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Monthly Archives: February 2009

FINALLY!! I have been without my laptop for over a week, and today my new adapter finally came! I would like to personally thank Justin for his great UPS service, going so far as to call my sister to see if he could deliver it!! Thanks, Justin!

I wasn’t completely without access to the internet, but looking at webpages on a Wii is annoying – mostly because it takes forever to load any pages. Plus, there are so many types of files its built-in browser, Opera, can’t handle. I used my iTouch a lot, but everything is so small; I got tired of reading teeny-tiny print.

Anyway, my lack of a laptop explains my lack of presence on this blog for the last while.

There’s a lot I could talk about. If you want my thoughts on Obama’s visit this week, read this (and read this – but only because I think it’s funny. Feschuk certainly had the quote of the day: “Just a classic moment. Obama shakes Harper’s hand at the front door of Centre Block, then the President gestures out towards Parliament Hill and asks, “Do you mind if we go out there? I just want to give a quick wave.” It’s fun to imagine what must have gone through Stephen Harper’s mind. Out there? But there are PEOPLE out there!!” ).

I used to think that people aren’t engaged in Canadian politics because our leaders aren’t inspiring. Now – I’m not so sure. I think the onus is on us, the public, to get engaged and push for the change that we want. If we know of someone whom we think would be a great MLA or MP, we need to push them to run for office and offer them our support. I can’t help but think of that quote, “Be the change you want to see.” And I know that I, too, need to walk the talk.

But what really disturbed me about Thursday (aka ‘The Layover of the Century’), was that the entire exercise felt so fake. Contrived. It was clearly engineered to make us feel important before the Americans move on to rebuilding ‘more important’ relationships. Call me cranky, call me bitter, whatever – but come on. Giving your most important ally in the world a whole 7 hours of your time is a slap in the face. We are US’ most important trading partner, we’re its biggest supporter in Afghanistan, we’re a huge supplier of energy for it – and all we get is a few hours of meetings, a press conference and a shot of Obama cozying up to the locals in a market. I’m inclined to agree with UN Ambassador Susan Rice, who wrote (beware that the link is a PDF file) that Canada is like “the shy, admiring boy who gets all spiffed up to win the heart of his dreamboat, while she doesn’t even know he exists.”

I’m not suggesting that we turn from that “shy, admiring boy” to a petulant child who cries every time she or he doesn’t get their way. I’d just like us to realize that the US doesn’t care a lick about us – unless we do something it doesn’t like. And I’m not suggesting we start trying to piss it off on a regular basis, either.

We need the US; there’s no question that we do. I guess I would just like the US to fully realize how much it needs us, too.

(And for the US President to remember where he is. Iowa is not Ottawa. Not even close. And for the New York Times to know that we have a Prime Minister, not a President. Is that REALLY asking too much?)

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Here are some links to coverage of Obama’s visit:

Adam Radwanski on what they talked about.

Andrew Steele is scared.

Rick Anderson has links to American coverage of Obama’s trip in advance of it.

CTV has an overview of the more ridiculous American press coverage of the visit.

Here’s what the White House Press Corps was told about the President’s meeting with the Prime Minister.

Slate looks at the fact that Obama is more popular in Canada than Harper is (and I believe Obama is more popular in Canada than he is in the US –

Apparently there’s still some confusion as to who started ‘The Wave.’ Really? It was definitely Obama (see Feschuk quote above).

Former US ambassador to Canada, Gordon Giffin, offers his two cents.

The Globe rounds up the ‘day after’ headlines in the American press.

Andrew Coyne gives his thoughts on “When Barry Met Steve.”

Former Foreign Affairs ministers David Emerson and Lloyd Axworthy answer the question, “He was here – now what?” (Does anybody care what Emerson thinks? He was FA minister for how long – 6 months?)

And finally, Coyne and Wells offer their ‘post O-day’ thoughts – by video!

It’s hard to believe that in less than a week it’ll be the middle of February. Next week is February Break. Normally I’d be looking forward to it, but as I’m already ready on-campus so very little, February Break is going to be ‘business as usual’ for me. I’m thinking of going home for a couple of days, but other than that – nothing special.

I became seriously addicted to Super Mario Galaxy this week. And Westward III. I’m turning into quite the little gamer. Surprisingly, I’ve been able to actually put the games away and get some work done. I think that’s rather impressive, if I do say so myself. It’s slow-going on the thesis right now. I’m hoping to make some good headway this week, but we’ll see.

Here are some links I found interesting this week.

  • You know that whole ’25 Random Things About Me’ thing that EVERYBODY keeps filling out and posting on Facebook (I swear – half of the things in my news feed are these posts)? Well, it’s rapid-fire spread throughout the Facebook world caught the attention of more than one news outlet in the US. Slate has an interesting survey up, asking people to fill out when they first recieved/saw ’25 Random Things’ in order to try and trace its origins and see how it spread. I’m interested to see what they find – though I doubt it’ll be terribly credible.

  • Tonight was the Grammy awards – not that I watched. The Grammys are lame, just like the Junos. They’re lame because they don’t reward truly great music. Plus, the evening broadcast is completely unrepresentative of music as a whole. I get the whole ‘must get ratings’ thing, but could we PLEASE just have one performance from the classical genre? Just one?? Would it kill them?

However, having ranted about how horrid the Grammys are, I was pleased to just read that the Alison Krauss/Robert Plant collaboration, ‘Raising Sand,’ won three Grammys. I own that album and love it. It’s one of the most original albums and most intriguing pairing in years.

Anyway, the reason I raised the Grammys in the first place was to provide some sort of segue to the Junos and the lame, lame, lame list of nominations released this week. Nickelback gets FIVE nominations?? Ugh. And apparently I’m not the only one who had the same reaction.

The lameness (sorry for the continued use of ‘lame’ – it just seems appropriate) of the Juno nominations was not lost on Entertainment Weekly’s blog, PopWatch. Unfortunately the writer further entrenched the stereotype that Americans are ignorant when it comes to anything outside their borders by referring to the Francophone and Aboriginal categories – never mind she didn’t know what ‘Aboriginal’ meant – as “crazy ethnic categories.” Nice.

Anyway, EW noticed the lameness of the Juno nods and many Canadians flooded the message boards to voice their disapproval, too. The result? PopWatch is running a ‘Juno recount.’ Go here to post your thoughts. My vote? Kathleen Edwards -‘Asking for Flowers.’ Best album of the year – hands down.

  • Are you watching Friday Night Lights?? If not, I implore you to turn on your TV to either Global or NBC on Friday night at 8 pm (I really wish Canadians were factored into Nielsen ratings).

Once again, Slate is heading the discussion surrounding the third season with its TV Club, which dissects each week’s episode. This week, ‘The Smash’ left the show, getting a chance to play college football and follow his dream of playing pro football. EW had Smash’s portrayer, Gaius Charles, write a blog about his final episode. Connie Britton, who plays Prinicipal Tami Taylor, blogged the week before. The show has a strong and loyal following. PLEEEEEEEEEASE let it be renewed for a fourth season!!

  • Eric Tillman. I don’t know what I think. But I do think the Riders need to announce some key free-agent signings this week to put the focus back on football – at least until Tillman appears in court on February 24th. Sounds like LBs Sean Lucas and Anton McKenzie are re-signing, which is great, great news. That means Maurice Lloyd is gone, but I’m okay with that. There was no way we were going to sign all three.
  • Why does Craig McTavish, head coach of the Oilers, still have a job? The Oilers suck this year and they sure shouldn’t. McTavish should be long gone. What happened to those rumors about Pat Quinn getting the gig?
  • Sean Avery is probably going to be back in the NHL in a couple of weeks. He’s still going to be making a couple of million this year. What the hell is wrong with the world??
  • Let’s move on to politics. Nice to see Bob Rae has a sense of humour, albeit a rather pointed one. Bequeathing his title of ‘Deficit Boy’ to PM Stephen Harper and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is pretty funny. If I was him, I’d write the same column; but I’d make mine much more biting.
  • Does anybody really care what Senator Mike Duffy thinks? I never did and never will.

  • From Aaron Wherry of Maclean’s:


Don’t look back in anger

Stephen Harper, Oct. 2. “What Canadians are worried about right now is not the job situation, not losing their home like in the U.S. What they’re worried about is they see the stock-market problems.”

SHARETHIS.addEntry({ title: “Don’t look back in anger”, url: “http://blog.macleans.ca/2009/02/06/dont-look-back-in-anger/” });

Globe and Mail, today. “Since October, when the Canadian economy took a major turn for the worse, workplaces have shed 213,000 jobs or 1.2 per cent of the work force.”

Stephen Harper, Oct. 1. “Canada is not the United States.”

Canadian Press, today. “And it was far worse, in relation to the population, than the 598,000 jobs retreat reported by the U.S. on Friday.”

  • John Ibbitson’s column that was in The Globe on Wednesday, which basically said that Canada has no foreign policy at the present time and our foreign service has fallen apart, has ignited quite a bit of discussion. Personally, I’m inclined to go with Andrew Cohen, whose book, While Canada Slept, said the same thing but a couple of years earlier. Canadian foreign policy and Canada’s foreign service has been in decline for some time- BUT, I would agree that its decline has accelerated in the past five years. Paul Wells had an intriguing post about the state of Canada’s foreign policy a couple of months ago, but of course I can’t find it. The jist of it was that the world has noticed that Canada isn’t pulling its weight on the world stage. I’ll try and find it tomorrow – when it’s not 1 am.

Finally, I have some rather big news to reward those of you who actually read to this point. I’m going to Norway! For a week! At the end of March! The obvious question is, why? Well, I’m going over there to take a class on Northern Governance. The best part? My flight, accomodations and meals are ALL taken care of! I just have to find enough money to pay my tuition fees and I’m off!

Here’s Alison Krauss and Robert Plant performing ‘Rich Woman’ live.

So I didn’t post my ‘big piece’ about the budget like I promised. My Grandma had major surgery last week, and I’ve been spending a couple of hours each day at the hospital. She’s doing about as well as can be expected, except she’s a bit confused.

I thought I would just share some links I’ve bookmarked over the past couple of days and a few thoughts where appropriate.

  • I don’t normally ‘get into’ the Superbowl, but I couldn’t help it this year. Slate.com ran a piece called, “Cardinal Sin: Arizona’s presence in the Superbowl is a disgrace,” and it was then that I decided I would become a temporary Arizona Cardinals’ fan. After the Pittsburgh Steelers’ opening 5-minute drive, which resulted in a touchdown, and the Cardinals’ ensuing two-and-out series, I thought the game might turn into a bit of a rout. So I kept it on in the background while I did a few other things. But, like usual, I was wrong. The game went right down to the final minute. There were many weird and obscure rules that factored into many 4th quarter plays that I didn’t understand – and didn’t like. For example, how can you reward a defensive team a safety when the offensive team gets a holding penalty in its own end zone? I don’t get it. Penalties should not reward the other team with points; they’re supposed to take away yards. And that was one of several rules I questioned. But I have to agree with another article Slate ran this week: deciding overtime games with a coin toss is beyond ridiculous.
  • This one should be filed under, “I meant to link to this sooner.” The stunning John William-arranged piece played by Yo-Yo Ma and company was not played live at the inauguration. At first I thought, “Why?” But then I realized that this was not an Ashlee Simpson/every-other-pop-act case of lipsynching. The cold weather would have made it impossible to properly tune the instruments. When instruments are cold, they are flat, or under the pitch. I completely understand what they did and why they did it. And besides, we all know these talented instrumentalists can get it done live.
  • This piece is just fascinating because it just seems crazy. Apparently all British Prime Ministers write what is known as a “Last Resort Letter,” a letter that is locked in a safe-within-a-safe deep under the sea in a British nuclear submarine. If Britain was to be annihilated by a nuclear attack, the captain of the nuclear submarine carrying this letter would open it and follow whatever directions the Prime Minister-of-the-day had left. You have to read it to believe it.
  • Moving closer to home, it looks like Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff is making a name for himself. The Globe reports that Ignatieff is the subject of a “fawning [New York] Times profile.” I haven’t read it yet, but it’s available here.
  • This is a link from waaaaaaaay back in December. It’s an article from the Globe that talks about female sports reporters and beauty standards. It’s by no means an in-depth article, but it’s something that I’ve been thinking about more and more as of late. This past football season, I don’t know how many posts I came across on various CFL websites that were ‘dedicated’ to the discussion of TSN’s female sports reporters; in some cases, the conversations were quite lewd. We’ve still got a long way to go, ladies.
  • Lost in this week’s budget was a provision to end the pay equity process for women, the same provision that was in the Conservatives’ fall economic statement. In the wake of the statement’s other controversial, uh, statements (i.e. halt to party financing and public sector strikes), this very important bit was overlooked. In the government’s defense (I will never, ever, ever say that again), the government does not want to stop women from suing for pay equity, but it does not want it to go through the Canadian Human Rights Commission to do so; it wants unions and employers to handle the process. Uh, weren’t unions and employers the cause of the problem? How is giving the process back to employers going to solve anything? It’ll make it harder for women to gain pay equity because they will be dealing with the organization that stopped them from getting pay equity in the first place. Going through the HRC provides an objective eye, something that will not happen when the process it returned to unions and employers. As Janet Bagnall stated back in December, the Conservatives’ attack on pay equity strips its status “as a right to protection from discrimination.” Canadian women are still paid significantly less than men. A report by the Canadian Labour Congress from this past March showed that the wage gap between men and women had GROWN since the mid-1990s, down to 70.5% from 72%. What’s even weirder is that this week, President Barack Obama signed his first bill – the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act – which makes it easier for women to sue for pay discrimination. Previously, women had only 180 days to sue their employers. It’s very telling that Obama hand-picked this piece of legislation to sign as his first bill. I have not envied women in the US over past eight years, but I do now.
  • One more link about women. My first reaction on hearing the budget this week was, “What does this have in it for women?” The money for infrastructure will mostly create jobs for men, as construction is a male-oriented profession. The Globe’s article on what the budget offers women is appropriately entitled, “Stimulus falls short for many women.”
  • And finally, here are two vastly different takes on this week’s budget. Andrew Coyne proclaims it as the end of Canadian conservatism, and Paul Wells takes a more sarcastic approach. Wells’ ending comments on university funding sum it all up: money for everyone, but not for everyone. Sigh.
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