Apparently the Tripoli Canucks dropped an important game last night. After the Boston Bruins triumphed in a laugher of a game 7 in the Stanley Cup finals, Vancouver fans took to the streets to vent their frustration and rectify what many believed to be a lack of smouldering automobile wreckage throughout the city. Police responded in kind, dispersing tear gas from horseback and somewhere in Cairo people watching asked, “Really?”
As a Habs fan, riots aren’t really that new to me – Bad loss? Riot. Big win? Riot. Off day? Riot. Best player gets suspended? Gunfire. – but in recent years the police force in Montreal has wised up, sectioning off streets around the Bell Centre and increasing their visible presence after games to curb, let’s call it “over-exuberant behaviour” on the part of Habs fans. To date, the police have been relatively successful in localizing riots, if not stamping them out completely. Hence I’m stunned by the reaction of their city and police force of Vancouver.
It was game 7 of the Stanley Cup, they’ve been here before. They saw what happened in ’94 when the Canucks lost. How could they be so ill prepared? Win or lose everyone on the face of the earth with a general knowledge of hockey fans was expecting something to happen, and when you get 10s of thousands of angry, intoxicated people crammed into a tight space you have to know something is going to happen. The level of their response was acceptable. That the situation was allowed to escalate to the point it did was not.
We’re going to hear a lot about whose fault this whole thing was in both the general and sports media and what can be done to prevent things like this in the future. Consider this: for the past two months the talking heads that make up the hockey punditry (I’m looking at you Don Cherry) have been referring to the playoffs as “two months of all out war”. When you equate a child’s game, which all sports are, to something as severe as war – particularly when there many going on – how can you expect any other reaction than violence?
Where this the aftermath of a soccer match FIFA would step in and bar fans for a few matches – maybe something Gary Bettmann and the NHL should consider.
Bare with me, I’m typing on a Blackberry.
So What Happened?
It came down to two provinces, as it usually does in federal elections: Ontario and Quebec. Ontario went Conservative to the tune of 72 seats, an 18 seat increase from the last election on the back of vote splitting across the province between Liberal and NDP candidates (though it’s tough to tell which side to blame for splitting the vote with the final results being what they are), as well as a healthy dose of “Rae Days” reminders in the final week. I expect that many centre and right-of-centre Liberals jumped to the Conservatives when the prospect of a Layton-led coalition – in the event of a minority government – was brought up by Conservatives during the last week, invoking the spectre of Bob Rae’s tenure as Premier with the message: Conservative majority or it’s back to this.
Quebec also saw a dramatic shift, with the NDP surging to an unlikely victory, crushing the Bloc Quebecois down to non-official party status. The Bloc’s fall, which can be at least partially blamed on the late rise of separatist rhetoric scaring away the moderate BQ voters to the NDP, led to the NDP’s historic Official Opposition finish. There’s been a clear change in the political direction in Quebec. For now.
In a word: stability. We know exactly when the next election is going to be, and until then this is Stephen Harper’s show, for better or worse.
The Green Party finally found a riding that Elizabeth May could be parachuted into and win, and good on them. I’m a fan of the environment. It provides air and water and food, and in my book, that’s pretty decent of it. I’m glad she won her seat, but it’s going to be interesting to see if she can be remotely effective as the only member of her party in a lame-duck opposition.
On election night I declared that seperatism was a dead issue in Canada in the wake of the BQ’s stunning defeat in La Belle Provence, dropping from 54 to 4 seats; their leader (who is a personal favourite of mine) Gilles Duceppe among the fallen. However, now that I’ve slept off the whiskey induced haze that got me through last night, I’m reconsidering that stance. The NDP is a national party, and as the Official Opposition, will have to represent federal issues despite the fact that the bulk of their support comes out of Quebec. Meanwhile, for the next four years the Bloc is going to have troops on the ground looking to rally support. If the NDP does not adequately represent the interests of Quebec, and they’ll be hard-pressed to do it as the opposition in a majority government. I believe that we’ll see another 180 degree turn and the resurrection of the BQ and all the issues that come with the party in 4 years time. In fact, as the majority Conservatives actually dropped support in Quebec, the BQ should have an easy time demonstrating that the federal government is apathetic towards Quebec interests.
The LPC is not dead yet.
Over the next few days I’ll attempt to assess what’s next for the five (Elizabeth May finally counts!) Federal parties.
I was baptised a Catholic. I’m not the most devout or observant, but I’ll attend Church when I can, I’ve read my Bible, I acknowledge the Vatican. I practice my own brand of the faith. I’m also a big proponent of freedom of speech and expression. That’s why I’m not going to rip into Lady Gaga (I feel as stupid writing that name as I do saying it) for her latest single Judas the way Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, did this week. However, and this may be the first time I’ve ever thought this, I understand his, and many other Catholics’ outrage over the song. It has as much to do with the timing of the song’s release as anything else. For those of you who don’t observe or don’t know, this week is Holy Week for the Catholic religion, which ends with Easter weekend, the celebration of the resurrection of Christ. In the Catholic faith, this week is the most important of the year; so it hardly comes as a coincidence that Lady Gaga chooses this week to not only leak the song, but also spread the rumour that the accompanying music video will be released on Easter Sunday. Whether it ends up being true or not is irrelevant, the desired controversy and publicity has been generated. Further, Lady Gaga has also come out and said that God told her the lyrics – Actually, that makes complete sense to me, there’s no way her stuff sells without divine intervention –
Now, and this is the part where I *cringe* agree with Bill Donohue, what was the point of all this? It seems like the whole purpose of this song’s release before the album itself was to piss of the Catholic community. And it’s not the first time Lady Gaga’s targeted the Catholic community; in the video for Alejandro she’s seen dressed as a nun and swallows a rosary, a scene spliced with a bondage scene…probably described as “tactless” at best. Which leads me to my second point – I’m all for freedom of expression, but this is ridiculous.
Donohue suggests that if Lady Gaga tried this with another religion, he uses Islam, there might be a violent response, and thus she, nor anyone else, would dare attempt it. But that in its essence is the beauty of the Western world: we can make fun of Catholicism. The religion’s presence in nations where freedom of expression/speech has grown and become a paramount right has afforded people the ability to satirize it without much fear. It’s why we have an entire Family Guy episode depicting Jesus as a wild party animal and ending with his giving The Trashmen’s Surfing Bird back to the world; or Monty Python’s The Life of Brian, the difference that those were intelligent, in good humour, or at the very least a good use of Surfin Bird. But Gaga’s Judas isn’t satire. It’s shock entertainment, and really, does pissing off Catholics honestly sell more records? Does having a segment about your song on Fox News reach the audience your trying to reach? Lady Gaga gains nothing by attacking the Catholic (or Christian) community.
Some people have tried to explain that Judas about Mary Magdolin (that name should ring a bell, and admit it, you enjoyed The Da Vinci Code) expressing her love for the betrayer of Christ. Frankly I don’t buy that. The most offensive part of this song is how unbelievably bad it is. The tune it catchy enough, but the words! I honestly couldn’t make them out when I first heard the song, so I looked them up. Here are some lines:
When he comes to me, I am ready I’ll wash his feet with my hair if he needs Forgive him when his tongue lies through his brain Even after three times, he betrays me
I couldn’t love a man so purely Even darkness forgave his crooked way I’ve learned love is like a brick, you can Build a house or sink a dead body
In the most Biblical sense, I am beyond repentance Fame hooker, prostitute wench, vomits her mind
But in the cultural sense I just speak in future tense Judas kiss me if offensed, Or wear ear condom next time
That’s offensive. Not just to Catholics, but to anybody who’s ever picked up a pen and thought about writing.
Historian Donald E. Smith, who pioneered of the study of secularism in democratic India, noted that “Democracy and secularism are tightly bonded.” If one goes, so does the other.
It’s considered a foundational pillar of the liberal democratic ideology – the first building block on a nation’s way to democracy. So what does it say when the United States of America, arguably the world’s greatest democracy, certainly the most power and the most symbolic, asks its citizens, when pledging allegiance to the flag, must to so as “one nation under God” ?
If you look through American history it’s not hard to find that Christianity, specifically Protestantism, defines American foreign and social policies and has since the nation’s inception. You really need look no further than the office of the President. To date the U.S., who heavily criticize religious regimes has had 43 Protestant Presidents of its 44 total, John F. Kennedy being the lone exception, a Catholic.
The addition of “under god” came in 1954, and has been heavily criticized and judicially challenged numerous times and continues to be a hot-button topic in the U.S., this isn’t really anything new. But as congress holds committee hearings on “Islamic radicalism” the issue has begun to come back to the forefront, with many predominant Muslims and Islamic scholars noting that it’d go a long way with the large religious communities (both Islamic and other non-Christian based) to abolish the words “under god” With an increasing diversity in the religion of Americans should “under god” and any other reference to “God” be removed from American (or any secular democracy for that matter) legislation?
I’m not sure how to look at this, on one hand they’re just words, on the other hand, to the more religiously inclined, they’re awfully meaningful words…
I’m writing to inform you that your government is making some changes around here. You see, the idea of Canada just doesn’t fit in to the ideas that we’re trying to cultivate around here. When people think of Canada they tend to think friendly, peaceful and reasonable. That’s just not what we’re all about. So instead of “The Government of Canada” we’re going to go with “The Harper Government” . In these times of “minority government” it’s important that the people of this nation and abroad recognize that we wear the pants around here, and the other parties have absolutely no say as to what does or does not pass in the House. There is only the Harper Government.
In a similar spirit, we’ve gone ahead and changed the official name of the nation to coincide with the new name of its government; after all, consistency is key. And so this great nation will hence forth be known as “The United Dominion of the Provinces of Harperland” or “Tim Horton’s Presents: Harper-Nation” for shot.
We’ve also taken the liberty to change some other titles around government: The Leader of the Opposition will now be known as “The Not Harper”, the leader of the NDP will now be known as “Mustache Harper”, the leader of the Bloc Quebecois will now be known as “French Harper” , the Office of the Prime Minister, now a position held for eternity, will be known as “The Office of the Infallible, Super Cool, Really Popular Ladies Man who is Always Right, Has Great Hair, and is Totally Not Fat” His word is law.
Your Supreme Overlord
The Right Honourable, Super Awesome Home-Coming King
Stephen “Vanilla Thunder” Harper
You know what really gets me here? It’s not that she’s the insignificant daughter of an over hyped former vice-presidential candidate and failed Alaskan governor, or that she’s only 20 years old (actually, both of those things get me too) it’s the target audience. Who is the target audience for this book!?!?!?!?!
Seriously, I want to know. If it’s you reading this, let me know why in the comments because I don’t understand who could possibly want to spend money on and read this. What has she done? Is her time on Dancing with the Stars really that interesting?
There’s also the whole “she just signed the deal and the book comes out this summer” thing. Don’t think for a second that she’s started it, she’s just going to write it in 3 months.
NOTE: If you can write your life’s story in 3 months, you’re (a) exceptionally dull, (b) extremely forgetful, (c) lying, (d) in no position to be writing your memoirs.
“Elected to form a minority government they didn’t want, these men promptly escaped from their political duties to the Ottawa Underground.
Today, still wanted to perform the duties of government, they survive as politicians of fortune.
If you have a problem – if no one else can help – and if you can find them – maybe you can hire the CAN-A-Team”
Amidst the turmoil in Egypt, governments abroad are scrambling to get their citizens safely home.
Portugal and Greece are sending military planes to evacuate their citizens. China and Indonesia are sending commercial and charter aircraft to get their people out. Hell, even Azerbaijan is sending a jet to collect their nationals.
The President of Iraq, the President of Iraq. Think about that for a second. I’m not sure if there’s a more tenuous political position in the world than being President of Iraq. The President of Iraq is sending his personal jet (who knew?!) to Cairo to evacuate stranded Iraqis and bring them home.
Meanwhile Canada, with some 6000 citizens in Egypt, ever protective of their citizens abroad (in 2006 they evacuated 15 000 from Lebanon at a 94 million dollar cost to the public) is expecting full reimbursement for charter flights to Europe, where on arrival citizens can buy their own commercial ticket home. Canada: we’ll save your life, cash up front.