The Return of Stuff Happens, week 39: The world of perpetual crisis

I’m too young to remember the Cuban Missile Crisis (what a pleasure, for once, to be ‘too young’ to remember something). From what I know of it, it sounds like a truly terrifying time. The USSR was installing nukes on Cuba, within easy reach of the U.S. mainland. The U.S., not surprisingly, objected. This resulted in a showdown between the world’s only two nuclear powers. For a few days, the threat of nuclear war hung in the air like a radioactive cloud.

There hasn’t been anything quite like it since. I’m not saying we’re witnessing a repeat of that scary time today, but we’ve never been closer. And this one looks like it’s going to be around for a long time.

Consider the situation. A rogue nation, a true hell-on-earth called North Korea, is ruled by a diminutive, fat-faced, all -powerful dictator named Kim Jong-un. North Korea has nukes, and Kim says he’s not afraid to use them against South Korea, Japan, and even the U.S.

Incredibly, he’s the least of our worries.

Another rogue nation, the former beacon-of-democracy called the United States of America, is ruled by a fat-faced, orange-hued lunatic named Donald Trump. The U.S. has nukes, lots and lots of nukes, and Trump says he’s not afraid to use them.

Of the two demented leaders, the one that scares me is Trump.

Kim knows, I am sure, that a first strike from North Korea will result in an instant counterattack that will vaporize his shabby little country, killing tens of thousands and causing thousands of dollars in damage (nothing in North Korea is worth much). Kim, and whatever brain trust he has around him, surely knows that an unprovoked nuclear attack by his country will end his regime, and destroy all the monuments to his father and grandfather. That’s a pretty big deterrent.

Trump has the upper hand, with a much larger arsenal and the support of the western world – IF the U.S. is attacked first. A preemptive strike by the U.S. would surely work to crush the North Korean threat, but America’s allies would turn against the country and plunge the entire world into chaos (exactly what Russia’s Vladamir Putin, the World’s Most Dangerous Man, would like).

Kim Jong-un may be a tinpot dictator, but Trump is nuts. Vanity Fair published a truly disturbing story about the Trump which said he is, basically, teetering on the brink of full-on nuttiness. Here’s a sample…

One former official even speculated that (chief of staff John) Kelly and Secretary of Defense James Mattis have discussed what they would do in the event Trump ordered a nuclear first strike. “Would they tackle him?” the person said. Even Trump’s most loyal backers are sowing public doubts. This morning, The Washington Post quoted longtime Trump friend Tom Barrack saying he has been “shocked” and “stunned” by Trump’s behaviour.

While Kelly can’t control Trump’s tweets, he is doing his best to physically sequester the president—much to Trump’s frustration. One major G.O.P. donor told me access to Trump has been cut off, and his outside calls to the White House switchboard aren’t put through to the Oval Office. Earlier this week, I reported on Kelly’s plans to prevent Trump from mingling with guests at Mar-a-Lago later this month. And, according to two sources, Keith Schiller quit last month after Kelly told Schiller he needed permission to speak to the president and wanted written reports of their conversations.

Oh, my. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

It’s election time …. zzzzzzzz

It’s election time in Edmonton, and never have I been more disengaged. And this comes from a lifelong political junkie.

I live in a ward with an interesting race, in that there is no incumbent and a number of candidates who seem quite viable (with one exception; I won’t mention this name, but let me just say do NOT put your X next to a guy whose name starts with the same letter). But the Edmonton mayoralty race is a joke, a sham, a bit of a disgrace to the city. Take a look at this clip compiled by CBC from “highlights” of this week’s mayoralty forum. There is no legitimate alternative to Don Iveson, which is a shame since the deadly dull Iveson has been a bit of a flop as mayor. He should be on the ropes, but he’s young and pretty and ‘progressive’ and projects the image Edmonton wants to project to the world. Incumbent mayors only get turfed when they’ve gone well past their best before date, and even then it takes a herculean effort and lots of money. Unfortunately, Iveson is utterly unbeatable, and with the financial bar set so ridiculously low for any chump to enter the mayoralty, the result in a gong show.

I am a little envious of Calgary right now, where there is a full-on brawl for the mayoralty. Incumbent Naheed Nenshi could actually lose to a guy named, believe it or not, Bill Smith. Switching from the first elected Muslim in a major city to a white bread guy named Bill Smith is enough to give you whiplash. But left-right politics have taken hold in the civic election in Calgary. Right-wingers – chaffing under the double yoke of an NDP government in Edmonton and a Liberal government in Ottawa – have set their sights on the progressive Nenshi, and there is a real chance he could lose. What fun!

And finally in Calgary, I have to mention the story of incumbent councillor Ward Sutherland. At a public forum, he was commenting on a hot issue in Calgary  (public art, and how it is chosen) when he said the following: “As I dove into the weeds, I found one of the biggest issues was the fact that the people, the committee that was picking the art, first of all, 10 out of the 10 people were artists. And, when they were looking at it, they’re going, ‘Well, Johnny Jew from New York, he’s the best artist, so we’re going to use him and not even look at it.”

‘Johnny Jew’? Yikes. The backlash threatens to destroy his re-election chances. But later, Ward came up with this absolutely stellar explanation: he didn’t say ‘Johnny Jew’, he said ‘Johnny Choo’, which he said was “a famous New York designer with the last name of Choo”. Unfortunately for Ward, the comment is on tape, and if you think Ward said ‘Johnny Choo’, get yourself to an audiologist. You can watch it here.


Y.A. Tittle, 90, American hall of fame QB with Baltimore, San Francisco and New York.


The Return of Stuff Happens, week 38: Trans Canada pulls the plug; Vegas joins the club

Pipeline builder Trans Canada dropped a bomb on the Liberal government on Thursday when it cancelled its $15.7-billion proposed Energy East pipeline, which was designed to carry 1.1-million barrels a day of Western crude to Eastern refineries and export terminals.. The reason, according to Trans Canada: “changed circumstances”.

Hmmm. An answer that deliberately vague allows politicians to fill in the blanks. The Trudeau government said it was a business decision, pure and simple; the price of oil has fallen since the project was announced, so it is no longer viable, Justin Trudeau shrugged. The opposition Conservatives interpreted “changes circumstances” as the National Energy Board changing the regulatory rules and making them so onerous that Trans Canada could not, or would not, comply. They are both right, to a degree. Methinks the Conservatives are a lot more right than the Liberals.

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, who led the ludicrously overwrought Quebec opposition, crowed that the cancellation was a “victory”.  That truly pissed of Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, who said: “I can’t believe, frankly, that anyone would take any glee in the loss of this incredibly important investment and in the loss of thousands and thousands of jobs and in the continuing reliance of his citizens on oil from foreign countries.”

“To me, that is not something to be celebrating.” (Edmonton’s mayor, the deadly dull Don Iveson, said nothing.)

New Brunswick’s government took the subdued route, saying it was disappointed. So was Rachel Notley, but she was “deeply disappointed”. Other reaction from Western Canada was somewhat off the charts. Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said: “Our taxpayers in Saskatchewan and Alberta will continue to send, without question, about $2.5 billion in equalization payments to help support Quebec that receives $11 billion in equalization per year and $1.4 billion to Ontario. For the west to continue on like this in our federal system is the equivalent of having Stockholm syndrome.” Wall, not surprisingly, placed the blame entirely on Trudeau.

And then there was UCP leadership candidate Brian Jean, who went all in. Jean called it “an attack on Canada and Alberta” and “a shameful moment in Canadian history.” He blasted Coderre, saying: “He’s proud of holding back Canada’s energy prosperity. Other provinces have declared war on Alberta. They are cheering for Canada to fail and threatening national unity.” Jason Kenny was, surprisingly, much less off the wall, tweeting: “The NDP promised their carbon tax would create ‘social licence’ for pipelines. What a joke.”

So, what to make of this? Until Trans Canada comes clean (their vague statement seemed mischievously designed to cause maximum consternation), we can only guess why they pulled the plug, at a cost to the company of more than $1 billion. Best guess is that the decision was due to a number of circumstances. The National Energy Board’s decision to retroactively include “upstream and downstream emissions” (in other words, the greenhouse gas impact from the production of the oil to the use of the oil) in its hearings made the approval process that much more costly and time consuming, if not impossible. With the Trump administration approving the Keystone XL pipeline (another Trans Canada project) the company may just have said, screw it, let’s just do Keystone.

Of all the pipeline plans, the Energy East project made the most sense to me. Canadian oil for Canadians. But if the most sensible, least environmentally questionable project won’t go, then what chance is there for all of the others? None, I suspect. Trudeau has bragged about approving three pipelines in his time in office, compared to zero for Stephen Harper. But he should hold off on the self-congratulations until something actually gets built. Which will probably never happen.

What happens in Vegas becomes international news

Last Sunday night, while 22,000 fans were enjoying an outdoor concert in Las Vegas by a country singer named Jason Aldean, a man in the Mandalay Bay hotel broke a window and opened fire. From almost 300 yards away, he opened fire with semi-automatic weapons. He killed 58 people and injured almost 500, the worst mass shooting in American history (TV has taken to using the term “modern American history”, as if there is some mass slaughter by one person that happened in another century that everyone has forgotten about). Four Canadians – three from Alberta – were killed, including a single mother of four.

What more can you say about the sick, twisted relationship between America and guns? How about some numbers? America has more than six times the number of gun deaths as Canada, 16 times as many as Germany.  Australia has 1.4 firearms killings per 1,000 people; America has 29.7. There will be demands for new controls, and just as certainly they will be rebuffed. Because America is a land where guns are cheap, and so are lives.

Late night laments

The Las Vegas massacre put America’s court jesters/commentators in a tough spot. The late night comics (Conan, Colbert, the two Jimmys, Seth, James … did I leave anyone out?) were once again put in the position of doing a frothy comedy/interview show on the day of an unimaginable horror. They did it with Sandy Hook, they did it with the Pulse nightclub shooting, and now Las Vegas. They all addressed the horror, with Stephen Colbert being the most politically blunt, and Jimmy Kimmel the most emotional. Kimmel, previously the least political of all the late night comics, has morphed into a sharp-tongued commentator since his son was born with a serious heart defect that required extensive surgery. Kimmel became an advocate for health care for all Americans, and launched blistering attacks on Republicans who were trying to dismantle Obamacare. On Monday night, the often emotional Kimmel – a native of Las Vegas – delivered this moving, angry commentary.

And in Trumpland …

This week, Donald Trump paid an overdue visit to the battered island of Puerto Rico, which, as he has said repeatedly, is surrounded by water, lots and lots of water. Trump, naturally, messed it up horribly. He made a lame joke about how Puerto Rico messed up with his budget plans (a joke that wasn’t even met with embarrassed titters). And in the worst photo op ever devised, Trump handed out supplies by lobbing rolls of paper towels at a crowd. Apparently, paper towels are just what flooded out people need. Hope they were Brawny and not some lousy generic.

Meanwhile, in another extraordinary leak from the White House, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was quoted by two news sources as having called Trump a “moron”. He didn’t admit it, but then he didn’t deny is completely, either. He’s no moron.

Update on the terrorist/not a terrorist

Details emerged this week about the Edmonton ‘not a terror’ attack last week. The perpetrator, Abdulahi Hasan Sharif, was on the RCMP radar after the cops were tipped off that he might have been radicalized. They investigated, couldn’t find any evidence, and dropped the matter. It has also emerged that Sharif was living in the U.S. in 2011 when he was ordered removed to Somalia. He was not detained, but when the time came for his return to Somalia, he had disappeared, presumably now in Canada. How did someone who had been expelled from the U.S. move to Canada and be granted refugee status? Good question. I think. And one that we probably won’t get an answer to, this being Canada, where the tough questions regularly go unanswered.


Tom Petty, 66, one of the most enduring and widely popular rock and roll artists of the last few decades. From Breakdown back in 1978 (!), Petty logged 10 “Mainstream Rock Songs” No. 1s, among 28 top 10s, the latter the record for the most top 10s in the Billboard chart’s history. You may not have liked everything Tom Petty did, but chances are you liked a lot of it. This has been an especially bad year for musicians. Add Petty’s name to a list that includes country singer Troy Gentry, Steely Dan co-founder Walter Becker, country/crossover legend Glen Campbell, Chris Cornell of Soundgarden, Gregg Allman of the Allman Brothers, pioneer rock and roller Chuck Berry, and jazzman Al Jarreau,


The Return of Stuff Happens, week 37: Terrorism in my backyard

You know that it could happen in your town. You just don’t expect that it will.

I went to the Edmonton Eskimo game last night, and as I entered the stadium I was struck by how much security there is today. Bags are searched, and for some reason wands were used to check random fans for … I don’t know, weapons? Always seems excessive to me.

But later that night, right here in Edmonton, a man drove his car into a police barricade outside Commonwealth Stadium during a CFL game, striking a police officer and sending him flying through the air. He then jumped out of his car and stabbed the officer several times. Later in the evening, a U-Haul van went on a rampage in downtown Edmonton, striking pedestrians before finally landing on its side. Police are calling it an act of terrorism.

Thankfully, the cop was not gravely injured, and is in fact already at home. The pedestrians suffered a range of injuries, from broken bones to head injuries. The suspect is a Somali national who has applied for refugee status, and was on the government’s radar as being potentially radicalized. He was, however, deemed to be not a threat. Good call, guys!

What could have been a major incident with many fatalities instead becomes simply a close call. Edmonton joins the no-longer exclusive clubs of cities who have had to endure a terrorist attack. We can be thankful this was only a glancing blow, and not a direct hit. Cold comfort on a cool autumn day.

NDP cements third-place position

Remember just before the 2015 federal election, when it looked like Thomas Mulcair and the NDP had a chance, however unlikely, of forming government? Those were the days, right, Dippers?

On Sunday, the federal NDP cemented its permanent third-place position in Canadian politics by choosing Jagmeet Singh, a turbaned, bearded Sikh, as their new leader. A lot of people will see it as a sign of Canada’s “inclusiveness”, etc. etc. that a major political party in this country has elected a very visible religious minority as its leader, perhaps the first nation in the western world to do so. But that feel good stuff only goes so far. It is unpleasant to hear, but there are a lot of people in this country who would never vote for a Sikh, or any religious minority. The party is completely screwed in Quebec, once considered the party’s base during the Jack Layton years. Quebecers are solidly secularist, the only province in the country that has had angry public debates about religious symbolism in public life, and their hopes in that vote-rich province are now very, very dim.

Singh seems like a pretty decent young guy, and he will appeal to the core of hard lefties, but the chances of the NDP grabbing a large chunk of the Canadian vote just went up in smoke.

This week in Trumpism

Earlier this week, I was pondering if Donald Trump was a genius by cleverly distracting the population with trivial matters, or just an idiot with the world’s biggest megaphone. Today, I’ve voting for idiot.

Consider this past week. Last Saturday, at an Alabama rally (why does no one question his rallies, which must cost the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of dollar every time he has one?), Trump randomly went on a rant about the very tiny number of National Football League players who take a knee during the national anthem as a protest against racial inequality. (The player who came up with this protest, quarterback Colin Kaepernick, is currently unemployed despite the NFL’s dearth of quality quarterbacks.) He called any player who took a knee “a son of a bitch” and said they should be fired. Well, go figure … NFL players united in protest against Trump, with entire teams taking a knee during the anthem, or refusing to even show up. Some grandstanding NFL owners joined the team protests, some of whom donated to Trump’s campaign. (Maybe they are trying to atone for their sins?) This knee jerk reaction (get it? knee jerk?) dominated the news in the U.S. for a week, and Trump fed the flames with more incendiary tweets.

Was there other news in the U.S. last week? Sure, just a little. Trump’s son-in-law, the silent Jared Kushner, was revealed to have used a private email server after joining the White House staff. The Republican’s third attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare ended in failure. Trump’s new tax plan was immediately revealed to make the rich richer (including Trump, who it was calculated would have save a BILLION dollars in taxes under his tax plan). The government’s response to the catastrophic hurricane damage in Puerto Rico – which is without power and clean water, and is running low on food – is widely seen as badly mismanaged. When the mayor of San Juan criticized the Trump administration’s rescue efforts on Saturday, Trump responded – via tweet from his luxury golf course in New Jersey – that the mayor displayed “poor leadership”, that her comments were made on orders from the Democrats, and that she was unable to get city workers to help. “They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort,” Trump wrote. Yep, he blasted the mayor of a hurricane devastated town because she dared to criticize his relief efforts.

And also from the golf course, Trump derided the efforts of his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to talk to North Korea, tweeting that he told the Secretary of State that he is “wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man … Save your energy, Rex, we’ll do what has to be done.”

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again – this was Donald Trump’s worst week. Stay tuned for next week.

He comes from Alabama … I mean, where else?

The Alabama rally where Trump made his NFL remarks was in support of a Republican candidate in a senate primary with the Marvel comic-esque name of Luther Strange. Strange, however, lost the primary to a guy named Judge Roy Moore. And get a load of this guy.  Moore says (brace yourselves) that homosexuality should be illegal, doesn’t believe in evolution, and was twice kicked off the Alabama supreme court. When a Muslim congressman swore his oath of office on a Koran, he compared it to taking an “oath on Mein Kampf” in 1943, and said he should not be seated in Congress. He has called Islam a “false religion.” In August, he said: “There are communities under Sharia law right now in our country. Up in Illinois. Christian communities.” He later acknowledged that he had no idea if that was true.

This guy is one vote away from becoming a United States senator.


Hugh Hefner, 91, creator and publisher of Playboy magazine. Hefner’s impact on society can scarcely be understated. He created the first widely distributed magazine to feature female nudity (my teenage self thanks you, Hef). But it wasn’t just a nudie magazine; Playboy featured writing from some of the most important and influential writers of the 20th century. You could actually say that you read Playboy for the articles, and not be laughed at. He was a champion of civil and women’t rights, ironic for a guy who dressed women up in bunny costumes … David Mainse, 81, Canadian televangelist who created and hosted the long-running 100 Huntley Street …. Charles Bradley, 68, powerhouse American soul singer … Monty Hall, 96, the Winnipeg-born host of the long running game show Let’s Make A Deal.

The Return of Stuff Happens, week 36: Trudeau vs. Trump

Donald Trump, the increasingly, dangerously irrational U.S. president, addressed the UN General Assembly this week. So, too, did Justin Trudeau, the poster boy for all that is liberal in the world. Their addresses could not be more different, which is to be expected. And thank God for that.

Trump was terrible, as expected. He gave the kind of speech that would, delivered by any other president or any other sane person, would have caused a billion jaws to drop. But for Trump, it was business as unusual. This week, he tore strips off the floundering former democracy Venezuela (“The Venezuelan people are starving and their country is collapsing. Their democratic institutions are being destroyed. This situation is completely unacceptable and we cannot stand by and watch, he said.), resulting in the Venezuelan president calling Trump “the new Hitler”. He had charming things to say about Iran (“It is time for the entire world to join us in demanding that Iran’s government end its pursuit of death and destruction.”), resulting in the Iranian president calling his comments “ignorant and absurd”. He saved his best shots for North Korea. “No nation on Earth has an interest in seeing this band of criminals arm itself with nuclear weapons and missiles,” Trump said, referring to the regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, whom he has decided to call Rocket Man, which is actually pretty cool. (Wouldn’t Rocket Boy have been better?) “The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.” A North Korea spokesman likened Trump to a “barking dog”, which, as insults go, is pretty toothless. Bile, hatred and threats. Yep, pretty much par for the course.

Justin Trudeau, too, had a lot of bad things to say in his speech on Thursday. The difference was that all the bad stuff was about Canada.

Trudeau didn’t mention any of Trump’s whipping boys, concentrating his remarks on what a shitty country Canada has been in relation to its Indigenous people.

“For First Nations, Metis Nation and Inuit peoples in Canada, those early colonial relationships were not about strength through diversity, or a celebration of differences. For Indigenous peoples in Canada, the experience was mostly one of humiliation, neglect, and abuse.”

Trudeau spoke about the lack of safe drinking and bathing water in Indigenous communities across Canada, and about the youth suicide epidemics on some reserves.

“There are Indigenous parents in Canada who say goodnight to their children, and have to cross their fingers in the hopes that their kids won’t run away, or take their own lives in the night.”

Canada, he said, is a work in progress.

I don’t know about you, but this Canada place sounds like a hell hole. Good thing that nobody outside of Canada was listening.

Thanks, Kim

How bad is Donald Trump in the insult department? This week, he was burned  by a country that doesn’t speak English, and apparently only has access to dictionaries from the 1800s. This week, the Korean government issued a statement, calling Trump “a mentally deranged US dotard”.


Yep, it’s a word. It refers to an old person who has become weak and senile. It is not often used, to put it mildly. The New York Times reported that ‘dotard’ had only been used 10 times in its pages since 1980. (It’s apparently pronounced DO-terd, by the way.) I don’t know if anyone will remember dotard by this time next week, but for now, score one for North Korea.

On Sunday, the Dotard in Chief fired off a new salvo in America’s never-ending race war. Speaking to a rabid rally in Alabama, Trump called out NFL owners who refuse to discipline players who take a knee during the national anthem as a protest against the treatments of blacks in America.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’”

And he spouted off with a few opinions about the state of the league.

“The NFL ratings are down massively,” Trump said. “Now the No. 1 reason happens to be they like watching what’s happening … with yours truly. They like what’s happening. Because you know today if you hit too hard: 15 yards! Throw him out of the game!

“They’re ruining the game! That’s what they want to do. They want to hit. They want to hit! It is hurting the game.”

Amazing how nobody even bats an eye anymore at vulgar language from the U.S. President, isn’t it? This set off an angry response from NFL players and the league itself. You never know with Trump whether he says something deliberately, or if it’s just an idiot spouting off like a drunk at a cocktail party.

Toys R In Trouble

Toys ‘Backwards R’ Us filed for creditor protection in the U.S. this week, usually the first foot in the fiscal grave. It seems the company has piled up debt like an Alberta government, upwards of $5 billion US. But before you rub your hands together at the prospect of picking up toys and games at close-out prices, hold the phone.

It seems while the U.S. parent company is floundering, the 84 Canadian outlets are doing very well, thank you, posting improved sales and actual honest-to-goodness profits. And the store is preparing to do its annual Christmas season hiring spree in October. But if the parent company shuts down, the Canadian arm will likely whither and die as well.

Conservatives are so-o-o-o stupid

Gerry Ritz, a Saskatchewan MP and registered idiot, issued a tweet this week, calling Environment Minister Catherine McKenna a “climate Barbie”, which is apparently a term coined by the creepy right wing website The Rebel. The outrage was swift and predictable, allowing the government to turn the tables on the Conservatives for a change. Dumb, dumb, dumb. Even dumber, however, was a Conservative Sen. Lynn Beyak who issued a letter this month calling for First Nations people to give up their status cards in exchange for a one-time cash payment, and said they could then practice their culture “on their own dime”. She somehow keeps her job as a senator (there is no firing senators for some reason) but she has been expelled from all committees. As someone who had to attend committee meetings in my past life, I can tell you this is not a punishment.


Jake LaMotta, 95, former boxer immortalized by Robert DeNiro in Raging Bull … Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan, 72, former WWE wrestler, manager and commentator … Lilian Bettencourt, 94, French cosmetics businesswoman (L’Oreal), and the world’s richest woman.

The Return of Stuff Happens, week 35: A game as old as hockey itself.

There was big news from Alberta’s second city this week — the Calgary Flames are unhappy. And if the Flames are unhappy, ain’t nobody happy.

As you may have heard, the Flames and the City of Calgary have been haggling over the construction of a new arena for some time. The dispute concerns trivial matters like where should it go and who should pay for it. (Sound familiar, Edmonton?) This week, with the weather cooler and the stench of hockey equipment in the air, the Flames announced that they would no longer be seeking deal to build a new arena. Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation president and CEO Ken King said Wednesday they would no longer be pursuing an arena deal in Calgary, saying that months of meetings were “spectacularly unproductive.”

“It doesn’t look like we’re going to get there and I think it’s time that we stop pretending,” King said.

Just to make sure the public knew he was serious, he brought in NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, the Darth Vader of sports commissioners. Bettman issued his usual veiled threat that the team might move, without actually saying the team might move. He’s very good at this, having done it many times before.

“Without a new building, there will be consequences everyone will have to deal with. Negotiations are over. They’ll play out the string here for as long as they can,” Bettman said. Consequences. Playing out the string. Negotiations are over. Yep, all the classic lines.

The Flames power play, with the civic election just weeks away, seemed to work. Calgary Herald sports writer Eric Francis went into full panic mode, immediately dredging up the threat of a move to Quebec City (which will never happen), or Seattle, which conveniently announced a couple of days previous that it was looking at a $600 million arena that would be suitable for the NBA and … THE NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE!

Sound familiar, Edmonton? During the interminable debate over building a new arena here, Oilers owner Daryl Katz pulled his own Seattle scam, going to an event there in 2012 and conveniently having his photo taken. It didn’t work, and Katz issued a half-assed apology. He eventually won, getting the city and the taxpayer to pay the biggest chunk of the arena, while keeping all the revenue to himself.

I have no doubt that the Flames and the city will eventually come to terms. No Canadian city, particularly one that sees itself as ‘world class’ like Calgary, wants to lose an NHL team. Eventually, the city (a.k.a. taxpayer) will pony up a wad of cash, the Flames will kick in some of their money, and win control of a so-called public building.

Take a deep breath, Calgary. The Flames aren’t going anywhere.

Speaking of suckers …

Apple introduced its new iPhone this week, 10 years after the company revolutionized the way we do damn near everything with their smartphone. The new iPhone X (that’s 10, by the way), has facial recognition software, wireless recharging, and a bunch of other stuff I don’t care about because the phone will cost ONE THOUSAND THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS in Canada. Yes, a $1,300 phone which will become a $1,300 paperweight the second you drop it in the can. In the U.S., it’s priced at almost a grand, so it’s marginally more reasonable. But no matter the cost, I have no doubt that there will be the traditional lineup of suckers and saps outside Apple stores for the rare honour of being the first to own the phone.

Speaking of suckers and saps, the Edmonton Oilers released their new jersey this week, and — I can hardly believe I’m writing this — people lined up before the store opened to buy one. Yep, lined up to buy a jersey that I could buy, immediately, right now, if I was stupid enough to part with $200+ for a hockey sweater.


Frank Vincent, 80, who played Tony Soprano’s chief nemesis, Phil Leotardo, on The Sopranos … Allan MacEachen, 90, former deputy prime minister and frequent cabinet minister in various Liberal governments … Harry Dean Stanton, 91, familiar American character actor, best known for important parts in Alien, The Green Mile and many, many other movies … Violet Brown, 117, world’s oldest living person. Well, she WAS the world’s oldest living person … Smith Hart, 68, the eldest of the famous Hart brothers of Calgary wrestling fame.



The Return of Stuff Happens, week 34: Dear Earth …

Dear Earth:

This is a difficult letter for us to write, but something has to be said.

Are you mad at us? I mean, seriously, seriously angry? It sure seems that way.

I mean, just look at your attitude of late. You sent a hurricane named Harvey to batter poor old Texas with levels of water never seen before. I’m mean, c’mon, earth! What has Texas ever done to you?

OK, bad example.

But while Texas was mopping up, you decided to send the biggest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded to shred some poor little innocent islands that nobody has ever heard of before. And then you sent that same hurricane to pummel Florida. Is this revenge for how Florida voters somehow managed to vote for George W. Bush instead of Al Gore? I mean, c’mon, Earthy, that was years ago!

Oh, and that Mexican earthquake? Seriously? Mexico? Don’t those people have enough trouble with having to build somebody else’s wall? Gawd, lighten up!

Then there’s the forest fire situation in B.C., which is like an extended bout of explosive diarrhea. You are aware that British Columbia has more tree huggers than anywhere else in Canada, right? And you’re trying to burn them out? Sheesh.

And don’t think we haven’t noticed the worst monsoon season in memory, way over there in India and surrounding countries. OK, we haven’t really noticed it all that much, what with your hurricanes and all. But 1,400 people have been killed. Whatever your point is, Earth, you’ve made it.

Is it this whole climate change thing? That’s it, isn’t it? If that’s it, we’re sorry. Really, really sorry. Well, not everybody is sorry. But you’ve made your point. We’ll try to turn the thermostat down a couple of degrees, but it will take a while. Maybe, oh, I dunno … a few decades. You OK with that, Earth?

Seriously. We get the message. Just cool off (pun intended), and let us fix this thing.




Don Williams, 78,  a singer of heartfelt country ballads who emerged as one of the biggest stars in country music during the late 1970s. His hits include You’re My Best Friend, Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good, and Tulsa Time. He had 52 Top 40 hits on the country charts … Troy Gentry, 50, of the popular country duo Montgomery Gentry. He was killed in a helicopter crash… Noel Picard, 78, former NHLer with the Montreal Canadiens, St. Louis Blues and Atlanta Flames

The Return of Stuff Happens, week 33: Water, water, everywhere …

Houston and much of Texas was devastated this week by Hurricane Harvey, or Wally, or Larry,  or whatever it was called. (Note to the people who name hurricanes: if you know it’s going to be a big one, give it a powerful name. Hurricane Harvey doesn’t exactly inspire fear, but if they had named it Hurricane Rex or Hurricane Skullcrusher, people would have taken it more seriously.) The damage is in the hundreds of billions of dollars, which is terrible news for homeowners, but great news for home renovators. If I had a home repair business, I’d be on the next plane to Houston.

Usually, natural disasters like this one have little to no impact on us here in Alberta, but this one is different. Texas produces a lot of fuel (the state has one-third of U.S. oil reserves), so when Texas refineries go offline, there is bound to be a ripple effect. But, as usual, Big Oil is taking advantage of a natural disaster to goose the price of gas.

I can understand how losing Texas production will result in higher prices eventually.  But across Canada, thousands of kilometres away from Texas, gasoline prices soared. This is the same gasoline that on Monday sold for one price, and on Tuesday sold for a much higher price. This is gasoline that was produced and sold days, weeks or months ago, but somehow becomes much more valuable overnight. The overnight price hikes, in my view, are straight-up price gouging, disguised as price reaction to a natural disaster. I may be wrong (it has been known to happen), but if anyone can explain to me how a disaster in Houston creates an overnight spike in gas prices in Canada, I’d love to hear it.

And now, a little perspective …

Not to downplay the disaster in Texas, but it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the disaster currently ongoing in Asia. In the past few days, more than 1,200 people have been killed, and the lives of some 40 million others turned upside down, by torrential rain in northern India, southern Nepal, northern Bangladesh and southern Pakistan. Yes, that’s one thousand, two hundred people. But, it’s a long, long way away, and disasters are part of everyday life “over there”, so you will be forgiven if this is the first you’ve the heard of this.

The return of Mr. X

Remember David Xiao? Probably not. Let me jog your memory.

Xiao is the shadowy ex-PC MLA for Edmonton-McClung, whose only only claim to fame is being one of the leading spenders on travel expenses ($32,000 for his own car in 2013, even though he lives in the west end within 20 minutes of the legislature). Before the last provincial election, he announced that he was going to step down to run for the federal Conservatives in the last election. But the Conservatives disqualified him, for reasons unexplained. Oh, and some time ago he announced he was suing CBC reporters, a couple of bloggers and Wildrose party members for making statements that he had “deliberately and improperly channelled government funds to his political fundraisers, was guilty of corruption, graft and improper use of government monies, (and is) dishonest and unethical.”

Let’s see now … a defeated ex-PCer, shunned by the Conservative party, suing media outlets and other politicians … sounds like one hell of a city council candidate. Please, if you live in Ward 5, keep this in mind.


Walter Becker, 67, guitarist, bassist and co-founder of one of my all-time favourite bands, Steely Dan. With partner Donald Fagen, Steely Dan produced unique hit songs like Reelin’ in the Years, Rikki Don’t Lose That Number, Hey Nineteen, Kid Charlemange, Peg, and of course, Deacon Blues, which is in the Top 5 of my all-time favourite songs … Shelly Berman, 92, a very successful stand-up comic in the 1960s, and frequent comic actor. He most recently played Larry David’s father on Curb Your Enthusiasm … Skip Prokop, 73, co-founder and drummer for the great Canadian band Lighthouse, described as the world’s first 13-piece rock orchestra. Lighthouse had hits with One Fine Morning, Sunny Days, and the truly great song, Little Kind Words.


The Return of Stuff Happens, week 32: The history police strike!

The Ontario elementary school teachers’ federation has voted to ask the provincial government to remove the name of Sir John. A. Macdonald from Ontario schools. According to the teachers’ union (sorry, that should be ‘federation’), Macdonald is the architect of the “genocide” of Canada’s Aboriginal people.

Yes, it has come to this. Wiping out the name of the first prime minister of Canada – ‘The Man Who Made Us’ to quote from the title of the biography of Macdonald by Richard Gwynn – to satisfy our 21st century guilt.

Let’s look at the whole history hysteria for a moment.

Was Macdonald’s attitude towards Indians (the term at the time) racist? In the House of Commons, Macdonald suggested the government should withhold food from the starving Cree “until the Indians were on the verge of starvation to reduce the expense.” His government also started the much-reviled residential schools system. On the other side of the spectrum, he was in favour of giving Indians the vote, as long as they owned land, just like white folk.

Today, Macdonald wouldn’t last a second in Canadian politics.  Just like virtually all historical figures. But at the time, the kind of racist stuff Macdonald said was no doubt acceptable to a great number of Canadians. Racism was as commonplace as smallpox back in Macdonald’s day. The superiority of the white race was simply a given back then, and for a great many decades after. Sir Wilfred Laurier, a revered Liberal prime minister, thought it was perfectly OK to take lands from “savage nations”, as long as they were paid for their trouble.

Let us cast our net wider. No less a personage than Winston Churchill once said, in reference to the fate of Aboriginal people: “I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly-wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.” Whoa. Tear down that Churchill statue in Churchill Square! And rename the square … as long as it’s not renamed Macdonald.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, arguably the greatest American president, locked up Japanese-American citizens during WWII. He was also worried about“the mingling of Asiatic blood with European or American blood.” Mackenzie King did the same thing here.

And how about Emily Murphy, the hero of Canadian feminists? She fought for the right for women to be legally recognized as “persons”. Great, right? Oh, but she wrote a work of fiction in 1922, called The Black Candle, about an international conspiracy of non-whites who had banded together to corrupt the “purity” of the white race with the help of drugs, turning them into sex slaves and drug addicts. She was by today’s standards a racist (and maybe of her time as well). And to top it all off, she believed in eugenics; she wrote that “race suicide” happened when the poor and mentally and socially “inferior” reproduced at a much faster rate than what she deemed the “human thoroughbreds.” Oh, my. Rename Emily Murphy Park! Take down her statues!

Or let us consider D.W. Griffith, the father of American cinema. One of the most important and innovative pioneers of the early days of film, his epic The Birth of a Nation from 1915 was widely hailed at the greatest achievement in the history of film (history being rather short at the time). Woodrow Wilson saw the film in the White House. Whites loved the film, blacks hated it, and with good cause. Despite its technical virtuosity, it is shockingly racist. Seriously, if you watch this film, prepare to have your mind blown. But in 1915, it was just rousing entertainment. Should all of the accomplishments of Griffiths be expunged because of his one, spectacularly racist film?

Clearly, it’s not particularly difficult to find actions and words by historical figures that are repulsive to our ears today.  There are two things the history police have to take into consideration: context, and the big picture.

In the days of Macdonald and Murphy and even up to Roosevelt and Churchill, white people were widely considered to be the superior race. Times change, opinions change, even what is considered to be the truth changes. If Macdonald had racist views, they simply reflected the views of the population at large.

More importantly, however, we have to look at the big picture.

We can’t cherry pick what we want from our historical figures. Overall, Macdonald was a giant of Canadian history. Did he do and say some things that we would find abhorrent? Yes. But the totality of his accomplishments far outweigh his worst moments. Hey, I’m all for discussion of the good and the bad of historical figures. But the new breed of historical revisionists look only at the bad, and ignore the good. If, upon further examination, the good outweighs the bad, then leave the statues and schools alone. I’m all for anything that gets Canadians talking about our history, but the new revisionists are looking at history through a microscope, and only selecting things that suit their 21st century world view.

If we keep this up, the only statues left in Canada will be of Terry Fox.

Sports farce of the century

P.T. Barnum said there’s a sucker born every minute. He was correct, and clearly there are a lot more suckers around today, with a lot more money.

It’s been a while since we’ve had a sports spectacle quite as disgusting as the fight between boxer Floyd Mayweather and mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor. Mayweather was undefeated (and retired), while McGregor is the top draw in mixed martial arts. (Confession: I may be wrong about this. I pay no attention to MMA.) Somebody came up with the great idea of putting the two together in the same ring, and see who wins. Since they were only allowed to box, and not kick and gouge and whatever else they do in mixed martial arts, the outcome was assured. Still, the Bout to Knock the Other Guy Out became a big deal. Reports vary, but Mayweather is expected to net at least $100 million, and possibly up to four times that amount. Poor McGregor will have to setting for anywhere from $30 million to $75 million, depending on the report.

No championship belt was on the line. No title. No nothing. It was a gimmick, pure and simple, and lots of people fell for it. Within 24 hours, the whole spectacle will be forgotten.

Oh, as if it matters, Mayweather won.


Jerry Lewis, 91, one of the most popular, and often critically reviled comics in film history. Lewis began in vaudeville, and reached dizzying heights of stardom when he teamed with Dean Martin. The popularity of Martin and Lewis at their peak was rock-star like, but in time the partnership blew up. Lewis went on to make many smash hits and the public loved him for it. Although it sounds like an urban legend, the French really did love Jerry Lewis, showering him with honours. His best films, like The Nutty Professor, The Bellboy, The Stooge, Cinderfella, are considered comedy classics. But then again, lots of people can watch a Jerry Lewis movie completely stone faced … Tobe Hooper, 74, director of the seminal horror film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and later Poltergeist.





The Return of Stuff Happens, week 31: Isn’t summer supposed to be a quiet time?

The world is truly moving too fast. Or at least it is in the United States of America, the flickering beacon of democracy. It seems like more stuff happened in the States in the past week than we experience in a typical month, or even a year. For simplicity’s sake, I will revert to the tried-and-true dodge of bullet points:

  • On Monday, trying to do a little damage control after his notorious “both sides” comment about the Charlottesville, Va. white supremacist demonstration/riot, Trump read a prepared statement saying “racism is evil”. When Trump reads a prepared statement, he always sounds like a child reading from a book report written by his parents. It was entirely unconvincing, but it helped to tamp down the firestorm of criticism that greeted his remarks after the Charlottesville killing.
  • On Tuesday, Trump undid what little he had accomplishment by engaging in a wild, off-the-top-of-his-weirdly-coiffed head press conference that caused a collective jaw-drop across the country. In a combative exchange with aghast reporters (he could have simply walked away and said nothing, but he’s not the kind of person to say nothing), Trump went back to his first comment, calling it “very fine”, said there were “good people” even on the neo-Nazi/white supremacist side, apportioned blame to the counter-protesters for attacking the Nazis (who, after all, had a permit!), and finished it all by bragging about his winery (“one of the largest in the country”) located in Charlottesville.  It’s worth reading the entire transcript, which you can do here.  Most TV news people were stunned by the comments. Even some Fox News people, who are unflinching in their support of Trump, couldn’t believe it; one reporter said it almost brought her to tears, and one especially right-wing commentator called his comments “a moral disgrace”. To be fair, Trump did go after the neo-Nazis and white supremacists, but his desperate bid to stay in their good graces by levelling blame on both sides backfired in the worst possible way. Apparently his strategy (if it can be said he has a strategy for anything) worked, because he did get rave reviews from a couple of sources: former KKK leader David Duke, who wrote “God Bless You for setting the record straight for ALL AMERICANS”, and from Richard Spencer, head of a white nationalist group, who said he was “proud of him for speaking the truth.” When Nazis and racists are giving you an ‘atta boy!’, you might want to reconsider what you’ve said. (For a truly chilling look at the Charlottesville incident, check out this Vice News report from inside the demonstration. It’s the horror movie of the year.)
  • On Wednesday, members of Trump’s hand-picked economic advisory council, top execs from major corporations, began to bail from the council. So many quit that Trump just abandoned the whole thing. Also, his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, got awfully chatty with the media, contradicting Trump’s position on North Korea, criticizing colleagues in the administration and mocking Trump officials over trade policy.
  • On Thursday, Trump weighed in on the controversy over statues to Confederate heroes, saying the statues were “beautiful” and it was “foolish” to remove the statues.
  • On Friday, he fired his chief strategist Steve Bannon, almost the last man standing of his original set of advisers.
  • On Saturday, Bannon was back at work at Breitbart, his extreme right-wing website. Friends (which apparently exist) says that Bannon is going nuclear now that he is unchained from the White House.

And remember … Trump was on vacation this week.

But it’s not all bad news …

On the plus side, the reptilian Ezra Levant’s far right website The Rebel is in serious trouble. After one of his “reporters” named Faith Goldy gave sympathetic coverage to the alt-right protest (the fact that The Rebel sent a correspondent to a white power/Nazi gathering speaks volumes about the site), there was a mass exodus of sponsors and employees from Levant’s little money-maker. Conservative politicians won’t go near the site anymore. You can read the details in this National Post story, and watch the video from a former employee who was offered “hush money” from Levant. It’s damning to say the least.

The last word on Fildebrandt

Derek Fildebrandt was at one time a star in the Wildrose party. Now, he’s a politician without a party.

After it was revealed that Fildebrandt was charged with hit-and-run, the ex-Wildrose finance critic finally admitted defeat, and left the new UPC party. The demise of Fildebrandt has all the earmarks of a political hit. After he blasted former Wildrose leader Brian Jean, saying he was not a leader, suddenly the media was tipped off to all sorts of stuff: renting his government-subsidized apartment for is personal gain; a few minor cases of expense account screw-ups (chump change, in the area of $200); and now the emergence of the old hit-and-run charge. I suspect that people inside the ex-Wildrose caucus wanted desperately to rid themselves of a troublesome member, and orchestrated a series of leaks to the media. Mission accomplished.

This week in atrocities

ISIS may have been routed in their base of operation in Iraq last month, but the international organization of evil has long tentacles. This week, a van smashed through the tourist-clogged street called Las Ramblas, in Barcelona, killing 13, including a Canadian. A woman died in a second vehicle attack early on Friday in the town of Cambrils. Five suspected jihadists were shot dead by police in the second attack. And it turns out that a house explosion earlier in the week in a town called Alcanar was connected to the 12-person terror cell. Police say 120 gas canisters were found in the house, and the terrorists were planning to use them in vehicle attacks. Meanwhile, peaceful Finland has its first terrorist incident when a man went on a stabbing spree in Turku, killing two women. The suspect, an 18-year-old Moroccan asylum seeker who arrived in Finland last year, was shot in the leg.


Joseph Bologna, 82, American comic actor you’ve no doubt seen, but don’t know his name. His best roles were as the tyrannical Sid Caesar-like TV star in the fine comedy My Favorite Year, and in the little seen but hilarious The Big Bus … Dick Gregory, 84, pioneering black stand up comic who brought race issues to the comedy stage, and who later devoted his life to “agitating”. As he said: “The next time you put your underwear in the washing machine, take the agitator out, and all you’re going to end up with are some dirty, wet drawers!”

The Return of Stuff Happens, week 30: Bad boy gets caught with hands in cookie jar

The political career of Derek Fildebrandt is coming to an end. We hope.

Fildebrandt, the United Conservative Party (and fanantical former Wildrose) MLA for Strathmore-Brooks, was revealed last week to be cashing in on his taxpayer-supported rental apartment in downtown Edmonton. Out-of-town MLAs get $23,160 a year to own or lease property in Edmonton. Fildebrandt has taken to renting out his apartment on Airbnb when he isn’t using the apartment, which is most of the time. So while he was reimbursed for this apartment rent ($7,700 for January to March) he was also renting it out.  He’s OK with that, even if everyone else wasn’t.

“Find someone under 35 with a downtown apartment that doesn’t let their apartment if they’re gone half the year,” he shrugged. “It would be a waste … to have an apartment that sits empty half of the year and not let it out when I’m gone out of session,” he said, failing to point out that nobody else gets their rent paid for them by the government.

The blowback was fierce. On Thursday morning, Fildebrandt issued a statement offering to donate his Airbnb earnings of $2,555 to help pay down provincial debt. He’s a funny one, that Fildebrandt. By Friday, he had stepped down as finance critic.

Fildebrandt is one of the nastiest of the ex-Wildrosers. You may recall that he was the gy who in May, 2016, launched into a nasty broadside about Ontario’s financial position — while Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne was watching from the visitor’s gallery. (He screamed “Invite Premier Wall here! Invite Premier Wall!” at Premier Rachael Notley, invoking the name of his hero, the Saskatchewan premier.) On the far-right of the already right-wing party, Fildebrandt is the type of guy who thinks every penny spent by the government is a penny wasted. The irony of this parsimonious MLA pocketing extra money on top of his government grant is just too much, and could easily spell the end of his career.

So, where did this information come from? The original story (which I think came from the Edmonton Journal) didn’t indicate where the tip came from, but last week Fildebrandt leveled a broadside at his old boss, ex-Wildrose leader and UCP leadership candidate Brian Jean, saying he has seen Jean’s leadership up close, and won’t have anything to do with him. Now, this damaging information comes to light.

Coincidence, I assume.

This is a holiday?

Donald Trump began a lengthy holiday this week, which for a few brief moments gave us all the hope that the Idiot in Chief would take a break and let us all forget for a few blissful days that the leader of the free world is a lunatic.

No such luck.

When asked about North Korea’s increasingly bellicose statements about attacking the U.S.A., Trump threatened to rain down “fire and fury” on North Korea, the likes of which the world has never seen. He also said the U.S. is “locked and loaded” and ready to attack. In North Korea, roly-poly mad man Kim Jong-un couldn’t believe his good fortune. Having a U.S. president threaten “fire and fury” against his pathetic little nation played right into his chubby little hands.

Trump wasn’t done yet. In Venezuela, strong-man president Nicolas Maduro is systematically destroying democracy in that country. When asked to comment, Trump said: “We are all over the world, and we have troops all over the world in places that are very far away. Venezuela is not very far away, and people are suffering and they’re dying. We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option, if necessary.”

When asked if he was talking about a U.S.-led military operation, Trump said: “We don’t talk about it. But the military option is certainly something we could pursue.”

Trump is the gift that keeps on giving. The Venezuela government went into hyperdrive, calling Trump’s statements “cowardly, insolent and vile” and “the gravest and most insolent threat ever voiced” against Venezuela, and “an act of craziness”.

Venezuela, of course, poses no military threat to the U.S., and Trump’s idle threats of military action are mother’s milk to the anti-American movements in South America.

And Trump wasn’t finished yet. On Saturday in the small city of Charlottesville, Va., white supremacists and neo-Nazis gathered for a ‘Unite the Right’ rally. There were the inevitable clashes between the alt-righters and counter-protestors, and the event would have been a one-day wonder until a man drove his car into the crowd, killing one woman and injuring many more. The driver was a white supremacist and Nazi sympathizer. (An aside: I heard a report from ABC News that said the driver was a fan of “mass murderer and dictator Adolph Hitler”. Is it really necessary to add a description of Hitler? Could there be anybody in the world who would say, “Who is this Hitler fellow?” End of aside.) Trump was called upon to make the pro-forma “we abhor these actions” statement. Trump, reading from a prepared statement (you can tell it was prepared because of the big words), said in part “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence,”  So far, so good, but then added “on many sides, on many sides”. By adding the “many sides” line, Trump gave a free pass to the white supremacists and neo-Nazis, equating Nazis with peaceful counter-protestors. Good Lord. What’s easier than criticizing white supremacists and Nazis? Amazing.

(For a truly disturbing read, check out the transcript of Trump’s entire statement here. I’m not sure if English is his first language.)


Glen Campbell, 81, country singer who achieved huge mainstream popularity with a string of hits like Wichita Lineman, By the Time I Get To Phoenix, and Rhinestone Cowboy. In his last years, he became the public face of Alzheimer’s Disease; if you have Netflix, I highly recommend the documentary Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me, which follows his final tour. He had a late career revival thanks to some brilliantly-produced albums like Meet Glen Campbell and See You There. His final album was called Adios … Bryan Murray, 74, former NHL coach and GM (Ottawa, Washington, Detroit).