Category Archives: Edmonton

Hockey Unlimited: what makes Canada’s hockey tick

It’s all about telling it like it is.

The newest entry into the world of documentary films about hockey premiered on Sportsnet Monday afternoon. It’s going to see a few repeats before part two of Hockey Unlimited appears on the schedule (early December). Just watch for it.

Hockey Unlimited, without talking about it too much, probes into a question that is simple and complex at the same time: Canada is passionate about her hockey, and so are Canadians passionate about their hockey. There’s a world of difference between these two passions. And yet, one can’t exist without the other, and vice versa.

With the NHL game by EA selling like hot cakes, the first installment of Hockey Unlimited goes behind the scenes to find out what exactly it is that makes the game such a fan favourite.

The answer is simple and straightforward: it’s its creators’ passion that does it. The guys who have been creating it grew up on the good old black-and-white pong game. Something today’s young crowd has no idea whatsoever existed. The grown-up crowd might recall the vertical line dividing the screen, the two players represented by two shorter lines, with a ball represented by a roughly-edged dot, and, gee, what kind of progress that was! the score changing whenever either of the players missed.

Compare it to today’s game where they make sure that jerseys reflect the layers’ movements, that reflections in the helmets reflect the arena lighting and that the fans who are taking selfies during games do so using equipment that exists on the market today. And all that in high definition!

The second part is even more interesting.

Imagine a small village in rural Alberta, population just slightly over 300. Known also by its nickname (Home of the first last elevator row in Alberta), seat of Devil’s Coulee Dinosaur Heritage Museum, you can find it some 65 kilometres south of Lethbridge.

With farming becoming more and more industrialized, it’s villages like this that suffer the most. The good people of Warner were watching their future with apprehension. One thing they knew was that no matter what else goes, if their school goes, it’s the end. And that’s when they figured out a way. That’s when the Warner Hockey School, one of the premier girls’ hockey schools in Canada, was born.

It attracts girls from all over the place and the Warner Warriors, a part of the junior girls’ hockey league, have scored quite a few major wins. One of their biggest wins: some of its alumnae have gone on to the best schools on the continent on full hockey scholarships. One even helped her new alma mater win a national championship title by scoring the winning goal.

These girls help keep the Warner school alive. And, by extension, they help keep Warner itself alive.

The Warner Hockey School has Mikko Makela as its general manager and head coach. By the way, here’s the proper way of writing his last name: Mäkelä. But don’t worry, he doesn’t insist on that kind of convoluted spelling.

The name should sound familiar to NHL fans: named The Flying Finn, Makela has more than 400 NHL games on his resume. He also played in Finland and owned a team in his native country. Having married a girl from Lethbridge, he returned to her hometown with her, and – after a brief period of coaching a junior club – he made the move to Warner.

Both sides could have hardly been happier.

This part of Hockey Unlimited tells us more about Canadian hockey’s roots than huge tomes of university research. Including the difference between guys as hockey players and girls in that same role. When he tells guys to do this or that, Makela relates, they would just go and do it. Not so the girls. They would listen to the instruction and then ask a simply major question: why?

There are two more brief segments included in the show. One, narrated by fitness guru Simon Bennett explains how to increase the strength of some of the muscles hockey players need the most. The other shows power skating coach Steve Serdachny explain several hockey moves in detail.

All in all, hockey from all possible angles.

Add to it Aquila Productions’ traditionally sharp camera work, crisp editing and great music selections. On top of it, Sportsnet’s Chris Simpson appears as the show’s host. Chris Simpson has earned her credibility with hockey fans through the years of hard work and she’s very good. The creators have made sure that she doesn’t appear on the screen too often, either: they let their pictures do the talking.

Aquila Productions’ previous major project, Oil Change, has been a huge success. It developed a huge following.

Judging by the first episode, so will Hockey Unlimited.

Hockey knows no bounds: new Sportsnet series by Aquila set to open

Hockey is Canada’s passion.

Psychologists and anthropologists may debate the reasons for this strange phenomenon, but the fact remains (and is worth repeating): hockey is Canada’s passion.

And so, it’s not really a surprise that Edmonton’s own Aquila Productions has come up with a brand new hockey series that will begin airing on Sportsnet Monday, Nov. 24. Hosted by Chris Simpson, Hockey Unlimited will offer ten half-hour segments during this season.

Aquila gave us Oil Change, an award-winning series, that – the producers agreed – has run its course after five seasons. It was a series of behind-the-scenes looks at an NHL team in the throes of rebuilding. Oil Change has quite rightfully developed a following that borders on cult admiration. But you can be rebuilding a team only for so long. And that has been the limitation that the Aquila team has imposed upon themselves.

The new series will be going further and deeper than just the NHL. After all, the title (Hockey Unlimited) says it all. As the producers promise, they are going to follow hockey from its grassroots all the way up: minor, junior, college/university, recreational beer league, women’s, senior amateur, international and all levels of pro hockey.

Sportsnet has become the only guy in town to cover the NHL (with a few regional exceptions thrown in). This series is going to show that the network is seriously aware that without the grassroots, there wouldn’t be any grass. Good for them.

Many seem to think that only men between the ages of 18 and 49 are fanatic enough to spend most (if not all) of their spare time with or around hockey. Considering how many kids of both sexes love the excitement of actually playing the game, this series is bound to discover that hockey, indeed, knows no limitations. That’s how it is in Canada, and this is a Canadian show, aimed at Canadian audiences.

Here’s the plan: each episode of Hockey Unlimited (10 episodes in season one) will include two 8-12 minute documentaries about some significant issue, event, personality or other aspect of hockey. These features will be also accessible, once the show airs, online through live streaming off the Sportsnet site.

Check it out:

 

 

Station Date Start Series Episodes
SN Pacific Mon, 11/24/14 14:30 Hockey Unlimited 1
SN West Mon, 11/24/14 15:30 Hockey Unlimited 1
SN East Mon, 11/24/14 17:30 Hockey Unlimited 1
SN Ontario Mon, 11/24/14 17:30 Hockey Unlimited 1
SN Pacific Mon, 11/24/14 20:30 Hockey Unlimited 1
SN West Mon, 11/24/14 21:30 Hockey Unlimited 1
SN East Mon, 11/24/14 0:30 Hockey Unlimited 1
SN Ontario Mon, 11/24/14 0:30 Hockey Unlimited 1
SN Pacific Tue, 11/25/14 16:30 Hockey Unlimited 1
SN West Tue, 11/25/14 17:30 Hockey Unlimited 1
SN East Tue, 11/25/14 19:30 Hockey Unlimited 1
SN Ontario Tue, 11/25/14 19:30 Hockey Unlimited 1
SN Pacific Wed, 11/26/14 10:30 Hockey Unlimited 1
SN West Wed, 11/26/14 11:30 Hockey Unlimited 1
SN East Wed, 11/26/14 13:30 Hockey Unlimited 1
SN Ontario Wed, 11/26/14 13:30 Hockey Unlimited 1
SN One Wed, 11/26/14 23:30 Hockey Unlimited 1
SN Pacific Thu, 11/27/14 14:00 Hockey Unlimited 1
SN West Thu, 11/27/14 15:00 Hockey Unlimited 1
SN East Thu, 11/27/14 17:00 Hockey Unlimited 1
SN Ontario Thu, 11/27/14 17:00 Hockey Unlimited 1
SN One Fri, 11/28/14 22:30 Hockey Unlimited 1
SN One Sat, 11/29/14 22:00 Hockey Unlimited 1
SN One Sun, 11/30/14 18:30 Hockey Unlimited 1

 

 

How can we take this vote seriously?

Here’s the joke (and riddle, too) of the season: the guy this political party offers Edmonton-Whitemud voters in the forthcoming by-election is (verbatim): “a proven leader who builds for the future and knows how to get things done.”

Not only that. His is a “strong voice for Edmonton. The right choice for Alberta.”

You have three guesses who (and which political party) could come up with such unsupported (and unsupportable) drivel. If three guesses aren’t enough, read through the following text and find the revelation at the bottom (which is where this guy and his party belong, anyway).

If elections and by-elections weren’t such important parts of our democratic society, one would have to just laugh reading through the literature individual folks and those who support them publish to drum up custom.

Alas, this is a serious matter. Still, it’s worth a laugh or two.

Such as: a physician, a university-educated person, that is, tells us that, should we elect him, he would “stand up for” (what a lovely turn of phrase, eh?) better management of public health care. In addition, he’s all for equality and respect for all students in our public schools. As if there were no laws on the books covering that issue with much vigour. He would also push “infrastructure needed to promote a vibrant Edmonton,” whatever THAT is supposed to mean. So far as he and his party are concerned, electricity rates ought to be regulated. By whom, pray tell? Besides, long-term care for seniors needs improvement, and he’d provide it. Generally speaking, he would deliver a “fresh approach to government in Alberta.” And Tooth Fairy’s deliveries ought to be included forthwith in the provincial general health care plan – oh, he didn’t say THAT.

Which party could the good doctor represent?

Let’s re-phrase it: which party says openly government knows best and the rest of us, the masses of the unwashed, are a bunch of illiterate hicks?

Then, of course, there’s a candidate who says Alberta belongs to Albertans, or (at least), so it should, and individual legislature members should be responsible to those who had elected them. A rather innovative approach in a country that puts discipline along party lines at the top of its political values.

In any case, this particular idea isn’t really new. One of Great Britain’s greatest leaders, the late Margaret Thatcher, used it within her parliamentary caucus, and it, unfortunately, ended up costing her her leadership job.

On the other hand, the idea that Albertans have no fuzzy feelings toward helping pay for the Vancouver Olympic Games doesn’t require special public opinion polls to confirm it. Most Albertans, it seems, think that the event was one of the stupidest extravaganzas of our time.

Besides, it seems many would agree with the sentiment expressed decades ago by the late Ralph Klein. Some impositions forced upon Alberta because some Eastern provinces have more electoral votes should be scrubbed. Granted, Klein used a language much more colourful than that, but it’s the idea that counts.

So, the Alberta to Albertans crowd can expect anguished howls, bitterly accusing them of xenophobia and other unspeakable crimes. Besides, they can expect a chorus of jeers that would be telling them this was not fair. As if fairness had anything to do with Albertans having to pay for some perfectly and shamelessly misguided policies that have brought some of the Eastern provinces, and British Columbia, too, close to the poor house.

Whether the Albertans for Albertans’ time has come yet, who knows. But the idea is not going away any time soon.

Then, of course, we have the clowns who haven’t decided yet whether, and if so, how to, ride the coattails of a former Prime Minister’s son.

Of course, said late Prime Minister is not really a fan favourite in Alberta, what with his National Energy Programs, a.k.a. NEP, and other, similar absurdities. For the potential voters might want to remember that the late Prime Minister’s path to power took him all the way from Nazi beginnings, through Communist sympathies, Socialist memberships, to the top of the party that could deliver him to 24 Sussex Dr. in Ottawa. His son is a less sophisticated (and even less educated) version of his father. For that reason alone, he hopes to attract masses of young and naïve voters. The provincial wing of the party just loves their federal leader’s demagoguery. It’s the memory of his papa’s deeds that keeps them undecided.

And then we have the guy who says simply it’s about the right time to teach the governing party a lesson.

Considering the governing party is trying to push through a guy who had already cost Edmontonians untold hundreds of millions of dollars, both the governing party candidate and his party deserve a firm kick in the areas where it hurts the most.

It’s not known whether the guy who said the governing party needs to be taught a lesson meant exactly that, that is, physical punishment to remember. One is almost certain that, if asked, the guy would shrug his shoulders and laugh.

In any case (here’s the riddle from above revealed), anyone who thinks of voting for Stephen Mandel, the guy who (with a straight face, too) claims that he’s a proven leader, should ask the good doctor who preaches that government knows best for an urgent referral to a shrink.

Equality? What equality? Of sexes? Are you kidding?

Hypocrisy by any other name is still hypocrisy.

A teenaged female friend of mine, as talented a person I’ve ever met in my puff, told me the other day the accepted dress code (including, one assumes, her school’s rules) dictates that skirts have to extend below a girl’s knees, and tops, especially those with V-shaped openings for necks (whatever THAT means) are a no-no. Too revealing, she was told.

If this Commandment from the Mount has come from school administrators, one may attempt to understand their motives. Still, it falls short of basic logic.

Yes, absolutely, hormones are raging like crazy amongst the boys in that girl’s age group. But that still does NOT mean that girls have to cover themselves from head to toe like nuns, just so they don’t provoke any hormonal explosions within the opposite sex crowd.

It was in this context that my friend raised the question of Justin Bieber.

Wisely, she said that while she personally didn’t like Bieber’s music-making in general, and his singing in particular, she had no issues with those who felt Bieber was the popular music’s second coming.

Personally, I’m not so sure I’d be THAT wise (or generous) at all. To me, Bieber’s singing (or his attempts at singing) sounds like an injured donkey’s screeches in heat.

What has got my teenaged friend’s dander up was that he apparently said that rape has got its reasons. Justin Bieber uttered words to that effect in a Rolling Stone magazine interview. He then tried to dance around them saying his experience had not included rape, but even this qualification didn’t change his view one iota.

Reading his sentiment to perfection, my teenage friend said that – quite obviously – what he meant to say was that if a girl reveals a part of her body, she’s asking for it. And even if she reveals nothing but is beautiful and / or attractive, she’s asking for it, too.

She would proceed to draw a parallel to the limitations on girls’ school dress code.

Is that the message they want to convey? she demanded.

I agree with her wholeheartedly. On all counts.

In addition to his criminal issues (both in the U.S. and in Canada), Bieber makes racist jokes and seems to be of the opinion he can get away with an apology, no matter how perfectly insincere.

And if he really said rapes happen for a reason, all reasonable concert promoters, record producers and sundry members of the hangers-on crowd should drop him like something dirty they picked up after it had fallen from a horse’s behind.

But, to get back to my teenaged friend’s complaint about the dress code modifications.

If it really originates with school administrators, they seem to have it all splendidly wrong.

If there were anything they ought to control, it would be the boys’ behaviour. If there’s anything they (and the boys’ parents) ought to teach them, it’s respect. You first must give respect. Only then can you expect that someone will respect you back. That’s the mantra.

An aside here: one of the criminal cases in the U.S. that involve Justin Bieber has happened aboard a private jet taking him and his father to a Super Bowl game. The crew, including the captain, were asking both Biebers to stop smoking marijuana. It does happen to be illegal to smoke anything aboard an aircraft in the first place, after all. On top of it, marijuana fumes that the pilots must necessarily inhale impacts their ability to fly the plane safely.

In this context: remember Ross Rebagliati? That was the guy who won the first-ever Olympic gold medal in snowboarding in Nagano in 1998. Within days, if not mere hours, the International Olympic Committee decided to take his medal away: the doping control found small traces of marijuana in his system. Rebagliati defended himself by saying he spent a few days before flying to Japan in Whistler, B.C. That happens to be the place where those who do not indulge are treated as weird nerds. Whistler is about 7,500 kilometres removed from Nagano. And still, the august Olympic body accepted Rebagliati’s word and he got his medal back.

Can you imagine how the pilots must have felt when two guys were smoking marijuana right behind their backs in a Gulfstream?

Besides, what a role model is Bieber senior to his offspring, the younger Bieber? And what kind of a role model is, by extension, Bieber junior to his adoring fans?

Here’s the meaning of the aside: parents should be the first, and most important, role models for their children. If their children do not learn anything about mutual respect within their families, where else are they supposed to learn?

We live in the 21st century, for crying out loud! Is it so difficult to teach the boys that girls are NOT mere sexual objects? Is it so frightfully difficult to teach them that girls (women in general) are people, first and foremost?

Yes, absolutely, teen age is the age when young people start looking at one another, considering whether this or that person would make a good life partner. Yes, absolutely, teen age is the age of first loves. Loves that may (or may not) develop into something special.

None of which means that violence is permitted as a part of it.

It makes no sense whatsoever to mouth truities about equality and whatnot, if female students are supposed to wear clothing worthy of Victorian times.

This Victorian approach stinks to high heaven. It reeks of hypocrisy. Most of the more sensitive young people, students included, will realize that.

Is that what we want to teach them?

Edmonton Catholic School Board makes peace with Muslims. Really?

Rid the world of the infidel dogs. If it takes killing them, so much the better. If they surrender and convert to our faith, not bad, either: the more slaves we’ve got, the better off we are.

Which faith do these words come from?

If you guessed Islam, you were correct.

Bluntly put, while the Muslims’ methods border on the uncivilized, the tenor is quite logical. Most religions are (and have always been) of the view that theirs is the only perfect way to worship. Christian religions are not exempted. Just remember the Inquisition. Except: most religions have abandoned these harsh methods of dealing with those who either choose to believe differently, or who, for Heaven’s sake, foolishly decide not to join any organized church at all.

Still, the only major religion that believes that those who beg to differ and subscribe to other beliefs ought to be condemned is (and has always been) Islam.

Edmonton Catholic School Board seems to think the Muslims don’t really mean it. Its promotional literature features a photograph of a girl wearing hijab. This kind of head covering indicates that the wearer is of Muslim faith.

An important distinction: not all Arabs are Muslim. There are quite a few Arabs who have devoted their lives to Christianity. And this really means: their lives. Should anyone wish to know what happens to them, just watch the news coming from, say, Egypt. It’s not as if the atrocities against Christian Arabs were happening centuries ago. No, they are happening now. Right now.

Why? Simply because Christian Arabs are firmly convinced that not everybody in this world wants (or aspires) to be a Muslim.

Naïveté beyond belief

Asked whether the Edmonton Catholic School Board was aware it had been drumming up custom in quarters not really friendly towards any kind of Christianity, and that includes the Catholic faith, the reply was shocking: we’re all-inclusive.

Well, come to think of it, not really.

A few quotes here.

Those who apply for enrollment in an Edmonton Catholic School, are required to read and sign (in agreement) this statement that is part of the registration form: “The Alberta Human Rights Act requires Edmonton Catholic Schools to give notice to a parent or guardian when courses of study, educational programs, institutional materials, instruction or exercises include subject matter that deals primarily and explicitly with religion.

The essential purpose of our schools is to fully permeate Catholic theology, philosophy, practices and beliefs, the principles of the Gospel and teachings of the Catholic Church, in all aspects of school life, including in the curriculum of every subject taught, both in and outside of formal religion classes, celebrations and exercises.

Have you noticed anything about the Koran in this statement?

The requirement continues thus: “If Religion is other than the Catholic faith, please sign the following acknowledgement: I hereby acknowledge and accept the values and philosophy of a Catholic school and that my child will participate in the prayer life, church and church related activities, religious courses, instruction and exercises in which Catholic ethical and moral standards are taught. Additionally, I am aware that my child is being admitted to this school as a non-resident student, and because of this, the District accepts the responsibility for my child’s education until such time as my child finishes his or her program in this school, voluntarily withdraws, or is expelled from the District.

Is it discrimination, by any chance?

Of course it is. As it should be, too. If anyone wants to study elsewhere, without having to agree in advance to a set of beliefs, public schools are a wonderful alternative.

Come to think of it, let’s say it openly: discrimination, in and of itself, is a pretty good thing.

If you’re selecting a bride or a groom, you’re discriminating against all those who had submitted applications, and never mind those who had never heard of your existence. (Wives, especially, like to say they should have and could have picked anybody over you, and they would have been better off, but that is just folklore.)

When you’re buying, say, meat in your local grocery store, you’re discriminating against all those other pieces the store has on offer: no, you don’t want ribs today, your taste buds are set on a schnitzel.

Yes, the moronic politically correct crowd would say, but how about discrimination based on sex? Or religion?

Well, would you expect a guy, no matter how handsome or ugly, promoting goods used for female hygiene, on television?

Would you expect someone who believes there’s only one Almighty, and his name is Allah, serving as a rabbi in a kibbutz?

Dealing with mortal enemy

What has all this to do with the perfectly idiotic decision by the Edmonton Catholic School Board to offer its hallowed halls of learning to their mortal enemy?

It has become a modern trend, a fashion, even, for western civilisations to beg for pardons from all and sundry for injustices, real and perceived, that had happened centuries ago. It goes so far as African-Americans (another politically correct and, simultaneously, stupid description) adopting Muslim names and, at the same time, accusing America and Americans for the crime of slavery. They don’t know their history. Muslims, who, by the way, still consider this kind of ownership perfectly fine and dandy, had sold them into slavery in the first place. And they should know that it had been the Americans, together with the Brits, who had led the struggle against slavery.

It is perfectly appalling to see the Pope apologising to the Muslims for the Crusades. One would have expected that if anyone knew his history, it would be the Holy Father. Who knows, he might. If he does, he must know that Crusades were a two-way street. Christians were defending their holy places. That’s all. And in case you weren’t aware, desecration is the Muslim way to handle holy places they manage to take over, usually by force. Not: WAS the way. IS the way. And NOT only Christian or Jewish holy places.

Footage of a gang of Muslims, led by their priests, destroying the graves of Allied soldiers who had fought the Nazis in the deserts of Africa has been going viral the last couple of years.

Logical, after all: Muslim mullahs believe to this day that it is a pity Adolf Hitler was deprived of the chance to finish his “sacred duty” of the Holocaust.

An aside: what happened once the footage of the desecration of Allied graves made the Internet? Not much. The British government issued a modest, shy and unassuming tut-tut. Analysts say that the British reaction was so mute because they feared lest they insult the masses of Muslims who live in Britain, many of them illegally.

Responsibility abandoned

It is within this context that the Edmonton Catholic School Board sees itself fit to announce its schools are all-inclusive. They must be perfectly illiterate. How? They aren’t aware of the fact a number of Arabs are Christian rather than Muslim. The other option would be that they have been blinded by the sheer stupidity a.k.a. political correctness. One wonders which option bodes better for Edmonton Catholic schools’ students.

Of course, if a Muslim decided to convert (to Catholicism, in this instance), that would call for fatwa. Automatic death sentence, that is. How many would dare?

Certainly, Christians will tell you that if somebody hits you, you ought to offer the other cheek for similar punishment. Except not even the most literal and ancient Christian religious writings stipulate you ought to behave like lamb led to slaughter when it’s your life that’s at stake.

Some say it’s not true that ostriches put their heads in the sand when they spot danger. Still, the saying remains. And it fits not only the Edmonton Catholic School Board, but all of the politically correct and frightfully naïve folks, too.

A school board, be it a public or religious institution, has but one responsibility only: to educate those in their care and prepare them for life in the real world.

Political correctness in any shape or form just doesn’t cut it.

And sleeping with the enemy doesn’t do the job, either.

Edmonton filmmakers create a fine documentary

A face appears on the silver screen. In a close-up. The owner of the face, a Native Canadian, or a First Nations’ member, to be politically correct, looks straight in the camera. His lips start moving. This is what he says: “I am a psychopath.”

Thus opens the documentary film titled Antisocial Inc.

Commissioned by TVO, finished in 2014, 58 minutes long. Written, directed and produced by Rosvita Dransfeld. Filmed by Sergio Olivares. Music supplied by Donald Horsburgh. Edited by Scott Parker.

The audience at Edmonton’s Metro Cinema at Garneau gave the film an enthusiastic response, and deservedly so.

Of course, why it had to be TV Ontario to commission a documentary film made entirely in Alberta, by Albertans, about an Albertan, will remain a sweet mystery. Until we realize that Alberta, Canada’s richest province, somehow hasn’t what one would compare to America’s public broadcasting system. And the country’s public broadcasting network that one would have expected to be a logical outlet for such a documentary is in the throes of licking its self-inflicted economic wounds. It’s trying to figure out what to do with itself. No, you can’t expect the CBC to have either the wherewithal or the basic imagination to go after a work that is really and truly creative.

Simple story

The story is, basically, very simple: a kid is brought up in a rather unacceptably dysfunctional family that serves as his foster home. He becomes a drug dealer and spends a quarter of a century in and out of all kinds of jails and prisons. Eventually, he decides that he’s wasting his life. He does his best to turn it around. Along the way, he meets someone who used to be his childhood neighbour and who takes genuine interest in him as a living person. Having been a loner most of his life, not used to enjoying friendly relationships, but, on the other hand, used to living with the label of an anti-social individual, the hero (Chris is his name) has frightful difficulty with accepting any signs of friendship from anybody.

There’s no happy ending. There’s no tragic ending, either. There’s an ending that shows that life will go on. How it will go on, nobody knows. Least of all the hero.

It’s a documentary film as documentary films should be. It lets the hero tell his own story, it follows him when he is silent, it lets the pictures do the talking, and it takes us places most of us haven’t encountered. Such as jail cells in which the hero had spent more than a few of his days in his past, and which he hopes to avoid from now onwards, as long as he shall live.

This, in and of itself, is an optimistic approach.

The creators spent several years following their hero. He must have got used to their attention. He is not acting. And it’s pretty obvious that a lot of material must have ended on the cutting room floor. By the way, why it is called that when the technology used to record the story was clearly electronic, one can’t fathom. A cliché is a cliché is a cliché.

Luckily (or happily) there are no clichés in this movie.

Moving pictures

On a more personal note, I would like to talk more about the cinematography.

I have known Sergio Olivares for quite a few years. He has been working for Edmonton’s Aquila Productions, covering the Edmonton Oilers and providing wonderful footage for the series Oil Change. These are documentaries following the hockey club’s rare ups and frequent downs during the last four seasons. It has developed a cult-like following. Both in Canada (it airs on Sportsnet) and in the U.S. (it airs on NHL Network).

One of the outstanding features of Oil Change is its crisp, fast and furious storytelling through amazing pictures. It reflects hockey, the fastest team game on earth.

I was wondering, in fact, I was somewhat apprehensive. And I was surprised. Sergio Olivares subordinated his camera work to the story. His pictures not only told the story. They conveyed the emotions behind it. Without any of the modern camera tricks. This was storytelling at its best.

So, Sergio, thanks for inviting me to the screening.

An annoyed question

It has been a nasty habit of organizers of sundry moving pictures theatrical premiere performances to have the creators appear on stage once the curtain had come down, and answer all kinds of questions from the audience. Some of the questions might be intelligent, others might be perfectly stupid. They all have one thing in common: they are perfectly irrelevant.

What do these people expect? Do they want the creators to tell them about all the funny stories that happened on location, during the filming?

The performance either does make sense, or it does not. The creators either did convey their story, or they did not. They either did say what they wanted to say, or they did not.

And so it happened on this night, too. After the audience applauded Antisocial Inc. with justified enthusiasm, some of the creators were invited to come on stage. The room was filled with all kinds of intelligentsia, an unusual crowd for me as I try to avoid such circles at all cost. It was clear that the air would be filled with questions.

It was.

And then it happened. It was bound to happen. The question-and-answer session would sink as low as to have one of those intellectuals ask the producer what she wanted the audience to take home with them, having seen the film.

This was one of those people who, for example, do not live in a marriage because they live within the issue of marital cohabitation, who do not eat because they live solving the problem of consuming edible material, and who do not love because they are examining the question of emotional attraction between two or more individuals. You know this kind people, don’t you?

Anyhow, poor Rosvita Dransfeld thought she had to answer. She explained that she felt that labelling people is frightfully wrong, and for those who have been labelled in any shape or form, it would be preferable if they didn’t accept it.

Why not, right?

She would have been better off if she tore a page from René Clair’s book.

The famous French film director returned to his country from overseas after the Second World War. He made his first postwar film in 1947, Le silence est d’or (Silence is Golden).

When it premiered in Paris, the theatre was crowded. As the French say, tout le Paris. Rough translation: the who-is-who of Paris. Gentlemen in full tails, white ties, with their Legion d’Honneur pins and Académie française insignia shining. Ladies sporting revoltingly revealing cleavage (décolletage, as the French call it), showing almost everything to almost everybody. And the air filled with excited expectation and exciting scent of Chanel No. 5.

Into that, René Clair takes the stage. When all and sundry at long last sit down, he tells them: “Ladies and gentlemen, do not expect any deep thoughts. Do not expect any philosophies. Do not expect, Heaven forbid, any messages.”

After a few seconds of looking around, he turns to the microphone again: “I have only come to entertain you.”

With those famous last words, René Clair leaves the stage (and the building). Presumably to have a quick smoke.

That’s the page Rosvita Dransfeld should have torn from René Clair’s book.

Her film deserved it.

Commonwealth Games in Edmonton: another make-work project?

The city of Edmonton needs yet another Commonwealth Games like a dead person needs a winter coat.

And still, our intrepid city parents sent a five-member delegation all the way to London, England, to find out what exactly a successful bid should consist of.

Even if one agreed that government-organized and/or –sponsored Commonwealth Games would be useful to the city, and one doesn’t, why go all the way to good, old London? What’s e-mail for? With all kinds of new media that help antipodes talk to one another as if they were sitting in adjacent rooms?

Oh, the airlines have to make a living, somehow, and the international airport hasn’t been buzzing with as much activity as anticipated, either?

If we stick to the topic of Commonwealth Games in Edmonton: the plan is to bid for their 2022 edition. Whether the bid will succeed is another question. The South African city of Durban is the other bidder. If the organizers keep their heads in the politically correct sands by decision time, Edmonton hasn’t a chance.

Failure after failure

It wouldn’t be the first time Edmonton invested in perfectly non-sensical bids for perfectly non-sensical events. The 2015 FISU (International University Sports Federation) Games, or Expo 2017 come to mind as the most recent examples.

The Expo effort was the more outrageous of the two: the city spent a few million (U.S. currency, in case you want to know) to apply for the right to apply for an application for the right to apply to Canadian organizers for the right to represent the country in the international contest, where you (again) had to apply for the right to apply for an application to apply (to the world body) for the right to apply for the application to get into the bid process. Needless to say that each application had to include a non-refundable fee, and each of those fees had to be in millions (again, in U.S. greenbacks).

Why this merry-go-round? Well, the organizers have to make a living, somehow, too, don’t they?

What’s the point?

Those shortsighted (read: stupid) stupid enough to apply for such events claim holding them will improve their community’s prestige, image, even, and besides, it’s good for business.

Indeed, it is good for business. It is very good for the businesses of those who own the real estate where the events would be held, and it’s about as good for those who are going to build the venues.

Supporters would go on to say that such events also create job opportunities. They’re not lying. They’re just not telling the truth, and nothing but.

Short-term job opportunities at the bottom of the economic ladder? Yes.

Long-term job opportunities with the chance to climb up the economic ladder? Absolutely not.

And so far as prestige and/or image are concerned, well, a city that is unable to keep its infrastructure in good repair, its roads and other public places clean (meaning, for example, free of all kinds of debris), that city hasn’t got a chance in hell to win prestige and display a squeaky clean image.

We will all agree that Edmonton isn’t as big as New York.

Why is it, then, that New York’s public services are capable of cleaning each and every roadway in the Bedlam on Hudson once a week, every week, while entire Edmonton neighbourhoods have to wait for weeks on end before city crews come to clean their roads?

(There are a few additional minor questions of major proportion, such as: who is planning the cleaning effort, anyway? Just check out the city’s website for their road-cleaning schedule: it just makes no sense. But that’s another point for another day.)

Why is it that cities of comparable size (Winnipeg, for example) have their roads cleared of snow within hours of a snowfall, and that includes all neighbourhoods, and Edmonton doesn’t?

Spending like drunk sailors on shore leave

A look longer than a glance at Edmonton’s budgets gives you the answers.

In a futile effort to win immortality, Edmonton’s councils have been going after all kinds of events, investing money that has never been theirs in projects of such dubious character they don’t deserve any other description than that they stink to high heaven.

It’s megalomania gone bonkers.

To help fund a private professional sports club’s new arena using public money, now that is beyond insanity. It’s criminal. Why? Simply because all economic indicators say that what may make business sense to that club’s owner, makes no economic sense to the city at large. This information has been available for years. And ignorance is no excuse, either.

It has been proven, also, that even university sports are now getting more and more professional. How come? Who are the most successful university athletes? Why, those who had come to the hallowed halls of learning on all kinds of sports scholarships. Just note it: they are recruited and scholarshipped for their knowledge of how to shoot three-point balls, or pucks in the net, or any other popular university sport you wish to name. They are not recruited and scholarshipped because they know, say, advanced math better than anybody else in their district.

So, they are paid for their athletic abilities. Where does it differ from professionalism?

By the way, please note: not sporting abilities. Athletic abilities. Why? Because the only mantra they hear is that it’s all about winning, baby. Have you heard any loud calls for fair play lately? For sportsmanship, that is? Come to think of it, it’s logical. Potential rich sponsors prefer their names to be associated with winners, and who cares at what cost.

The basic formula is simple: investing taxpayer money in professional sports is a win-lose proposition. A win for the organizers and sponsors, a loss for the taxpayers.

Again: drivel about such ephemeral effects as downtown revitalization is just that: drivel. It just doesn’t work that way.

And drivel about such legacy as Commonwealth Stadium is just that, too: drivel, that is. Why? Who’s using it? Amateur athletes of all kinds? School children, by any chance? Kidding, right? A professional sports team uses the place. The effectiveness of use is questionable, too: how many weeks a year do the Eskimos use the stadium? How much does it cost to keep the place up so it’s ready for them when they return next spring? Who pays the freight for the maintenance and general upkeep in the off-season? The club?

Whether we like it or not, we’ll have to resign ourselves to the undeniable fact: sports at their highest competitive level are nothing an amateur can achieve.

And, whether we like it or not, we’ll have to resign ourselves to another undeniable fact: all and sundry international events, such as world-wide bazaars known as Expo, do nothing whatever to help the economics of their host cities at all.

Still, if anyone wants to stage them, by all means. Do. Use your own money to invest, though. If you reap any profit whatsoever, listen to the applause all the way to the bank. And if your venture didn’t meet with success you had anticipated, well, tough. We’ll watch your future endeavours with considerable interest.

Commonwealth Games is a poor man’s Olympics. Montreal has been paying its 1976 extravaganza for about 34 years. Vancouver won’t be debt-free at least as long as that. So, the only good thing about Commonwealth Games would be it might take us less time to pay the whole bloody thing off.

Do voters have a say?

If voters agree that this is a good reason why we should be spending our money on ventures like this, then there’s not much to be said.

But: has anyone asked the voters? And make it biblically simple: yes? Yes? No? No?

Most Edmontonians, one would suspect, would prefer having their city clean, courtesy city crews, their roads passable, courtesy city crews, their infrastructure working, courtesy city crews.

Granted, this is not enough to lead a fuller life than 9 to 5 at work, and so on.

But Edmonton is called Festival City for a reason. And, besides, what’s wrong with creating your own entertainment?

In any case, spending another chunk of taxpayer cash just for the right to apply to host yet another non-sensical professional sports event makes no sense whatsoever.

Whoever has come up with this moronic Commonwealth Games idea should receive an apron with a city logo, a broom with a city logo, and a wheelbarrow with a city logo. Then, they should be instructed which region of the city they should go and clean up.

Maybe that will teach them that life as it is has priorities other than taxpayer-supported professional bread-and-games events.

We’re dirt poor!

It came earlier than many would have expected, but it’s here: Edmonton hasn’t got the money it needs for capital investments.

And even city officials, Mayor Do0n Iveson included, concede spending taxpayer money to help build a new professional sports arena, plus the many bells and whistles that come with it, is a major reason.

The capital budget report council received May 1, was specific: there won’t be more money in the kitty for larger (never mind large) infrastructure projects than $30 to $50 million a year.

Now, granted, $30 to $50 million is a huge chunk of cash for anyone who’s never won LottoMAX, but it is peanuts for a city Edmonton’s size.

Expansion of the LRT was one of the three reasons cited; plus two other items: the so-called downtown revitalization and the arena district. These were the main culprits.

The LRT should not have been among them.

Why not? For a simple reason: expanded public transportation helps a community, while public spending to help build a private professional sports arena helps that professional sports club’s owner. That’s how it is.

Downtown revitalizations using all kinds of entertainment complexes have been found wanting in all of the case studies conducted all across North America. These projects have no other impact than helping those complexes’ owners minimize their investment and maximize their profit.

Profit is NOT a dirty word. It’s just that it ought to remain in the private sector of the economy. You invest, and if you’ve invested wisely, you gain a profit.

In Edmonton’s case, just as in so many other cases across this continent, taxpayers invest, but they are not the owners. They used to get promises what this or that will do to their community’s economy (employment increases, taxation income increases and whatnot). When time, the great judge, provided proof galore that this was spectacular nonsense, promises would change thus: public participation in such private projects would make yours a top-league community, it would boost civic pride, and a number of other esoteric statements. A number of sociological and demographic studies on this subject have been unequivocal. None of this would have anything to do with the community’s well-being, but everything to do with the private proponents’ well-being.

Again: there’s nothing wrong with entrepreneurs making money. There’s everything wrong with them, aided and abetted by governments of all levels, making this money with taxpayers’ help.

Craziness beyond belief

In Edmonton’s case, the situation is even more ridiculous than anywhere else. The sports club’s owner intends to build an office tower close to his new arena, and he talks council into agreeing city’s employees would move from the locations they’re using now to that new tower. That would boost its occupancy. Yes, leases in some of those current locations are about to expire. Not in all of them. Who’s going to pay for the transfer, in general? And who’s going to pay for the termination of existing leases, in particular? The office tower owner?

Besides, as many of the existing economic studies prove beyond any doubt, reasonable or otherwise, it’s the office towers that drive the population from downtown areas to the suburbs. Just imagine applying for zoning to build a single-family house close to, say, the Manulife building, or Scotia Place. Building yet another office tower won’t help alleviate the exodus trend one iota.

Meanwhile, city property taxes went up by almost five per cent (4.92 per cent, to be precise). Considering Canada’s inflation rate was less than one single percentage point (0.94 per cent for precision’s sake) last year and it is not expected to increase any time soon, Edmonton’s property taxes have outpaced the country’s inflation rate five-fold.

If this is not a good reason for concern, one wonders what is.

To put this into context: an average homeowner whose property is valued at about $375,000 (nothing unusual in this city), will be paying about $127 more in city taxes next year.

Is the new arena still so shiny?

We do so need the LRT

There have been some, and their voices have been rather loud, asking why Edmonton needs another expansion of the LRT in the first place. In fact, some went so far as to suggest Edmonton needs no LRT, period.

Three cheers for economic illiteracy!

First of all, one of the most important standards to measure an individual community’s level of civilization is the level of its public transportation services. Not only because of such considerations as the level of pollution created by exhaust gases.

Let’s use a specific example: some are badmouthing the city for extending the LRT all the way to the NAIT campus. How do they expect an ever-increasing number of students from all over the place to make their way to the school? Are the majority of them rich enough to afford their own cars? Sure, if there’s no LRT, it might (but then again, might not) make used car sales go through the roof. Are Edmonton’s roads capable of accommodating such an increase in traffic? The answer is simple: no, they are not. Still, even if the city had enough dough (and we have just found it doesn’t) to expand its roadways, those students will have to park somewhere. Where? And who’s going to pay for it?

Please remember: growing numbers of students in such post-secondary schools as NAIT (or Grant MacEwan, for that matter, or University of Alberta, even) is a sign of a healthy community that is taking care of its future.

An aside: that part of the extended LRT will help ease transportation choke points in the Victoria School neighbourhood, as well as in the Grant MacEwan area, too.

We don’t need the LRT in Mill Woods, comes another battle cry. Guess what: you do. As the city population grows, soon enough it’s going to be impossible to get anywhere outside of Mill Woods in time if you drive a car and haven’t made the precaution of taking off at least a quarter of an hour ahead of time.

It’s getting perfectly scary during peak hours even now.

Yes, the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) calls would be heard less if the LRT went under the ground throughout. A more expensive investment in the beginning, but one that would have paid off quite nicely sooner or later. It didn’t happen, and this shortsighted approach might warrant another story for another day, but even so: even if the city discovered an endless supply of money, and was spending it wisely, Edmonton cannot continue to expand to cover the entire province of Alberta, eventually.

Whom are we paying for?

Alberta’s capital city has to make do with what it’s got, just like everybody else. That includes ignoring private egos such as that of former Mayor Stephen Mandel (or his successor in office, Don Iveson), and telling all professional sports clubs’ owners where to get off when they ask for (demand is a better expression) public money to help build their new arenas.

Here’s another piece of basic economics: if you decide to delay a necessary step, for example, by a year, because you haven’t got enough cash on hand at the moment, your costs that one year later will go up. Not just marginally. They may double.

Need an example? If Edmonton does such a lousy job of maintaining its network of roads as it has in the few years past, the cost of fixing the earlier mistakes will be there, together with costs of fixing new problems. More precisely? How about this: the city had a significant number of roads re-paved last summer. Whether they had no quality control or whether it was insufficient is not relevant. And excuses that this past winter was harder than many winters in previous years doesn’t make it, either. The fact remains: those newly re-paved roads need fixing, and a lot of it. Meanwhile, other roads, those that didn’t get the extended loving care last summer, need fixing, too.

It could have cost a bit more last summer, to do the re-paving job right in the first place. Now, it’s going to cost much more.

And the city is crying it’s on its way to the poorhouse.

It would be funny if it wasn’t that pathetic.

New projects will have to wait till the new election cycle (and, basic arithmetic suggests, beyond). Meanwhile, we’ll be pouring money we haven’t got into a pipedream, a.k.a. downtown revitalization, a new arena for the Oilers, to be more specific.

If we re-elect these rascals again, we’ll have nobody to blame but ourselves.

Oil Change bids farewell: only to the season? Or to its viewers, too?

Did you know 83 players dressed for the Edmonton Oilers during the last four seasons?

A shocking number or proof that the club’s management has been trying their darndest? Proof they’ve been working hard to find and assemble the best group of people to return the team to the heights it had enjoyed more than two decades ago?

Almost four full rosters, come to think of it!

That’s the question that pops into one’s mind as the last minutes of this season’s Oil Change documentary series roll by. It aired on Sportsnet Sunday, and will see its first series of repeats Monday, with more re-runs to come.

The final minutes show each of the 83 players get a few seconds of fame, with each player’s name and number of games in Oilers’ uniform in subtitles, with music featuring hints of Auld Lang Syne sounding in the background.

If this doesn’t move an Oilers fan’s heart, nothing will.

Except it raises a question. What is it, after all, this elusive chemistry the Oilers’ architects have been trying to find? What is this something that changes a sports club from an also-run into a contender, a champion, even? Is it really chemistry or, Heavens forbid, alchemy? You know, alchemists, the guys with strange beards, wearing extravagant hats, who keep trying to convince their kings and other nobility that they can change worthless raw materials into gold, develop elixirs of love and create potions that would enhance humankind’s longevity beyond any reasonable limits.

Oil Change does not ask these questions openly, but they are there.

This season’s finale begins with a visit with Ryan Smyth in his own, private and personal, trophy room. It contains all kinds of awards he’s won, And he’s won almost everything there’s to win in professional hockey, with one exception: he only got very close to the Stanley Cup once, but never touched it.

As it follows the last few weeks of the season that was, Oil Change’s subjects (players, coaches) see a bit of silver lining in the final weeks’ results and, especially, style of play. Habits, as head coach Dallas Eakins likes to call it. Whether they are right or whether it’s just another round of grasping for straws, only future will tell. And Oil Change deserves praise because it does not succumb to the temptation of becoming a clairvoyant. It only documents what those who should be in the know say and it accompanies it with pictures of what is actually going on even as the words are spoken.

What does it say? Words are nice but they aren’t worth much until and unless action makes them right.

There’s one interesting segment that might deserve a psychologist’s trained eye. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall, two of the team’s brightest-shining stars, have been trying to find similarities and differences that exist between themselves. A fascinating exercise. Whether the two players’ judgments are on the money or not does not matter. What does matter is we can see how they perceive themselves, each other, and the team.

And that’s what Oil Change has been all about since its inception four long seasons ago. It documents who the people behind headlines (and frequent angry speech on Edmonton’s talk shows) are. To use a cliché: what makes the team tick? What is actually behind the infatuation Edmonton Oilers’ fans feel toward their beloved stars? For crying out loud, the fans must feel like jilted lovers again and again. Season after season lacks success, using a milder expression instead of the straightforward failure.

Considering that psychologists have defined infatuation (and early love) as temporary insanity, one can’t but wonder at the Edmonton Oilers fans’ perseverance.

As has been their habit all along, Aquila Productions’ creative crews have again come up with a gem of documentary filmmaking. They use narration words sparingly, depending much more on pictures, in a fast-paced show that reflects to perfection what kind of game hockey is at its top professional level, and who are the people behind it.

This season’s finale ends, as has become traditional with all Oil Change episodes, with the subtitle line: To be continued …

Will it? Should it?

There are several schools of thought.

One that believes that the creators have covered most of the topics that they could cover, and what they would be doing next season would only be repeating what they had been doing the previous years. Differently perhaps, but nothing new under the sun.

And, besides, people who support this grim school of thought would say, it’s always best to quit while you’re still on top.

A jaded view, that. Ask Edmonton Oilers’ fans whether they want the show to continue. Come to think of it, ask fans of good hockey programming, and fans of good documentary filmmaking, too.

If the Oilers continue struggling, only the fact they are struggling would be old. How and why they struggle still, that would be something new.

Another school of thought holds that a hiatus of about a couple of seasons might be worth the wait. This school’s students hope that, following this summer, the Oilers’ roster will be settled for some time to come, with only a bit of space for minor adjustments. Adherents believe that the real change will happen once the Oilers move to the new arena downtown. And that is, they say, when Oil Change should come back.

Yes, physically speaking, it would be a change. Whether it would be as major as some anticipate remains to be seen.

So, what is the answer? What should it be?

Here’s hoping fans (using all kinds of social media) will tell Aquila, the Edmonton Oilers and Sportsnet that they can hardly wait for the new season of Oil Change.

And, here’s hoping, too, that Aquila, the Edmonton Oilers and Sportsnet will not only listen to what the fans are saying, but hear them, too.

Meanwhile, Oil Change, have a wonderful summer vacation, get some much-needed rest, and come back refreshed, tanned, strong, with your batteries recharged and whatnot, for the delight of your fans.

What’s wrong with this place?

Considering Edmonton is the capital city of one of the richest provinces of a relatively rich country, one wonders: what the heck?

Of course, some of the issues are based on Edmonton’s climate, and blast the global warning nonsense. What matters is what Edmonton does with the two seasons it has. They are winter and non-winter, and it seems the city of Edmonton is always surprised when either of these two seasons makes its presence known.

With the winter now (hopefully) behind us for a few months, it might be useful to remind ourselves of a few unpleasant things.

We have behind us huge amounts of snow that were covering city streets with little if any fix in sight. Sidewalks that are the city’s responsibility would become increasingly dangerous because the city must have been of the noble view that it’s only fair to give ice a sporting chance. Whenever crews – paid by taxpayers – would clean roads of snow, they would leave behind windrows the size of the Himalayas. Roads would become narrow, one-way paths capable of accommodating a single bicyclist at a time, that is, only if he or she was careful enough to let another bicyclist pass by. Windrows at intersections would make entering the other road a hazard to traffic and pedestrians: you couldn’t see vehicles approaching from either side.

Times are changing and now we have (hopefully) arrived at spring, to be followed by summer (again, an optimistic estimation, but let’s accept it).

Snow melts, we ought to be happy, right? If we look at our roads and sidewalks, smiles freeze. Dust, dirt, garbage that lay hidden under snow has accumulated along the sides of the roads. Windrows take longer to melt. They create floods all over the place, some more dangerous than others.

If it rained more, some suggest, it would at least wash the dust and basic dirt off our streets and roads and sidewalks. An interesting proposition, difficult to test: Edmonton hasn’t got that much rain.

Then, of course, there is this traditional lament: potholes. City transportation experts would tell us that’s because atmospheric conditions (read: temperatures) keep changing so drastically.

Perfect drivel, of course. A road surface put in professionally and with proper care would alleviate much of the issue. As it is, we have road closures in the summer, so that crews can put new surface on. It looks wonderful and spiffy. A few months later, once the snow has melted, it’s filled with potholes. In a better scenario, the road is closed again next summer, for resurfacing.

A bit of stricter quality control during the original work would have been cheaper.

Considering how much city administration charges citizens in taxes and sundry fees, none of these issues should even exist. Using money that exists in city coffers, it’s not altogether irrational to be calling for minor budget adjustments so the city can employ people full-time, wages and benefits included, to keep taking care of Edmonton’s infrastructure 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year.

It would mean one minor change of major proportions: turning the city’s funding priorities upside down. No such dubious proposals as taxpayer support for a downtown arena for a professional sports club. These projects claim they’ll revive our downtown. They won’t do anything of the kind, of course. Diverting money thus wasted into useful activities, such as making and keeping this place liveable, would go a long way.

One can list a number of projects where the use of taxpayer money borders on the criminal. How about the harebrained plan to move city employees from their today’s work sites into a new, and useless, office tower, just to help its owner make sure he’s not losing money?

We had a mayor once who’d go so far as to impose fines upon a company that was fixing a city bridge and was tardy with ending the project. It would be paying for each and every day it was late. Yes, yes, yes, Bill Smith was no visionary, something some would-be enlightened people say is a category to which Stephen Mandel and Don Iveson belong. Bill Smith was only making sure taxpayers’ money wouldn’t be wasted. How perfectly pedestrian.

This is rather difficult to fathom: how is it possible that Canadian cities of similar size and climate comparable to Edmonton’s, have found ways to keep their roadways clear of snow throughout their long winters, and that includes residential roadways, also? How is it possible that when spring springs upon them, their neighbourhoods are clean and free of all kinds of garbage and sundry debris? How do they do it, keeping their roads relatively pothole-free?

To put it simply: what are they doing right and Edmonton is doing wrong?

Should our city parents try to learn a lesson or two? And, much more importantly, are they capable of doing it?

Judging by their efforts thus far, one has serious doubts.

Who’s to blame?

We are. We voted them in.