Stuff Happens, week 14: And they’re off! But why?

This week, Premier Jim Prentice called his uncalled-for election. The question remains,  why?

The election — a year ahead of the lawful election date — has no validity. The PCs have a majority that any government in Canada, or the world, would kill for (and in some countries, that’s exactly how they do it). His “transformative” budget is unpopular, an ugly hodge-podge of tax hikes and service cuts. It does not, in any way, address the basic problem of the Alberta economy. The only possible outcome of this election is a win for the PCs, of course. But with the NDP polling well in Edmonton (with the shoddy track record of polling lately, this means nothing), and with the Wildrose showing signs of life (sympathy votes and anti-PC votes could give make them a surprise), the PCs are almost guaranteed to end the election with fewer seats than before the election. And if things go really, really wrong, the PCs could end with a minority. There is a very real chance that calling a 2015 election may be seen as a monumental blunder by Prentice. We shall see…

The National Hockey League season ended this week with thrilling playoff races. This surprised me, since I paid so little attention to the Oilers, and therefore the NHL, I wasn’t even sure it still existed. Anyway, I thought I’d try to catch a few of the games, secure in the knowledge that there are dozens of games on the various channels. Turns out, not ONE game I wanted to see was on TV. In any event, here in Edmonton we are forced to watch as REAL NHL teams in Ottawa (Go Sens! I guess), Montreal, Winnipeg, Calgary (ugh) and Vancouver (double ugh) enjoy the thrills of the playoffs. By a quirk of the schedule, two of the five Canadian teams will be eliminated for sure in the first round, as they play each other (Calgary vs. Vancouver; Ottawa vs. Montreal). On the plus side, that means either Calgary or Vancouver will be eliminated.

Once again, an unarmed black man was shot and killed by a white cop in the U.S. But this time, the whole sickening sequence was capture on video. TV news has replayed the killing repeatedly; this poor guy had died a thousand deaths. Remember the days when it was considered in the worst possible taste to show someone actually getting KILLED on TV? Not anymore.

The Walterdale Bridge is a year behind schedule; the steel required to build the structure was delivered months later than planned. Considering how no city project ever finishes on schedule, this is the least surprising news of the year.

The trial of Mike Duffy, the scandalous senator, finally began in Ottawa. Charged with making umpteen false expense claims, the money claimed by Duffy is small change compared to the real prize — Stephen Harper. So far, we’ve heard that Duffy was so quick to suck on the government teat that he filed an expense claim on his very first day as a senator. We’ve also heard that the rules around senate expense claims are so loosy-goosy as to be almost non-existent. Basically, it’s the honour system. And we all know how much honour there is amongst senators.

RIP: Stan Freeberg, 88, comic and voice character actor. Freberg produced his 1951 Dragnet parody, St. George and the Dragonet, which was a No. 1 hit for four weeks in October 1953. He was considered the father of the funny commercial. His Wikipedia entry is well worth reading to get the scope of his career.

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