Stuff Happens, Week 3: A Mountie mourned; a politician quits; a football deflates.

Following the utterly pointless shootings of two RCMP officers in St. Albert, the question was asked: why was Shawn Rehn, the killer, walking free? It’s a good question. Rehn was a longtime scumbag, having served prison time for various misdeeds. He should have served more time, probably, but didn’t. He apparently stole the truck that the ill-fated Mounties had come to investigate. As the facts became clearer, it appears Rehn was just another minor league punk pushed through the overburdened judicial system, a bad guy, a career petty criminal, who was likely one crime away from a long prison term. A crime like stealing a truck.

On a semi-related topic, why does the media (especially television news) bother with “statements” issued by politicians? Stephen Harper and Jim Prentice both issued statements about the shootings, but everyone knows they were written by some in-house hack and is generally nothing more than the usual “terrible tragedy” boilerplate. Now, if the prime minister or the premier actually spoke in front of cameras, that would be different. But reprinting or airing statements is pointless and waste of everyone’s time. All news outlets are guilty of this kind of institutional laziness.

Doug Horner — a longtime PC MLA, multiple-time cabinet minister, one-time leadership hopeful and member of an Alberta political dynasty — announced last week he is quitting politics, not next year when the election is held, but the end of this month. It’s a baffling decision, which immediately lead to more speculation of a spring election. Alberta law (for what it’s worth) states that a byelection must be held within six months of a seat becoming vacant, which led some to interpret that Prentice is going to call an election within that time frame, and Horner knows it.  But if that’s the case, then why wouldn’t Horner just ride out the last two or three months of his political career? I think it’s more likely that Horner simply cannot stand the thought of ex-Wildrosers promoted to the front bench while he languishes on the furthest back benches of the legislature. Can’t say that I blame him. He was a loyal soldier and a solid servant of the people (I faced him in the legislature, and rarely made him sweat). Seeing people who made his life miserable now promoted ahead of him has got to grate.

It was revealed this week that Canadian Forces soldiers, who were supposed to be safely blasting Islamic State targets from jets, engaged in actual boots-on-the-ground combat with the terrorist organization. The fact that no Canadians were injured reduced the impact of the story, but if a Canadian had been injured or killed, there would have been hell to pay. Remember, this was supposed to be a ‘non-combat’ mission. Snipers and bombs sounds like combat to me.

Premier Jim Prentice was in Arizona on Sunday, where he spent $54,000 at an auction to land a vintage 1956 T-Bird. Prentice is, of course, entitled to spend his money any way he wants, but with his government facing a drastic shortfall in revenue, and the prospect of serious belt-tightening looming, the optics are not the best. Mind you, this is a province where high school dropouts drive pickups worth more than that T-Bird, so most people will probably just shrug.

Speaking of bad optics, cops in Kenya tear-gassed children who were protesting against the removal of the school playground. Hey, we’ve ALL wanted to teargas children in a playground, but still …

Still with children, the parents of a British kid were presented with a ‘no-show fee’ bill for $29 CDN for failing to show up at a friend’s birthday party. The bill was for a ticket to a ski slope, including snow tubing and tobogganing and lunch. This begs the question: there’s skiing in Britain?

A new Oxfam report says the richest 80 people in the world now have the same amount of wealth as the bottom 3.5 billion. The report says by next year, the richest 1 per cent will own as much as everyone else in the world combined.

Remember last year when a disgusted Oiler fan threw his jersey on the ice after another lethargic Oiler loss? Now the trend has arrived in Toronto, where the Leafs are in a prolonged, typical funk. But there’s a twist in TO: the jersey throwers have been charged with public mischief! Seriously. The Leafs are robbing fans blind, and a fan gets a penalty?

Still with sports, there is a controversy surrounding the National Football League’s New England Patriots, who are alleged to have deflated the balls used in their ridiculously easy victory Sunday over the Indianapolis Colts to advance to the Super Bowl. The American media, displaying its profound creativity, call it (sigh) Deflategate.  Patriots QB Tom Brady was forced to hold a press conference to talk about how he likes his balls, which he managed to do without once snickering.

RIP: Toller Cranston, the first male Canadian figure skating superstar who was flamboyant before flamboyant became mainstream, at 65 … King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia at 90 … Anne Kirkbridge, who played Dierdre Barlow on Coronation Street for 44 years, at age 60.

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