Stuff Happens, week 40: Relax, people, it’s almost over.

It’s finally almost over … the longest, ugliest election campaign in recent Canadian history. In the dying days of the campaign, a couple of distractions tripped up the frontrunners. Put these under the category of With Friends Like These, Who Needs Enemies?

First, Justin Trudeau was bushwacked by his campaign co-chairman, a longtime Liberal operative named Dan Gagnier. The Canadian Press revealed he has given advice to TransCanada Corp., the company that wants to build the Energy East pipeline, on how to lobby the new government. This is incredibly stupid, and of course the pius Stephen Harper and the even saintlier Thomas Mulclair (sorry, that’s Mulcair) piled on with indignation. Trudeau cast Gagnier aside immediately, but the damage was done. Around the same time, Harper received an endorsement from Canada’s favourite drug addicted, alcoholic, worldwide laughing stock Rob Ford. The Harper campaign says they’re happy for the endorsement. Next up for the Tories: Clifford Olson comes out for Harper.

Speaking of endorsements, the Edmonton Journal and the Globe and Mail both came out in support of the Conservatives. The Journal’s endorsement (likely on orders from HQ in Toronto) was one of the worst written opinion pieces I’ve ever seen, and I say that as someone who has written a lot of lousy opinion pieces. The Journal’s view is that Harper is a good manager of the economy. Or to use the exact words in the editorial: “Now, more than ever, we need a “moderate and sensible” economic plan for Canada …” They put “moderate and sensible” in quotation marks, like someone doing air quotes. The editorial completely ignored Harper’s decade-long abuse of power and his shameless pandering to the worst instincts of Canadians. It utterly failed to make the point that Harper deserves to extend his mandate. Meanwhile, the Globe took a different approach. The Globe supports the Conservatives, but NOT Harper, advising him to quit immediately. It’s one of the most convoluted editorials ever written. As comedian Brett Butt put it on his Twitter account, “So as I understand it, the Globe&Mail just endorsed french fries…with gravy…and cheese curds on top… but NOT poutine.”

Speaking of The Journal, while the paper’s opinion makers support the Conservatives, the paper’s editors (if such a creature still exists) are big NDP supporters, particularly of one candidate, Edmonton Centre’s Gil McGowan. Early this week, the NDP held a press conference to “announce” that four of its candidates have a good chance of winning in Edmonton. There is no news value in this, of course; it’s a shameless attempt to get free publicity. And it worked! The Journal bit, and ran a big story on the candidates, focussing on McGowan in the huge photo with the story. On Thursday, the NDP trotted out McGowan again, making an announcement that the NDP would review the Temporary Foreign Workers program. No news there, but again, the Journal bit with lengthy story and another picture of McGowan in Friday’s paper. On Saturday, a story on ridings to watch included Edmonton Centre, which is awash with signs from all candidates. The Journal’s choice of a picture? Three signs for McGowan. I’m sure the Journal’s lavish support of McGowan has absolutely nothing to do with the fact the NDP spent a fortune on wrap-around front page ads over the past couple of weeks, while the Liberals haven’t spent a dime. No, no newspaper would stoop that low, right?

The cultural barometer sign of the week — maybe of the year — goes to Playboy magazine. Remember Playbody? If you’re in my age bracket (old), you remember Playboy as the one and only place you could reliably see naked women. Now, Playboy is about to become the one and only place you can reliably NOT see a naked woman. Playboy announced this week it will no longer run its carefully airbrushed photos of gorgeous, naked women. The magazine’s founder, 382-year-old Hugh Hefner, has agreed that since every kind of porn imaginable is now available online, for free, Playboy no longer sees the need to spice up the magazine with nudity. It appears sex no longer sells. According to executives quoted by The New York Times, once Playboy got rid of online nudity the average age of its online reader dropped to age 30 – the coveted millennial demo – from age 47, and web traffic quadrupled from four million to 16 million monthly visitors. Now, when someone says they read Playboy for the articles, they really will read it only for the articles.

To the dismay of some Canadians (OK, maybe just me) and the disinterest of most, the Toronto Blue Jays completed their comeback and defeated some other team to advance further in the baseball playoffs. Oh, sorry, I forgot we’re all supposed to be Blue Jays fans. Well, we’re not. There are plenty of Canadians who would never, ever, ever pull for for a team of Americans and Puerto Ricans playing an American game from Toronto, so this ‘Canada’s team’ garbage is just that — garbage.

This is not an important story, but just a hilarious one. A man here in Edmonton riding a bicycle on the sidewalk Tuesday was stopped by police because he didn’t have a bell on his bike. Apparently, this is a law. Anyway, the guy then gave the cop a fake name.  He was then arrested for obstruction. As he was being arrested, a knife fell out of his pants. Officers searched him and his backpack and found a sawed-off shotgun, drugs and trafficking paraphernalia. The idiot is now facing 18 charges for weapons, trafficking, obstruction and breaching conditions. And he was also given one ticket for riding a bicycle without a bell. Ding-ding!

RIP: Ken Taylor, 81, hero of the ‘Canadian Caper’. Back when revolution swept Iran in 1979, revolutionaries took over the American embassy and held the staff hostage. But six escaped, and took sanctuary in the Canadian embassy. Ambassador Taylor took an enormous risk, hid them, and successfully spirited them out of the country. The movie Argo is based on the Canadian Caper. But if you watched the movie, you’d think Taylor was a bit player in the whole thing, instead of what he really was — the heroic mastermind.

One thought on “Stuff Happens, week 40: Relax, people, it’s almost over.

  1. Terrific commentary, as always Maurice! I was unaware of the McGowan show in the Journal… disappointing indeed!
    Keep it up.

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