by Stephen Kimber on May 13, 2013 | No Comments
So… did Percy really pop Keith? Is the premier going to pull the plug?
Can I get back to you?
I’m still in the Metro Centre. It's fun, frenzied Friday night. “The Cup is in the House,” and the house is bursting. Ten-thousand-five-hundred-and-ninety-five fans, plus media, scouts, officials, parents, friends of friends. Expectant, ready to implode, explode.
“We want the Cup!”
Will this — finally — be the night?
The puck hasn’t yet dropped and tonight’s 50-50 prize pot heads north of $20,000, double the usual regular-season end-of-game total. Feeling lucky…
Ron is grinning. Dave is worried. We’ve been coming to Moosehead games for 19 years. Ron knows how good this team is. Dave knows how often defeat has been snatched from the jaws of victory.
“Battle on the boards and the puck comes loose…”
At 5:32 of the first period — Stephen MacAulay, a 20-year-old from Cole Harbour whose mother recently died of cancer — wrists a hard shot from in front of the net… 1 – 0! We’re on our feet. Over in the next section, the “Pom-Pom Lady” — she’s been a fan as long as we have — shakes her pom poms. With vigour.
By the end of the first, it’s 3 – 0, the 50-50 pot is $30,000 and climbing (who had time during a period to buy tickets?) and the line-ups for the men’s washrooms snake like conga lines around the lower level. Heard inside the washroom: “Meet you back at the beer line.”
Ron is still grinning. Dave is still worried. “Don’t sit back,” he implores mid-way through the second period. “Skate!” He only looks like he’s not enjoying himself.
“We will… We will… rock you!” For once, arena rock isn’t necessary. The crowd is into this. With 10 minutes still to go in the third period and the Mooseheads only up by two, the we-are-the-champions chant starts in the upper bowl above. “Olé. Olé. Olé-olé, olé…” No one remembers it’s a Spanish football chant.
Some guy from Prospect wins the 50-50 draw, takes home more than $39,000!
Two more late goals, including a second MacAulay goal into an empty net, seals it. It’s over. Ron is still grinning. Dave smiles. Finally. High fives all around our section of bad-times-and-good-times fans. See you in September...
Percy Paris? An election call? Oh, right, I’ll get on that.
by Stephen Kimber on May 6, 2013 | 5 Comments
The good news is that Nova Scotia’s four Conservative MPs say they are not going to waste taxpayer dollars sending constituents their national party’s mudroom-generated, bottom-feeding Justin Trudeau mauler-mailers.
The bad news is that not one of them — Peter MacKay, Gerald Keddy, Scott Armstrong, Greg Kerr — seems prepared to denounce either their bullying content or their flagrant abuse of public funds.
The publicly-funded mailers, which are intended to allow local MPs to update their constituents on what they’ve been doing for them in the House of Commons and alert them to programs or issues of local significance, have been hijacked by the national parties — mostly but not exclusively the Tories — to fund partisan federal muck-tossing.
Consider the latest, which is scheduled to “blanket” the country June 1. Using every cheap font and design trick from a 1970s graphic designer’s handbook, it flanks side-by-side photos of Trudeau (dated, wispy beard, jacket over his shoulder, bathed in sparkles) and Harper (current, formal, larger, surrounded by what one wag called an “angelic glow”). Above the photos, the ad features a series of fact-maligning, decontextualized, bullet-smearing points intended to contrast the two men.
Perhaps our Nova Scotia MPs should read them more carefully.
“A famous last name,” mocks the mailer, “is not enough to run Canada’s economy.”
How about Canada’s defence? Consider Peter MacKay, whose admittedly more modestly famous last name smoothed his own entrée into federal politics and whose resumé is sprinkled with the fairy dust of semi-glamorous liaisons with semi-glamorous celebrities… Is having his semi-famous last name really enough to justify botching the purchase of a fleet of untendered fighter jets?
In the mailer, the Tories mock Trudeau’s supposed inexperience by highlighting the fact he was once — horrors — a “drama teacher,” a “camp counselor” and “white water rafting instructor.”
Should Scott Armstrong’s next campaign flyer begin with the embarrassing boast he was once a kids’ baseball coach? Should Gerald Keddy confess he is — as his bio attests — an “avid… outdoorsmen(sic)?” Should Greg Kerr own up to the fact he, like the unqualified Trudeau, was once — oh no! — a school teacher?
Or should our MPs finally stand up, tell their leader enough is enough, and demand an end to the gutter politics that demeans us all?
by Stephen Kimber on April 29, 2013 | 1 Comment
So federal justice minister Rob Nicholson isn’t the tiniest bit curious/concerned/appalled about what went wrong, and why, and what needs to be done to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Last week, the Supreme Court of Canada threw out Fenwick MacIntosh’s 2011 conviction on 18 charges of sexual assault and gross indecency, not because he didn’t do terrible deeds to at least four boys back in Port Hawkesbury in the 1970s but because the federal justice department, Canada Customs, Passport Canada, the department of foreign affairs, the RCMP and Nova Scotia’s Public Prosecution Service botched his case so badly MacIntosh’s rights had been violated beyond the possibility of a fair trial.
The minister sees no need for a public inquiry.
After the boys came forward with their allegations as adults in the 1990s, the RCMP investigated. Officers laid charges in December 1995. By then, however, MacIntosh had left Canada for a job in India.
It took the Mounties a full year and a half to alert Canada Customs to watch for him. It took another year for Nova Scotia’s prosecution service to ask Ottawa to ask India to send him home to Canada for trial. And then another five years — yes, five, count ’em! — for Ottawa to prepare the extradition request. And — hold it, we’re not even half done yet — another three years for Ottawa to deliver the request to New Delhi.
During this time, MacIntosh, a known fugitive from Canadian justice, got his passport renewed twice. When Passport Canada turned down one application, MacIntosh appealed. Passport Canada didn’t show up at the hearing and a federal court judge “temporarily” overturned its decision. Passport Canada apparently never followed up.
In fact, MacIntosh traveled back and forth between India and Canada on at least three occasions without even being questioned by authorities.
And yet, Rob Nicolson doesn’t believe there are any lessons to be learned from a full public airing of how this travesty of justice happened?
Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter has promised an “eyes wide open” inquiry into the province’s role in all of this, which is welcome. But given all of the federal agencies involved, it isn’t nearly good enough.
by Stephen Kimber on April 22, 2013 | 6 Comments
The Canadian Psychiatric Society, among others, publishes guidelines for reporting on youth suicide. Don’t put the word “suicide” in the headline, it says. Don’t give such stories undue prominence. Don’t describe the method. Don’t glorify the victim.
The guidelines are designed to reduce the very real risk of copycats.
We know many media outlets violated those guidelines while reporting Rehtaeh Parsons’ suicide.
We can’t know — yet — whether that will lead more young people to kill themselves. But we also can’t know whether the avalanche of publicity about this horrific incident will encourage as many or more parents to ask their kids the right questions before it’s too late, or give some troubled kids the courage to seek the help they need.
What we do know is that publicity about her case has triggered a much-needed public debate about youth sexual assault, cyber-bullying and teen suicide.
I, for one, worry about the mob mentality unleashed by publicity about Rehtaeh Parsons’ suicide. Too many people have been too quick to leap to conclusions based on too little real evidence. Too many people have been too willing to assume they know all they need to know to become judge, jury and executioner — of the justice system, of the school system, of the boys allegedly responsible.
And yet, I also have to acknowledge that same social media mobilization not only forced the reopening of the criminal investigation of Rehtaeh’s alleged sexual assault but has also sparked a broader review of how the system worked, or didn’t, and has even led to proposals for new laws, including how to deal with distributing intimate photos without permission.
Ask Adam Barnes. The 19-year-old Cole Harbour youth was among those “outed” as one of Rehtaeh Parsons attackers. Vigilantes distributed his photo online. Though he says he wasn’t even at the party where the assault allegedly occurred, Barnes now fears for his life. “I always have to worry about who recognizes me,” he told CBC News last week. “I always have to look out behind my back.”
In our rush to end online bullying and win justice for Rehtaeh, will we become the new bullies?
It is complicated.
by Stephen Kimber on April 15, 2013 | 10 Comments
On April 19, 1989, a 39-year-old woman named Trisha Meili went for a jog in New York’s Central Park. She was raped and violently assaulted.
Partly because of the attack’s brutality, partly because of news reports the perpetrators were a gang of “wilding” black youths and partly because of who the victim was—white, a Yale MBA, a Wall Street investment banker—“the Central Park Jogger” case stirred global pre-Internet passions and angry demands police arrest someone—now.
The police did charge five teenaged boys, four blacks and an Hispanic. Though some were juveniles, police and media publicly identified them anyway. Four confessed. They were all convicted and sentenced to lengthy prison terms.
“Justice” had been served.
Flash forward 13 years.
The boys, now men, had served their sentences and been released.
That’s when another man confessed to the crime. His DNA matched that found at the crime scene.
The original convictions were—too late—vacated.
What went wrong? In the rush for “justice,” certain inconvenient facts got overlooked. The confessions, which often contradicted one another about what had happened and were all later recanted, had been coerced by a police force under intense public pressure to nail the bastards. None of the crime scene DNA matched any of the suspects; the only DNA collected came from one, then-unknown-now-known person.
Why am I telling you all this?
Because, at a time of understandable, social-media-enflamed passion about the tragic suicide of Rehtaeh Parsons, we need to be cautious about what we think we know.
The no-name hactivists at Anonymous who, ironically, threaten to name Parsons’ alleged rapists if their hang-’em-high version of justice isn’t done—and done quickly—claim to know who did it. They also claim names of alleged perpetrators being circulated by others are wrong. How do they really know either?
And would what they imagine they know actually stand up in court, where the evidence bar rises above an email allegation, a Facebook post or a 140-character tweet?
By all means, let’s have an independent public review of how police, prosecutors, the school and others handled this case.
But let’s not assume its outcome.
Or presume mob vengeance is justice for Rehteah or anyone else.
by Stephen Kimber on April 8, 2013 | 2 Comments
Did Darrell Dexter balance the budget?
Is the pope Argentinian?
Depends on which pope you mean.
And what you mean by balance.
Not to forget "the..."
The perhaps more relevant pre-election questions out of last week’s legislature exercise:
- Would the other parties have done anything different in either the budget’s broad strokes or in its jiggery-pokery, see-we-kept-our-promise presentation?
- And, setting aside for the moment everyone’s OCD-like obsession with balanced budgets, is there anything good, and/or different to be said about this NDP budget?
The answer to the first question is easy. No.
One of the lessons learned from electing our first “democratic socialist” government four years ago is how little party labels matter.
This NDP has continued the dream-big-or-go-home Tory-Gliberal tradition dating back to at least Robert Stanfield, doling out wing-and-a-prayer pots of taxpayer dollars to multinational corporations—can you say Dae Woo?—for jobs that never seem to materialize.
And, like governments of all stripes everywhere, the NDP claims to worry about deficit and debt while implicitly subscribing to reality-discredited tax-cutting-to-prosperity theories. It continues to cut corporate taxes that help fund programs it then has to cut in order to pretend to bring down the deficit.
Throw in the uncontrollable constraints of a high Canadian dollar, an aging provincial population, declining federal transfers, corporate non-re-investment and the torrent-down joblessness of the global non-recovery… and you end up with an NDP budget that, in its broad outlines, probably resembles what Stephen McNeil or Jamie Baillie would have presented.
And McNeil and Baillie would almost certainly have engaged in the same reality-adjusting, future-finessing, Pollyanna presentation as the NDP to peddle it.
Which brings us to the tinkers. Is there anything good, and/or different to be said about this NDP budget?
Even in the current slice-and-dice-to-balance atmosphere, the NDP did play at its progressive edges.
There were minor increases for those on income assistance, more funds for low-income housing, an upped age limit for free kids’ dental care, modest tax breaks for low-income seniors and laudable, targeted new spending from insulin pumps and newborn screening to head-start education programs for poor children.
It’s not much—maybe $12 million in a $9.5 billion budget—but, from a progressive point of view, it’s probably more than we could have hoped for from the Liberals or Tories.
As we head into an election, is it enough?