By Jesse Brown - Tuesday, November 29, 2011 - 36 Comments
The Globe and Mail reports:
“Spurred on by recent controversy over the CBC’s compliance with Access to Information laws, Friends of Canadian Broadcasting is launching a satirical, wrestling-themed campaign in support of the CBC.”
The thing is, you don’t have to be an enemy of the CBC to want them to comply with the law and open up their books. Many of us who listen to the CBC and support the mission of public broadcasting would also like some transparency on how they spend the public’s money.
Unfortunately, the call for disclosure originates with the CBC’s rival, Quebecor. Quebecor is no friend of the CBC, and its demand to see their spending is a petty campaign to create scandal and to discredit. Quebecor’s obvious goal is to arm itself with proof that the CBC is irresponsibly wasting the money we give them- ammo for their argument that the CBC should therefore be deprived of funding completely.
By Erica Alini - Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at 4:46 PM - 12 Comments
At first glance Economia, a video game created by the European Central Bank, looks like an ingenious device to help laymen grasp the basics of monetary policy. The iPhone app (which you can also play on your computer) is sleek, and the game–which NPR dubbed “angry bonds”–is actually fun.
The goal is to keep inflation just below two per cent, and the only way to do so is raising or lowering the exchange rate. As a learning tool, it’s very effective: After a couple of tries, you’ll never forget that hiking up rates brings down inflation, and cutting them does the opposite–a concept that goes a long way to helping people understand headlines featuring the likes of ECB Chief Mario Draghi, Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney or Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. After a while it gets so easy it’s boring, but then the game starts throwing all kinds of unpredictables at you–like a housing crisis, a stock market meltdown, rising oil prices… It doesn’t get quite as real as the current sovereign debt crisis–and you don’t get to behave as a lender of last resort–but you’ll have your hands full. If there’s even a little bit of nerd in you, you’ll like it.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at 4:43 PM - 12 Comments
This afternoon, like it had with Rob Merrifield last Wednesday and John Weston last Friday, the government sent John Williamson, the duly elected and relatively well compensated representative of the people of New Brunswick Southwest, to ask the Public Safety Minister about the views and actions of two NDP MPs in regards to the long-gun registry. Alas, before Vic Toews could read his part of the script, the Speaker stood to rule this out of order.
I am afraid that question has nothing to do with the administration of government.
This would seem in keeping with the standard enforced by Speaker Scheer’s immediate predecessor.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at 4:24 PM - 37 Comments
After QP this afternoon, the Speaker reported to the House on the case of the “sure” deletions. According to Speaker Scheer, the word was deleted from the official transcript at the discretion of Hansard’s editors, without input from Tony Clement or anyone in Mr. Clement’s office.
Due to stringent timelines and the voluminous amounts of text, the technical task of editing is frequently parcelled out to multiple editors whose collective work for a given meeting is then reviewed by a Senior Editor. These Senior Editors look at the full context of the preliminary verbatim transcript, including the intonation of the person speaking, in order to accurately convey the intended meaning in the final transcript. Thus, they routinely authorize the removal of redundant words, false starts, hesitations, words that might lead to confusion as to the true intent of the statement, and so on. Sometimes entire sentences are restructured for clarity. Even within the testimony of a single witness or Member speaking, it is not unusual for words to be removed in one place and retained in another if the editors judge that, in the latter case, the words do not lead to confusion or convey an unintended meaning.
Mr. Clement duly demanded an apology from the NDP’s Charlie Angus and, speaking with reporters, attempted to explain the realities of human speech patterns that caused him to answer in the affirmative when no such indication was intended. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at 3:56 PM - 12 Comments
Irwin Cotler is pursuing a point of privilege on this matter of the Conservative party telling his constituents that he plans to quit.
This morning, Peter Van Loan responded with an appeal to the freedom of speech and the long practice of peddling rumours about one’s political opponents.
By Dave Bidini - Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at 1:54 PM - 3 Comments
This past Sunday came my wedding anniversary: 19. We were married at St. Lawrence…
This past Sunday came my wedding anniversary: 19. We were married at St. Lawrence Hall in 1992, and I remember walking home in the mild weather to our hotel—the King Edward—where we immediately ordered room service, having been too distracted during the ceremony to eat much of anything. The voice on the other end of the phone told us that the hotel’s chef was in the throes of apendicitis, and would we settle for soup and a clubhouse sandwich between us? We said that would be fine, and besides, it would give me a chance to check Leaf highlights, maybe on SportsDesk at 2 am. There were no iPhones, no instant scores in 1992. Back then, you went to the car and turned on the radio to know what was happening. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at 1:32 PM - 33 Comments
A Conservative official confirms that the party has been calling Irwin Cotler’s constituents and suggesting he might quit.
A Conservative official confirmed to The Globe and Mail that the party is trying to identify the vote in Mr. Cotler’s riding, which it does on a continuing basis across the country. In this case, a company called Campaign Research that has been linked to Ontario and federal Conservatives is behind the calls … He said the “script” does not mention a by-election. However, if people ask why the party is phoning, callers say “there are rumours that Irwin Cotler may resign causing a by-election,” the Conservative official said. “It’s an honest answer to the question. There have been rumours for a long time that Cotler is going to step down,” he said.
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at 12:04 PM - 0 Comments
Paulson reportedly gave advance word about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
Henry Paulson, former U.S. treasury secretary, depicted a scenario in which the government would take over troubled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac while talking to a group of hedge fund managers in July 2008, even as he was reassuring Congress and the public that such heavy-handed intervention would not be necessary. The revelation, made on Tuesday by Bloomberg, raises serious ethical question for the former U.S. official, even as it is unlikely he will be found in breach of the law. The former secretary reportedly told the hedge fund managers that a government seizure of Fannie and Freddie would mean that the common stock of the two government-sponsored enterprises, as well as several classes of preferred stock, would be wiped out, an anonymous source who was present at the meeting told Bloomberg.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at 11:53 AM - 1 Comment
Robert Chisholm talks to the Chronicle-Herald.
Q: After the 1998 breakthrough, your party came very close to forming government in 1999. Then of course came the newspaper interview and the drunk driving revelation. What did you learn from that experience and from coming so close but falling short?
A: I learned a lot. We maintained 30 per cent of the vote in 1999, 18 months after we had made a huge breakthrough. In the history of the province of Nova Scotia, the NDP has never been close. Twenty per cent might have been a high-water mark for us. So, not only did we make the breakthrough in 1998, (but) 18 months later, under enormous pressure and scrutiny, we still hung on to 30 per cent of the vote. And that meant that we had arrived and we weren’t going to move from there.
It was a huge amount of stress. You’ve got to be able to function under fire and I did that. The thing about being a leader is it’s not all good times. That’s why I say that I’ve been through the good, the bad and the ugly. I feel I’ve come through that and I’ve learned a lot. It’s not all a bed of roses. Being a leader means you’ve got to take the good with the bad.
By Peter Nowak - Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at 11:39 AM - 9 Comments
I’m talking, of course, about televisions (get your mind out of the gutter). I recently spent a few days with Sharp’s new 80-inch Aquos TV and, having fallen in love, I’m sad to say I have screen envy now that I’m back to my measly 50-inch plasma. Continue…
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at 11:37 AM - 0 Comments
Airline will continue regular operations while restructuring
American Airlines, the U.S.’s third-largest airline, and its parent company AMR Corp. are filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the Globe and Mail reports. Like other U.S. airlines, the company has struggled for year with high fuel costs and labour disputes. Unlike some of its competitors, however, it failed to return to profitability in the past couple of years. Company president Thomas W. Horton replaced chief executive Gerard Arpey, who stepped down. The airline reassured customers that it would continue to operate flights, honour tickets, as well as the AAdvantage frequent-flier program, and take reservations normally while it undergoes restructuring.
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at 11:23 AM - 3 Comments
Breivik may avoid jail sentence
Self-confessed Norwegian killer Anders Behring Breivik has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, the BBC reports. Psychiatrists assessing him said they believe he was in a psychotic state during the July 22 twin attacks that left 77 people dead and 151 injured. Though a different group of forensic psychiatrists still has to review the initial mental health assessment, the diagnosis increases the likelihood that Breivik will not receive a jail sentence and will instead be placed in psychiatric care. The Norwegian gunman has admitted to carrying out the attacks, but pleaded not guilty, arguing that mass murder was necessary to defend Europe from multiculturalism.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at 11:01 AM - 2 Comments
Paul Dewar explains his priorities.
If Dewar became prime minister tomorrow, the first thing he would do, “without question,” would be to address the plight of First Nations communities living without clean water and other basic services, he said. Next would be strengthening the economy, tackling unemployment, and investing in health care. In the long term Dewar said he would like to see Canadians take back their role as peacekeepers and wants a realistic plan to help the country adopt greener energy sources.
By Brian D. Johnson - Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at 10:40 AM - 3 Comments
Lover, sex addict, shrink, superhero, spy—a new leading man stars in five movies
In Hollywood, strong and versatile leading men are almost as scarce as intelligent scripts. It’s a rare breed—the serious actor with defiantly masculine sex appeal who can play a swaggering action hero, melt into a shrewd character role, and charm a woman out of her clothes. Ryan Gosling, Javier Bardem and Daniel Craig are among the few who come to mind. Now Michael Fassbender joins the club. This German-born Irishman is not yet a household name, but at the rate he’s going, it won’t be long.
Fassbender, 34, has starred in no fewer than five movies this year. Last spring, he brought an unnerving erotic menace to the role of Rochester in Jane Eyre. In the summer, he harnessed Magneto’s force field in X-Men: First Class. This fall, he tore up the festival circuit, winning best actor in Venice for his incendiary role as a sex addict in Shame—a pathology he could have diagnosed in his role as Carl Jung in David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method. Finally, he takes on a female black-ops assassin in Haywire, an upcoming spy thriller from Steven Soderbergh. (Shame opens here next week; A Dangerous Method and Haywire won’t hit Canada until January.)
Cronenberg cast Fassbender after seeing the extraordinary range he displayed in myriad roles—as self-starving IRA martyr Bobby Sands in Hunger (2008), a British army officer in Inglourious Basterds (2009), and a cavalier cad who seduces his girlfriend’s 15-year-old daughter in Fish Tank (2009). In A Dangerous Method, Fassbender’s Jung emerges from the shadow of Freud (a droll Viggo Mortensen) and tumbles into a kinky extra-marital affair with a Russian protege (Keira Knightley), who graduates from wild-eyed patient to amorous colleague. Interviewed by Maclean’s this week, Cronenberg said, “I felt that Michael’s innate sexiness would work with Keira, and his sense of humour and playfulness would work with Viggo on the set.”
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at 10:35 AM - 19 Comments
After fighting for disclosure, the Canadian Press turns up still more evidence of efforts to rename the Government of Canada in Stephen Harper’s image.
“The directive we have from the (director general’s office) is that if PCO adds the Harper Government reference, then we leave it in,” says an email to communications officials at Industry, dated Oct. 5, 2010. “Please proceed with this approach. Sorry – it is what PCO has instructed.”
An editor responded: “Given this directive, and with mild distress, I have reinstalled the phrasing.” ”French release harperized and good to go,” quipped another.
By Nicholas Köhler - Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at 10:20 AM - 50 Comments
Experiments show neutrinos moving faster than the speed of light
The life of the neutrino as we know it began amid personal chaos. Its existence was first postulated by Wolfgang Pauli, a brilliant but troubled Austrian physicist who at 20 wrote a definitive, 200-page book on Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity that Einstein himself admired, and at 25 proposed his “exclusion principle,” a fundamental statement on the behaviour of matter at the subatomic level that later earned him a Nobel Prize. Colleagues called him “God’s whip” and the “conscience of physics” for his ferocious skepticism and probing, often devastating questions. Yet he was also a prodigious drinker and carouser who, while lecturing at the University of Hamburg, was on intimate terms with the Reeperbahn, that city’s notorious red light district, and who suffered strange, haunting dreams.
The neutrino was perhaps Pauli’s least favourite of his contributions to modern physics. In the late 1920s, physicists examining the decay of radioactive materials such as uranium puzzled over a mysterious gap in the amount of energy they shed: they knew uranium emitted energy in the form of electrons, but when they added these electrons up they discovered that some energy was missing. Faced with this mathematical quandary, Pauli found himself forced in 1930 to accept the presence of an invisible and hitherto unknown neutral particle that could account for the loss—a ghostly spectre of the subatomic world. This was the neutrino. “It was the first time anyone ever postulated a missing particle,” says University of Toronto physicist Bob Orr. “Most people thought this was a really stupid idea.” Even Pauli himself called it a “terrible thing,” and he lamented that in proposing it he had “invented a particle that cannot be detected.” Indeed, he placed a standing bet—a case of champagne—on the notion that it never would be, outlining his ideas on the particle in a letter to colleagues that began: “Dear radioactive ladies and gentlemen.”
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at 9:51 AM - 3 Comments
Students storm the building in Tehran
Hard-line Iranian students stormed the British Embassy in Tehran on Tuesday, the New York Times reports. The protesters brought down the Union Jack and threw documents out of the windows, chanting “death to England.” An initial report by semiofficial newsagency Mehr that six embassy workers had been taken hostage was later withdrawn with no explanation. The attack comes after Iran downgraded diplomatic relations with the U.K. after Western countries, including Canada, imposed stepped-up sanctions to punish the regime after a recent UN report found evidence that Tehran is pursuing nuclear weapons capability.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at 9:36 AM - 17 Comments
Within a longer treatise on taxation, Brian Topp has released his proposals for tax reform.
The first step in restoring fairness to Canada’s personal income tax system is to end the free ride for Canada’s highest-income 1% by introducing a higher marginal tax rate on income in excess of $250,000. I propose a new 35% rate on income in excess of $250,000.
With two important caveats, capital gains should be taxed as ordinary income – 100% of this form of income should be recognized – and not be discounted by 50%.
Income from cashing in stock options should be taxed at full rates, abolishing a tax benefit for the wealthiest that cost the federal treasury $750 million in 2008.
Under Harper’s plan, the corporate income tax rate will drop from 16.5% to 15% on January 1, 2012. That cut should be rescinded. Thereafter, corporate income tax rates should be increased by 1.5% each year until they reach the rate of 22.12% that applied before the Harper.
The two caveats on capital gains are that they should be protected from inflation and that the changes would not apply to sale of homes, small businesses and farms.
By Chris Sorensen - Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at 9:15 AM - 0 Comments
Why are some airlines shelling out tens of billions of dollars to scoop up the latest state-of-the-art planes?
Aircraft makers are racking up huge sales of fuel-efficient planes. But who’s going to foot the bill?
Airlines facing turbulent economic times have historically turned on the “fasten seat belt” sign and tried to ride out the chop, cutting underperforming routes and offering seat sales to boost others. With high fixed costs, the name of the game is preserving cash flow. So why then, with the economy looking so gloomy, are some now shelling out tens of billions of dollars to scoop up the latest state-of-the-art planes? It’s all about fuel.
With the price of oil hovering just under US$100 a barrel, airline executives are gambling that newer, more fuel-efficient planes will translate into huge cost savings down the road. Boeing, for example, revealed last week that it had signed the biggest-ever order in history with Indonesia’s Lion Air, which agreed to buy 320 Boeing 737s in a deal worth US$21 billion, based on list prices. Of those, 201 will be the 737MAX, outfitted with more efficient engines that burn up to 12 per cent less fuel than a regular 737 (Boeing also sold 50 of its 777 jets to Emirates Airlines for US$18 billion a week earlier). Similarly, Airbus’s A320 NEO, which has also been outfitted with more fuel-efficient engines, has proven to be the manufacturer’s fastest-selling model ever.
By Colin Campbell - Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at 9:10 AM - 0 Comments
Managers can take up to 33 per cent of payroll. Are they worth it?
Imagine an office with no managers. Workers have no doubt fantasized about it once or twice in the confines of their cubicles, but it’s an idea that could actually have some useful beneﬁts for organizations, argues Gary Hamel, a professor at the London Business School and business strategy expert. Managers are expensive, for starters. A company with 100,000 employees might have 10,000 managers, plus another 1,111 managers to manage the managers, he writes in the Harvard Business Review. All told, they could account for 33 per cent of the payroll. Big management hierarchies also up the odds of “calamitous decisions”—the bigger the decision, the smaller the number of people who can challenge decision-makers—and slow down the decision-making process. They also limit the incentive for lower-level workers to contribute ideas. Of course, in the real world, managers do offer a necessary guiding hand. Even if, as Hamel concludes, it can be “inefficient and often ham-fisted.”
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at 9:02 AM - 20 Comments
Federal communications have been “harperized”
When the Canadian Press reported last March that bureaucrats had been ordered to use the term “Harper Government” instead of the usual “Government of Canada” in official federal press releases and other documents, the reaction from the Prime Minister’s Office was swift. “Nothing could be further from the truth,” said Stephen Harper’s chief spokesman at the time, Dimitri Soudas. “There has been no change of policy or practice,” said Stockwell Day, then the Treasury Board president. Now, the Canadian Press reports that internal emails and other documents, released under the Access to Information Act, clearly show that bureaucrats were directed last fall to start using “Harper Government”—and some of them resisted the change. (The documents were released by Industry Canada only after a long delay, during which the Information Commissioner, an independent watchdog, found that the Canadian Press was justified in complaining that the department was refusing to comply with the terms of the information law.) Emails show bureaucrats referring to a “directive” from the Privy Council Office, the bureaucratic arm of the Prime Minister’s Office, demanding that “Harper Government” be used. “Please proceed with this approach,” reads one message. “Sorry—it is what PCO has instructed.” Another message refers to a news release having been dutifully “harperized.” Despite this apparently clear evidence to the contrary, a spokesman for Harper insisted that the earlier denials from Soudas and Day were correct.
By Ken MacQueen - Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at 8:50 AM - 3 Comments
Grande Prairie Composite Warriors coach Rick Gilson in conversation with Ken MacQueen
Rick Gilson has coached 57 football teams over the past 30 years. This season—his 25th as football coach of the Grande Prairie Composite Warriors, and his eighth as principal at the northwestern Alberta high school—began full of promise. Then, just after midnight on Saturday, Oct. 22, a car carrying five team members home from a party collided with a pickup driven by a 21-year-old. Four Warriors died at the scene, the lone survivor in the car went to hospital in a coma. The pickup driver faces charges of impaired driving causing death. The team elected to play on, finishing the most difficult season the Warriors have ever known.
Q: Let’s start with congratulations. Last week the National Football League named you Canada’s youth coach of the year.
A: It is very definitely an honour and one I’m accepting on behalf of the whole team and everyone who’s been involved in getting us through the past several weeks.
Q: How big is football to Grande Prairie Composite and to you?
A: Football is important to me, something I didn’t want to give up when I went into administration. It’s important for what I think it can do for young men.
Q: What else do players take off the field beyond the usual scrapes and bruises?
A: My philosophy is not so much to make university players or CFL players as much as it is to try to get some core values across. I say this to the boys: it’s important to me that you go on to be great husbands, great fathers, great employees and great employers.
Q: Then came the accident. You were awakened with the news.
A: My son knocked on our bedroom door. He’s a starting corner and a Grade 12 player on our team. He said, “Dad, one of the guys called and there’s been an accident.” I got hold of an RCMP officer at the scene. We worked from there to begin to realize the scope of what had gone wrong, and that Zach [Judd] was in hospital. We headed to the hospital and were able to get there before Zach’s parents. My son accompanied me. The Judd family arrived and we were able to provide some comfort and support to them. I worked through the remainder of the night with the RCMP to help in the identification process. I accompanied the RCMP to the homes of the families to notify them.
Q: It must have been such a difficult night.
A: It was important that there be somebody there that they know.
Q: Vincent Stover, 16, Walter Borden-Wilkins, 15, Matthew Deller, 16, Tanner Hildebrand, 15, all dead, and Zachary Judd, 15, in a coma. How do you prepare the school for such a loss?
A: As we finished the notification of families, it shifted to the need to let my staff know. We met at the school at 10:30 Saturday morning. We also began the process of getting all the players, the managers and their parents together at 11:30. Many of the players knew that there had been an accident. They knew that Zach had been badly injured and that two players had passed away. They didn’t know that there were actually five in the car. The hardest part was telling the team that they didn’t lose two teammates, they lost four. That was very, very difficult. The discussion was how we’re going to get through the next hour, and then the next hour. Then the emphasis was on us healing and focusing on being supportive of each other. Focusing on compassion and mercy over anger and any ideas of revenge. We were definitely upset that it involved an alleged drunk driver, but we focused on mercy toward the driver.
Q: How was that message of compassion received? You’re asking so much of the family and friends of these boys.
A: It was received very well. I still feel today very saddened by this boy’s choices. It’s something I say to students in my office: we get to choose what we’re going to do, we don’t get to choose the consequences of what we do.
Q: Too many principals in their careers deal with the consequences of drunk drivers. Why must this lesson constantly be relearned?
A: There is no learning where nothing changes. Unfortunately, I don’t understand it. I personally don’t drink at all. It seems to me that somehow, some way, there’s only a superficial belief that you shouldn’t drive drunk.
Q: You’re a religious man of the Mormon faith. Did you have words with your God after this?
A: My God and everybody else’s is probably the same God. Personal prayer and a belief in the eternal nature of man definitely helps me get through this. The belief that these young boys are in good hands, that we will have an opportunity to be reunited. It’s not going to happen right away but I firmly believe it will happen. That helps me get through the day, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t shed an awful lot of tears at their loss.
Q: Was it your decision or the team’s to finish the football season?
A: Our decision. It was a collective.
Q: What did they draw from playing on?
A: To not have played is a decision you would have made in an emotional moment. By making a decision to play you had a place you could go to step out of the grieving process. It wasn’t easy. At first it was very solemn, like they were afraid to laugh and enjoy themselves. I said, “What do you think the boys would say?” Vince and Matt, the two Grade 11s, were very focused on getting the Peace Bowl, the league championship. If you don’t play, these guys are going to chase us around and haunt us, and you know it.
Q: What was the impact on Grande Prairie Composite and the larger community?
A: We didn’t anticipate the broad response for mercy and compassion. That did resonate far further than I ever thought. People who had gone through similar events on smaller scales had been holding high levels of resentment and anger forever. They sent notes and emails saying, “Thank you for this, it allowed me to let go.” And we didn’t expect, request, or desire to have such a broad nationwide response to us continuing to play. We drew inspiration from the people writing us to say they were inspired.
Q: You visited Zach this weekend. How is he?
A: At the time, I said to [the team] you have to prepare yourself, Zach could die. But with each passing day the worst-case scenario is moving closer to the best-case scenario. He woke up [from a coma] about 10 days after the accident. He spit out his respirator and started breathing on his own. He’s looking better every day. It’s a miracle, quite honestly. He’s still got a lot to do to [regain] movement, and the [mental] processing is delayed. There’s lots of reason for hope there. He doesn’t yet know the full scope of the accident. There will come a time when that conversation will have to take place.
Q: Two trust funds have been established.
A: The Warrior Fund is to support all five families, to help with the expenses they’ve experienced and to support the families moving forward, and in honouring their sons in some way. The Zach Judd Fund is to support Zach himself. Even though Zach has made tremendous progress from when I saw him at ground zero on Oct. 22, he’s still got a lengthy period of rehabilitation ahead of him. Both funds are through the Royal Bank. My understanding is you can go to any Royal Bank, or you can go through the school.
Q: The Warriors won two games after the accident and the regional championship. They had a shutout loss in the provincial quarter-finals. The scoreboard doesn’t really tell the tale, though. Does the loss of the game seem significant when you have lost so much more?
A: Well, the scoreboard certainly tells a tale. We liked it when it said that we won. But all of that said, the character that they displayed was so outstanding that they didn’t lose. As the game ended, I said before you shake hands I want you to go across the field to wave and clap to your parents and thank the crowd because we did receive tremendous support. That created a whole flood of tears. Unexpectedly, it hit me pretty hard. We did all we could, against an extremely strong opponent, with what was left in the tank.
Q: Now comes the off-season. Without football, are you worried about that void?
A: I’m very concerned about that, for everyone. It will be an off-season where we are doing more things and following up with get-togethers, touching base with each player to see how they are doing. And coaches, too. We have some catching up to do, on work, and on sleep, and on grieving.
Q: How are you handling this?
A: I have, quite honestly, been richly blessed through this whole experience. I had an opportunity to watch such a high level of courage and composure by a group of young men, and the four young women who are our managers. I had the chance to provide support to five families going through the most difficult time a family can go through, and watch them try to handle that with such grace and dignity.
Q: When you agreed to this interview, you said you wanted to focus on what can be learned from this. I’d like to hear your thoughts on that.
A: Around the subject of alcohol and driving, we have to stop kidding ourselves. We’re not doing a good enough job. Too much lip service and not enough change in behaviour. If we don’t change the attitude, people need to stop crying about people getting killed by drunk drivers. Learning is when behaviour changes, otherwise it’s just information. We shouldn’t have 18-year-olds drinking [the legal age in Alberta and Quebec]. Matt and Vince aren’t going to be 18. Not in this life. Never. And Tanner and Walter didn’t even get to be 16.
By Barbara Amiel - Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at 8:40 AM - 12 Comments
Should we punish Joe Paterno in the 21st century for his retrospective cultural attitudes?
A virus hits American commanders-in-chief when on aircraft carriers. Think George W. Bush on the USS Abraham Lincoln declaring we “have prevailed” in front of the Mission Accomplished banner. Or the sombre Richard Nixon doing a mini jig of excitement on board the Hornet at the Apollo 11 splashdown. Hard not to compare them unfavourably with Cher on the USS Missouri in thigh-high stockings and biker jacket, utter fabulosity, even though her lyrics, “If I could turn back time,” were nearly as banal as Dubya’s.
For new lows the ribbon goes to President Obama’s Veterans Day remarks on the USS Carl Vinson. The Penn State scandal, said the American President, should lead to “soul- searching” by Americans. “Our first priority,” he said, “is protecting our kids.” As opposed to what: protecting senior citizens, the economy or perhaps the endangered Kretschmarr cave mould beetle? A bit rich, anyway, in a country where over a million of its potential kids per year get deliberately aborted.
Briefly, in case you have been in a coma: legendary (junior grade) Penn State football assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, 67 (there are many “legendary” figures in this story, but as I can’t tell legend from long snapper in American football, I can’t vouch for the designation), has been indicted on 40 charges, all relating to sexual assault on minors. The indictment came via a grand jury convened over years in the absence of the citizen under investigation or proper rules of evidence.
By Brian Bethune - Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at 8:20 AM - 1 Comment
Book by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith
In the modern Western imagination, Vincent Van Gogh is the very embodiment of the tortured artistic genius, able to express that genius—in his case, on canvases that are now among the best-loved artworks in the world—precisely because he was tortured, a man who eventually died young (only 37) by his own hand (of course). All very tragic, if undeniably romantic. And all profoundly mistaken, according to Naifeh and Smith, authors of the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography Jackson Pollack, about another volatile painter who died young. The truth, in fact, is far more authentically tragic. Van Gogh was enormously productive and incandescent with inspiration when he was feeling well, and unable to take up his brush during his bouts of mental illness. With a final blow to the mythic Van Gogh, the authors argue he didn’t even kill himself, but fell victim to a couple of boys with a misfiring revolver.
Naifeh and Smith are persuasive in that conclusion, as they are in everything else in this magisterial biography. Writing with the co-operation of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, they didn’t have just the beautifully written letters exchanged by Vincent and his beloved brother Theo, but also previously unpublished family correspondence. The man who emerges is not someone most people would enjoy having for a relative. (Theo was a long-suffering brother.) Vincent was as dedicated to violent quarrels as he was to investigating the surprises provided by his own troubled psyche. Yet he had courage and integrity that is humbling to encounter.
After the death of his father in 1885, Van Gogh lost his religious faith, a loss with which he never really came to terms, according to Naifeh and Smith. As Van Gogh himself wrote, only art was left: “Illusions may fade, but the sublime remains. My aim in life is to make pictures and drawings, as many and as well as I can, and then passing away thinking, ‘Oh, the pictures I might have made!’ ” In Vincent Van Gogh’s heartbreaking story, there’s really nothing more to add.
By Richard Warnica - Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at 8:20 AM - 5 Comments
A charismatic student leads a widespread revolt against former dictator Augusto Pinochet’s school reforms
If one were to rank the legacies of the Pinochet era in Chile, education reform wouldn’t likely make most lists. The former dictator devastated his country in many ways. Thousands of his opponents were murdered or simply disappeared. Countless more were tortured or forced into exile. But Augusto Pinochet also radically deregulated the education market, pulling funds from the public sector in the early 1980s and spreading them into a parallel private system. Remarkably, it is that decision that has his country roiling today.
For more than six months, tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of students have filled the streets in Chile’s cities. Their explicit goal: to overturn the education system Pinochet imposed. Under the Pinochet system, private education flourished while the costs for public education, at the university level, soared. Chilean university students today pay upwards of 80 per cent of the costs of their own education in public and private universities, the highest rate in the OECD. To pay that, many take out crippling student loans. Many lower-income students, products of the poorly funded public secondary system, meanwhile, are shut out of the better universities by dint of poor test scores.
Beginning last Chilean fall, the students began to revolt. They shut down classes, stormed ministries and, depending on who you believe, either provoked or suffered through violent clashes with police. The protests, which featured massive street marches as recently as mid-November, are the largest and most sustained since Pinochet’s rule ended more than 20 years ago. Many have been organized by the country’s most prominent student group, whose leader, Camila Vallejo, has become a minor folk hero in the country.