For the third week in a row, Deborah Drever reigned as Alberta’s most talked-about NDP MLA. Or, more to the point, Alberta’s most talked-about former NDP MLA.
Drever finally shamed Rachel Notley to the point that she was kicked out of caucus, setting a possible world record for shortest and worst political career. After a couple of weeks of embarrassing photos (she was just a young person! defenders cried), an Instagram graphic she posted picturing Jim Prentice and Ric McIver as gay was finally too much for the politically correct NDP. Calling it “homophobic” (actually, the more accurate term would be sophomoric), Noteley expelled Drever from caucus and will now sit as an independent until a suitable period of penance is served. Clearly, Drever wasn’t remotely qualified to be an MLA — and she is not alone — but she can’t bear the blame for this silly scandal. The fault rests solely and completely with the New Democratic Party, whose longstanding scam of running candidates in every riding, without even looking into their background, has backfired on them. All they had to do was look at her Facebook page to realize that she wasn’t the ideal candidate, but apparently nobody took even that routine precaution. Notley should apologize to Albertans for fooling the public, and particularly the voters of Calgary-Bow.
It was a bad week for the new government. The party sent out invitations to Sunday’s swearing in of the new cabinet, and added a fundraising plea for the party. The swearing-in is a public event, and combining a public event with party fundraising is a decided no-no, something so brazenly wrong that even the PCs didn’t do it. Initially, the party didn’t see anything wrong with this, but eventually they were shamed into admitting the mistake. A spokesman for the premier blamed the party for the error.
The week began on a terrific note with Team Canada thumping the evil Ruskies 6-1 to win the World Hockey Championship, the first medal of any sort in five years at the tournament. It’s a shame this tournament doesn’t get the kind of attention the endless NHL playoffs always get. With no Canadian teams in the running — again — it’s a joy to have a team everyone in Canada can pull for. Meanwhile, the Russians, showing the kind of class they are well known for, left the ice before the playing of the Canadian anthem. There will be sanctions against the team for their lousy sportsmanship. Maybe we should take Crimea away from them.
Still with sports, and still with hockey, there is genuine hope for renewal for the Edmonton Oilers. Owner Daryl Katz took the dramatic and unheard of step of hiring people with successful track records (hiring good people …. what a concept!) and on Tuesday added in-demand coach Todd McLellan as the new bench boss. Coupled with the addition of former Boston Bruins GM Peter Peter Chiarelli as GM, the installation of Bob Nicholson as the major domo of the operation, and the incredible luck of landing the No. 1 draft pick in a year with a can’t miss, guaranteed superstar as the top choice. the Oilers have successfully rid themselves of the dead weight of recent years. The Oilers now have one of the strongest behind-the-bench rosters in the NHL; now, if they can only find some decent guys to put on the ice. On a less positive note the Edmonton Rush of the National Lacrosse League appear to be ready to leave town. Poor attendance, indifference from City Hall (so says the owner; the city begs to differ) and the cold shoulder from the Katz group are the reasons for the imminent departure, said team owner Bruce Urban. Let’s be honest here, Edmonton, we are not the great sports city we think we are. We are a hockey city, with a bit of love for football, but nothing else. Soccer (outdoor and indoor) has failed repeatedly here, so has baseball and pretty much everything else.
In cultural news, Mad Men ended Sunday, not with a bang but an ‘ommmm’. And David Letterman ended more than three decades of late night TV on Wednesday. I’ve been a fan of Dave since way back before he became a TV mainstay. He was a must-see comic on shows like Merv Griffin, and his ill-fated but hilarious daytime show on NBC gave a much-younger me a reason to get up early. Dave’s monologues of late have been strictly mailed in, but once behind the desk, there was nobody better. While Dave’s generation idolized Johnny Carson, everyone post-Carson idolized Dave. Next up on the departing popular icons list … Jon Stewart.
In the appropriately-named Waco, Tex. on Sunday, a fun-filled gathering of biker gangs at a local restaurant went a little off the rails. An argument over what I assume was dividing up the bill (“OK, who had the quiche?”) got a little heated, and by the time the gun smoke had cleared, nine people were dead. But that’s small potatoes compared to a fracas in Mexico, where at least 39 people were killed when a fight broke out between security forces and armed civilians in western Mexico on Friday. Texas, you’re not what you used to be.
Last week, McDonald’s introduced the new Hamburgler, a supposedly hot but decidedly child-molester creepy sort of guy. This week, KFC brought Col. Sanders back from the dead, with former Saturday Night Live star Darrell Hammond playing the Colonel as a kind of maniac. Not sure how the colonel’s family will feel about it.
ISIS, your friendly neighbourhood monsters, took over the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra this week. This is horrible news not just for the people of Palmyra (there are reports of 400 dead, many of them women and children), but for civilization. Palmyra is a World Heritage Site, home of some of the oldest, most amazing ruins in the world. If ISIS holds true to what it has done in the past, the ruins will be reduced to rubble, an incalculable loss to history. Also in terrorism, ISIS is claiming responsibility for a bombing in a Shiite mosque in Saudi Arabia that killed 21 people. This would be the first ISIS attack in Saudi Arabia.
RIP: Eric Neville, a genuine icon of Edmonton TV, died unexpectedly this week at 78. For those of us of a certain age (that would be old) Neville is remembered as Klondike Eric of the beloved children’s afternoon TV show Popcorn Playhouse. Neville’s passing was mourned by hundreds on the Friends of Popcorn Playhouse Facebook page. You can read an interview I was lucky enough to do with the somewhat reclusive Klondike Eric here. … John Forbes Nash, Jr., the Nobel Prize-winning mathematician who was depicted in the film A Beautiful Mind, died in a tax crash at age 82.