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A Nostalgic Look At The Week That Was

And so another week as come to an end and it’s time to take a look at and consider how much we’ve accomplished together.

Lance Armstrong’s confession of having lied about doping was a big story this past week. He appeared in a two-part interview with the Queen of Trite, Oprah Winfrey, to lay bare the sordid truth about his career and thereby cleanse his soul.

It received more media attention than the Benghazi cover-up during the Presidential Election campaign.

The media did pre-confession and post-confession stories and the amount of analysis was staggering. They had experts speculate about the possible legal ramifications and the potential damage to LiveStrong. Some networks brought on experts to examine Mr. Armstrong’s body language during his interview while others brought in people to discuss whether or not the confession was enough to give him a chance to rehabilitate himself. Former colleagues and team mates were interviewed and there were countless commentaries delivered to a breathless public.

He cheated. He lied about it. Get over it. Let those he cheated deal with it. I don’t care what his body language says. It isn’t telling us anymore than we need to know so let’s move on to the other big sports story of the week. No, not hockey. We’ll get to that in a moment.

The other big sports story was the tragic death of Notre Dame football star Manti Te’o's girlfriend. It was made all the more tragic when it came to light that not only had he never actually met or spent time with his girlfriend but that she didn’t actually exist. It was a hoax and an anxious world awaits impatiently to learn if it was a hoax perpetrated by, or on, Notre Dame’s star tackle.

One of the larger ongoing  issues remains the great gun control debate in the United States. What a paranoid and uncivilized farce that’s turned into. It is no longer a reasoned discussion on how best to protect society from those who would do it harm and is now a hysterical debate about government oppression and suppression of rights.

I’ve seen comments from the pro-gun movement that the Sandy Hill shooting was a conspiracy to take away the rights of gun owners which is not only wrong, it is just patently immoral. The NRA, for its part, released a television ad featuring the President’s daughters which goes beyond the pale and is simply offensive.

I watched the anti-gun lobby led by President Obama, fall back on the same, tired approach to things that have been tried and that have failed in the past. They continued to focus on rifles when the majority of gun crime is committed with handguns which aren’t even mentioned in the President’s proposals. Neither is crime for that matter but then, why spoil the beauty of the illusion of doing something constructive based on real facts? It’s just so much easier to try to delude people into believing by clamping down, somewhat timidly, on legal gun owners rather than deal with the complexities around crime, sociopathic behaviour and their root causes you will accomplish this time, what it was failed to be accomplish in the past.

It doesn’t seem to matter which side of the discussion people are on, however, once the extremists on both sides get control of the agenda, illusion replaces fact.

And the band played on as yet another person was attacked in a subway and thrown on the tracks; this time in Philadelphia. As the video of the incident clearly showed, carrying a gun wouldn’t have saved this woman but fortunately she was able to avoid being hit by the train.

One wonders if the sudden increase in subway attacks in the United States will lead to increased regulation by the anti-subway movement or demands by the pro-subway movement for the government to get their hands off ‘our’ subways.

The millionaire owners and players of the National Hockey league, having settled their argument over how to best divide up the billions that flow from fans, are back at work preparing for a shortened season in which they hope to skim a few more bucks out of those who have supported them.. For their part, fans are just so gosh-darned happy to have the Boys of Winter back that they rushed to buy tickets like cattle lumbering to the barn at milking time.

All is forgiven now that the puck is going to drop on the ice and it reminded me of how quick we are to forgive when its someone or something we like or want and how slow when it isn’t.

And then there are the Idle No More protests.

This situation has become so absurd, you almost don’t know where to begin to discuss it let alone deal with it.

First Nations’ protesters blockaded rail lines, highways and border crossings, this past week, to draw attention to their demands. Just exactly what those demands might be isn’t actually all that clear because the First Nations themselves don’t seem to be all that united on what they are, either.

Some want the Indian Act repealed – others don’t. Some lay claim to being the caretakers of Mother Earth and protecting the environment from the threat of pipelines and the development of the oil sands. Simultaneously, others like Attawapiskat led by Theresa Spence, actually invest in pipelines and the oil sands. Some want resource development stopped others want a bigger slice of the resource development pie.

Some are demanding that the Governor General participate in negotiations without any regard for the fact that the crown no longer has the constitutional authority to negotiate land claims and treaty rights on behalf of Canada. That was changed, by constitutional amendment in the 1800s.

And therein lays a big part of the problem with all this noise.

There are too many claiming to speak on behalf of the aboriginal community who bring a less than limited understanding of the real world to the table. In fact, there are too many who are not aboriginal piggybacking on the Idle No More movement, to their detriment.

The problems facing First Nations are here and now, in the present. The solution to them isn’t going to be found in some outdated, romantic notion about the way things were done 300 hundred years ago.  It’s time to get with the program if First Nations leaders truly want to bring about real and substantive change for their people.

Of course, that’s going to be a bit difficult when you realize that there is no specific unified leadership these days. You can tell a lot about a people by the leaders they choose to follow. It is amazing that there remain those who actually think that Theresa Spence with her pathetic charade and questionable values is preferable to someone like Sean Atleo.

There are some solid, intelligent and focused leaders in the First Nations but the protest movement ain’t listening to them. Instead, they’re listening to people like Theresa Spence while vilifying Chief Atleo and his supporters. Some are even busy at work trying to figure out how to oust the Chief from his office while he is on medical leave and it doesn’t get much more unprincipled than that. There is nothing classier than publicly attacking someone who is unavailable  to defend himself due to illness.

They would do better if they listened to Chiefs like Clarence Louie Chief – and CEO – of the Osoyoos Band in British Columbia’s South Okanagan. He is a breath of fresh air in this never-ending debate.

It may feel nice to have someone like Ellen Gabriel accuse the Prime Minister of racism because he hasn’t met with Theresa Spence but the simple fact if that was Chief Spence herself who refused the opportunity when she had it on January 11th.

I’ve noticed that too often, when the tactics and the facts don’t support or advance the cause, accusations of racism are what some fall back on to try and bolster their position. It isn’t true, of course, it’s just more noise to try and increase the volume and drown out the truth.

The truth is that Canadians and their government would like to see life improve for people living on reserves. They are prepared to discuss and negotiate new agreements but even though that is the stated objective of most First Nations, the protests, the accusations and the nonsense continue. Canadians are not prepared to simply keep throwing money at the problem without some kind of accountability. Too much of that money isn’t making its way past some First Nations’ chiefs to actually help those for whom it was intended.

Of course, it isn’t just some aboriginal leaders who have some ‘splainin’ to do about how money has been handled.

The expenses of disgraced former Ornge CEO, Dr. Chris Spazza, were released last week and it’s always nice to see how well taxpayers contribute to the lifestyles of the modern government appointee. Dr. Spazza who was in charge of a ‘provincial’ operation managed to rack up thousands in expenses for trip to far-away places like Brazil and Italy and even get the taxpayer to pick up the tab for his cups of Tim Horton’s coffee. We are nothing, if not a generous people.

This is just a continuation of the ongoing scandal that is Ornge Air Ambulance and which prompted that good honest fellow, Premier Dalton McGuinty to prorogue the legislature. Apparently he finds it easier to govern from behind the bushes as opposed to standing up front and answering to the people of Ontario.

Some stories were quite small but no less abusrd.

Quebec Court Judge Ellen Paré sued a contractor in small claims court but ended up being reprimanded when it came to light that she had actually hired the contractor under the table to avoid paying sales taxes. You have to question the intelligence, if not the sanity, of a judge who has broken the law going to court to get redress. Clearly, for some, the sense of entitlement knows no boundaries.

The other big story was data or more accurately, the loss of it.

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada managed to lose the records of 500,000 student loans. This included the names and other personal information of the borrowers and the outstanding amounts of the loans. Poof! Gone! And nobody really knows how it happened. Class action law suits have already been launched against the government with a promise of more to come.

Not to be outdone, the Montfort Hospital in Ottawa which is part of the Ontario health network, managed to lose an unsecured USB with 25,000 patient records. This is the second time the hospital has had records vanish into the ether but the good news is that this time, they’re going to take it more seriously in future and institute changes to improve patient record security.

I suppose that better late than never is the best we can expect from the bureaucracy. Perhaps like some of our aboriginal friends they too should become better acquainted with the realities of life in the 21st Century rather than relying on outdated and careless procedures and processes of the past.

There were many more, of course, but you get the picture. It’s been mostly confusion, carelessness and stupidity all dressed up in confession, hypocrisy and sanctimony. Next week, however, things may improve. President Obama will be inaugurated and the National Hockey League starts its truncated season. What could possibly go wrong?

What could go wrong? Just ask a Toronto Maple Leafs’ fan if you truly want to know the answer to that question.

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© 2012 Maggie’s Bear
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  • Sebastian Anders

    About Lance Armstrong, “Who cares?” you said. After I’ve said my piece, I may not care anymore either, not that I cared much to begin with because I am not a fan of team sports. Skiing was my sport: something on which I depended on no one but myself, to do. But that’s another story, long past.

    A lot of people used to care about Mr. Armstrong and a lot still do. But the story??? I agree. Too much story. Presented with much unnecessary fanfare. However, after watching about half an hour of his confession on Mother Oprah, which is about all I can digest of the “Queen of Trite”, I let my wife watch the rest by herself. And she watched the second half the next night, as well.

    Today, it came up in a conversation where she attempted to explain to me how wrong it was for him to have done what he did and that he did his act of contrition because of the effect it had on his son. Also, he should pay back all the money he made from his lies.

    Should he now? I said. Let’s see. The people who paid him money, made a lot of money from his lies as well, so why should he pay them back? What about people like Nike? she said. They want their money back. Are they the same Nike, I said, who were taken to task for allegedly having their products made in factories who use child labour?

    Don’t get me wrong, I said, I’m not defending his actions. And he is no longer defending his actions either. But I have to agree with him that, because of the type of person he is, (that he had to win at all cost) he felt compelled to establish a level playing field, since so many competitors from so many other teams and countries, if not most, were also using performance enhancing “help”, something that has been going on and being denied by all participants for years. And do you know something? I said, even though most of them were using the stuff, he beat them all. And that is what pissed them off. That is why they went after him with a vengeance. And that is why the “officials” would not let it go and persisted and hounded him until they brought him down, because he humiliated them. And will they go after all the other users with the same verve as they did him? Of course not. They have their sacrificial lamb, and they will use him as the model not to emulate, and it will make them feel good. It will make them feel holy. It will make them feel justified. It will make them feel vindicated.

    But all those who promised to sue him to get their money back, will they follow through? I doubt it. Not unless they are foolish enough and prepared to lose a lot more money.

    As long as there are competitive sports and big money involved, there will always be someone coming up with something to get the edge on the other competitors. And there will always be those with the holier than thou attitude who believe that sports must remain pure and godly, which is very commendable, but naive. And as far as I am concerned, although I am not a great fan of the Tour de France or any competitive sport, for that matter, Lance Armstrong is still a champion, with or without his medals or trophies. And that is my take on it.

    On the Idle No More file, today I had an epiphany.

    As I was leaving Costco with my wife and daughter after a bit of shopping and driving out of the parking lot, I came to a stop sign onto the street where there was a cop directing traffic. But just as I got there, he signalled me to stop so he could give the traffic on the street a chance to go through.

    Jokingly, I said out loud to the cop (but with the widows closed so I could not be heard outside the car) “That’s it. Just because I’m white you’re stopping me so the Indians can get through, Thanks a lot.” Then I realized that if that thought came to my head, jokingly or otherwise, it is probably happening to other people as well.

    And from all the comments I have read over the past few weeks, I would say it is most likely crossing a lot of Canadians’ minds on both sides of the racial divide because, as I have seen expressed so many times and heard and read on the news, they are fed up, not only with the lack of transparency in the financial affairs but even more so the behaviour of the police in respect to the blockades across the country that are disrupting, not only the day to day lives of many Canadians just trying to get to work so as to keep up with the bills, but also the effect it has on the economy, now and in the long run.

    Some people may have a similar reaction as I had today, but not necessarily in a joking manner. And if it is allowed to build up, it could become serious. If it solicits actions on the part of the various levels of government to move them in the direction of doing whatever is necessary to solve this crisis once and for all, that would be a good thing. But if they keep on tipping the balance in the wrong direction, as was the case of the police favouring the actions of the First Nations people by not enforcing the law under the guise of keeping the peace, tempers could flare and violence could erupt. And that would be a bad thing, for all concerned.

    And yes, I really believe that the Spence saga, the pathetic joke that it was and keeps on being, and the Idle No More movement, has backfired on the schemers who put that together, as much as a drunken sailor can roll a decent cigarette without spilling tobacco.

  • Nicola Timmerman

    Find it strange that the virtual girlfriend story is getting more coverage than the hostage situation in Algeria. Then again I guess the MSM doesn’t want to admit that terrorism and jihad are still very strong on Obama’s watch.

    The Lance Armstrong story I find very sad. I remember in an article about Armstrong many years ago a rival phoned him up on Christmas Day to wish him well and Armstrong’s wife told him Armstrong was out training on a nearby mountain. The rival said to himself, well I guess I’m not going to beat that guy. So despite Armstrong’s arrogrance and bullying of others including trying to get Dick Pound thrown out of office, I remember that he was a fabulous athlete and trained like few people did.

    Still don’t understand why anyone who blocks a railway line can’t be charged with terrorism.

    • http://abearsrant.com thebear

      I find it bizarre that the virtual girlfriend story is getting any coverage at all. Who really cares?

      As for Lance Armstrong, I think it is a shame that many who trusted him clearly misplaced their trust and that he was often viscious in his denials about doping. Still, I also believe that a lot of people benefited from being associated with him at his zenith and probably got their money’s worth. For me, it’s another who cares story.

      I don’t understand why the police are afraid to enforce our laws when it comes to illegal protest. I don’t understand why governments are afraid to speak out against vandalism and other illegal activity. They’re not the least bit shy about accusing each other of the most ridiculous offenses.

      Thank you for your comment and for taking the time to read the article.