Stuff Happens, week 49: Killings stun the city; New Democrats look like Old Conservatives

Well, it has been a fairly sleepy week in the Stuff Happens world as we spend most of our time shopping and getting ready for Christmas and obsessing over Star Wars. But, we still had a little news …

Edmonton was shocked by an utterly senseless, brutal pair of killings early Friday morning. Two Mac’s store clerks in different locations were executed within 15 minutes of each other at two different locations, apparently by the same trio of remorseless bandits. Adding to the poignancy of the tragedy, one of the victims was an new arrival from India who has a wife and small child. This kind of pointless tragedy angers me in so many ways. Robbery is one thing, understandable in its own pathetic way. But killing a defenceless person just doing their job? And worse, one of them is a newcomer to the country, here for a better life. Utterly, utterly inexplicable and heartbreaking.

The New Democrats are increasingly looking like the Old Conservatives. This week, the Wildrose revealed that the Rachel Notley government has made yet another brazen political appointment in naming Chris O’Halloran, the NDP party president, to a cushy $140G a year government job at “outreach manager” at the provincial government’s main office in Calgary. Earlier this year, Bob Hawksworth, who lost a Calgary byelection for the NDP, was named to the executive director position at the same place.  Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt said: “The blatancy of taking the president of the party and giving him a job is something even the PCs didn’t do.” The irony is that if the old PC government had done the same thing, nobody would be screaming louder than the old opposition NDP — led by Rachel Notley. The government, again, is telling the civil service that only people with rock-solid NDP credentials need apply for government jobs.

Meanwhile, farmers are still in a lather over Bill 6. They held another noisy rally at the legislature this week, and were no doubt disappointed to find out that the legislature wasn’t even in session. The Bill 6 question has degenerated into online threats against Notley, inexcusable but inevitable in this age of online cowardice. A bigger problem for Notley is the urban-rural divide. While the whole Bill 6 issue will be forgotten in three years time, the bitterness will linger. Notley has a lot to do to repair relations with rural voters, and while losing the rural vote alone won’t cost you an election, it gets a lot harder to win again.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (I’m still having some trouble writing that) appeared at his first town hall meeting, sponsored by Maclean’s and CITY TV. (You probably missed it; CITY aired it live at noon on Wednesday, so as not to conflict with its primetime lineup of Two Broke Girls or some such shit.) Featuring the usual high quality presentation that we’ve come to expect from CITY — uninspired set, poor lighting, lousy sound — Trudeau appeared in his standard garb of crisp white shirt and tie, sleeves rolled up in the classic politician’s “I’m ready to work for you” appearance, and his untraditional, signature wacky socks. Watching Trudeau’s performance, I was struck by just how well he can talk, and at length, without really saying anything. Lots of numbers and facts and promises of “co-operation, collaboration and respect”, but very often no concrete answers. He’s certainly not the first politician to master that trick, but he gets more words in one answer than anyone I’ve ever heard. One audience member asked why voting reform is so important to him, and his two-minute answer was a ramble where he didn’t give one reason (of the dozens) why the first-past-the-post system is seriously flawed.  Trudeau handled the whole thing with aplomb, but then the honeymoon period is still in full bloom. Let’s see how he does next year.

It’s time for the usual tsunami of year-end lists. The first is from Google, which released its annual list of the year’s top trending people in the U.S. The names record the highest spikes in traffic over a sustained period in 2015 compared to 2014. The top 10 list, beginning with no. 10, is:

10: Josh Duggar, the oldest son of the Duggar family of 19 Kids and Counting reality TV show fame, who admitted last spring that he molested young girs, including his sister;

9. Adele, of course;

8. Rachel Dolezal, the former National Association for the Advancement of Colored People head in Spokane who is biologically white, but “identified” as black;

7. Brian Williams, the one revered and now disgraced NBC News anchor who scuttled his career by exaggerating a story about his travels in a military helicopter;

6. Charlie Sheen, of course;

5. Ruby Rose (whom I have never heard of) an Australian model and star of Orange is the New Black;

4. Donald Trump, of course;

3. Ronda Rousey, a mixed martial arts fighter who was KO’d in a fight in November;

2. Caitlin Jenner, of course;

and no. 1, Lamar Odom, a former NBA star and estranged husband of one of those Kardashian skanks who was hospitalized in October after being found unconscious in a Nevada brothel with “every drug imaginable” in his system.

For a more comprehensive — and disturbing — Google list, check out this Vice story that tracked the top search topics province-by-province. Alberta’s is truly disturbing; read at your own risk.

RIP: Dickie Moore, 84, Montreal Canadiens legend from the 1950s who play on sever Stanley Cup winning teams. 

 

3 thoughts on “Stuff Happens, week 49: Killings stun the city; New Democrats look like Old Conservatives

  1. Maurice,
    I just wanted to extend seasonings greetings to you and your’s and wish you a Merry Christmas. I really like reading your thoughts, observations, and opinions. Have so for many years. Please keep them coming in the new year.
    All the best.
    Sincerely,

    Scott Forbes
    Sherwood Park, Ab

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