By Michael Friscolanti and Charlie Gillis - Monday, November 30, 2009 - 13 Comments
Someone blew the Grey Cup for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. But was it really Jason Armstead?
When a sports team chokes, the choke in question doesn’t usually require much explanation. The Boston Red Sox lost that World Series game to the Mets because Billy Buckner let a slow groundball dribble through his legs. The Buffalo Bills blew their first of four Super Bowl chances because Scott Norwood was wide right. And the Edmonton Oilers of the 1980s probably would have won five straight Stanley Cups had rookie defenceman Steve Smith not passed the puck into his own net.
The 97th Grey Cup featured its own memorable choke: the underdog Saskatchewan Roughriders lost to the Montreal Alouettes by one measly point because someone wearing a green jersey was on the field when he should have been on the sidelines. But unlike Buckner and Norwood and Smith—whose gaffes were instantly obvious—we still don’t know who actually screwed up. The coaches are not saying and, to their credit, the culprit’s teammates aren’t throwing him under the bus either.
Here’s what we do know. With five seconds left on the clock and the Als down by two, Damon Duval attempted a 43-yard field goal that didn’t even come close to the uprights. But to the horror of Rider Nation, penalty flags flew as soon as the ball was snapped. Saskatchewan had 13 men on the field—one too many—and Duval was granted a do-over from ten yard closer. He didn’t miss. Alouettes 28, Riders 27. Game over.
Fingers were quickly pointed at Jason Armstead, the Rider receiver who was standing in touchdown territory when Duval missed kick number one. “It looked like somebody ran on late into the end zone,” said TSN broadcaster Chris Cuthbert. It certainly did seem strange that the Riders—desperate to block the field goal attempt—would waste a player in the end zone when an extra body would have certainly helped on the line of scrimmage. Even if the Als missed the kick and the ball traveled through the end zone, the resulting single point would not have cost the Riders the Cup. (At least one fan is convinced that Armstead is to blame. Just hours after the final whistle, some semi-literate soul altered the receiver’s Wikipedia profile to say he “was responsible for a crucial penalty during the final play of the 2009 Grey Cup” and “ultimately put the Montreal Alouettes in field goal position”).
In the locker room, Armstead proclaimed his innocence. “What kind of question is that?” he told reporters. “Come on, ask a smart question. Don’t do that. Ask a smart question.”
What he should have said is: “Check out the replay.” Because the video footage of those final, critical moments raises an interesting question: If Armstead is the goat, why was he on the field not just for the first, penalized play, but for both of Montreal’s field goal attempts?
That’s right. Look closely at TSN’s pictures of Duval’s second kick, and you’ll see Armstead still in the Roughriders’ end zone (at 1:22 of the clip, directly behind the official on the right hand side). Surely if he was supposed to be on the line of scrimmage—or off the field entirely—he would have been gone from the end zone for the Mulligan.
Yes, the Toronto Star’s Damien Cox makes a good point about the redundancy of having a returner in the end zone if conceding a single point wouldn’t have cost Saskatchewan the game. But it’s possible the Rider coaches worried that something would go wrong with their attempt to block Duval’s kick. Montreal might somehow recover the ball in the air after it had been blocked, in which case having one last man to prevent an Alouette ball-carrier from entering the end zone might have come in handy.
And look at the CFL Rulebook’s section on scoring: if the ball goes into the end zone “as a direct result of a kick from scrimmage being blocked in the field of play or goal area,” it says, and the player in possession takes a knee, the result is not single point, but a safety touch, which is worth two points. Two points would have tied the game.
Would a tipped ball that wound up in the end zone qualify as a “direct result” of a block? Hard to know. The rule was likely written for scenarios where a team is punting from deep within its own territory yet gets stuffed by defenders.
In the end, the Saskatchewan coaches might simply have made a big mistake, putting a man in the end zone when they didn’t need to. But put him there they did. Twice. Which suggests their heads fit the goat horns about as well as Armstead’s—if not nearly as well as the mystery player who stayed on the field when he was supposed to come off.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, November 30, 2009 at 6:10 PM - 86 Comments
The Scene. It is perhaps more relevant that the Prime Minister seemingly chose this weekend to climb inside a motor-propelled dingy without a life jacket. It is likely more interesting to wonder whether it was courage or recklessness—or merely the suggestion of his stylist—that led him to make such a choice. It is probably more meaningful to question whether Stephen Harper abandoned here his responsibility as a role model. And it is almost definitely more entertaining to imagine the Prime Minister having to tape a public service announcement about nautical safety to repair whatever damage has been done to impressionable young minds by his cavalier display.
But then there is, of course, what the Prime Minister had to say once he was safely aboard the HMCS Quebec and the fact that his words were obviously meant to be heard. If only out of deference to our leader, it behooves us to repeat them here.
“Let me just say this,” he said, an early warning that what was to come would almost certainly be interesting, or at least inflammatory. “Living as we do, in a time when some in the political arena do not hesitate before throwing the most serious of allegations at our men and women in uniform, based on the most flimsy of evidence, remember that Canadians from coast to coast to coast are proud of you and stand behind you, and I am proud of you, and I stand beside you.”
It is tempting to point out that the military does not act independently. That it acts, effectively, at the command of the government. That that government is presently led by Mr. Harper. And that whatever the Canadian Forces are presently accused of doing, they are said to have done so only at the direction of their superiors.
But, of course, the Prime Minister was not attempting to posit an alternative understanding of government authority and the military. The Prime Minister was most likely doing here what the Prime Minister does when the questions prove too persistent or the accusations too uncomfortable. Continue…
By macleans.ca - Monday, November 30, 2009 at 5:26 PM - 10 Comments
Federal government proposes new measure to lower professional accreditation barriers
We’ve all heard stories of foreign-trained doctors working as cab drivers and fresh-off-the-boat engineers slugging away at low-skill cashier jobs. That, said the federal government on Monday, has got to change. Officials have pledged that, starting in December 2010, foreign-trained professionals who apply for certification will be told within a year whether or not they are eligible to work in Canada. Architects, engineers, accountants, pharmacists and nurses who were trained abroad are all expected to fall under the new scheme. “It used to be that it could take two years after someone got here just to find out how to get their credentials evaluated,” says Minister of Human Resources Diane Finley. “We recognize how important it is for newcomers to put their training and their knowledge to work here in Canada… It’s vital for them, and it’s vital for their families and it’s vital for our economy.” According to Statistics Canada, 42 per cent of immigrants aged 25 to 54 are overqualified—that is, they have a higher education level than their job requires. For born-and-raised Canadians, that number is 28 per cent.
By macleans.ca - Monday, November 30, 2009 at 5:15 PM - 3 Comments
“For a safe Britain, we need a safe Afghanistan”
Britain announced on Monday it would commit 500 extra troops to Afghanistan, bringing its total deployment to 10,000. The announcement comes a day before U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to bring U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan to around 100,000 by committing another 30,000 troops. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said his country’s decision to bolster Britain’s military presence was based on “national security” concerns, adding that “for a safe Britain, we need a safe Afghanistan.” Still, despite the increases by the two biggest contributors to the Afghan mission, the number of additional troops is expected to fall short of the 40,000 recently requested by U.S. Gen. Stanley McChrystal.
By Jaime Weinman - Monday, November 30, 2009 at 5:10 PM - 1 Comment
I was a bit out of the loop on the most recent round of CRTC hearings (“out of the loop” means “away and not able to watch the hearings;” I’m never in the loop in the sense of having inside information), but here are some links to thoughts by people who know stuff. Also, on the fee-for-service issue and other knotty problems, the CRTC wants to hear the opinion of Time Magazine’s person of the year for 2006.
Commenters who know stuff
- Brandon Laraby, guest-blogging at Dead Things On Sticks, had a lot of posts on the subject (scroll down). Laraby also commented at his own blog, A Boy and His TV Show.
- There’s coverage of the CRTC hearings at Broadcaster magazine (go to this page for the first day coverage).
By Andrew Coyne - Monday, November 30, 2009 at 5:06 PM - 180 Comments
Gotta go with the pack on this one — this is just trash:
Let me just say this: living as we do, in a time when some in the political arena do not hesitate before throwing the most serious of allegations at our men and women in uniform, based on the most flimsy of evidence, remember that Canadians from coast to coast to coast are proud of you and stand behind you, and I am proud of you, and I stand beside you.
That’s your prime minister talking, folks, accusing members of Parliament who raise legitimate questions about Canada’s policy on the transfer of prisoners in Afghanistan of smearing “our men and women in uniform.” There is no sense in which this is true. There is no interpretation you can give it that draws it near to the truth. It is not even close.
There are many points of uncertainty in the detainee issue, and some members of the opposition may have leapt to some conclusions about it. But not about the soldiers on the ground. No one that I am aware of has made any criticism of the soldiers who handed over the prisoners to the Afghan security services — only of those who issued the orders to do so.
Coupled with the continuing refusal to release the Colvin memos and other relevant documents — or rather their selective release, to some but not others — it makes it very hard to give the government the benefit of the doubt in this affair. Their story has become more believable, but their every action suggests that they themselves don’t believe it.
By Martin Patriquin - Monday, November 30, 2009 at 4:42 PM - 4 Comments
*Results may vary.
For the first time in two years, the PQ is ahead…
*Results may vary.
It might not have any immediate effect at all–their ain’t no election in the near or even middle future–but the péquiste’s leap is telling nonetheless. First off, it means Marois’ tactic of making as much noise as possible in and out of the National Assembly has brought a corresponding bump in the number of column inches devoted to the party as of late. Her performance in question period–an admittedly iffy marker, given that there are about as many people who follow question period as there are who find poll numbers hot and sexy–has been excellent. Marois feigns outrage even better than Jean Charest. I didn’t think it was possible, but there you go.
I’m less inclined to believe that the reason behind the bump has to do with Charest’s unwillingness to call a public inquiry into the construction mess swirling around the province. After all, as Le Devoir notes today, the Liberals have been polling soft since June. Rather, I think we’re witnessing a resettling of the traditional seppy/feddy vote following the spectacular implosion of the ADQ, proving yet again that there is only room for two children in the great, silly sandbox of Quebec.
By Andrew Potter - Monday, November 30, 2009 at 4:07 PM - 5 Comments
Obama has decided how to proceed in Afhganistan, issued the orders, and is letting…
Obama has decided how to proceed in Afhganistan, issued the orders, and is letting (most of) the allies know:
As Mr. Gibbs spoke Monday morning, the president was on the telephone with President Nicolas Sarkozy of France…. Mr. Obama also had calls scheduled with President Dmitri Medvedev of Russia and Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain, and was to meet at the White House on Monday with Kevin Rudd, the prime minister of Australia.
Of course, why would he tell us what’s up. We’ve already said we’re leaving no matter what.
By macleans.ca - Monday, November 30, 2009 at 3:11 PM - 2 Comments
Feds say the three-day-old strike risks hampering the economic recovery
The federal government plans to order 1,700 locomotive engineers at CN back to work just three days after they walked off the job in a labour dispute. According to federal officials, the strike risks undermining Canada’s economic recovery, given that the ports of Halifax and Prince Rupert rely entirely on CN for train service and the company handles half of the rail shipments through Vancouver and 30 per cent of the service at Montreal. Workers and management have been unable to come to an agreement despite 14 months of negotiations.
By Bruce Parkinson, Takeofeh.com - Monday, November 30, 2009 at 3:03 PM - 2 Comments
The moral conundrum of flying with the Flu, Passenger rights misses it’s flight, and Tourists make tempting targets
The Moral Conundrum Of Flying With Flu
In two separate polls conducted earlier this fall, over 50% of respondents said they would board a flight even when suffering from the H1N1 virus rather than pay airline rebooking fees. As MSNBC reported this week, that’s not good news for health officials or fellow passengers. “Ideally, sick people should stay off planes,” organizational behaviour consultant Mary Federico told MSNBC. “But it’s unrealistic to expect that to happen … There is little or no flexibility with flights. Availability and cost and penalties are issues.” It’s also unrealistic to expect airline or airport security staff to be successful in intercepting potentially contagious passengers. “On every flight I work, people are coughing, sneezing, and not covering their mouths — including a few crew members,” said United Airlines flight attendant Susan Fogwell. “Since I’m not a doctor, I have absolutely no clue whether someone has H1N1, a cold, allergies, or whatever.”
Passenger Rights Misses Its Flight
A private member’s bill that would penalize airlines for delays, cancellations and lost luggage was “essentially killed” this week, Canwest News Service reported. The Commons Transport Committee voted 7-4 in favour of a motion urging Parliament to drop the bill on the grounds that it comes down too hard on Canada’s airlines. Bloc Quebecois committee members joined Conservatives to outvote the opposition Liberals. Modelled after the European Union Passenger Bill of Rights, the law would force airlines to compensate passengers from $500-$1200 for ‘unreasonable’ tarmac delays, lost luggage and delayed or cancelled flights. The issue has been in the news of late after Canwest broke the story that a 2008 federal passenger rights information campaign dubbed Flight Rights Canada was created with the input and approval of Canada’s major airlines. Transport ministry officials say that makes it an effective industry/government collaboration; opponents call it collusion with an industry the Transport ministry is charged with regulating. The sponsor of the bill, Manitoba MP Jim Maloway, says he will work to salvage the legislation. “This is a passenger bill of rights,” he told Canwest. “This is a very popular bill.”
Tourists Make Tempting Targets
Using common sense and a wearing a money belt are two of the best precautions travellers can take to avoid being ripped off on the road. For us polite Canadians, another piece of advice offered by Travel + Leisure magazine may go against our better nature: beware strangers who approach you on the street, even at the expense of being rude. It’s a sad-but-true fact that tourists make tempting targets for thieves. That’s not news, but a U.S. State Department official says new tech tools like Blackberries and cell phones have improved con artist communication. Among the more popular techniques are distractions like squirting mustard on a tourist’s clothing then making clumsy attempts to apologize and clean up while an accomplice steals bags, purses and wallets. Another one is a staged scene where a woman takes a fake tumble down stairs or an escalator. While onlookers are gawping or trying to help, pickpockets are hard at work. Even the savviest travellers aren’t immune: Lonely Planet founder Tony Wheeler admits to being scammed “in an interesting assortment of ways” over the years. But he advises travellers to find a balance between caution and openness: “Equally, I’ve encountered wonderful honesty and helpfulness,” he says. Travel scams can happen anywhere – even here at home where the Travel + Leisure writer says he was taken for $15 in a ‘currency -exchange con’ at a coffee shop.
The Little Racoon That Grew
Porter Airlines now carries more passengers in a few days than Air Canada did during its last 12 months at Toronto City Centre Airport in 2005. In the highly competitive ‘triangle’ of Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal, Porter has usurped WestJet to assume the number two position after Air Canada. The airline is building a new $45-million terminal on the island and claims to have been profitable since the summer of 2007. It’s all pretty amazing stuff for an airline that launched amidst controversy and a widespread belief that it would fail. CEO Robert Deluce told The Financial Post that the airline owes some of its success to adapting some of the qualities of its raccoon mascot, Mr. Porter: tenacity, determination and taking a strategic approach. TakeOffeh has never really considered the raccoon’s strategic nature, but thinking back to a pitched battle over household garbage, it’s hard not to agree with Deluce.
Struggling Vegas Rolls Dice With Massive CityCenter Project
Opening next month, CityCenter is an unprecedented $8.5-billion dollar destination-within-a-destination on the Las Vegas strip. A joint venture between MGM Mirage and Dubai World, the project has had some rocky moments regarding financing and will open at a time when the existing hotels in Vegas have had to deep-discount to fill rooms. The 67-acre site will open in stages but when complete will include the following: ARIA, a 61-story, 4,004-room gaming resort; luxury non-gaming hotels including Las Vegas’ first Mandarin Oriental, the Harmon, a 400-room luxury boutique hotel and the Vdara Hotel & Spa; Veer Towers, the development’s only strictly residential buildings; and Crystals, a 500,000-square-foot retail and entertainment district. USA Today reports that some of the world’s leading architects and designers are involved in the project, and the results are impressive. From the outside, there’s a futuristic look owing in part to the fact that two of the half-dozen glass and steel towers are on a five-degree tilt. Inside, Kitty Bean Yancey reports that CityCenter “resembles a modern art gallery and mind-boggling design showcase. CityCenter CEO and professional poker player Bobby Baldwin calls the project “the next step in the evolution of Vegas.”
Bruce Parkinson is a travel industry journalist and regular contributor to TakeOffeh.com as well as sister company, OpenJaw.com
Photo Credits: JeanellNorvell, flyporter.com, citycenter.com
By macleans.ca - Monday, November 30, 2009 at 2:34 PM - 19 Comments
Ok, maybe not everything, but the five most essential facts
The climate change debate is often anything but civil. That fact has become especially clear since emails stolen from Climatic Research Unit scientists were leaked on the Internet earlier this month. In an effort to bridge the knowledge gap between scientists and laypeople, science/tech website Ars Technica brings us the five facts everyone can (or should) agree upon when discussing the oh-so-sensitive issue: (1) adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere warms things up; (2) the acceptance of the greenhouse gas effect is “deeply engrained” in scientific circles; (3) the sheer number of variables that come into play when measuring the extent of climate changes leaves “plenty of room for scientific disagreements”; (4) climate and weather are entirely different things; and (5) “the best piece of advice one can have when attempting to engage with climate science is simply to recognize scientific data and reasoning.”
By macleans.ca - Monday, November 30, 2009 at 1:19 PM - 4 Comments
Saskatchewan blindsides its fans with an arithmetic blunder
How deeply has last night’s Grey Cup loss wounded Saskatchewan football fans? “In nearly 100 years of existence, the Riders have celebrated four Grey Cups,” writes Regina Leader-Post columnist Rob Vanstone, “but have won only three.” It’s a brilliant line that does more than merely reference the Roughriders players spilling onto the field last night, thinking they had won after the Montreal Alouettes missed a last-second field goal; alas, the Green Riders had lined up for the play with 13 men on the field rather than the required 12, and Als kicker Damon Duval made no mistake on the do-over from 10 yards closer in. Final score: Als 28, Riders 27. No, Vanstone’s line captures the longing of an entire football-mad province, which is perversely afflicted with a team that finds ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. For an added layer of irony, he reminds of the ‘Rider fans’ oft-invoked “13th man.” They mean the hometown crowd, of course—that metaphorical fellow who helps the team to victory. The actual 13th man was a most unwelcome presence.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, November 30, 2009 at 12:46 PM - 25 Comments
With great candour, former NDP campaign manager Brian Topp is recounting last year’s flirtation with coalition government from his well-informed perspective. Entirely fascinating stuff.
For selfish reasons, I’ll also mention here the lengthy account of those heady days that John Geddes and I put together 12 months ago.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, November 30, 2009 at 12:09 PM - 33 Comments
As Susan Delacourt notes, though the magazine is apparently not a close watcher of Canadian polling, Michael Ignatieff has come in at #64 on Foreign Policy’s list of global thinkers. It’s unclear whether this represents a drop from his standing last year, when a reader poll by Prospect magazine ranked Mr. Ignatieff the 34th most intellectual intellectual.
By Mitchel Raphael - Monday, November 30, 2009 at 12:06 PM - 34 Comments
The launch of the second edition of House of Commons Procedure and Practice was…
The launch of the second edition of House of Commons Procedure and Practice was held in the Speaker’s dining room. Speaker Peter Milliken (left) with the book’s co-editors Audrey O’Brien, Clerk of the House of Commons and Marc Bosc, Deputy Clerk.
NDP MP Peter Stoffer gets his copy autographed by O’Brien.
By macleans.ca - Monday, November 30, 2009 at 11:47 AM - 0 Comments
Side effects include wasting and a nerve disorder
The most widespread antiretroviral drug, Stavudine, should be phased out due to concerns over “long-term, irreversible” side effects in HIV patients that include wasting and a nerve disorder, according to the World Health Organization. What’s more, for the first time, the WHO has advised HIV-positive women and their babies to take antiretroviral drugs while breastfeeding to help stop mother-to-child transmission of the virus. In other major changes to its guidelines, the WHO recommended that people with HIV, even pregnant women, should start taking antiretroviral drugs earlier. Stavudine is available in developing countries as a first-line therapy, and is cheap and easy to use, Reuters reports, but causes a nerve disorder that can lead to numbness, burning pain in the hands and feet, as well as the loss of body fat, conditions that can be “disabling and disfiguring.” According to the WHO, countries should phase out Stavudine and use less toxic alternatives, which are “equally effective,” like Zidovudine or Tenofovir. Over 4 million people around the world take antiretrovirals; of those, about half take Stavudine
By Jason Kirby - Monday, November 30, 2009 at 11:45 AM - 5 Comments
A weekly scorecard on the state of the economy in North America and beyond
When a report this week from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development showed the United Kingdom was the only one of the Group of Seven economies to shrink during the third quarter, Fleet Street wailed at the national embarrassment of being dead last. But they could have taken some comfort from the asterisks in the report next to Canada’s name. The data from Canada for September won’t be released until this coming Monday, Nov. 30, and we might still beat the British to the bottom.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Two months ago, when the Bank of Canada forecast the economy would grow two per cent during the July to September period, that target seemed wholly within reach. Canada’s resilience during the recession was expected to hold us in good stead come better days. But then the strengthening loonie and worsening employment got in the way. Growth flatlined in July, then dipped in August. Last week the Bank of Canada slashed its forecast, while still holding on to the prospect for “softer growth.” Continue…
By macleans.ca - Monday, November 30, 2009 at 11:34 AM - 0 Comments
Golf pro still refusing to talk to police
Tiger Woods may want to keep the details of the mysterious car crash that left him laying on the ground outside his Florida home on Friday private, but it seems unlikely he’ll get his wish. This morning, celebrity gossip website TMZ credited unnamed sources with reports that Florida Highway Patrol is seeking a search warrant for the golf phenom’s hospital records. According to the website, the police want to determine whether the cuts and bruises Woods sustained were caused by the car accident or domestic violence. On his website, Woods stated that “The only person responsible for the accident is me. My wife, Elin, acted courageously when she saw I was hurt and in trouble. She was the first person to help me. Any other assertion is absolutely false.” Elin told police she took a golf club to the windows of his Cadillac SUV to help him out. The accident, and speculation about alleged domestic violence, comes after the National Enquirer alleged Woods had become romantically involved with a New York night club hostess. The woman, Rachel Uchitel, told the Associated Press that the allegations were false.
By macleans.ca - Monday, November 30, 2009 at 11:04 AM - 0 Comments
Ten new plants could generate up to 300 tonnes of enriched uranium per year
In a move that will no doubt heighten tensions and bolster fears that Iran is trying to construct a nuclear weapon, Tehran has announced it is planning to start construction on 10 new uranium enrichment plants within two months. The new facilities could produce as much as 250-300 tonnes of enriched uranium a year. The announcement amounts to an act of open defiance against the UN, which recently condemned Iran for running a secret nuclear plant. Iran has the right to create nuclear power for peaceful purposes, but has so far refused to answer questions about warhead-related research and declined to participate in a program to send its fuel abroad for enrichment—a program that would allow the government to generate nuclear power while preventing it from weaponizing uranium. International negotiations have broken down, making the adoption of punitive sanctions against Iran a likely possibility.
By Jaime Weinman - Monday, November 30, 2009 at 10:57 AM - 9 Comments
I suppose, like James Poniewozik, I should say something about Tiger Woods, because it’s my duty to fill this blog with as many Google-search-friendly terms as I can. I don’t really know what to say, since Poniewozik’s post says most of what needs to be said, and I’m still not completely sure about what exactly is supposed to be going on (or why it’s any of my business).
The only thing I can really add — though this is hardly a new observation — is that athletics still seems to be one of the last entertainment fields where we really get shocked by the possibility that talented people are not saints. The gossip magazines used to have an interest in portraying movie stars, for example, as wonderful people with perfect marriages. (The breakup of the Debbie Reynolds-Eddie Fisher marriage, which was the most popular union in the history of fan magazines, marked a turning point; after that, people realized that almost any entertainer would dump his wife if an Elizabeth Taylor came along.) This is no longer the case; it’s assumed that entertainers are going to have relationship problems.
But in sports, there’s still an unspoken assumption that being a great athlete makes you a great person. When Morgan Freeman was injured in a car crash with a female co-passenger, and he announced shortly thereafter that he and his wife were divorcing, there were lots of rumours, but not a lot of shock or surprise. Most people understand that Morgan Freeman is an actor and that his personal life is separate from his profession; the fact that he plays wise perfect people on the screen does not mean he will have a perfect marriage in real life. But it surprises people when there are TMZ-level rumours involving Tiger Woods, just as it surprised people when Steve Garvey turned out to be a serial adulterer. (Anybody remember Steve Garvey? He was one of the most famous baseball players in the world, a combination of his great looks, playing in Los Angeles, and flashy batting stats — 200 hits and 100 RBI a year — even though he wasn’t really all that great a player. He was portrayed not only as a talented athlete, but a perfect person, “Mr. Clean.”) The idea that athletes are role models off the field, that their athletic ability proves they’re superior human beings who have everything figured out, has never really gone away.
I suppose it has something to do with the fact that most great athletes, or even good ones, have to have certain widely-admired virtues, particularly a dedication to hard work. (There are very few athletes who can get by on raw talent alone; a Tiger Woods has natural talent that most people don’t have, but he would not be Tiger Woods if he didn’t work hard to develop and maintain that talent.) Because athletes have a strong work ethic, have to stay in shape and do other things that we’d all like our kids to do, there’s a temptation to point to them as role models. And they are, insofar as they embody certain values of professionalism, training, hitting a ball into a hole.
The definitive take on this tendency — wanting to believe that people who perform great physical feats are perfect people in every way — was created by James Thurber in his story “The Greatest Man In the World,” a satire on all the adulation given to people like Charles Lindbergh: not only was Lindbergh portrayed as a great flyer, but as a great man and a role model for children. Thurber’s story imagined a flyer, Jack Smurch, who performs a spectacular feat of aviation in a rickety little plane. When he lands, he’s about to be given a Lindbergh-style publicity buildup, but he turns out to be a crude, nasty, venal slob interested only in money and booze and women. Wanting to preserve the image of flyers as great heroic Americans, the publicity people murder Smurch and give him a posthumous image makeover.
Not that Tiger Woods is a Jack Smurch, or even a Charles Lindbergh (Thurber was prescient about Lindbergh, who turned out to be a less-than-admirable person himself). His life is presumably not perfect, though. And because he’s a great athlete, people are going to be unusually surprised to discover that his life is not perfect.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, November 30, 2009 at 10:43 AM - 15 Comments
In court testimony last year, the director general of the Afghanistan task force said it was not their job to investigate claims of torture. Internal government documents show Canadians were told by Afghan security officials that many detainees were released due to a lack of evidence. The Red Cross feels its been put in an awkward spot.
Christie Blatchford turns again to what she says are redacted versions of Richard Colvin’s memos and pronounces that there’s not much to see there. The Globe’s Campbell Clark, with or without the same memos, reviews the situation and concludes that the primary question remains: “Why did it take so long to change the transfer arrangements?”
By Colby Cosh - Monday, November 30, 2009 at 10:00 AM - 61 Comments
The civil service hasn’t suffered in this recession. Is it about to share our pain?
If you want to know how hard times are hitting government workers, there’s a group of frank, friendly, tuned-in guys you could call up: Ottawa luxury car dealers. What’s it like selling cars in a city dominated by federal employees during a recession?
“There has been no recession,” says Paul Giacomin, owner of the capital’s 417 Infiniti Nissan dealership, as far as his bottom line is concerned; he calls Ottawa a “strong city.” “Business is up for us. Very up. In fact, it’s up about 30 per cent from 2008,” testifies sales manager Paul Renaud of Audi-Porsche dealership Mark Motors West. “This year has been great,” reports Neil Donnelly, new-car sales manager at Tony Graham Lexus. “We’re having a record year. By far. I made three different forecasts at the start of the year: a totally optimistic forecast, a semi-optimistic one, and a flatline, which would have been fine, since we also set records in ’08. We’ve blown through the most optimistic one.”
Not everybody is so ebullient; some Ottawa dealers in what the Europeans call the “executive car” class confess to merely matching or approaching 2008 numbers. But mostly the showrooms are busy, and it’s no secret why. “Ottawa’s a little isolated,” admits Renaud; when there’s a short-term economic shock, “you know government workers are gonna keep getting paid.” “We didn’t have that good a year, but definitely, being in a government town helped a lot,” says Bel Air Lexus Toyota sales manager Marc Durocher. Infiniti’s Giacomin attests that dealers in government-dominated Quebec City are doing almost as well as he is; others aren’t. “Rightly or wrongly, this city hasn’t managed to attract private sector jobs, and as a result we’ve been very much shielded from the impacts that might have happened elsewhere.” Donnelly echoes him, right down to the adjective: “I would say we’re definitely shielded.” Continue…
By Andrew Potter - Monday, November 30, 2009 at 9:48 AM - 21 Comments
So I didn’t make it to Duceppe’s address to IPSO (Intellectuels pour la souveraineté)…
So I didn’t make it to Duceppe’s address to IPSO (Intellectuels pour la souveraineté) yesterday. Life’s just too short and the lineup at Schwartz’s was too long. But this morning the Bloc sent out a release listing the main plot points of the speech. Like all good political speeches, it begins at the end:
« Devant l’échec du fédéralisme, La seule véritable solution pour le Québec, c’est de sortir du Canada »
Well, that’s a given. But we want to know why. Herewith:
1. Twenty years after the failure of Meech, it is clear that Canada has no intention of bringing Quebec into the Canadian constitutional fold. (Note: No mention of the “The Quebecois are a nation” resolution).
And why should they? After all,
2. Quebec is suffering from both political and judicial decline. The province that was, at Confederation, 36 percent of the population is now 22 percent. Demographic trends suggest this will only continue to erode Quebec’s political power in Canada. (Note: This is the trend cheered by Brian Crowley in Fearful Symmetry). Also, Quebec is clearly being harmed by the Supreme Court — e.g. the recent ruling on Bill 104.
3. What is at stake is Quebec’s identity, in particular its ability to integrate immigrants into Quebec’s culture and values. But exacerbating the situation is the fact that 200 000 Quebecers who work for federal departments or agencies are not protected by the provisions of Bill 101. Worse, these people work for departments that are growing, meaning even more Quebecers will be hired by le federale.
4. Quebec’s ambitions on the environment and climate change are held hostage to the federal government’s pandering to Alberta at Quebec’s expense.
Thankfully, there’s an alternative:
5. Sovereignty. In which Quebec’s political influence will shift from 22% to 100%, its control over its laws and constitution will rise to 100%, and its ability to speak for itself on the world stage will rise from almost zero to… you guessed it, 100%.
The text of the release below.
By Kate Lunau - Monday, November 30, 2009 at 9:35 AM - 18 Comments
Just how good is chocolate milk for schoolchildren?
Sugary junk food or nutrition-packed snack? That question’s on a lot of minds as chocolate milk gets an image makeover: it’s now being promoted by the American dairy industry as a healthy choice for kids. In U.S. schools, flavoured milks (like chocolate or strawberry) account for about 70 per cent of all the milk kids drink. So, when concerns about obesity prompted some to take them off cafeteria menus, the industry was quick to respond: it rolled out a campaign, called “Raise your hand for chocolate milk,” including a petition, a Twitter feed, and slick ads with actress Rebecca Romijn. Like plain milk, flavoured milk offers nine essential nutrients, the campaign notes, “plus the taste-appeal kids go for.” While the chocolate kind has more sugar (roughly the same as a glass of orange juice), the campaign calls this an “acceptable trade-off,” noting that over half of all teens aren’t getting enough calcium, risking their bone health down the road. Taking flavoured milks out of schools could do more harm than good, the argument goes, encouraging kids to choose less nutritious drinks like soda.
In Canada, the debate is playing out in P.E.I., where parents are pushing for chocolate milk to be subsidized in school cafeterias, just as white milk is. Jennifer Taylor, an expert in childhood nutrition at the University of P.E.I., says only half of all kids there are drinking enough milk. Taylor, who heads the province’s Healthy Eating Alliance, supports subsidizing chocolate milk, even though some people react “like we’re recommending rum to children.” (In New Brunswick, both chocolate and plain milk are subsidized. P.E.I. has no plans to introduce a similar program for now, because the current budget won’t allow it.) Continue…