Stuff Happens, week 15: Oilers clean house, Notley cleans up

The Edmonton Oilers, the widely-despised local hockey squadron, continue to make a lot of news for a team that missed the playoffs. After lucking into the No. 1 draft pick, on Friday the Oilers named former Boston Bruin GM Peter Chiarelli as their major domo of hockey operations. With Bob Nicholson taking over as CEO of the Oiler Entertainment (?) Group, the Oilers have effectively shunted the much maligned Craig McTavish and the even more maligned Kevin Lowe to the sidelines. Disgruntled Oiler fans who threw their jerseys on the ice at especially bad Oiler loses are now flooding Jersey City locations looking to buy new jerseys. The optimism should last well into the first week of the next season.

The big story in Alberta was the provincial leaders’ debate. With the election apparently an actual horserace instead of a foregone conclusion like a Harlem Globetrotters game (sorry for mixing sports cliches), much was expected. There was no knockout punch that can turn an election around, but there is no doubt that NDP leader Rachel Notley staked her claim as a potential premier. She was slick and well rehearsed, clearly the best performer of the bunch, right down to the well-practiced smile. PC leader Jim Prentice (whose future as PC leader is on the line thanks to his ill-conceived election call) failed to land a punch. Prentice devoting so much of his attention on Notley was a godsend to the socialist leader; obsessing on Notley simply gave her the stage, and she seized the opportunity by rudely talking over top of everyone else. The PCs are in a real bind now; they have to defend their right flank from attacks from the resilient Wildrose, and their left flank by the surging NDP. With the polls so close and the undecided so high, it’s still anyone’s ballgame, to end with another sports reference.

Hundreds upon hundreds of migrants died Sunday in the Mediterranean, victims of Libya’s human traffickers preying on people desperate to flee the war-wracked country. It is the worst mass drowning since the Second World War. You may not have heard this story, because they’re just a bunch of poor immigrants fleeing a war zone, after all, not something important like Bruce Jenner coming out as a woman. Now, THAT’S a news story.

Here’s one of those stories that just drives right-wing, anti-environmentalists crazy. In eastern Ontario, a mammoth, 324-hectare, nine-turbine wind farm has been kiboshed because of the Blanding’s turtle. The turtle apparently lives in the area, and because of fears that the turtle might get run over by the roads that will be built to accommodate the wind farm, the Ontario Court of Appeal has put a stop to the project. Nobody knows how many Blandings turtles live in the area, but the court said it doesn’t really matter. One crushed Blanding’s turtle is apparently one too many.

The Mike Duffy trial continues in Ottawa, with the revelation that the rapacious expense hog claimed $81,332.54 for living expenses …. for his own house in Ottawa. Seems the senator “from” PEI (where he has a cottage, not a home) claimed for expenses senators are entitled to while doing their duties in Ottawa, even though he had a home there for years. Also this week, it was revealed he fought like a very fat tiger to have expenses for his make-up artist to be covered by his senate budget. When the Senate said no, he simply paid for the make-up artist through a phoney-baloney company he had a friend set up.

In non-news, some Native Americans walked off the set of an Adam Sandler movie because they found it demeaning to their culture. A better reason to walk off the set of an Adam Sandler movie? It’s an Adam Sandler movie.

RIP: Here’s a passing to make you feel old: Lois Lilienstein has died at 78. The name Lilienstein means nothing to you, but if you just use her first name, and add her partners Sharon and Bram, you’ve got beloved Canadian children’s entertainers Sharon, Lois and Bram … Sawyer Sweeten committed suicide this week, just short of his 20th birthday. Sawyer was one of the boys who played Ray Romano’s twins on Everybody Loves Raymond.

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