29 October 2009


Setting priorities in federal politics is not an easy task. Just ask Stephane Dion. Make sure to ask the question clearly or you may have to start over again. That said, is it not a little disconcerting that the federal government has spent a considerably greater amount trumpeting its own horn on the stimulus spending (yes, spending to promote spending) than it has on promoting H1N1 awareness? It seems to me that it would be a wise course of action to have Leona Aglukkaq making regular appearances to tell the good people of Canada what they should do with regards to H1N1, the appropriateness of getting the vaccine (this would include dispelling any lingering rumours), and giving Canadians an update on what preventative and reactive steps the government is taking to combat the deadly virus. Any of these items would be better than laughing at Carolyn Bennett when she asks a question about pregnant women and H1N1 during Question Period. Any of them. A quick visit to the Health Canada website reveals no updates since October 21st.

Does this strike you as being not nearly good enough? It sure does for me. It reminds a lot of a good chunk of 2007 when Condi Rice was pretty much invisible. We've got a major issue on our hands, and the minister in charge of the portfolio is not stepping up to the plate to deliver for us.

We deserve better.

14 October 2009

Brian Burke and All His Friends

Liberal Scott Reid: Beer & Popcorn; Conservative Scott Reid: Your Dollars Are Mine

Saw this at Warren's today:

The nadir of the 2006 Liberal campaign involved a prominent party spokesman stating that Canadian parents would use the government's "child care program" money to spend on "beer and popcorn." He was, quite rightly, widely excoriated for the comment.

This fellow is not the same Scott Reid, but he's up to something even more nefarious. He is using Government of Canada funds--you know, the ones that you and I give them--as though they were his own to distribute to people in Conservative-friendly ridings. Money that is being distributed by the Government of Canada under the economic stimulus package is being claimed by Conservative Members of Parliament as theirs to give. Scott Reid did not give out a $556,850 cheque out of his bank account; he did so out of the public coffers.

That's a bit of a problem eh?

08 October 2009

Habs Lose Ugly in Vancouver

What is it with the western Canadian road trip? It was the nadir of the 2008-09 campaign and last night against the Canucks certainly stirred up some bad memories. However, the guys will rally and will bounce back on Saturday against the Oilers. I still have a lot of optimism.

One thing that I'm not liking seeing is the excuse that it was their second game in as many nights.

I'm not superbly concerned at this point; I'd like to think it was just one bad game. Hey, it happens. Look at the Minnesota Twins: after an epic 12-inning victory replete with high drama on Tuesday, the Yankees smoked them 7-2 last night. They couldn't turn to their bullpen, the bats were tired, and while the mind was willing the body just wasn't able. But they've played 163 games already. If we're having to fall back on that 4 games into the season this could be a truly ugly campaign. I would have trouble playing a full 60 minutes on two consecutive nights, and I'm sure many of us other faithful followers would as well. But we're talking about (presumably) elite-level athletes with superior conditioning. If they're so wiped out, listless, and prone to on-ice mental/physical breakdowns after playing the night before and it's early October, what can we expect to see on a back-to-back in February?

Like I said, I'd like to think this was just a bad game, and not an ominous glimpse into what we can expect. I am far, far away from giving up my seat on the bandwagon. But I truly hope that giving up and going to bed after two periods doesn't become a regular event.

01 October 2009

On the Phoenix Court Decision

Shortly after hearing that Judge Baum had rendered his verdict, I flocked to the Internet to read the court's statement. 31 pages isn't so bad, even if a good chunk of it was legalese jargon that I don't full understand. I'm not a lawyer but I'm still more or less intelligent, so I made my way through it.
The first striking item is the revelation of the Coyotes' losses while operating in the Desert. I can't even fathom having one hundred million dollars, let alone losing it in the course of one hockey season. That happened in 2007-08. Small wonder that Moyes filed for bankruptcy. That is catastrophic by any stretch of the imagination. The value of the team in Phoenix is about as much as that of Sergei Kostitsyn to the Montreal Canadiens right now; maybe somewhere else it could flourish, but not where it presently stands. There is no chance the team can be profitable in Glendale, so the only sensible economic solution is for the team to be relocated. The court acknowledged this as well in its citations of a number of expert opinions provided on the matter.
The problem all along that the NHL has had with Balsillie has been the way he's gone about his business. His "by any means necessary" approach has severely put off his potential colleagues on the NHL Board of Governors, who have a firmly established process that must be followed if one wishes to acquire team and possibly relocate it. Look how smoothly the transition has gone from George Gillett to the Molsons in Montreal. You play by the rules, you get to play with the big toys. I am not truly surprised by the fact that Judge Baum rejected Balsillie's bid with prejudice. Though it was far and away the best monetary offer, had Baum accepted Balsillie's bid it would have done major damage to the conduct of professional sports leagues. He recognized this, and though it hurts for all the nationalists in Canada that wanted a 7th team, it was the right thing to do.
The ruling on the NHL's bid is not a total win for the NHL, but it's a pass for a gimme goal. In essence, if the League tweaks its deal to pay Gretzky and Moyes the money they believe they're owed, the court will approve a modified bid and thus the NHL will take ownership of the Coyotes. Presumably they would flip the team as soon as possible to an approved owner, be it Reinsdorf or any other potential suitor that comes calling with a large amount of money. They may have to accept a season or two of financial hemhorraging in Glendale, but a relocation deal would likely be worked out to put the Coyotes in what would hopefully be a marketable region. It's anybody but Balsillie at this point as far as the NHL is concerned.

I'm glad that the saga appears to be coming to an end. All the Bettman haters out there will be displeased that he's essentially given himself another five-year lease as commissioner. Make no mistake: the other owners will be giving him hearty backslaps for keeping Balsillie out and ensuring that the old boys' club rules remain intact. For Balsillie it's strike three, and he's likely done as far as his ability to pursue his dream of owning and operating an NHL club. The BoG that was once favourable to him has been soured by the Nashville and Phoenix debacles he orchestrated, and without approval of his peers he simply has no avenues into the NHL. And Phoenix, poor, poor Phoenix. They'll continue to languish in the Desert, playing in a mostly empty arena and losing games on a regular basis. For now.