Saturday 28 February 2009

Local blogosphere busts a gasket

The comments section for Policy Frog's latest post is at 73 and counting. What's all the fuss about? Well two things actually:

  1. Policy Frog is (*gasp*) sitting in at CJOB for one week.
  2. Pork.
That Frogger was lured over to the dark side of the media by evil MSM emperor Vic Grant seems to have riled a few feathers. Apparently he is losing his bogosphere "cred" and can no longer be trusted to provide independant alternative media commentary. Even after his gig with 'OB is up, emperor Grant will be pulling his strings, or Peter Mansbridge will be wiring him talking points for his blog or some God damn thing.

Seriously people, chillax. First of all, if you're relying on an anonymous internet blogger to provide you with the straight unbiased goods on anything, you need to rethink your strategy for gathering information. Second, can any anonymous blogger be trusted? I sure as hell can't. Ask me to watch over your poodle and I'll have it stuffed full of hash and shipped across the border to a crooked vet in no time. Third, the possibility does still exist that Frogger has integrity, and may not be permanently scarred by MSM brain washing probes that Vic Grant had implanted in the Seinnheiser headphones that he'll forced to wear.

Look, bogging is entertainment. Some blogs are pure entertainment; some like Frogger's are more informative; but it's still a blog. Even if PF turns into a drooling CJOB lackey it's not the end of the world. I say why shouldn't PF take the opportunity to share his views with a wider audience? Good for him. He wouldn't be the first local blogger to do it, but for some reason he's taking the most flack.

Now about the pork thing: the scandal that wouldn't die (or get resolved). I sentence Marty Gold to 13 lashes with a K-Tel Miracle Brush if he mentions "pork" again on a blog other than his own.

Wednesday 25 February 2009

Gordon Bell vs Canada Post

I really thought this Gordon Bell thing would just blow over and common sense would prevail, but once again I am mistaken. Let's recap the history of the issue:

Feb 2007: Midway Chrysler closes, vacating a triangular lot on the high-traffic corner of Portage and Broadway.

Nov 2007: Canada Post buys the lot for a new letter-carrier depot. MP Pat Martin expresses concerns about Canada Post abandoning downtown, but no mention of Gordon Bell high school.

May 2008: Report comes out showing that enrollment for Gordon Bell High School dropped more than any other school in Winnipeg.

June 2008: Pat Martin discovers that there is a high school attended by kids of people who vote next to the new Canada Post site, and calls for the site to be turned over to the school for use as an athletic field. Pat uses out-dated enrollment figures in his announcement.

Feb 2009: The fight continues. Pat and the school division are now asking tax payers to pony up $4 million to buy the land off Canada Post, who will then have to find another spot to put their new building.

Meanwhile, several people have shown that a standard athletic field would not fit on that parcel of land.

I am all for athletics, and I would love to see all schools with a proper track and athletic field, but the sad reality is this school did not come with one, and the window of opportunity for snapping up this triangle of land was missed.

At this point the cost of changing plans would be large. Canada Post would have to delay leaving their current site (construction on the new place was scheduled to start this year), buy a new piece of land that is suitable, and design a new building because presumably a triangle-shaped building will not fit well on the new space. Who's going to pay for this? Will the Gordon Bell students hold the world's largest bake sale? Will Pat Martin pay? Oh what the hell .. just add it on to the $4 million dollars. Money grows on trees on Manitoba, right?

Monday 23 February 2009

Please Sir, can I have some more?

GMC and Crysler continue to hobble through their desperate restructuring dance. As we all know, they are asking for billions more from the US government, but the Gimmie Money Corp is also asking the Canadian and Ontario governments for a $7.5 billion crutch to keep them upright. Seven Billions Dollars. That's a fuck of a lot of money. True, it is only a loan, but I would feel more confident betting on the Cubs to win the next World Series than loaning money to GM.

To put that amount in perspective, if you have $7 billion to spend, you could rebuild the economy of a entire nation, and not just any nation, but a nation that has 10 sextillion per cent inflation:

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has said the cost of rebuilding his country's economy could run as high as $5bn

"As for the long-term economic recovery it has not been assessed," Mr Tsvangirai was quoted as saying at a press briefing in Cape Town. But he added: "I think it would run into billions of dollars, maybe as high as $5bn."

Inflation in Zimbabwe - estimated by some economists at 10 sextillion per cent - has left its currency almost worthless.
This would still leave you with $1 billion to bet on the Cubs, and another $1 billion to build new CFL stadiums in Halifax, Quebec City, Winnipeg and Ottawa.

Zimbabwe has something else that GM doesn't: a leader who is not afraid of bold action. For example, as we speak his people are starving to death and 80,000 of them are dying of cholera, but even that can't distract Robert Mugabe from achieving his goal of ethnic cleansing and stealing farmland from white land owners. Can you imagine the UAW standing up to this guy? The International Human Rights tribunal should sentence Mugabe to two years as GM CEO. He would right the ship in no time. Either that or strip it of all valuable materials and disappear to the Caribbean, but the company is on the path to bankruptcy anyhow so I think it's worth a shot.

I'm looking forward to driving my new flexi-fuel Chevy Genocide in a couple of years. I'll pay with cash:

Thursday 19 February 2009

Obama Day in Canada

The media is, like, totally freaking out about this Obama visit to Canada. What is he going to do? What are they going to talk about? Will he get out of his car and wave to people? What are they having for lunch? How will he react to the snow? Good lord people .... this Obamagasm is out of control. He's coming in to Ottawa, meeting for 6 hours with government representatives and leaving. It's an important meeting, yes, but there is not exactly a whole lot of suspense or uncertanty about what is going to transpire.

As far as I'm concerned, the most exciting thing happening today is this: The Northern Trust Open. Mike Weir is coming off a second place finish at Pebble Beach and heading back to the technical Riviera course where he won twice in a row back when it was the Nissan Open. Defending champ Phil Mickleson is having a brutal year, but is off to a good start today. Should be an interesting showdown between the two lefties and the rest of the field.

If I turn on the TV today, it will be to the golf channel and not CBC.

update (1:27 pm) -----------------

aside from a little bunker mishap on #10 ...

... Mike Weir is solid but not spectacular. Phil is tearing up the course, in the lead with a bogey-free -7 thus far.

James says that CBC is going nuts. I'll take his word for it.

update (3:00 pm) ----------------

Weir finished with a pair of birdies to get back to -1. Good enough for day one.

Phil is the club house leader at -8.

Obama has left Parliament Hill and healed some lepers en route to the airport.

Tuesday 17 February 2009

Louis Riel Day

So what did you do for Louis Riel day? I killed a white man and wrote a poem. Haha. Kidding. Seriously people, get a sense of humour already. Me? Write a poem?

124 years after his death, Louis Riel is still a contentous figure in these parts. Just witness this exchange from the Winnipeg Sandbox forum :

GC: Louis Riel was a criminal...! F*%k Riel and all of his ancestors...muwahahahaa
AM: You do know he's in my family, right?

So Riel was a murderer and a crazy man, and got hung for treason. That's all water under the bridge now. George Washington was no peach either, but that didn't keep him off Mount Rushmore. Every country needs heroes to rally around and historical figures to give it a sense of identity. Riel's biggest shortcoming is that he is little known outside of Manitoba and Saskatewan, so he can never be a national hero, but if we try really hard to forget his faults he can become our Che Guevara here in Manitoba. We can put pictures of him on the sides of our buildings and wear our "Keepin' it Riel" t-shirts with pride. We have a hero shortage in this country, so I think it's time we here in Manitoba took the initiative and embraced Mr. Riel as our founding father. Here's to Riel!

Saturday 14 February 2009

Christopher Pauchay and circle of kindness

Christopher Pauchay, the guy who killed his two daughters by dropping them in a snowbank while intoxicated, faced his scentencing circle. Their recommendation : Pauchay should serve his sentence in the community. Probable punishment: setting up rocks for sweat lodges, filling and lighting pipes before ceremonies, and assisting elders with other tasks.

If you think he's getting off easy, you're wrong. Just listen to Chief Robert Whitehead:

It's a lot tougher than traditional courts because you have to face the people who you wronged and try to make things right.
See? There you go. Let's have a look at some of what transcribed when he faced the people he wronged:

Tracey Jimmy, his ex-wife and mother of the girls: "He was just such a good dad. I just love him and you guys are taking him away from me - the only person who can actually feel what I'm feeling."

Elder Evelyn Burns suggested Pauchay does not need to go to jail. "Every day you must think of your little girls - that's punishment enough, I think."

Pauchay's stepmother, Jo Anne Machiskinic: I'm not mad at him because he never intended such a horrible thing to happen..

Pauchay's uncle, Francis Nippi: jail should only be used for animals. "Release him to the elders".

Pauchay's gay lover, armando: "I miss the way he beats me when I've been bad. Please don't take him away from me."

The local liquor store owner: "He should stay in the community. He's one of my best customers."

Ok ... I'd better stop before the Southern Chiefs Organization sic their lawyers on me. The point I'm trying to make is this: A scentencing circle may be effective in some situations, but in this case, the victim's family is Pauchay's family. The community members are Pauchay's friends. How is the scentencing circle supposed to be effective when many (most?) of the participants are sympathetic to the criminal?

Look, I feel bad for the guy. I can't imagine what he's going through. I just question whether a scentencing circle is the right tool for the job.

Friday 13 February 2009

Festival Du Voyageur (bumped)

Festival starts tonight. The City still doesn't have this on their event calendar. Apparently whoever reads this blog at city hall isn't powerful enough to make that kind of thing happen.

Have a good weekend. Cheers / santé !

The Festival Du Voyageur starts up next week. The Festival is the turning point of the winter to me. Even if I don't go, I know that we're heading into the home stretch when the Festival comes around. I plan on going this year though. I may even buy a button and go twice. Of the 125 different nationalities that make up my heritage, French is one of them, and going to the Festival helps to connect me to that and adds a little wee bit to my sense of identity.

But even if you're a burger-eating anglophone (*pfft*) you should still go. There are the snow sculptures and barrels with burning wood that will make you smell like smoke when you try to warm up, and if that isn't enough to make you put on your parka and paddle down to Saint Boniface, there is also music.

Some old fav's have returned like the Dust Rhinos; my old buddy Dan Frechette is playing; and Sierra Noble returns to the Sugar Shack. This may be your last chance to see Sierra Noble performing in an outdoor tent while you eat tourtière and drink Caribou. Her song "Possibility" is starting to get some radio play and I wouldn't be surprised to see this gal go on to some big things. She's got a good voice and tons of talent. It's hard to go mainstream when you play a fiddle, but you never know.

By the way, why is our only winter festival (and the second largest in the country) not on the City's event calendar?

Sierra Noble Possibility:

Tuesday 10 February 2009

Georges Devloo

Sad news from France: Au revoir to the grand-père of Vimy

Georges Devloo has died, at 85, and that means a tradition of respect and generosity and stunning hospitality has gone, too.

Vimy, that crucial French village so soaked in Canadian history and blood, is a place of pilgrimage. Anyone who opts to take a train there knows, though, that actually getting to the memorial is tough. It's nowhere near the station, and the station has no taxis. It has no phone. It has no employees. But, for the past 13 years, it had Monsieur Devloo.

He was the elderly man in the trench coat, beret and broad smile who virtually every day stood on the platform to wait for wayward Canadians and offered to take them to the memorial. He asked for absolutely nothing in return.

I had the privilege of meeting Georges Devloo last October when my wife and I visited Vimy Ridge. We were looking for a way to get back to the train station in Arras that did not involve trudging through the rain to the nearest town and waiting two hours for a bus, and by chance Monsieur Devloo was available.

Monsieur Devloo is really one of the friendliest guys you could ever hope to meet. Just after I took the above photo he popped open his hatch and pulled out a photo album of his own. We spent half an hour in the loading zone out front of the train station looking at photos as it rained. Georges didn't care about the rain. He was happy as punch to share his memories with a couple of Canadians. He had photos of friends and family, photos of Quebec, Ottawa, and here in Winnipeg. Yes, for a moment I was standing in a parking lot in northern France looking at a photo of the Saint Boniface Cathedral in the trunk of a car.

Although we only spent about an hour or so with him, it's an hour we will always remember because of his big smile, kind demeanor, and enthusiasm. Both my wife and I feel as though we lost a friend. Georges Devloo was certainly a friend to Canada and he will be missed.

c/p The Broom
h/t Mr Christian for the head's up on

Sunday 8 February 2009

How do you solve a problem like the Bay

While we're on the topic of fur trading ... I haven't seen the balance sheets for The Bay, but we all know the downtown Winnipeg store is in terrible shape and I suspect the organization as a whole is struggling as well. I think this store needs to re-define itself.

We could start with the logo. First, get rid of the old "the Bay" logo. It's tired and old, just like the store. Plus, if you squint or are stoned, the stylized "B" looks like a cursive "G". The newer Hbc logo isn't bad, but I don't think they hit the mark with that either. They need to simplify it and freshen it up. Make it modern, but include a nod to the history of the company with the old Hudson Bay Co. colours. Maybe something like this:

The new logo is needed because the entire store has to change and modernize. First: stop selling everything under the sun. If you don't make any money off stereos and furniture, then stop selling stereos and furniture. Or sell furniture that people want to buy. Modern stuff that a new generation of people might want to put in their department. Learn from Ikea.

It's not just the furniture department that is stuck in the last century, but the clothes department too. Here's a fact for you: I am just over 6 feet tall, and I cannot buy pants at the Bay. There is not one damn pair of pants in the whole God damned store that fits me. Am I a freak or something? If your inseam is more than 32" you're shit out of luck at the Bay, even if you're shopping for dress pants ... unless you have a 40"waste, then there might be a couple pairs for you. I guess the fat old farts who run the place still think that moms chain smoke when they're pregnant, just like back in their day. Haven't they noticed that 80% of the kids coming out of high school now are over 6' tall? They need to sell clothes for stylish young people (not that I'm one of those) before their demographic dies off.

On my recent travels, I was traveling with my wife which meant that I was frequently in department stores. And you know what? Other stores sell clothes that fit me! Wow, I'm not a freak after all! I would love to see the Bay replace it's entire dated inventory with stock from some of these stores instead of catering to old men and gluttonous couch potatoes.* I'm thinking of stores like Zara, Springfield and Celio. Zara not only sells shirts in small med and large, but in reg slim and super slim. I bought a super slim tee shirt as a snug layer for under other shirts. I feel like a body builder when I wear it. Yeah baby, look at those muscles!

Anyhow, the bottom line is: The Bay has moved on from the days when it sold fire water and beaver pelts, and it's time to move on again.

*no offense to those of you who shop there. I actually do buy some things there. But not pants.

Thursday 5 February 2009

Peanut Recall

I have been getting a few Google hits about the Peanut Recall by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Just to set minds at ease and clear up any confusion on the matter: this blog has not been recalled. It does not contain salmonella bacteria, and it has only caused an allergic reaction in a few people.

Monday 2 February 2009

Don't say it again Sam.

Barak Obama is recruiting America's business elite to help him fight this recession. That's great, but he might think twice before giving one of them a microphone next time. Here's part of an exchange with Sam Palmisano, Chairman & CEO of IBM:

What Sam said:
Smarter infrastructure is by far our best path to creating these new, globally competitive jobs and to stimulating growth. Our research shows that a $30 billion stimulus investment in just three areas -- healthcare IT, smart electric grids and broadband -- could yield almost one million new jobs within one year.
What Barak said:
But even as this plan puts Americans back to work, it will ... lay the foundation for long-term growth and prosperity, and will invest in broadband and emerging technologies, like the ones imagined and introduced to the world by people like Sam and so many of the CEOs here today, because that's how America will retain and regain its competitive edge in the 21st century.
What Barak wanted to say:
A million jobs? Are you fucking kidding me? You're killing me over here. All I want to do is stop the economy from shrinking, and you're telling people that we're going to create a million high-tech jobs in one year?? Hey, you know what would really help, Sam? If you stopped outsourcing jobs to Banga-fucking-lor, India! The would really be helpful.
You would think that Sam knows something about setting expectations. A $30 billion stimulus generating a millions jobs in one year? I wonder if Harper's budget will get those kinds of results.

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