Category Archives: Edmonton

Crimes against humanity should not go unpunished

Is the perfect nobody of a mayor of a relatively inconsequential Canadian provincial capital in on the con to end all cons? Or is he just a bully who loves his sudden moment in the spotlight so much that he does all he can to change his city into one big concentration camp?

Either way, even though he has announced he won’t be seeking re-election next fall, Don Iveson of Edmonton has gone so far as to try to blackmail his province’s government into ordering even harsher measures to fight to non-existent pandemic than those it had adopted already.

So far as Don Iveson is concerned, people have no business leaving their homes, visiting their loved ones, not even for Christmas, and if the province won’t permit his city’s peace officers to issue fines in the thousands of dollars for disobedience, his council would do it. (The province did cave in.)

For your enlightenment: peace officers are those members of police forces who don’t carry guns. Too unqualified for that, perhaps. On the other hand, they are exempted from Edmonton’s ban on vehicle idling: they can idle their engines as much as they want, as they aim their photo-radar guns on unsuspecting drivers.

Here’s what this is

All of this is no longer about the spread of the flu a.k.a. Covid-19. A wonderful pretext for an attempt to kill our civilization, that’s what it is. And no, this is not yet another conspiracy theory. Unlike hypotheses, theories require proof.

All you need to build a good and potentially valid hypothesis is facts (or statements dressed up as facts) lined up in the most straightforward and logical fashion, with none of the facts contradicting other facts, and with no facts left out.

Theories require all that, plus proof on top of it.

The proponents of what is now known as Great Reset or the fourth industrial revolution are quite open about their goals. Just check out what people like Klaus Martin Schwab of the World Economic Forum, Bill and Melinda Gates of the foundation named after them, or Soros György of the Open Society and unrivalled currency speculation fame have kept saying the last few years.

Just a mere 64 years ago, then-Soviet chief communist Nikita Sergeievich Khrushchev told the Americans that the communists will bury them.

This statement made instant headlines, and (as happens so often with modern media) most of what Khrushchev would say later would get lost. Not in translation (Khrushchev’s personal interpreter Viktor Sukhodrev knew his job to a t). It just wasn’t as catchy and sexy as the headline-grabbing burial statement.

But, it turns out, Khrushchev wasn’t as naïve as many thought he was.

Here’s what he had to say on that rainy November day in 1959: “Your children’s children will live under communism. You Americans are so gullible. No, you won’t accept communism outright; but we will keep feeding you small doses of socialism until you will finally wake up and find you already have communism. We will not have to fight you; we will so weaken your economy, until you will fall like overripe fruit into our hands.

“The democracy will cease to exist,” Khrushchev finished, “when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.”

And that is precisely what has been happening. Call it lockdowns or anything else you want to call it: it is all about killing the economy as we know it, making populations more and more dependent on government fiat.

The entire development is a strange mix of Malthusianism and Marxism. Both teachings have shown through history that they lead nowhere but to tragedy, and both have been proven criminal in all senses of the word.

That the entire Covid-19 scare is a hoax beyond belief has been proven beyond any doubt long ago. It was quite simple: the World Health Organization (WHO) that officially unleashed it had changed its criteria for measuring spreads of diseases about a dozen years ago.

The change made the criteria perfectly useless. As an official European Union inquiry established, it all happened at the suggestion made by several so-called WHO medical experts. The EU findings include official confirmation that those experts would receive and accept lucrative offers from a number of pharmaceutical companies involved in creating cure for flu strains known then (so-called bird and swine flu, etc.).

Here’s an example to chew on: authorities in Portugal quarantined four German holidaymakers. One was judged to be positive for Covid-19. The Germans took the Portuguese authority to court. They won. The authority appealed, and lost again. The verdict confirmed that the so-called PCR test is (on average) up to 97-per cent unreliable.

This finding is not limited to Portugal: medical authorities around the world the same results. Out of a hundred of positive tests for any shape or form of Covid infection only three may (or, then again, may not) be correct. And, remember, infection does not equal actual disease.

What came first?

The Great Reset proponents may have only used the panic created by WHO to push their agenda through. Or they could have created the panic themselves, so they can use it as a Great Reset tool. That would be a question for a tribunal judging crimes against humanity to answer.

Considering that several WHO poohbahs have begun issuing warnings against the lockdowns, now so much in vogue, it seems the latter option would prevail.

In any case, the world will need a body resembling the Nuremberg war crimes tribunal. That international body judged the Nazi regime for its deeds (and had most of the former Führers of all levels who appeared before it hung by their necks until they died).

That tribunal also imposed a serious rule: obeying orders is not an acceptable excuse. A put-off, may be, but not an excuse.

After all, there have been cases galore where a military (Wehrmacht) unit would refuse to take part in mass executions. We’re here to wage war, they used to say, not to execute civilians. And even the Nazi chain of command respected that. They would send such a unit to other locations, replacing them with either SS or so-called Sonderkommando (special command) units who would do the dirty work.

Here’s the main issue of today: most people just sigh and say that we have to obey the law, and when someone disobeys and gets slapped by the constabulary, well, they had it coming.

A piece of information for your grey cells only: not only was the Holocaust perfectly kosher under the Third Reich laws, most Germans obeyed, only to claim after the war they knew nothing.

The Jews knew nothing about the extermination camps because that was a strict state secret. That is why they just couldn’t fathom that rumours of their fate once they boarded the heavily-guarded trains taking them to places of so-called resettlements could be true.

A Germany that gave the world a Goethe? A Beethoven? Can’t happen. And yet, it did.

Today, our chances of being informed as fully as possible are wildly better than then. All we have to do is try.

And all we have to do is remember Mahatma Gandhi, the guy who gave civil disobedience a new meaning. He used it to make India an independent country.

We can use it to make ourselves independent of bullies who try to intimidate us, using pretexts such as a new plague combined with caries with leprosy thrown in for good measure.

Whether it’s the perfect nobody of a mayor of a relatively inconsequential Canadian provincial capital, or the World Economic Forum boss, they all should appear before an international tribunal that will judge crimes against humanity. Without prejudging anything or anybody, none of them has an iota of an excuse.

Parksville prefers common sense to government idiocy

One out of ten Canadians would rather not get vaccinated against anything, including Covid-19, even if it becomes mandatory, says an official (and obviously government-sponsored) public opinion poll.

The pollsters have clearly missed the Vancouver Island city of Parksville, B.C.

The local Common Law Assembly decided on Aug. 24 thus: “In an historic act of direct democracy last night, the Oceanside Common Law Assembly (OCLA) passed a Public Safety Bylaw that prohibits COVID restrictions and mandatory distancing, masking, quarantines, and vaccinations anywhere in the communities of Parksville and Qualicum Beach on Canada’s west coast.

“As of today, anyone who tries to impose COVID regulations on the people of these communities can face fines and imprisonments by OCLA and its Common Law Court.”

Lest anyone begins making fun of the entire project, let it be known that more than 40 Common Law Assemblies have formed across Canada in the last five years. Many of them have joined the newly-formed Republic of Kanata. The Assemblies’ stated goal is simple: they see themselves as the front-line defence of Canadians who are resisting what the Assemblies call, and not without reason, “the corporate police state.”

The face of the Republic

Kevin D. Annett is a Canadian writer and a former minister of the United Church of Canada. Author of three books about Canadian aboriginals – Love and Death in the Valley, Hidden from History: The Canadian Holocaust and Unrepentant: Disrobing the Emperor, he wrote about what he calls Canadian genocide in his Ph.D. thesis. The powers-that-be blocked it, and Annett used it as source material for a video instead. His Unrepentant, posted on the world-wide web in 2007, reached about half of a million hits within the first year of publication.

Annett has been challenging the official figure of 4,000 Indian children dying because of what he describes as the genocidal policies of the racist white establishment. His calculations bring the total to anywhere between 50 and 100 thousand victims.

Annett is especially critical of what used to be known as Indian residential schools. According to him, they practised a policy of germ warfare, beatings, and intimidation, enabling an unofficial policy of extermination against native children who were taken against their will from their parents.

Then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered an apology on behalf of Canada. Harper’s government also created the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission, in order to uncover the truth about the schools. Annett has been calling it a damage limitation exercise.

Except: Prime Minister Harper was the first Canadian politician in power who had reacted to the accusations rather than dismissing them out of hand.

Annett earned his Bachelor’s degree in anthropology and his Master’s degree in political science from University of British Columbia in the 1980s. He went on and earned his Master of Divinity from the Vancouver School of Theology in 1990. Ordained by British Columbia Conference of the United Church of Canada, he served in churches in rural Manitoba, then at the Fred Victor Mission in Toronto, an outreach street-ministry of The United Church of Canada, prior to being appointed minister to St. Andrew’s United Church in Port Alberni, British Columbia in 1992.

Irrelevant whether you agree with Annett on the topic of the residential schools that is so dear to his heart, he has become a natural leader for those who value their freedom.

The objective

We no longer live in democracy as it was invented millennia ago in ancient Greece. Not only in Canada, says Kevin Annett, but all over the world those who are elected to represent and defend our ideals have become power-hungry ideologists.

Nothing in the name of the people and for the people, everything in their names, and for them.

In a recent and wide-ranging interview with Ontario’s ThatChannel.com, Annett explains his vision. Basically, the less government, the better off we all are (with the exception of the politicians and their bureaucrats, who would be out of their jobs very quickly).

Annett is of the considered view that there is no especially overwhelming reason for Canada to remain part of British crown holdings. Whatever historical ties there may have been, the idea that Canada’s laws, voted upon and agreed to by Canada’s House of Commons and Canada’s Senate, have to receive Royal Assent to become binding, borders on the ridiculous. Canada’s Governor General acts in somebody else’s name, and that someone else resides across the sea of salty water.

Not only that: the title of that somebody else includes the noble designation Defender of the Faith. Whose faith prevails in Great Britain these days, for crying out loud?

Not that this anti-monarchic view is new. But the idea of the Republic of Kanata itself is quite new. For Canada, at least.

It is a new society that is “growing up within the shell of the old,” the group’s website says. It adds: “Citizens are united within a new jurisdiction in local Republican Assemblies that replace the existing Canadian government structures. The Assemblies are legislative bodies where all people can introduce, debate and enact laws in their own communities. These laws are then enforced by Common Law Courts and Sheriffs elected by and answerable to the People.

“This process of returning power to the people will span years but it begins today when twelve or more men and women sign a Charter to establish a local Republican Assembly.”

The group in Parksville and Qualicum now consists of 221 people, according to their own website. Compared to the more than 12,500 people living there, it may sound and look like a minority.

It IS a minority, all right.

Except: Preston Manning’s Reform Party started in a private conversation in the basement of Ted Byfield’s house in Edmonton. Byfield was the founder of the news magazine called Alberta Report. Manning would lead the Reform Party to certain respectability (forming Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition in the House of Commons).

One of the Reform Party goals: direct democracy.

Sound familiar?

The Reform Party would become Canadian Alliance and, after merging with the then-Progressive Conservatives, it would form the Conservative Party and government for two terms.

It proved, as if proof was needed, that the most important developments in the history of humankind would start with the minority of one single person among thousands, millions, even. That lonely person had an idea whose time had come.

And that’s precisely what seems to be emerging in the Jewel of Vancouver Island.

And not only there: the antipodes, a.k.a. the Aussies, seem to have arrived at similar conclusions. Their group is called Common Law Courts of Australia, and it’s good to know Canada is not alone.

As crazy as crazy can get

Why are governments going completely insane? Why are they destroying all our freedoms? These questions bother many, and Michael Armstrong of Armstrong Economics made sure to ask them as directly as anybody.

His organization researches the past so it can predict the future, and it has been doing so with an incredible lack of bias.

Economists are interested in facts. This is the input, this is the anticipated output, this is the real output, and this is the difference.

Economists leave it to sociologists (who leave it to politicians) to fill in the blanks that describe the difference between anticipated and real output as success or failure. Politicians step in to fill in the ideological blanks to try to convince all and sundry their ideas have been noble, and their decisions have been made always in the best interests of the people.

And that is why economists worth their salt, such as Michael Armstrong, must ask: are politicians this stupid? Or have they simply been bought? Are they selling out, and to hell with their voters’ interests?

The latest health scare seems to prove beyond any doubt, reasonable or otherwise, that it has been orchestrated as part of a major operation whose goals are frightfully sinister, to put it mildly.

How do we know?

Easy: by establishing and comparing facts.

For example, not so long ago (just seven years ago, to be precise), the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health concluded its research paper on the topic thus: “No evidence was found on the effectiveness of wearing surgical face masks to protect staff from infectious material in the operating room.”

Science hasn’t developed so much since 2013 as to render the highly specialized Canadian agency’s conclusions obsolete.

So: why do we see situations such as these two, described by Michael Armstrong?

If you do not accept the government-imposed testing and happen to live in New Zealand, you will be dragged to a prison camp. And you will stay there until you relent. And it’s about collective responsibility: the New Zealand government reserve the right to lock up your entire household as well as any other family member who has visited. Using force to take you to their prison camps if you resist will be perfectly kosher.

A reminder: the death camps and other Holocaust paraphernalia were perfectly legal within the Third Reich laws, too.

Just round the corner from New Zealand, in Australia, the government first said that Covid-19 vaccination will be mandatory. But, shortly afterwards, seeing that the population saw no reason to obey, the government backtracked a bit, trying (against all hope) to convince people that the vaccine will definitely not be used until proven safe (by whom? By the companies that would manufacture it?), and that it would be free.

That’s one tip of the iceberg.

The other is the obsession with obligatory face masks.

This has gone so far as a professional hockey team’s physician demanding that players wear face masks during games.

Zurich’s ZSC Lions and SC Rapperswill Jona Lakers of the top Swiss hockey league, the NL, were to meet in a pre-season exhibition game, when Zurich’s team doctor Gery Büsser instructed both sides they had to wear face masks during the game. They would be allowed to move them below their chins while in action on the ice, but, upon return to their respective benches, they would have to pull them up again.

The experiment was over midway through the first period. The players told the good physician in no uncertain words what he can do with those masks, and where.

Never mind, said the good doctor, and suggested that players on the benches should be separated from one another using the plexiglass barriers we now see separating cashiers from customers in stores.

The players’ reaction was immediate, and it wasn’t really too positive, either.

It is not known yet whether Gery Büsser comes up with some more innovative ideas or, as the players suggested, he would be asked to seek employment elsewhere.

Throwing their weight around

Authorities in the Ontario town of Cobourg have closed their public beaches, and they still keep them closed.

Not only that: strolling along those beaches, sunbathing, and (heavens forbid) even diving in for a few swimming laps is a public health hazard.

But: the town has no jurisdiction over the waters themselves. So, the residents decided, why not dive straight from a pier. This resulted in a scandalously interesting war of attrition: if both your ankles peek out of the water, you’re officially back on the beach. The cops can get you.

Is it waste of public money or is it waste of public money?

Worse still: is it abuse of power or is it abuse of power?

What the heck?

While it’s not good manners to quote one’s own words, there can be acceptable exceptions to the rule.

To the very day on the 79th anniversary of Adolf Hitler Germany’s attack on what used to be the Soviet Union, a brand new contribution to humanity’s wisdom appeared, headlined Look for the money trail, and you shall find …

Under the subhead: How did we get here? there is a brief overview of what has become known as the Frankfurt School (die Frankfurter Schule).

Briefly, for those who prefer not to read the entire piece, a group of Marxists, thrown out of Germany by the Nazis, lands in Great Britain and the U.S. It doesn’t take long for these guys to establish themselves, especially in the education system of the U.S., exploiting the Americans’ naïveté to the fullest (we’re all fighting the Nazis, aren’t we? We’re friends with Uncle Joe – meaning Joseph Stalin –, even, aren’t we?). Pretending they’re gung-ho for democracy, and using democracy’s shield to defend their obnoxious views as the right for their own opinions, these Marxists slowly (but distinctly) make their way through to the top of American academic institutions.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Frankfurt School would-be scientists start marching toward what they hope will be their total victory.

Nobody in their right mind loves wars, and American involvement in the Vietnam conflict becomes a perfect starting point in their attempt to destabilize the country that had given them shelter just a few decades ago.

Poisoned branches

Meanwhile, their alumni start making their way up the ladders of America’s political and economic structures.

What we are witnessing now is a mission almost accomplished.

Still: one would assume with faint hope these people must have at least a bit of grey matter left in their brains. So, how can they not see where their “revolutionary” policies are taking us all?

While it is very doubtful that any of today’s Marxists have ever read Karl Marx’s seminal work, Das Kapital, in its full, unabridged beauty, preferably in German, they believe.

There’s a world of difference between knowing and believing.

While to those who prefer knowledge to ideology Marxism is anathema (something detested and loathed, usually with good reason), to the believers it is panacea (meaning a cure to end all cures by curing everything).

Using Marxist vocabulary, this is a typical example of an antagonistic contradiction (antagonistischer Widerspruch).

Today’s Marxists are aware of the definition, so, they are doing everything to supress opinions they disagree with.

Those who would rather depend on knowledge and want to defend democracy have but one choice: either show their antagonism towards these Marxists, or give up. The usual definition of antagonism speaks of active hostility or opposition to someone and/or something.

Whether today’s politicians and their official and those of the media on their payroll have been bought by some evil forces unseen or not is quickly becoming irrelevant.

The only relevant move we’re left with is stopping them cold now, and figuring the venality question later.

How do we recognize those whom we should be stopping?

Very simple: anybody who wants to limit our basic human freedoms and rights. Even those (especially those) who are trying to do it while claiming they’re doing it for our own good.

Marxism (and everything linked to it) has proven itself unworkable at least once. There exists no need to try it one more time.

The sheeple have spoken

It is not obvious for how many businesses she speaks, but Old Strathcona Business Association executive director Cherie Klassen has made an Edmonton Journal headline: she said the city’s businesses do not like the idea of exemption cards that permit people not to wear face masks.

Here’s the funny part: a number of businesses do not like it when people enter their premises wearing hoods or, heavens forbid, dark glasses. They do not like being robbed, and experience tells them many robbers prefer going around masked.

But mass hysteria changed most people into sheeple, and, not used to question official figures, they just buy the theory that government (in this case, Edmonton’s city council) know best what’s good for them.

If the sheeple did their homework, they would have known that the World Health Organization (WHO), the body responsible for causing the artificial panic in the first place, has been wavering on the use of face masks, going between such extremes as everyone should wear them at all times all the way to face masks do not protect anyone from anything.

Well, face masks do protect us from the spread of bacteria. Not from viruses. And wearing face masks can end up in unusual side effects (self-contamination, for example, or, in some cases and situations, carbon monoxide poisoning).

Who’s right, who’s wrong?

A number of Canada’s constitutional lawyers question whether provincial and municipal governments had not acted beyond their powers (ultra vires is the Latin legal description of it) when they appropriated unusual powers to themselves.

Those governments said that extraordinary times require extraordinary measures. Those lawyers do not question the extraordinary times statement. They question whether those governments have the right to impose draconian measures for which they have no mandate from their boss, their voters.

We can expect tons of motions, counter-motions, arguments, counter-arguments, all this to be followed by some kind of a binding decision which can go either way: history teaches us that it does not necessarily have to be the side that is right that will prevail.

Speaking of history, a warning (caveat in Latin): Nazi Holocaust was perfectly within Germany’s laws at the time.

So, who knows?

There are more things we do not know.

For example, the Edmonton Journal article quotes one person, Ms. Klassen, while claiming that (verbatim) “Edmonton business organizations are pushing back against mask exemption cards being offered by the city, concerned they will be abused and lead to increased non-compliance.”

How Ms. Klassen arrived at her conclusions, the Edmonton Journal story does not say. How many business owners did she ask? Did she ask in Old Strathcona only? Did she ask elsewhere, too? How many agreed with her statement? How many did not?

To sum up: what justified the Edmonton Journal headline? Again, verbatim: City of Edmonton facing backlash over mandatory mask exemption cards, more than 1,660 doled out in early days

To be fair, the story also quotes an Edmonton radiologist and clinical assistant professor at the University of Alberta, Matthew Butcher. Not that he is unbiased (but, then again, who of us is not?). He represents a group of whose existence many might have not had an inkling until now: Masks4Canada.

So far as Dr. Butcher is concerned, the exemption cards for people unable to use face masks should be issued using the same standards used for accessible parking placards. You can get a placard like this only when your medical attendant confirms (in writing) that you require one.

Otherwise, Dr. Butcher suspects, people will cheat just so they can disregard the government order they have to wear a face mask.

Considering most physicians won’t see their patients these days, operating through so-called “telephone medicine” systems, instead, one wonders just how Dr. Butcher imagines this could be achieved.

Of course, he is a radiologist, that is, he does not see patients. He sees images taken by the modern gadgetry of today’s medicine, describes what he sees, and sends his findings to the patient’s physician.

On one hand, on the other …

The Edmonton Journal followed up with a story that opens with an unsupported statement that the exemption card program faces stiff opposition from local businesses. That is, if one does not accept a link to the previous day’s insufficient story as proof of what is happening.

City of Edmonton COVID-19 task team chairman David Aitken told the paper that the city hopes people will be honest and they won’t abuse the exemption card program.

This is called CYA (an acronym that stands for Cover Your Behind).

What followed was an exercise in bureaucratese. To quote the Edmonton Journal story: “Compliance of the new mask bylaw remains high, Aitken said, with about 85 per cent of people wearing masks across all indoor public spaces. About 90 per cent of passengers have been wearing masks on the transit system and 96 per cent of recreation centre guests, Aitken said.

If these high compliance figures start to drop or the number of exemption cards skyrocket, Aitken said the city will re-evaluate the program.

End of quote.

In addition, Mr. Aitken suggested that businesses are free to refuse service to the unmasked, but he would rather if they didn’t.

How frightfully magnanimous.

Considering some businesses are breaking the law these days, and getting away with it, fat chance.

How? Simple, my dear Watson. The only legal currency in Canada (or any other country in the world, for that matter) is that issued by the government-appointed financial institution. That is: banknotes and coins. Other means of payment must guarantee that they end up with exchange of currency eventually. Which means that businesses that proclaim they will not accept payment in cash are breaking the law.

Now, granted, this would be outside of a municipal government’s jurisdiction, but since they have been trying to grab (and hold on) power that has never been theirs in the first place, why should they not act?

That the Edmonton Journal is no longer a newspaper, and a good one, to boot, but, rather, just a paper, is quite sad.

But that’s not the real point. Here it is: Edmonton’s city parents have got themselves into a stinky mess, and they don’t know how to get out of it (and still smell like roses).

Who voted them in?

NHL obsessed with words, symbols, hiding the emptiness of political correctness

We fight against justice, said Matt Dumba during the opening ceremony of the tragic comedy a.k.a. NHL’s Stanley Cup playoffs 2020.

Ooopsie-daisy.

But not to worry. The Minnesota Wild defenceman, a Regina (Sask.) native, behaved like a broadcast professional he’s not yet (but it may be in his future, who knows). Dumba gave it a couple of seconds, and then returned to the proper script. We fight against injustice.

And, sure enough, his Freudian slip disappeared from subsequent showings of his speech as if by magic.

It wasn’t the only questionable mistake in young Mr. Dumba’s appearance. While Black Lives Matter’s ideologues claim with all seriousness that America suffers from systemic racism, Mr. Dumba mentioned systematic racism. Not once. Twice.

Systematic is an adjective that suggests there exists (or appears to exist) a system, a method, or a plan, or that whatever is happening involves any of these possibilities.

Systemic, on the other hand, is an adjective that means of or relating to a system. Phenomena affecting every part of an entire system (such as illnesses or social problems) can be described as systemic.

A seemingly minor difference, but of major importance.

The entire opening extravaganza bordered on the shocking, to say the least.

First of all, television screens lit up with words taken from an incendiary speech by the late Nelson Mandela, and to make sure everyone, even the illiterate among us, knew what it was all about, the former South African president’s voice filled the air.

Basically, Mr. Mandela’s speech was calling for an armed struggle, or else our children will hate us. In that particular clip, no reason for the armed struggle was mentioned, but it was expected that everyone and their dog would know.

What nobody from the NHL or Hockey Night in Canada bothered to mention was that Mr. Mandela was behind bars in South Africa because he was convicted of (and admitted to) terrorism.

Yes. Violent attacks against innocent and unsuspecting civilians, children included, are called terrorism by definition.

Not only that: one of Mr. Mandela’s chief advisers was a white-skinned man named Joe Slovo. Born as Yossel Mashel Slovo in Lithuania in 1926, he held the rank of full Colonel in the Soviet intelligence service, the KGB.

That the NHL and Hockey Night in Canada would choose a terror-driven Marxist-Leninist as a symbol of their fight against what they call social injustice is beyond comprehension.

The outrage happened on the 186th anniversary (to the day!) of the British Empire banning all forms of slavery (Canada was a part of the United Kingdom then, and still is).

A reminder: the United States followed suit 31 years later, in 1865.

Absolutely, racism did not end on that day so long ago, but it was a momentous start.

What else?

Can you imagine that powers that-be would tell a member of an Indian tribe he must not wear a three-piece suit, with a tie around the collar of his snow-white shirt, and his Gucci loafers shining like nobody’s business?

And wearing a, say, proper Fedora hat would be a no-no, as well?

Yes? No?

(For reasons known only to them, they call themselves First Nations in Canada.)

So why does nobody object to the recent decision of NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks according to which wearing Indian-style head-dresses to games is forbidden from now onwards into eternity? Fans entering United Center at 1901 West Madison Street in Chicago, Illinois, will be asked to remove the offending collection of feathers from their heads, and if they refuse, they will be removed from the premises.

No word yet whether they will be reimbursed for the cost of their tickets and parking stalls.

The Blackhawks management was inconsistent, by the way: why did they not ban moccasins, too, while they were at it?

Or: a sponsor demanded that the Canadian Football League’s Edmonton Eskimos drop the Eskimo part.

Instead of saying who needs such sponsors, going begging in the streets is more reputable than succumbing to such moronic blackmail, the Eskimos will have a new, preferably inoffensive, name soon.

Or take Yahoo. Originally a search engine, now a tragic attempt at a combination with a news source. This bunch of yahoos has removed a chess International Master from their site. (The International Master description indicates the player has achieved a pretty lofty level of play.) Yahoo’s censorship software did not like some of this International Master’s comments.

A few examples: he registered a move, and explained: “Black has totally screwed up here.” On another occasion, he wrote: “Black decided for the most violent continuation.” He dared use such outrageous remarks as: “… and after this move, white is deservedly winning.” Comments such as: “… and white dominates” didn’t help him much, either.

Illiteracy rules

The calls for so-called social justice have come close to Nazi shrieks of Sieg Heil (Hail to Victory). What actually constitutes social justice for the Black Lives Matter movement remains a closely guarded secret, hidden behind such seriously-looking expressions as systemic racism. This must sound seriously funny to anyone who watches black basketball players, multi-millionaires all, taking to their knees during their national anthem, mouthing platitudes that should make a mentally-challenged (it used to be called retarded) kindergarten kid blush.

And never mind the minor fact that the national anthem is a symbol of the country (and system) that has allowed them to become multi-millionaires in the first place.

Speaking of which, hockey’s Matt Dumba took the knee when they played the American anthem (with Chicago’s goaltender Malcolm Subban and Edmonton’s defenceman Darnell Nurse holding their hands on his shoulders to show their support). At least, he stood up for O Canada. Matt Dumba is not as rich as his basketball colleagues, but still, thus far, professional hockey has enhanced his bank account by about $19,656,668 (see CapFriendly.com). All that in about seven years.

Oh, and by the way, speaking of the seemingly innocent word retard, even that has experienced a bit of controversy of its own.

When an airliner is about to land (especially the Airbus aircraft are guilty of it), the pilot is controlling the process, but automatic devices check and announce such important data as altitude (in feet) above the ground and runway, and speed. If the plane is approaching faster than calculations permit (length of the runway, wind, temperature of the air right above the runway, whether the runway is dry or wet, etc.), the devices will say: retard, retard, and will continue saying it until the pilot manages to adjust the speed to the proper requirements.

The din this has created among the bleeding-heart do-gooders when they heard about it was unbelievable. It would take quite an effort for the airlines and their pilots to explain to those illiterates what the word really means, in particular when used as a French language verb. (Remember: Airbus aircraft are assembled in Toulouse, France.)

What an opening!

Visuals used by the NHL and Hockey Night in Canada during the opening ceremonies in Edmonton and Toronto used images of the convicted criminal George Floyd, whose violent death in the hands of a police officer in Minnesota has allegedly triggered the entire Black Lives Matter movement.

Nothing can be further from the truth: we have been hearing this perfectly racist slogan for quite a few years now.

Not only that: presenting a convicted violent criminal as a hero, as a role model, even, is as cynical a decision as cynical gets.

Racism exists, yes, that much is true. Whether it is systemic remains to be seen. Systematic it is not.

Yes, there may be fans who use racist epithets when they do not like a player, and see his skin colour as the only reason for hating him. This is not limited to black players: athletes of, for example, Asian origin can tell tales about treatment they have received from some morons who come to sports events to vent their frustrations rather than support their teams.

But: for the NHL (and, by extension Hockey Night in Canada) to proclaim slogans such as “We skate for black lives” is a sign of racism to end all racisms.

According to people who represent the newly established (and, at first glance, rather vigilant) Hockey Diversity Association, they want more people of colour (their own expression, even though some of them were more open: they said black) playing hockey.

The way they put it seemed next thing they would be demanding would be quotas. Something similar to Québec nationalists who from time to time demand that the Montréal Canadiens (of the former Québec Nordiques) have a certain number of French players on their rosters, or else.

How about letting kids decide for themselves whether hockey is the sport they love the most?

For the record: all lives matter. To be singling out some lives based on their race equals racism.

There are no ifs or buts about it.

Let’s hope even those who have been starving for NHL hockey will show the league their displeasure by not watching its renewed attempt to remain relevant. It’s the only way professional sports understand: they go where their pockets lead them.

My Stanley Cup winner prediction? One of the 24 teams still playing. Who cares?

Toronto’s Olympic dream Canada’s nightmare

Why the people of Toronto continue to think that their collection of villages is the centre of the universe as we know it remains a sweet mystery.

Why many others across Canada seem to keep swallowing this nonsense hook, sink and line has become an enigma beyond belief, too.

On the heels of the Pan American Games, whose bill is yet to be revealed, so all of us learn how much this sham is going to cost us, there seems to be a growing sentiment abroad, insisting that Toronto should bid for the 2024 Olympic Games. Why, they say, it’s the ideal moment in history: the PanAm Games have been a resounding success (says who? Oh, they say so, which means that’s how it’s got to be!), and besides, the other potential North American suitor has just pulled out of the contest. A window of opportunity if there ever was one!

If only they listened to what Boston’s Mayor Martin S. Walsh had to say.

Announcing that he was asked to sign a contract that would guarantee that the city of Boston would be responsible for potential financial losses, Mayor Walsh said he couldn’t in good conscience do anything of the kind. He is of the view that this ought to be somebody else’s responsibility (read: the organizers ought to be responsible, not the taxpayers). Besides, he was asked to sign a document the precise language of which would be revealed to him some two months after he had signed on the dotted line. No option to negotiate, Mayor Walsh added, and that sealed it for him.

In that one sentence, Mayor Walsh revealed the criminality of the Olympic system as we’ve known it for decades.

Olala, Marcel!

Enter Marcel Aubut, head of the Canadian Olympic Committee.

To refresh everybody’s memory (in case it needs refreshing), that would be the same Marcel Aubut who drafted Eric Lindros first overall in 1991 even though he had been perfectly aware that Lindros would refuse to join the Quebec Nordiques no matter what. As a result, Lindros, considered by many Wayne Gretzky’s second coming, would lose an entire NHL season. That makes Aubut’s move even more unconscionable. As a hockey official of extensive experience Aubut must have known that professional players’ careers are limited.

And he crowned this sordid drama by trading Lindros a year later to two teams (the excuse that he and Pierre Page had no way of informing one another about their individual but separate talks does not hold water). The case had to be settled by an independent arbitrator, a scene that still makes the crowd at 1185 Avenue of the Americas in New York cringe.

To refresh everybody’s memory again (in case it still needs refreshing), that would be the same Marcel Aubut under whose personal and expert guidance the Quebec Nordiques were eventually forced to leave Quebec City in a financial shambles, only to resurface in Denver as the Colorado Avalanche and win the Stanley Cup within a year.

Of course, in fairness, who knows whether the Avalanche would have won anything without the presence of Patrick Roy in their net? It seems quite obvious that, had the Nordiques stayed put, theirs wouldn’t be the club the Montreal Canadiens would trade Roy to.

But that is hindsight. The fact that remains is that it was Marcel Aubut who caused the Lindros scandal, and that it was Marcel Aubut who helped bring the Nordiques to financial ruin and ignominious departure.

So, having this guy say that “It’s time to make it crystal clear, I am officially declaring that I will use the full power of my office to lead and advocate for Toronto’s candidacy to hold the 2024 Olympic Games,” that would be a clarion call for everybody concerned to run for cover.

Not so easy

Let them apply, so what? many might suggest.

Alas, that’s not how it works.

To put together a presentation for an Olympic Games bid costs money. There are firms that specialize in this kind of work. They charge their clients for every box of Kleenex they use when they happen to sneeze. With the deadline for bid submissions set for September 15, 2015, these consultants would have to work pretty hard and fast. Double (or triple) the original demand in order to account for the deadline pressure.

So, taxpayers would be shelling out their hard-earned loonies just so the International Olympic Committee (IOC) members have something to read in their leisure time. Without any guarantee whatsoever. Marcel Aubut might be presenting himself as a heavy hitter whose word spreads general fear in the IOC offices in Lausanne, Switzerland, but, in fact, he’s a featherweight so far as the Olympic poohbahs are concerned.

But, while the Olympians get set to gather to ponder on the individual bids by hicks who are willing to mortgage their citizens’ future for the chance they might appear on TV screens, bidding cities will have to prove they have sufficient facilities to host events on such scale.

No problem, the Toronto bid supporters will yell, we’ve just had the PanAm Games, and our facilities worked just fine.

First of all, they would be lying through their teeth. Track-and-field experts have been shocked by the small-country-county ambience of Toronto’s fields. Even Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium worked better during the track-and-field world championships in 2001.

Besides, the Olympic would-be royalty demands that their events happen in brand new facilities. They claim, as an excuse, that these facilities would then remain as legacy for future generations to use. Another bald-faced lie. There have been exceptions, to be sure. Some of the winter sports facilities in Calgary still remain in use. But going into more detail would reveal some horror stories that are better left for windy and rainy autumn nights. They are best shared by crowds that are sitting by the fireplace, with toddies all around. These stories are scarier than most of the Halloween costumes people could ever imagine.

In any case, even facilities built brand-new for the PanAm Games would be obsolete (in Olympians’ view) nine years hence.

Here’s what happens

Hordes of realtors, developers and sundry financiers will overwhelm all levels of government telling them this or that kind of work’s got to be done immediately, even before the Olympic crowd bothers to descend upon the bidding city. Whether it’s a conspiracy, as many Olympic watchers suspect, remains to be seen. But the fact is that, when asked, Olympic officials will nod in agreement: what, you didn’t read the fine print?

Interestingly enough, government officials proceed to spend like crazy sailors on shore leave. After all, it’s not their money they are spending. And there is a sufficient number of fools amongst their electorate who fall for the shamelessly idiotic propaganda about the Olympic Games. It’s the greatest sporting event on earth, and one that takes its responsibilities seriously, whether it’s the environment or the cleanliness of the athletes. We as citizens should be proud that the august Olympians decided that ours is the best spot on planet Earth to hold this event, that’s the motto.

And not even the fact that it took Montreal almost four decades to pay off its Olympic debt, and that it’s going to take Vancouver about that same amount of time to pay off its Olympic debt changes the hoopla.

If the Olympic Games were produced and paid for by private organizers and if they made money in the process, three cheers for them.

But since the Olympic Games are produced and paid for by taxpayers who have literally no say in what is going on, the picture changes.

There have been case studies during which analysts presented private entrepreneurs with Olympic budgets and accounting books, so far as they could lay their hands on them.

The private entrepreneurs were shocked both by the budgets and by the accounting that followed.

To use a most recent Canadian example, none of them would have thought of bringing snow (using trucks and helicopters) from Manning Park all the way to the mountains around Vancouver.

The more thoughtful people in the entrepreneurial crowd hated what they saw. Not because none of them got to hop on the gravy train. Because they saw where their taxes were going, and they didn’t like it one bit.

To be sure, by the way, this kind of megalomania is not limited to Canada.

During the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, alpine skiing events took place quite far from the sea shores, separated from the Black Sea by massive mountain ranges. The organizers, in an attempt to make access easier for the tourist hordes who would want to watch the break-neck artists hurtling down the slopes, broke through the mountains. One tunnel after another, one artificial pass after another. The result: the moist sea air made it all the way through to the alpine events areas. Tons of artificial snow and sundry chemicals made the slopes acceptable for the skiers. Not for the nature. The alpine meadows have been devastated beyond belief and it will take decades for the scientists to be able to say whether they would ever recover.

So much for the Olympians’ environmental responsibility.

But sports are good for your health!

Absolutely. But not sports as performed at highest-level events.

First and foremost, to even have a chance of becoming an Olympic-level athlete, you’d have to become a professional in your chosen field. Nobody can make it on talent alone any longer.

Becoming an Olympic athlete is no guarantee of success, either.

Now, if you decide you want to spend the rest of your productive life jumping over hurdles or throwing all kinds of stuff so far as they can fly, it’s your business. You may even think that what you’re doing is useful for society. It’s your right to have opinions.

The buck stops once you accept a cent of public funding. And getting money from sports federations equals exactly that. These bodies wouldn’t be able to survive a single season without getting government support.

As an athlete, you may claim that you are presenting yourself as a role model for the younger crowd so that they become hooked on sports, too.

There’s nothing easier to explode than this myth. If money various levels of governments grant to various sports federations, up to and including the Olympic committee, were spread among schools, so they can build and maintain sports facilities, hire and keep physical education teachers, and are able to keep physical education as a daily class on their schedules, that would be the proper way of engaging in sports.

The highly trained gladiators just don’t cut it. And that’s ignoring all their doping and other dirty shenanigans.

To sum this angle up: the federal government has, quite properly, resisted spending taxpayers’ money in support of professional hockey clubs.

It should tell the same thing to all those who come, caps in hands, asking for federal government support in staging events such as the Olympic Games. The government is not in the business of professional sports.

And if those would-be organizers start pushing their point by saying what an economic bonanza their event would turn out to be, the government should issue a collective smile and say: Is that so? So, go ahead, invest, and be successful. We’ll watch your progress with considerable interest.

And if the potential organizers, blackmailers, one and all, start crying, the answer should be even simpler. Let them eat cake.

Nostradamus would run away rather than predict Edmonton Oilers’ future

So, now that the original Edmonton Oilers-linked hoopla has died down for a moment, let’s try to have a detached look at what has just happened.

To sum up: until proven otherwise, Oilers’ fans have just been taken down to the river where they were sold a bill of goods. Again.

The Edmonton Oilers will be picking first in this year’s draft, and they are going after Connor McDavid. That’s what all and sundry say. The only thing we know for sure is that they are picking first. The newly installed poohbah Peter Chiarelli is on record as saying he’s not trading the pick no matter what. He is not on record as saying young McDavid it is and will be. Considering the Oilers’ needs can be found elsewhere (blueline, net), what if there’s a blue-chip, NHL-ready defenceman available?

Yes, most commentators would insist, but Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel are generational players, and McDavid even more so than Eichel.

Mumbo-jumbo

Care to explain the word: generational?

Care to elaborate in what sense: generational?

It just so happens that there are several definitions of generations, all of them valid. Some use demographics, others sociology, some others use the economy. All of these definitions have some features in common: a generation defines approach, use of whatever tools, vision, among many other characteristics. The span of a generation is based on the specifics of its definition: an economic generation covers a different number of years than, say, a generation that shares similar tastes in what kind of jeans to wear.

How did the word “generational” make its way into professional hockey? In a debate over one beer too many, that’s how.

A reminder: hockey is a team game. Wayne Gretzky didn’t produce the Stanley Cup in Los Angeles no matter how hard he tried. Mark Messier, despite the frequently-repeated legend, didn’t win the Stanley Cup in New York: he would have been nowhere without, say, Mike Richter in goal.

And if there was a player who re-defined his position, it would have been Wayne Gretzky. And, behind the blueline, Bobby Orr.

Did you notice? These guys re-defined their positions. Not the game. As Wayne Gretzky himself liked to say, nobody’s bigger than the game.

Yes, Connor McDavid keeps turning heads by his play. In junior. Here’s hoping that he’s going to keep turning heads once (and if) he makes the big show. Still, bluntly, he hasn’t re-defined anything. Not yet, in any case. Oh, definitely, he’s playing with flair rarely seen in professional hockey these days, and he doesn’t make too many mistakes, either.

How will all of this junior stuff translate into the NHL?

Nobody knows. Connor McDavid least of all.

In any case, there are at least as many questions linked to Connor McDavid and his future with (let’s assume) the Oilers as there are answers.

How did we get here?

Let’s try some chronology.

Until the lockout of 2004-2005, the Oilers served as a useful farm team to the richer clubs in the NHL. They would develop young talent and, once those players’ contracts have expired, it’s goodbye, it’s been nice knowing you, Edmonton will for ever remain etched in my heart, but, for the moment, my cheque book is more important.

No need to blame the players: their careers are limited and what they don’t make now, they won’t make in the future. Most of them, at least.

Whether this kind of approach is fair to the rest of the masses of the unwashed is irrelevant here. This kind of approach is what we have. Let’s live with it. There’s not much else we can do about it.

The NHL reigned the players’ salaries in by introducing a salary cap. It would be an extravagant exaggeration to say this solved everything: the ratio between the salary cap and the league’s hockey-related revenues deserved better, and it would take another lockout for the league and its players to at least attempt a new, more flexible, tack.

In any case, next thing you know, the Oilers were in the Stanley Cup finals, extending the eventual winner (Carolina Hurricanes) to seven games, losing by a lousy single goal (empty-net goals, as it happened to end then, do not count).

In the process, the then-coach, Craig MacTavish, managed to outsmart his Detroit Red Wings counterpart, Mike Babcock, and the Oilers went on to eliminate the mighty Wings in the first round.

Less than three weeks after the final game in the Stanley Cup finals, star defenceman Chris Pronger officially asked to be traded. According to insiders, this wasn’t the first time; those same insiders claim Pronger managed to change the Oilers’ dressing room into a poisonous snake pit by the previous Christmas. Stories about reasons for Pronger’s request differ: his wife Lauren didn’t like Edmonton as such, also, she didn’t like it that her husband was recognized by all and sundry whenever the couple decided to go out for a quiet dinner in one of the poshier eateries in town, or she didn’t like alleged extramarital activities some claimed her husband was guilty of.

All of this is irrelevant now.

What is relevant are two things: Pronger went to Anaheim, and the Oilers ended up landing Joffrey Lupul, Ladislav Smid and, eventually Jordan Eberle. Not bad for a general manager (Kevin Lowe) who had to deal from a position of weakness as Pronger had let the entire world know in advance that Edmonton wasn’t his cup of tea.

The roof fell in next season: the Oilers didn’t make the playoffs. That the eventual Cup winner, the Hurricanes, didn’t make it, either, was of little or no consolation. How can one even dare considering comparisons between the fanaticism of Carolina’s supporters with the flames that burn in the hearts of Oilers’ fans?

One issue remained: thanks (or due) to Chris Pronger’s shenanigans, the Oilers’ reputation among potential free agents hit the freezing point. In attempts to lure help, the Oilers simply had to be satisfied with second- or even third-ranked free agents, and they still had to overpay them to attract them.

No, neither Kevin Lowe nor Craig MacTavish turned stupid overnight. The issue was (and remains to this day) they had to play the cards they’d been dealt.

They had to deal with inept ownership, too.

First, the so-called Edmonton Investors Group bought the club from its original owner, Peter Pocklington, in 1998. That would have been nice and dandy, on one condition: if most of the more than 30 participants didn’t think they knew hockey better than people who had been in it professionally, and with considerable success, for decades.

Gone was Glen Sather who had been grooming Kevin Lowe for his position for quite some time. Instead, Lowe was moved into Sather’s office. Prematurely, it seems in hindsight. Why prematurely? Simple because if he had some general-management experience to fall back on, he would have told the meddling Investors Group crowd to stop giving him advice on hockey-related matters, no matter how well-meant.

Enter Daryl Katz, he of the Rexall pharmacy chain fame, and a self-proclaimed Edmonton Oilers’ fan. He made an offer to buy the club that amounted to hostile takeover, as one of the chiefs of the Investors Group said at the time.

Another Katz’s claim to fame: he’s a bosom friend with some of the boys on the bus, Kevin Lowe and Craig MacTavish, in particular.

Both Lowe and MacTavish are very capable hockey people, and honest, too.

After all, it wasn’t that then-general manager Steve Tambellini fired MacTavish after the dreadful 2008-2009 season. MacTavish stepped down himself because he felt he didn’t have much more to give. That must have taken a lot of courage.

While away from Edmonton,. MacTavish worked on his vocabulary as a TSN commentator, kept up with coaching as the bench boss for Vancouver Canucks’ then-farm in Chicago and, most importantly, earned his Master’s degree in business administration (MBA).

Perfectly impressive.

But in the cold-blooded world of professional sports, with the cutthroat competitiveness that rules ruthlessly all over that kind of universe, two questions emerge:

Should it have been thus?

Was Kevin Lowe’s “best-before” date in Edmonton Oilers’ hockey operations past? While his knowledge, experience, talent and hard work are unquestionable, would it not have been for the better for everybody concerned if he either moved himself to another side of the operation or (even) offered his services to another organization? Kevin Lowe chose the former for the time being. Let’s see where it leads him (and the Oilers).

The question in Craig MacTavish’s case differs. It is based on a theory developed by Laurence Johnston Peter, a Canadian who rose to fame in the Excited States. As author of the wildly popular book on hierachiology, Peter Principle, he said: “In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence … in time every post tends to be occupied by an employee who is incompetent to carry out its duties … Work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence.”

Mind, incompetence in this context does not mean stupidity in any shape or form. It only means that the waters around you are too deep for comfort.

So, what was the case with Craig MacTavish?

As anybody who has ever touched any basic study on the theory of negotiations would quickly attest, it is wrong to even mention publicly your shortcomings, in addition to making your time limitations known. That, alas, is precisely what Craig MacTavish did when he was introduced as the Oilers’ new general manager. He would be making bold steps, and he was impatient. Bold steps mean: I haven’t got much time. I’m impatient means: I can hardly wait because I have no time at all.

Both statements must have made 29 other general managers giddy. Craig MacTavish just gave them weapons to help them defeat him.

Being a general manager of a professional sports team doesn’t give one too much time to learn on the job. Craig MacTavish only got two years.

Except: in strolls a guy who just lost his job because his club didn’t make the playoffs. On one hand, it seems to indicate different culture: one misstep, and you’re gone.

Alas, a look that goes deeper reveals a few more missteps. Another proof that the economic theory that holds that quantitative changes accumulate until they reach a tipping point after which they become qualitative changes. Meaning, in Peter Chiarelli’s case, such steps as trading Tyler Seguin to the Dallas Stars. He got, in exchange, players who aren’t bad but who won’t reach Tyler Seguin’s potential if their lives depended on it. All that because of some off-ice misbehaviour and indiscretions attributed to young Mr. Seguin. How come the Dallas Stars managed to put young Mr. Seguin on the straight and narrow before even the next season started?

How will Peter Chiarelli fare in his new job? Fine, he didn’t open his statement by saying he was going to be bold and impatient. He put the young (and most talented) core on notice, instead: you may be out of town before you know what hit you, if we get someone of equal or better value to the club in return.

As a philosophy, this is as it should be. Even Wayne Gretzky wasn’t untouchable, after all.

But as part of your opening statement, before you even shook hands with the guys?

Looking ahead

Will the Oilers be chasing the cup this coming season?

The answer is simple and straightforward: no.

Oh, yes, miracles do happen, but it seems the club has collected on its share of miracles by yet another improbably lucky draft lottery win.

Once we get closer to the free-agent deadline, we’ll know whether those who are now saying that picking Connor McDavid were correct in suggesting that this would help the club immensely. Top players will be lining up to offer the Oilers their services, and at a discount, too.

Besides, considering the Oilers are not trading away their first pick, it remains to be seen whether anything has changed. There have been reported cases of Oilers’ hockey people being overruled (and guess three times who is in a position to do that). The scouts were drooling about NHL-ready defencemen, and the club would end up picking yet another forward.

If this doesn’t change, then the bloodletting made no sense. Except that it made overwhelming headlines about issues that are frightfully overrated, bordering on the irrelevant, at a time when we’re supposed to be deep in thought about whom we’re going to elect to run Alberta for the next few years.

The clean-air report nothing but another “skies-are-falling” drivel

The air in Toronto is cleaner than the air in Edmonton.

Thus a study, dubbed “scientific” by Toronto-based national media.

We would have to adopt two wild assumptions in order to even begin considering it seriously, never mind accept it.

The first wild assumption: the study would have to be based on facts, not on so-called straight arithmetic averages; the data used would have to be verifiable and verified. And that would be just the basic requirements for judging the study.

The second wild assumption: we would have to assume that those who reported it knew whereof they spoke (wrote). Meaning, basically, that they were not guided one bit by the generally accepted misconception that a journalist’s job is to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable. Judging by the current mainstream media’s output, their instructors in sundry journalism schools never told the candidates of this craft that their job is to inform.

As a minor aside: why do these journalism schools exist in the first place? Story-telling and curiosity are the only two abilities a journalism candidate requires. Neither can be taught. The technology, laws, etc., these things change at least once between a journalism candidate’s first entrance into the hallowed halls of learning and her/his departure.

Equipped with a diploma, they are convinced that here they are, ready to change the world. They are nothing of the sort. Especially considering that changing the world is not their job.

Which brings us back to the clean air story.

To make it read or sound believable, our intrepid journalists started asking questions. Their selection of those they feel are fit to enlighten us is frightful. The usual suspects who claim (in the case of Edmonton, and Alberta in general) that it is the industry that is to blame, and the government is guilty for not doing anything about it, and, besides, car exhausts are a terrible culprit, as well, what with everybody and their dog riding around either in a pickup or, Heavens forbid, an SUV.

Short memories

It seems proponents of government-enforced radical change ought to remind themselves of several facts. These facts happen to complicate their simplified outlook somewhat, but, alas, that’s life.

Such as: even if we do accept the Toronto-based report and pretend it answered all the questions it was supposed to answer in order to be considered a serious scientific paper, there are a few unpleasant questions remaining. Not only about its methodology. About nature, as well.

First of all: oh, absolutely, we should not be abusing our environment, but mind telling, for example, the Russian taiga forests to stop burning?

It just so happens that for a number of decades running our atmosphere has been seriously damaged by smoke coming all the way across Santa’s North Pole condo, making the regions south of Edmonton within days.

Here’s what’s happening: the Russians let, on way too many occasions, the taiga forest fires burn out all by themselves. Forest fires, they say, with some justification, are a natural occurrence. They would only act if these fires came too close to forced-labour camps (yes, they still have them, and most of them are in Siberia). Russian authorities consider these camps a useful source of cheap labour, as they always have been. Might as well protect them.

There have been several other occasions, such as that the fires came too close to nuclear installations. That’s when the Russians would act.

Don’t expect for a moment that they would employ water bombing aircraft. But they would employ bombers. Russian (formerly Soviet) air force bombers stationed in those regions would practice carpet bombing. These bombing sorties would become part and parcel of military training, while creating buffer zones against the spread of the fires. What the fires do inside those zones, that, the Russians would tell you, was either God’s or nature’s decision, depending on that particular Russian’s religious inclination (or lack of same).

Compared to the inferno that keeps happening with regularity in Russia’s taiga, British Columbia’s (or Canada’s, in general) forest fires are nothing but small camp fires, used to roast meat, play the guitar or banjo, down a beer or two, sing a few songs and enjoy each other’s company. Not only that, we as Canadians feel we have the obligation toward both the forests and the wildlife that inhabit them. That’s why the best water bombers have been designed and built in Canada. They are used in civilized countries all over the world. Canada leads the field.

How about closer to home?

Now that winter seems to have left Edmonton for a few weeks, it took the city administration more than a month to wake up to the fact that a thorough clean-up job would be in order.

The system we have here borders on the insane. It may have even crossed that border.

If you, as a tax-paying citizen, have issues with too many potholes in your area, don’t expect city crews to be aware of them without you telling them. No, they are incredibly busy, and if you tell them, and are persistent enough to keep calling them every even (or odd) hour to remind them, chances are they will patch them up just as the leaves start falling and birds begin their journey southwards with the autumn coming in.

No, they will not fix them. They will only patch them up. Whether this is an attempt to create full employment in Edmonton remains to be seen. It looks like it.

The same goes, and now we come full circle back to clean air, for city roads.

After a few weeks went by without major blizzards, you could see city crews cleaning the roads. This is not to say they were doing a heck of a job of it, especially when they were watering the roads just as spring rains began hitting the place. Still, as a beginning it looked interesting. That, of course, didn’t mean that the debris left behind the watering cisterns would be swept away during that same operation. First, the water had to dry. Besides, you should give the debris a fair chance to enjoy the windy weather and do a bit of flying around, in order to see their neighbourhoods.

Then came the turn of sweeping away the debris from the grass along the roads. Where? Why, back to the road surfaces. Meaning: those surfaces that, allegedly, had just been cleaned.

Now what?

Now nothing.

When nothing had been happening for a week, an annoyed citizen called the city complaint centre, filed her or his concern, left her or his name and phone number, and got a call from someone in the city administration another three or four days later. Just don’t you worry, we’re going to get around to it.

When?

Ah, said the unnamed city employee (unnamed because he wasn’t told in advance he might be quoted for publication), anyhow, ah, said that employee, in a week or two. He sounded somewhat troubled when that citizen mentioned that, due (or thanks) to the last windy days it would make no sense for anyone to come to clean the road a week or two from now: the debris would be all in the air by then.

The city employee went on to explain that these things are the responsibility of two separate departments, as if two departments could not co-ordinate what they’re doing. And let’s not even mention the bold idea that cleaning roads in a city Edmonton’s size should not require two separate departments.

Feet on the ground

Of course, all this makes environmentalists’ cries sound somewhat ridiculous.

Get rid of coal-burning power stations. Stop using pickup trucks or SUVs. Solar or wind power stations are the answer. And so on.

It doesn’t take much research to establish that solar and wind power stations are one of the least effective (and efficient) sources of electricity. To put it simply: the energy these electric power sources create is way too expensive to even maintain the economic status quo.

Yes, the environmentalists would say, but if that’s the cost for healthy living, so be it. Is there anything to that argument? Turns out there isn’t. There would be more if these people were on record as saying that all of us should turn the lights off whenever we leave a room.

It just so happens that Canada is in the forefront of nations devising, building and using with spectacular effectiveness equipment to filter unwanted emissions from coal-fuelled and diesel-fuelled electric power plants. Except, it seems, the environmentalist crowd haven’t been made aware of it. Why they didn’t make the effort to find out themselves is another question.

How about nuclear power stations?

Well, they may be the song of the future. As soon as someone invents a way of safe disposal of radioactive waste.

How about power stations that use tide?

Another idea whose time might yet come. Perhaps as soon as someone develops a working plan how to control the tides so that the supply does not depend on the Moon’s mood alone.

The main issue

Here’s what the so-called environmentalist movement is all about: let the government decide what’s best for you. And you. And you. And, speaking of it, you, too.

Who guarantees that government knows best? Why, the government, of course!

There’s a world of difference between the science of ecology and the ideological movement of environmentalism. While it is a fine idea that all of us should contribute to keeping this planet clean, lying about the current state of affairs borders on the criminal.

Indeed, yes, lying.

How would you explain the cries that we’re entering yet another ice age just a few decades ago, to be followed by similarly loud cries (by the same people, too) that we’re going to burn, that’s how the planet is heating up.

And all that within just a few decades.

Of course, the real explanation is simple: none of these changes are new, and those yelling the loudest have obviously missed their high school science class when their teachers were explaining the basics of solar cycles.

What makes this even more dangerous is that mainstream media, ideologically blind and incapable of learning, ignores signs that what we’re dealing with here is frightful nonsense.

On top of it, mainstream media these days is unable (read: unwilling) to tolerate opposing views. It presents the terribly warped statements by climate alarmists as fact, while those same climate alarmists are laughing all the way to their banks, going to collect another set of grants for their more than questionable would-be research.

Speaking of which: how much have you learnt from mainstream media about the e-mail traffic within the East Anglia climatology institute? That would be the place that co-ordinates all of the worldwide climate alarmism.

Turns out a Russian hacker managed to break into the system and publish its content. Frank exchanges about falsifying basic data and conclusions galore. Has it made mainstream media’s front pages? Was it leading news broadcasts? And how about the fact that this doctored East Anglia drivel has remained the basis of the United Nations’ regular alarmist climate change reports?

An old fairy tale tells us about a boy who would shout in feigned horror that wolves were coming. He would have great fun watching his neighbouring villagers running out, their weapons at the ready, hoping to chase the wolves away before they got to the kid.

One day, as the boy was taking a herd of whatever domestic animals to pasture, a pack of wolves appeared.

The kid cried in horror. Nobody bothered to even look out of the windows. Next thing the kid knew, he was on the wolves menu.

Bon Appetit!

Hockey Unlimited offers impressive season finale

There are 30 NHL teams. They have 690 players on their active rosters.

A few thousand players in minor professional leagues are working their behinds off to join the anointed 690. And then there are tens of thousands players in all kinds of sundry competitions, from university level to any other kind of a league. Some of them are in North America, others play overseas. Many of them dream of making the NHL and, ultimately, lifting the Stanley Cup over their heads.

But the 30 NHL teams can only accommodate 690 players all told.

Selecting those few who might have what it takes to make the show is what NHL teams’ scouts’ jobs are all about.

With this being this season’s last installment of Hockey Unlimited, and this year’s NHL draft coming in just a couple of months, the Aquila Productions’ documentary took a behind-the-scenes look at the way NHL clubs search for new talent. With professional insiders leading the way, we get to see the many things that have to happen before a general manager, surrounded by his coaches and scouts, mounts the podium to announce his team’s selection.

Sportsnet aired this season’s Hockey Unlimited finale Thursday, and there are several repeat broadcasts scheduled (see below for additional information).

Finding the future NHL stars makes looking for a needle in a haystack an easy job. Remember, it’s not only the first-rounders who are expected to make an impact within a season or two. It’s the late bloomers who make this exercise so exciting. In fact, as Hockey Unlimited shows, not all first-rounders develop into bona fide NHL players, while quite a few players selected in later rounds of the draft end up becoming stars (Pavel Datsyuk comes to mind).

So what does it take? Analytics, of course, say the insiders, but gut feelings, too, and those are usually based on wealth of experience. Scouts gather this kind of experience through trial and error. They spend many years going from one arena to another in some God-forsaken places, looking for gems no other scouts have noticed. And, of course, talking to the coaches and to the players themselves helps reveal significant angles, also.

To sum up, it’s a tough job, but if a professional sports league such as the NHL wants to survive, somebody’s got to do it.

A visionary’s vision

A visionary Roman Catholic priest, Père (Father) James Athol Murray, loved God, Canada and hockey. Not necessarily (or not always) in that order. The founder of a high school now known as the Athol Murray College of Notre Dame of Wilcox, Saskatchewan, this learning institution has given the hockey world a number of stars, some of whom reminisce in the second segment of this episode of Hockey Unlimited about the time they spent in the community of fewer than 400, studying in the boarding school that earned international fame since its founding in 1927.

That the Notre Dame Hounds form a team most other hockey clubs respect, and very rightfully so, is one thing. The other is that the school educates its students academically and, perhaps most importantly, as human beings, too.

As students and alumni tell us, on top of it all, they form friendships that they expect to last them till death do them part.

It’s one part of what Hockey Unlimited does so well: it puts the game into perspective.

Fighting a frightful battle

Nowhere does Hockey Unlimited show it better (and with more understanding) than in telling the final story of this episode.

Here’s what it’s all about: Noah Fayad, a 14-year-old player on the St. Albert Sabres AAA Bantam team in the Edmonton Major Bantam Hockey League, was becoming more and more tired. His coaches noticed, and his dad asked his son. Alarmed and shocked by the answers, rounds of visits to medical people followed. The diagnosis that came back was overwhelmingly scary: leukemia.

It is quite possible that without young Noah’s active involvement in sports, nobody would have noticed. Or, they would consider the signs a part of the many changes people go through during puberty.

Except, Noah Fayad was physically very fit, indeed, one of the stars on his team. So, the decline in fitness and stamina was more noticeable than if he was a couch potato.

A physician interviewed for Hockey Unlimited said Noah’s prognosis seems encouraging. Not only because of his physical fitness, and not only because medical people detected (and started treating) the disease early enough. The friendship and support shown by his teammates and opposing players alike, must have been a boost, too.

Sabres’ young assistant coach Brady Reid lost his father John to the same disease when he was about Noah’s age. He understands what Noah’s family is going through. And he is proud of his players who wear a sticker with Noah’s initials and number (NF 12) on their helmets to show they are in the battle with their teammate.

And when players from other teams show up wearing similar stickers, or just plain stickers announcing they are trying to help find a cure for leukemia, no words can express how grateful Noah and his family must be.

And Hockey Unlimited, not a show known for too many words, is even quieter here. It lets the pictures do the talking.

As always, hockey coach Steve Serdachny offers a few tips: this time, on passing the puck. Fitness guru Simon Bennett makes sure we learn the seemingly easy exercise that would make our hips capable of withstanding the toughest tasks we confront them with.

Serving with distinction

Hockey Unlimited is a fine documentary. Yes, it helps that it covers Canadians’ national passion. What makes it so distinctive is the fact that it not only keeps looking for contexts, it also finds them. Its creators respect both their subjects and their audiences, and that shows, too.

Its tradecraft is impeccable, something we’ve got used to with Aquila Productions’ programming. But its ability in looking for and finding stories that would interest even those few Canadians who prefer anything to hockey, now, this is an ability that makes it extraordinary.

It seems that the timing is right, too. Television audiences are slowly but distinctly becoming bored with fast-paced shows that consist of furious factoid hits without giving the viewers any time to at least consider thinking about what they are seeing.

Hockey Unlimited gives their audiences as many facts as it can give them to let them think and form their opinions. It doesn’t force its own opinions on its viewers, either.

This is what great documentary making is all about, and here’s hoping Hockey Unlimited still has a few seasons ahead of it.

 

BROADCAST SCHEDULE:

 

Thurs. Apr. 9

3 PM ET SN One

Fri. Apr. 10

1 PM ET SN Pacific, West, Ontario, East
11:30 PM ET SN One

Tues. Apr. 14

5:30 PM ET SN Pacific, West, Ontario, East

 

 

The black art season is upon us, Hockey Unlimited promises

(Updated with detailed broadcast schedule below.)

Remember the Edmonton Oilers selecting Steve Kelly sixth overall in the 1995 NHL draft? The event took place in the Northlands Coliseum (remember THAT place? No? Would the name Rexall Place put it into context?). When then-Oilers’ president and general manager, Glen Sather, and the team’s then-chief scout, Barry Fraser, were mounting the podium, the audience went berserk, demanding the locals select one Shane Doan.

Doan went to the Winnipeg Jets who were selecting seventh. He’s been with them through thick and thin till this day, and he’s still their desert incarnation’s captain in Arizona.

Come to think of it, Edmonton native Jarome Iginla went 11th overall in that same draft, straight to the Dallas Stars, only to be traded to the Calgary Flames for Joe Nieuwendyk.

Where’s Steve Kelly now? Retired, that’s where, after achieving the unpleasant title “underachiever,” never playing more than a half of a season for any given NHL team, going through the German DEL hockey league all the way to the AHL, and ending his career there, following an injury.

Whether it was Kelly’s pure bad luck is irrelevant now. The only thing that matters is that, in hindsight, his selection in the first round was a mistake.

A mistake? After all, as we all know, hindsight is 20-20.

Again, it depends on your point of view.

In 1993, the Ottawa Senators have selected Alexandre Daigle first overall. They were so ecstatic to have landed him, they gave him an outrageous salary by the standards of the day, forcing the league to introduce more or less sensible limitations on rookie income (entry-level contract, as we know it now).

Daigle became famous right then and there. Not so much for his hockey prowess but, rather, for his frightfully idiotic statement that he’s happy to be picked first because, you know, who remembers the guy selected second.

Hartford Whalers (today’s Carolina Hurricanes, for the uninitiated) were selecting second. Chris Pronger was their choice.

Who of the two has achieved more? A rhetorical question.

This being its last installment for this season, Hockey Unlimited’s eighth episode opens with what it calls the science and black art of scouting.

Remember, the regular season will be almost over on the day Rogers Sportsnet airs this episode, Thursday, April 9. (See broadcast schedule below for further broadcast times.) The playoffs will be upon us, but so will be the draft lottery, and, ultimately, the draft itself.

Even with today’s use of advanced statistics and other hugely involved tools of what their priests call the analytics, teams are selecting real, living people, hoping they’re finding a series of gems in the rough. This, in and of itself, makes the draft a hit-and-miss proposition, easily comparable to guessing the sex in one-day-old chicken. Winning over one-armed bandits in casinos carries more probability than picking the right player.

And that even with the hoopla about the so-called “generational players,” such as Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel this season.

Teams that place first and second in the draft lottery should be very careful about what they wish for. Just to refresh your memory: the abovementioned Alexandre Daigle carried the same “generational” label.

Having an insider take us through the maze of trying to find big-league talent is going to make this an interesting segment, for sure.

It is quite logical that, following this insider look into the NHL draft, the second segment of Hockey Unlimited is going to concentrate on a school that has produced so many hockey stars.

It’s known as Athol Murray College of Notre Dame. Founded in 1927 by a visionary Roman Catholic priest, Père (Father) James Athol Murray, Notre Dame has given us stars like Curtis Joseph, Wendel Clark, Vincent Lecavalier, Tyler Myers and Jaden Schwartz, among many others. Located in the relatively small village of Wilcox, Saskatchewan, this high school academy has been developing the spirits, minds and bodies of its students since its inception.

The school’s alumni have remained “hounds for life,” as the second segment of the season’s final episode of Hockey Unlimited shows.

It wouldn’t be Aquila Productions if they didn’t find a hockey story that puts the whole thing into perspective.

Noah Fayad, a 14-year-old player on the St. Albert Sabres AAA Bantam team in the Edmonton Major Bantam Hockey League, has been stricken by leukemia. His quietly courageous battle against this disease has inspired both his teammates and his opponents alike.

Fayad’s battle has helped create a special bond between him and the Sabres’ young assistant coach Brady Reid, who lost his father John to the same disease when he was about Noah’s age. As has become the series’ tradition, Hockey Unlimited will again offer viewers valuable tips on hockey fitness from high-performance personal trainer Simon Bennett and on-ice skills from NHL instructor Steve Serdachny.

Episode eight of Hockey Unlimited will begin airing on multiple Sportsnet channels on April 9, with repeat broadcast at various times over the following week preceding the start of the Stanley Cup playoffs. (See broadcast schedule below for further broadcast times.)

 

BROADCAST SCHEDULE:

 

Thurs. Apr. 9

3 PM ET SN One

Fri. Apr. 10

1 PM ET SN Pacific, West, Ontario, East
11:30 PM ET SN One

Tues. Apr. 14

5:30 PM ET SN Pacific, West, Ontario, East