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Monthly Archives: February 2008

Maybe I shouldn’t have days off anymore. I read too much and think too much.

But THIS makes my blood boil.

Stephen Harper, the supposed bastion of good government, the man who promised to end internal corruption and brought us the almighty Accountability Act, has been fingered in a possible vote-buying scam.

According to the widow of Chuck Cadman – a former independent MP whose infamous vote for the Liberals and Paul Martin a couple of years ago saved that minority government’s ass (until they lost another confidence vote and the subsequent election) – Cadman was offered a $1 million life insurance policy in exchange for his vote in May 2005.

What really makes the story, though, is Harper’s quote:

“Of the offer to Chuck,” he quotes Mr. Harper as saying, “it was only to
replace financial considerations he might lose due to an election, okay.
That’s my understanding of what they were talking about.”

“They were legitimately representing the party,” Mr. Harper confirmed. “I
said ‘Don’t press him, I mean, you have this theory that it’s, you know,
financial insecurity, and you know, just, you know, if that’s what you say
make the case,’ but I said ‘Don’t press it.'”

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE Liberals – PLEASE don’t f*ck this up!! Harper now has an Achilles heel. Expose it.

PS: I always knew Harper was a bastard…

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This is no time to ‘stand still, look pretty.’ It is time for action.

Amnesty International is calling for an “International Day of Action” today in response to the unrest in Kenya.

Kenya is an ethnically-diverse country, with its political lines largely split among the Kikuyu and the Luo peoples. Mwai Kibaki, current president and the incumbent, is Kikuyu, while Raila Odinga (whose father was Oginga Odinga – no joke – the first Vice President of Kenya following its independence) is of Luo descent. The highly-contested Kenyan Presidential and Parliamentary elections of 2007 exacerbated racial tensions after Kibaki was declared the winner, and Odinga claimed the results were skewed. This led to rioting and other violence throughout the country, which has resulted in the deaths of over 1000 people. Ethnic violence has also occurred in the run-up to other elections.

Kenya is seen as one of the most stable of the East African countries, and the unrest there has serious consequences for neighboring countries, which rely on Kenya for various resources.

For more information on Amnesty’s campaign, click here.

And the Globe and Mail has an interesting article here about possible international intervention.

If you haven’t listened to the Robert Plant/Alison Krauss collaborative album, ‘Raising Sand,’ go and buy it, listen to it, and then thank me for the recommendation.

Take a deep breath and get ready for a long post. All kinds of stuff to talk about today. Let’s start with hockey first…

  • Gary Bettman, NHL dictator, er, commissioner, testified before a US Congress committee and emphatically stated that performance-enhancing drugs are not a problem in the NHL. BAH!!!! I don’t think steroids, et al. are a huge problem in the NHL, but I’m sure there are SOME users. And what about that urban legend that claims hockey players take cold medication to give them a little extra jump? Just askin’…
  • NHL Trade Deadline wrapup – The WINNERS were Pittsburgh, Dallas and Washington. Well, Pittsburgh is a winner if Marian Hossa actually makes some sort of contribution in the playoffs, during which he is known to mysteriously disappear. Dallas wins because Brad Richards is, well, Brad Richards. I think a change of scenery for the Canadian-sniper is just what he needs to get back to Conn Smythe-form. If Sergei Federov and Matt Cooke stay healthy, and Cristobal Huet plays, AND the Caps make the playoffs, then they win. Still not sure what the hell the Caps were thinking trading away a lot of future for a little present… LOSERS: The Canadiens. I DO NOT like the Huet trade. It wasn’t necessary. Carey Price is a good goalie, but to lock your playoff hopes on one without ANY playoff experience is a bit of a risk – though it did work out for Carolina and Cam Ward two years ago. The Sens lost because they didn’t get Hossa. And the Leafs lost because they weren’t able to unload any of their far overpaid baggage in the likes of McCabe, Kaberle, Tucker or Blake. At least they didn’t give away any of their 1st round draft picks. That’s something…
  • Sens coach John Paddock was fired today, making way for GM Bryan Murray to resume the coaching duties he himself handed to Paddock this summer. Despite oodles of talent, the Sens have sucked as of late, losing 5-0 to the Leafs and 4-0 to Boston in their last two games. Personally, I think Paddock’s a good guy, but he’s got a bunch of prima donnas in the room. The coach can motivate all he wants, but if the guys in the room don’t have some pride and take some leadership (yes, I’m looking at YOU Daniel Alfredsson), it’s all for nothing. But Paddock’s downfall was not dealing with Ray Emery. The guy has developed an ego the size of Rideau Canal, and should have been benched when he started showing up late for practice and whining to the media. Not dealing with him was the beginning of the end for Paddock.
  • Former Rider coach Kent Austin is named CFL Coach of the Year at the CFL Winter Meetings today in Calgary. Well, duh. Didn’t see that one coming at all, did you?? Interesting that Kent came back to the Prairies to pick up an award, but couldn’t do the same to fulfill a speaking engagement, which he had committed to months ago, in Saskatoon last weekend. Just sayin’…
  • I MISS CURLING!!!! Only a couple more days until the Brier begins!
  • A ‘ha ha!’ to Joel, who went all the way to Edmonton last night to see his beloved Red Wings play, only to have them lose in a shootout. Tee hee!

I was going to write a post dedicated to yesterday’s federal budget, but it was just too damn predictable to warrant an entire post. Here are the highlights:

  • Reduced spending; surplus completely earmarked for debt reduction in light of the coming economic slowdown (sure could use that extra % of GST now, couldn’t you Harper??)
  • More money for urban centers (read: vote buying)
  • a $5000 tax-free savings ‘account’ (I’m not sure what else to call it) to allow Canadians to save, once again reminding us that the economy will continue to slow down

In other words, there’s not much there. A little bit for everybody to make sure everyone’s happy and willing to vote Conservative. What DOES piss me off, though, is the money put aside to create TWO NEW CROWN CORPORATIONS! THIS from a Conservative government?!?! I just don’t get it… And the whole line about the Conservatives giving Canadians the lowest taxes seen since Lester Pearson was Prime Minister (in the 1960s) is hogwash. There’s a little thing called ‘inflation’ that kiboshes that theory.

Speaking of wacky politicians, read this: “Ont. health minister prepared to don adult diaper”

Now, for something COMPLETELY unrelated: I heart Michael Byers.

“And who is Michael Byers, and why do you ‘heart’ him?” you ask.

He should be Canada’s next Prime Minister, if you ask me. But then again, I think my little toe could run the Canadian government and be more efficient, useful, and progressive than the bumbling idiots currently occupying the hill. This minority sh*t is getting old. For the love of God, WOULD SOMEBODY JUST GOVERN?!?! I’m so tired of the political shenanigans. Let’s give somebody a majority and start making the hard decisions. Pandering to everyone isn’t getting us anywhere. But ANYWAY…

Michael Byers. He gave a lecture/presentation on Arctic sovereignty, as that’s part of his specialization. And while Arctic sovereignty is a crucial issue most Canadians give little thought towards, it the questions he answered at the end that made me heart him.

You see, I believe, and have always believed, that Canada has a significant place in the world. We are a vast country, comprised of many ethnicities and languages, but we DO have our own distinct culture, values, and beliefs. Sure, we have problems, but so does every other country. And sure, we’re not perfect, but who is? And sure, we live beside the world’s only superpower, but we are not, and will never be, the 51st state, or ‘America North.’ Why? Because of our own unique history, which has influenced and shaped our values.

One of the most important points Byers made was that having differing values from our American neighbours does not make us anti-American. Not supporting George Bush doesn’t make us anti-American. Not wanting to fight in Iraq doesn’t make us anti-American. We are simply different than American. He had a fantastic analogy for what the Canada-US relationship should be, and I’d like to share it (paraphrased):

The Canada-US relationship is like when two friends go out for drinks. They have a good time, respect each other’s points of view, recognize the other’s potential for indepedent and intelligent thought, and have some good conversation. But one friend has a little too much to drink, and at the end of the night, he goes to drive his car. The other friend says, “I don’t think so. You shouldn’t be driving drunk. And give me your keys.” Canada is like the friend who stops his friend from driving under the influence. We are obligated to say, “Hey, you’re making a mistake. Now give me your keys and let us show you some leadership.” Brilliant.

Byers sees Canada the way I do: independent, strong, unique and of “phenomenal potential.” We have a wealth of natural resources. We have some of the most beautiful landscape in the world. We have incredible people in our country in every sector: education, science, technology, environment, health care, and the list goes on and on. It breaks my heart when I see politicians lament about our country, believing it will inevitably break up and disintegrate.

While I do believe Barack Obama is not experienced enough to run the United States of America, I can’t help but admire the way he has inspired Americans to once again believe in their country. Canadians need to be inspired in the same way. We once were. In the 1950s and 1960s, Canada was at the height of its power, commanding the attention of all states. We’ve lost our international prestige since then, and continue to coast on the coattails of Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau. We need a leader who can remind us of all the great things we ARE, and all the great things we CAN be. Who’s going to step up and lead us, rather than bleed us?

I am coming to you live from the audience of another one of The Wheel’s American policy episodes. I had a Michael Jackson moment this morning, as I could only find one of my gloves, so I had to walk to school with one hand in my pocket. Wait, is that even the right reference? Michael Jackson did have only one glove, right? And to add to my fashionable look today of one glove, my nose looks like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Oh the things I feel inclined to share with the world through my blog…

ANYWAY, today is a BIG day in the life of Nicole: it’s NHL Trade Deadline Day AND the federal budget comes down the pipe. Goodness me! So much excitement! How WILL I be able to keep up with it all??

11:37 am: The Canadiens have traded their goaltender, Huet, to the Capitals for a 2nd round draft pick. WTF?? Didn’t see that one coming. No one did. Ami, a colleague at work, and a diehard Canadiens/Huet fan, will be absolutely crushed…

11:41 am: The Wheel is reading from Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. I had a dream that the Leafs would trade Wade Belak, the most useless player to ever wear an NHL jersey. And it happened! He’s now a Panther. Dreams DO come true!!

11:43 am: Brad Richards is a Star, as was rumored. Hopefully he’ll pick up his play, ’cause I need him to get me some more points for the hockey pool. Tennyson needs to go down…

11:47 am: The Wheel is rehashing a story from the first day of class: he was on the Attorney General’s list as a person of interest to the US Government because he refused to sign a document saying he was not a Communist. I knew the Wheel was a Commie…

11:49 am: WAIT!! Maybe The Wheel is the ‘Big Red Dog!’ I must investigate…

11:55 am: I think there are about 4 hours to go ’til the Trade Deadline. And Marian Hossa is still an Atlanta Thrasher. But rumour has it he was told to stay at the hotel this morning and not head to the Bell Center for practice. Methinks something’s in the works…

12:00 pm: Ooooh. I really like this TSN Trade Deadline tracker. It refreshes itself, and it’s very interactive.

12:01 pm: I still can’t believe the Canadiens traded Huet!!

12:03 pm: I forgot that Brett Hull is one of the GMs in Dallas (yes, there’s more than one GM there. Oy…). Getting Brad Richards is definitely a coup for him. And it makes him appear a little smarter than I first thought – though I still think he’s an idiot.

12:04 pm: Whoops. I referred to hippie drugs as LCD rather than LSD. Kurt is amused.

12:05 pm: A very, very good op-ed piece in the Globe and Mail today about the rampant and blatant sexism launched against Hillary Clinton’s campaign; I completely agree with Timson, and wish Hillary would have used some of that sexist criticism to spark some serious debate and put Obama’s campaign as Stephen Colbert would say, “On notice!!” But then again, the male commentators would have portrayed her as ‘whiny and shrill.’ It’s a no-win situation for Hillary. BTW, everyone is saying she’s done, but let’s see what the Texas and Ohio primaries say before
we start writing the obituaries, people.

12:09 pm: No trades in the past half hour. 😦

12:11 pm: Weird dream last night. I was watching Pirates 3 in the theatre, and at the end of the movie, there’s a riddle. Get the riddle and you can leave the theatre. Get the riddle wrong, and the theatre turns into an amusement ride park, which goes completely dark and shakes. But every seat has a button that you can push before the ‘ride’ part begins, where you can choose to exit. I choose to exit because I’m going to be sick. And then I go and get some more popcorn. And there was also some weird self-help seminar later on in the theatre’s lobby. Very weird.

12:15 pm: Oh no. Open discussion time. Big Mouth has to start the conversation off, saying that our generation is that not as left, nor as motivated as our parents. Oddly enough, I kind of agree. I think being more centrist isn’t such a bad thing, but the motivation is definitely lacking. But as The Wheel says, the issues back then were much more black and white, while today there’s so much gray. Does that make ANY sense??

12:23 pm: There’s a lot of lingo for Texas Hold’Em. Guess: what hand is ‘American Airlines’?

12:28 pm: Good Lord!! What’s with the Washington Capitals? First they trade for Huet, and now SERGEI FEDEROV?? They’re making a serious playoff push. Wow…

12:36 pm: Riders vs. Stamps on October 3rd this year: MY BIRTHDAY!! I think a serious road trip is in the works…

12:40 pm: The Capitals are at it AGAIN!! They pick up Matt Cooke from the Canucks. They’re 5 points out of the playoffs at this point. Apparently there’s no tomorrow for the Caps; it’s now or never. But, some people say, when you have Alexander Ovechkin, do you really need any other young guns? Uh, yeah. Otherwise you’d be a Stanley Cup winner. I just don’t get why they’re trading all of their youth for rental players (aka unrestricted free agents) when they’re a little out of the playoff picture. Maybe they have a magic eight ball that’s telling them they’ll win the Stanley Cup…

12:45 pm: Where are you, Marian Hossa??

12:46 pm: Stupid Leafs. Stupid John Ferguson, Jr. DON’T GIVE EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOUR PLAYERS NO-TRADE CLAUSES!! Why the hell does Tomas Kaberle need a no-trade clause? Or Darcy Tucker? Ridiculous. I understand giving one to Mats Sundin: he’s the franchise player. But not everyone and their dog needs a no-trade clause. How do you trade, then? Interim-GM Cliff Fletcher’s hands are tied. I was hoping he’d basically put a bomb in the Leafs dressing room, blow it up and see where the players landed. Lord knows someone should blow the Leafs up. But all of the no-trade clauses make it next to impossible. Stupid John Ferguson, Jr. The Leafs will continue to suck for years and years.

I knew it.

There was a noticeable change in the play of the Manitoba foursome on Tuesday. All of a sudden they were curling with confidence, something they hadn’t been able to find before Tuesday, when they were sitting 3-4 – in danger of not making the Scott Tournament of Heart finals.

For a team that was pegged as pre-tournament favourites, that 3-4 mark was rather surprising.

But it all came together in the end (no pun intended).

On Saturday night I said Jennifer Jones and company would win, and I was right. After 7 straight wins, they weren’t about to lose another one.

The difference in the game? The obvious answer is the final shot. But that wasn’t it. It was the odd misfires by Alberta third Amy Nixon and a few brushing miscues by Alberta’s front two that allowed Manitoba to pull ahead and stay there, while Manitoba curled essentially error-free.

Was it a boring final? The first eight ends or so definitely were. But the 10th end made up for it all.

But who cares? Jennifer Jones is on top of the Canadian curling world once again.

Hate to say it, but: I told you so.

I can never remember laughing as much as I have in the past 48 hours. From Saturday night’s shenanigans to this afternoon’s “Cold War as Theatre” class, I have spent most of my time lmao (which is just found out means ‘laughing my ass off).

First, if you thought the Sarah Silverman/Matt Damon video was funny, wait until you see Jimmy Kimmel’s response…

I have no idea how Kimmel got all of those A-listers to star in his video (especially Brad Pitt and Harrision Ford!!), but this video, coupled with Silverman’s first swipe, will go down in history as some of the funniest stuff ever made.

Now I have to explain “Cold War as Theatre.” Basically, the class was split into groups which pretended to be American State Department speech writers, and wrote about the perceived Communist threat. The rhetoric was beyond hilarious. One person referred to the USSR as “The Big Red Dog.” WTF? Clifford is the only ‘big red dog’ I know! Someone else used the phrase “Iron Finger” to describe Russia. But what was even funnier were the PERFORMANCES of these speeches. One guy almost brought me to tears as he kept talking about the CCF threat in Canada, his voice booming, hand slamming the podium. I was laughing that hard. Another guy chanelled some bizzare combination of JFK and Harry Truman. And then there were the group names: United Front for the Liberation of Hungary, Justice League, Xenophobic Jingos. The list of funnies goes on and on…

But now the fun is over. The next month and a bit will fly by. I’ve got 4 essays, a couple of assignments and then finals. In other words, I have a hell of a lot of work to do, and not a lot of time left to do it…

The above picture says it all. Michelle Englot is having a week she will never forget. The Saskatchewan skip is somehow playing through the grief of losing her father on the eve of the Scott Tournament of Hearts, and she’s playing well. She played yesterday morning and afternoon, went to the funeral last night, and returns to the ice this afternoon. How she is able to do it is beyond me. I hope she makes the playoffs, because that would be a wonderful ending to the story.

For once the Scott has run parallel to February Break – and I couldn’t be happier! I have watched so much curling this week. It’s fantastic! A few interesting storylines have emerged. One is the mediocre at best play of the defending Canadian and World champions. Kelly Scott and Co. have not found their rhythm yet, and it’s showing on the scoreboard. A team known for its precise shotmaking and ability to play defense has allowed far too many steals this week, including 4 in its loss to Saskatchewan. Former Canadian and World champion Jennifer Jones is also having a less than stellar week, uncharacteristically allowing Alberta to steal in four straight ends in last night’s tilt.

Another storyline, at least to me, is the Saskatchewan-born skips who top the leaderboard. Both Shannon Kleibrink and Sherry Middaugh come from small-town Saskatchewan, which makes their success a little easier to handle. Kleibrink’s third, Amy Nixon, is also from Saskatchewan, which confirms the fact that half of Alberta’s population is originally from Saskatchewan.

I’m now going to move the focus from curling to football; I’m sure you’re not shocked. The news broke late last night that former Rider Reggie Hunt has signed with Montreal Alouettes. All I can say is at least he went to an Eastern Division team. Seeing him in a Lion or Eskimos uniform would have been unbearable.

I couldn’t have been happier when Eddie Davis re-signed with the Riders late last week. I figured Hunt was gone, and with the trade of Fred Perry, the Riders needed Davis to return in order to keep some semblance of continuity on the defensive side of the ball. I still think ET has something up his sleeve in regards to the Fred Perry trade. The Riders certainly don’t need another young quarterback, as they have a couple of good ones, so it wouldn’t surprise me if the Riders flip Steven Jyles to another team.

And let me go on one rant. Kent Austin, you suck. I was disappointed in your decision to leave us, but I understood. But at least keep your remaining committments to the province. You committed to being a keynote speaker at an event this weekend, but you’ve now told organizers that you’re “too busy” with your new job to see it through. With all due respect, get your ass up here and speak! At the very least, you owe us that much. Grrr…

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