposition to his secretive ways is gaining momentum.

It’s obvious that the events of 9/11 were a watershed moment in the history of the United States; the terrorist attacks on the United States were a wake up call that the US Government needed to get a better handle on those that would seek to destroy all that America has built for itself. One can almost understand the state of mind that has taken the United States down this path, fear is a dangerous thing and can make people do things they normally would never consider possible in more sensible times.

However, by turning American against American and creating a culture of continual fear in its very own nation, the American Government is destroying a much more valuable concept. That dream of a land of the free, with a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Freedom does not come in the form of secret files and a network of internal spies. It does not resonate in a land that believes in democracy, but yet sees a government make monumental changes to its way of life, without debate of those elected by the people.

There surely must be a better way to protect the people without eroding their rights and freedoms on a daily basis. Once you have lost the trust of the people, you really have lost all that you purport to stand for

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Bad Santa!

Perhaps it was one too many kids on the lap, the rising cost of reindeer fuel or far too many letters all about me, me, me but Santa's in New Zealand have run amok!

Like a live version of the Billy Bob Thornton movie, Imposter Santa's took liberties with store stocks and exhibited most Un-Santa like behavior in their rampage through the streets of Auckland.

Here's one group that the real Santa won't have any problems discerning from naughty or nice!

A peek over the fence

With the American Ambassador asking us to keep the US government out of our election, it’s interesting to note that some in the great bloggerland to the south, are actually keeping an eye on our little traveling road show. Suddenly it seems Canada is on not only the governmental radar but on the blogging radar as well.

The blog Captain’s Quarters which is of the conservative bent, has featured not one but two articles on Canada Friday. The first one was a thorough look at our burgeoning income trust scandal, and a suggestion that no one might take this latest financial trouble seriously until the Security Exchange Commission decides to take a look at what the neighbors are up to. The blog entry focused a lot of attention over the trading patterns on those stocks tied into the trusts and how they exploded in volume just before the Goodale announcement was made.

The second blog entry is about the leader’s debate of Thursday night and what impact the four horsemen of the political apocalypse had in their first head to head discussion. The author found some good points for Stephen Harper and as would be expected for a conservative blog had little kind to say about the performance of the Prime Minister.

The two entries make an interesting take on how some Americans are viewing the happenings of that snowbound land of the north. This is not the first time that the Captain has taken an interest in Canada, he recently has commented on the Scott Reid faux pas and the controversy with the US ambassador. His blog was one of the few American sites that followed the Gomery Commission with any regularity and even posted material considered verboten in Canada, causing a rush to the servers as Canadians sought out that of which they were not supposed to know.

There’s even more interesting reading in the comments section where a number of Canadians offer up their take on the Captain’s findings. It’s a worthwhile stop for a few minutes just to see what some of the folks to the south are thinking of when it comes to their Northern flank.

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Nation's Business

After watching a wee portion of last night’s Leaders debate I’m reminded of that old television show from the CBC, back in the early days of the cathode ray.

The Nation’s Business was something like a five or ten minute free time political broadcast, where your average parliamentarian could explain away his or her party’s political policy without the need of any debate.

It had many time spots during its run, but I remember it normally followed the National News if my memory is correct; it was an infomercial before infomercials became the mainstay of late night television. Last night we had back to back infomercials, as Paul, Steve, Gilles and Jack were given the microphone and allowed to run wild with it. The debut of the Leaders on tour turned into nothing more than a two hour version of that venerable old CBC mainstay.

Described by some media pundits as a snore fest this first of four televised debates certainly broke new news, nor did it unearth any new scandals. Even Canadian’s with rudimentary French skills could be excused if they were thankful that they couldn’t parlez vous. In fact trying to follow the translators was more entertaining than following the scripted bromides of the actual participants.

The only interesting note of the night was Stephen Harper’s answer to the if your child was gay what would you say question. His answer was clinical and rather bland, something to the effect that parents always love their children. He once again showed virtually no emotion in his response, a rather robotic reply to a question that probably was designed to provoke outrage in the Conservative leader. He didn’t take the bait, but neither did he exactly wow the audience with his wit. Paul Martin tried to capitalize on the Conservatives plans to reopen the Gay marriage question to parliamentary vote, but it seemed to go nowhere, which is a place that much of this “debate” went.

Gilles Duceppe brought glad tidings of continued confusion suggesting that in thirty years or so we’ll have two separate countries of the Great White North, a Canada and a Quebec. Thirty years? The only thing worse than watching this paint dry is the prospect of thirty more years of the will they stay or will they go dance.

Most commentators scored Duceppe’s proclamation as the winning moment of the night, as the three other leaders failed to really challenge his hyperbole, nor offer up any real defense of a federal system which would include Quebec. The Prime Minister attempted some damage control after the debate in the media scrum, but his moment to take the separatist leader to task passed him by in the debate.

Jack Layton looked earnest, smiled at the right time and in the end didn’t really score any major points either. He gave his standard dark day for democracy spiel over the sponsorship scandal, while conveniently leaving out the fact that he helped support the dark princes of democracy in the last Parliament. For the rest of the debate Jack followed the lead of his fellow leaders with the best policy is no real policy.

This false start campaign continues to stumble out of the gate; most observers feel that the real election campaign won’t get started in earnest until after the last polar bear swim of New Years day is complete.

Now that's an idea! Dumping the four leaders into a pool of freezing cold water might actually make for an interesting kick start to the campaign. If nothing else it would wake everyone up from this walking, talking slumber party

Pictures of Podunk: The Shoe Tree

A curious little local tourist attraction, found just off the side of Highway 16 just before the Oliver Lake turnoff. Many a local grad or visiting tourist has left their soles at this tree, forever marking their stay in Prince Rupert.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

They made their list, but didn't check it twice!

Yet another gaffe for Liberal organizers this time the folks in Quebec have caused their leader a bit of a PR nightmare. A supposedly confidential memo destined for Liberal executives inadvertently was sent to the nation's media on Thursday.

The memo which presents a doom and gloom scenario for Liberals in Quebec, found its way across the wired universe and onto to many a reporters Blackberry with tidings of joy if you're a Bloc supporter.

The Liberals apparently are expecting to lose 45 seats outright, leaving them with only 30 seats that they feel they at least will remain competitive in. Of that thirty, only ten are considered sure bets, the other twenty apparently still very much in play and could potentially go the way of the bloc.

Word of the misdirected memo comes on the day of the Leaders debate in French, which tends to feature mainly Quebec issues debated by the four main leaders. It should put even more of a spring into the step of Gilles Duceppe, the Bloc Quebecois leader has so far been comfortably in the lead in the province and has seeming little to fear from a Liberal renaissance in the short term.

The communications problem is yet another example of Martin's backroom handlers doing their best to torpedo their man's chances at re-election. The negative vibes coming out of Quebec will certainly make any kind of swell of momentum hard to come by as the campaign drags on towards the January 23rd decision day. Martin might be best served by taking away the microphones, blackberries and internet connections of his backroom workers, every time they hit send or make a phone call he spends the rest of the day trying to find a way to spin things in a positive light. As an old shipping baron Martin must surely understand that it's hard to go full steam ahead, when you're frequently bailing the water out of the bottom of the boat.

Geez! Maybe Scott Reid was right!

There was a lot more than pampers, juice, Barney and the Tele-Tubbies at a daycare in Vernon, as RCMP raided the living quarters of an Interior day care centre. Police sent in an undercover operative who purchased a quantity of drugs from a relation of the operator of a local daycare centre. The undercover officer noticed other irregularities in the apartment at the time and the Mounties went and got a search warrant which they executed on Saturday, effectively shutting down the daycare centre on Monday

At the time of the raid they also discovered a number of firearms, cash and other drug paraphernalia scattered around the living quarters. The Northern Interior Health Authority took immediate action to shut down the daycare centre which was adjacent to the living quarters, even though they claim the operator had no knowledge of her boyfriends sideline business operations.

The raid comes hot on the heels of controversial remarks by Prime Minister Martin’s spokesman Scott Reid, over the Conservative party’s daycare policies. At the time Reid said that parents might be inclined to spend any daycare monies provided on popcorn and beer. In Vernon, at one daycare centre that might have been the least of our worries.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

And the search goes on.........

Four months on and Podunk still is without a City manager! This bit of news came out Wednesday with word that City Council is preparing to add to the executive headhunting firms’ bank account, by extending the process of seeking out a new civic administrator.

The replacement for the long since departed Victor Kumar, who left his job in August but remained on the payroll until October, has been going on through the fall and apparently not to much success. The firm charged with identifying and recommending a suitable replacement, came up with one candidate who it seems was on the road to Podunk, until the candidates family stepped in and expressed a hesitancy to relocate to our little corner of the rainforest.

To tide the town over until a permanent administrator can be found, City Council is apparently set to announce an interim manager next week, set to guide Podunk into the New Year and maybe beyond.

As for the permanent replacement, it’s apparently back to square one, with 10 to 15,000 dollars reportedly spent already and extra costs expected as the extended search now continues, the meter continues to tick on that particular tab.

It’s curious that the executive search firm couldn’t have provided a short list of at least five or six possibilities to choose from. Thus not requiring an extension until those names had been vetted and those candidates eliminated. Perhaps they did and either the candidates weren't up to snuff, or we left them wanting.

This hesitancy of anyone suitable to show interest in the job is a worrisome development, it would be interesting to know where Podunk is falling short in the world of executive managers. Perhaps the very public problems of Podunk over the last few years have scared off any potential candidates. One wonders if they’re going to have much more success with more time and more names.

With four months lead time; we would have hoped that one candidate would already be in place. It would be a welcome thing for Podunkians to hear word of a reassuring choice; one who would provide good value for our initial 15,000 dollar investment (not to mention the rather generous salary provided).

Instead, it’s more mystery and mixed messages from the folks at 3rd Avenue and Fulton. Leaving many a Podunkian to wonder just what is going on and why despite the challenges offered up, nobody wants to take what should be a pretty good job.