The week began with a love-in at the legislature, as Rachel Notley and her puny cabinet were sworn in on a beautiful sunny day in Edmonton. The crowd was huge and wildly enthusiastic, more evidence that the love affair with Notley remains in full bloom. She also introduced her cabinet, a mere 12 members, the smallest in recent memory. Why so small? Well, no matter what the government may say, the reason is obvious: there are precious few MLAs in the young, inexperienced caucus who are up for the challenge. I’m guessing that within a year, the cabinet will be larger as Notley gets a handle on who is up to the challenge of being in cabinet. The government continued to be showered with love when it restored millions in cut funding to education later in the week. Giving money away is the easy part; the real challenge is to find ways to save money without pissing people off.
An unexpected consequence of the NDP victory is the surprise muzzling of Brian Mason. For years, Mason was the media’s go-to guy for pithy quotes about the latest PC outrage. Mason was always ready to talk, and the media loved him for it. But this Saturday’s Edmonton Journal contained this phrase that has never before appeared in print: “New Infrastructure Minister Brian Mason declined to comment.” And from another story: “NDP house leader Brian Mason did not respond to a request for comment.” Brian Mason NOT talking? Truly the world is upside down.
The big news of the week was the mammoth corruption scandal that has engulfed FIFA, the notoriously evil but wildly powerful and important governing body of soccer (a.k.a. football). A number of top dogs were arrested at their annual meeting in Zurich, with most of the baddies connected to CONCACAF, the governing body of North American soccer. We’re talking tens of millions of dollars here, bringing the entire FIFA organization into disrepute. Or should I say, further disrepute. FIFA president-for-almost-life Sepp Blatter (or, as the always witty British press calls him, Septic Blatter) simply shrugged his shoulders as if to say, “How am I supposed to know everything that’s going on around me?” Despite the scandal, he was re-elected to another four-year term, just like one of those banana republic dictators who win ‘elections’ with 90 per cent of the vote.
Big news in Ottawa was the resignation of Peter MacKay, Harper’s go-to minister. The resignation is a bit of a shocker, in that MacKay was frequently seen as a successor to Harper. With Harper at best 50/50 on winning the next election, it would seem that MacKay’s time might have been nigh. But citing the usual family concerns, MacKay will not run in October. Why MacKay had any stature within the party is a bit of a mystery, in that everything he touched turned to rubbish. MacKay is a man of special incompetence who rose up the ranks despite evident inability to do anything right. Also this week, the first election ads were released, and they were as predictable as an episode of CSI. The Conservative ads say Justin Trudeau “isn’t ready” and that only Stephen Harper can save us from ISIS, the Liberal ad targets the middle class, and the NDP ad tries to make leader Thomas Mulcair seem somehow less scary.
RIP: Anne Meara, 85, wife of comic Jerry Stiller (George’s dad on Seinfeld) and mother of Ben Stiller. Meara was an accomplished actress and comic, appearing on dozens of TV shows.