Stuff Still Happens, week 11: The Trump express rolls on; the Canadian ketchup controversy

It started as a joke.

It’s still a joke, but nobody’s laughing anymore.

Donald J. Trump famously entered the U.S. Republican race back in June by riding a down escalator. C’mon, a down escalator? What better symbol of failure than a down escalator? Everybody had a good laugh, and went about seriously dissecting the ‘real’ candidates like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush and John Kasich and Chris Christie  and Rand Paul and even Ben Carson.

Now, nine months later, only three remain: the moderate (by Republican standards) Kasich; the immoderate, rabidly right-wing Cruz; and the guy on the down escalator.

After this week, with Trump winning primaries in Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina and Florida, Trump added another 204 delegates, bringing him to 695, more than half-way to the 1,237 needed to secure the nomination. He even won —and won big — in Florida, forcing ‘Little Marco’ Rubio to call it quits, despite spending $55 million on advertising. The one non-Trump winner was Kasich, who prevailed in his home state of Ohio, keeping him in the race, albeit at a distance.

The Republican establishment is in full panic mode now. Like Dr. Frankenstein, the party has created a monster they can’t control. Trump, ever the gracious winner, said any efforts to stop him at the convention could result in “riots”, adding “I’m representing a tremendous, many, many millions of people”.  Trump is calling the shots now, so much so that when he pulled out of the last scheduled debate, Fox just cancelled the whole thing, just the way they would if Gordon Ramsay quit Hell’s Kitchen (or Master Chef, or Master Chef Junior, or Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, or Hotel Hell).  The only way to stop Trump now is to hope that he doesn’t earn enough delegates in the primaries to win outright (which seems likely), heading into a ‘brokered’ convention in Cleveland. According to Republican rules, after the first vote, the delegates are free to vote for whomever they want. This could create a chaotic free-for-all, which would tear the Republican party apart. With any luck, anyway.

The next big day is Tuesday, with 107 delegates at stake in three contests.

If you think Canadian prisoners are coddled, this story will blow your mind!

Sorry for the click bait. I couldn’t resist.

Remember Anders Behring Breivik? Probably not. But people in Norway sure do.

Back in 2011, Breivik committed the single worst mass murder in history. After planting a bomb in downtown Oslo that killed eight people, he proceeded to a Norwegian Labor Party youth retreat on the island of Utoya where he killed 69 mostly young people. Norway believes in rehabilitation, so he was sentenced to a mere 21 years in prison. He’s in solitary confinement, but he lives better than a lot of Norwegians. According to the New York Times, “He lives in a three-room suite with windows, about 340 square feet, that includes a treadmill, a fridge, a DVD player, a Sony PlayStation and a desk with a typewriter. He has been taking distance-learning courses at his country’s main university. He has access to television, radio and newspapers. He prepares his own food, and he entered the Christmas gingerbread-house baking contest at his prison.” No word on  whether he won.

Not exactly hard time. But Breivik still isn’t happy. He says the solitary confinement is a violation of his human rights, so he’s suing the government. When he entered the court for a hearing, he performed a snappy Nazi salute. That grinding sound you hear is the sound of millions or Norwegian teeth gnashing together.

 Pardon our French’s

Who would have thought that having your product yanked from a major retailer would be a good thing? But that’s exactly the case with French’s ketchup. Never heard of French’s ketchup? Me neither. We’re a Heinz family (or at least my wife is; she would put ketchup on tomatoes if it didn’t drive me crazy). But lots of Canadians now know French’s  (whose most famous product is mustard) now makes ketchup.
Here’s the background.
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We salute the ketchup, the emblem of our country …

The community of Leamington, Ont. was devastated when ketchup-maker Heinz shut down its operations there in 2014, leaving 740 people without jobs and leaving Ontario tomatoes to whither on the vine. French’s, sensing an opportunity, began buying Leamington tomatoes for its own ketchup brand, which is bottled in the US.

Brian Fernandez, a construction worker from Orillia, Ont., noticed the gesture, posted a vow on Facebook to quit Heinz in favour of French’s. The post went viral – 43,000 people shared it within a day (who knows why) — and the media took notice.

Incredibly, Loblaws (Superstore is its best known brand here) announced Monday it was dropping French’s because of low sales, even though French’s says its sales were up 400% in Canada. By Tuesday, facing consumer outrage, Loblaws knuckled under and welcomed French’s back. Later, a leaked memo from Loblaws indicated that French’s was cannibalizing business from President’s Choice ketchup.

So French’s get millions in free advertising, Loblaws gets a smallish black eye, and Canadians have found a ketchup we can use with pride. Is French’s ketchup any good? I have no idea, and I probably never will. I doubt my wife will allow it in the door.

A Calgary NDP MLA gave the finger to a fellow MLA. Things only got worse after that. 

Calgary-Hawkwood MLA Michael Connolly gave the finger to Wildrose MLA Angela Pitt in the Legislature last week. When asked about it by the deputy speaker, he denied making the gesture and instead said he was throwing his hand in the air. That was lie no. 1. But the sergeant-of-arms saw him make the gesture, so he was caught red fingered. On Tuesday, while entering the legislature, he was asked by reporters about the incident — and he again denied doing it. That was lie no. 2.

But in the legislature, a  suddenly contrite Connolly made a statement: “My actions were not befitting of this chamber and the dignity herein. When this matter was raised at the time, I sought to minimize the matter instead of taking full responsibility. To be clear, my actions were not acceptable, and my apology and explanation were not good enough.”

He was then forced to go outside the chamber and repeat his apology to the same reporters he had lied to moments before. It’s moments like this that contribute to the results of a poll later in the week that revealed that most Albertans think the NDP government will be a one-term wonder. Hey, Alberta, you’ve got nobody to blame but yourself.

RIP

Gary Lefebvre, 71, longtime Edmonton Eskimo/Montreal Alouettes punter and receiver from 1966-76.  Lefebvre won two Grey Cups, one with Montreal where he had an abbreviated, injury plagued two years, and a second with the Eskimos … Frank Sinatra, Jr., 71, son of Old Blue Eyes. An accomplished singer and arranger in his own right, Frank Jr. could never escape the shadow of his old man. He died unexpectedly of a heart attack while on tour … Sylvia Anderson, 88, a creative force of the old Thunderbirds puppet show from the 1960s. She was also the voice of Lady Penelope, for those of you old enough to remember … Leilani Muir, 71, the first person to file a successful lawsuit against the Alberta government for wrongful sterilization under the Sexual Sterilization Act of Alberta. Yes, there really was such a thing … Keith Emerson, 71, English progressive rock and rock keyboardist (Emerson, Lake and Palmer).

3 thoughts on “Stuff Still Happens, week 11: The Trump express rolls on; the Canadian ketchup controversy

  1. Want to know how bad the Alberta Eugenics law really was? Nazi Germany brought in one of their own and the only real change they did from the Alberta one was to write it in German, end worse yet even with that Alberta still kept it until 1972.

  2. Because I have been amazed how Stella Artois beer morphed in a dozen years and complicated ways into 3G Capital’s takeover of much of the processed food world, I have followed the Heinz ketchup controversy well before this past week, in fact for over two years because baked beans are also affected – that’s my niche.

    Canadian Heinz ketchup was made from Leamington area tomatoes in a seamless manner, and used cane sugar as one flavouring/condiment. The taste balance always was different from US Heinz Ketchup, which is what we now get. The US product is made from tomatoes turned into tomato paste in California, land of no water, and shipped east, where one of the ingredients is high fructose corn syrup (shown as liquid sugar on the label).

    Because of this I to some extent hoarded some Canadian ketchup and beans prior to the Leamington shutdown. It was easy to do based on the Heinz factory codes on each product. Now that it is all US made, taste comparisons are easy for me. There is quite a difference, but I am not capable of the flowery language needed to describe it in beer-tasting terms, merely that the Canadian product is (was) lighter and tangier. It is also less deep red in appearance. Not that it matters any more, The battle is lost, and Jorge Paulo Lemann would like to thank Canadians for not kicking up a fuss and remaining loyal to the brand. Since he also owns Tims, where 450 lost their jobs at head office and where as in all his operations, paper clips are strictly rationed, he’s very happy. The beans problem is even worse, and i am down to my last 7 cans.

    When the loonie was down to 70 cents several months ago, we ended up having to pay through the nose for Heinz ketchup imported from the US. Did anyone notice then? Nope. There’s always something the mobs of social media fixate on, and that is why the ketchup controversy started and expanded this past week.

    French’s ketchup I have not yet tried, but my next bottle will be that brand. Merely using Leamington produced tomato paste is no guarantee of taste, since the condiments are what determines flavour to an extent, but when interviewed on CBC, the CEO in New Jersey said they were using actual sugar, not the ubiquitous high fructose corn syrup so popular in the US. He said there was no point making a me-too product, so perhaps there is some hope. At least French’s has always used Saskatchewan mustard seed for all its North American products.

    And for devotees of Heinz tomato juice, it’s still produced in the old Heinz Leamington plant under the Heinz label, by a Canadian company, Highbury Co. Food rules in Canada preclude vegetable juice being made from paste, and that’s all that saved it really.

    There, more than you needed to know. 3G Capital rolls on, now aided and abetted by the compassionate capitalist Warren Buffet, ha ha, and controls most of the world’s beer brands from Budweiser, Miller, Labatts, Molson, Coors and many Euro brands. Plus Kraft who own Cadbury, Heinz and Burger King whose products I personally find execrable, and through them Tim Hortons who need to find a bean that tastes of coffee, but I digress. The head of 3G Capital, Mr. Lemann, is a Brazilian billionaire.

  3. Because I have been amazed how Stella Artois beer morphed in a dozen years and complicated ways into 3G Capital’s takeover of much of the processed food world, I have followed the Heinz ketchup controversy well before this past week, in fact for over two years because baked beans are also affected – that’s my niche.

    Canadian Heinz ketchup was made from Leamington area tomatoes in a seamless manner, and used cane sugar as one flavouring/condiment. The taste balance always was different from US Heinz Ketchup, which is what we now get. The US product is made from tomatoes turned into tomato paste in California, land of no water, and shipped east, where one of the ingredients is high fructose corn syrup (shown as liquid sugar on the label).

    Because of this I to some extent hoarded some Canadian ketchup and beans prior to the Leamington shutdown. It was easy to do based on the Heinz factory codes on each product. Now that it is all US made, taste comparisons are easy for me. There is quite a difference, but I am not capable of the flowery language needed to describe it in beer-tasting terms, merely that the Canadian product is (was) lighter and tangier with more vinegar. It is also less deep red in appearance. Not that it matters any more, The battle is lost, and Jorge Paulo Lemann would like to thank Canadians for not kicking up a fuss and remaining loyal to the brand. Since he also owns Tims, where 450 lost their jobs at head office and where as in all his operations, paper clips are strictly rationed, he’s very happy. The beans problem is even worse, and I am down to my last 7 cans of the real thing.

    When the loonie was down to 70 cents several months ago, we ended up having to pay through the nose for Heinz ketchup imported from the US. Did anyone notice then? Nope. There’s always something the mobs of social media fixate on, and the way the ketchup controversy started and expanded this past week is but one example.

    French’s ketchup I have not yet tried, but my next bottle will be that brand. Merely using Leamington produced tomato paste is no guarantee of taste, since the condiments are what determines flavour to an extent, but when interviewed on CBC, the CEO in New Jersey said they were using actual sugar, not the ubiquitous high fructose corn syrup so popular in the US. He said there was no point making a me-too product, so perhaps there is some hope. At least French’s has always used Saskatchewan mustard seed for all its North American products.

    And for devotees of Heinz tomato juice, it’s still produced in the old Heinz Leamington plant under the Heinz label, by a Canadian company, Highbury Co. Food rules in Canada preclude vegetable juice being made from paste, and that’s all that saved it really.

    There, more than you needed to know. 3G Capital rolls on, now aided and abetted by the compassionate capitalist Warren Buffet, ha ha, and controls most of the world’s beer brands from Budweiser, Miller, Labatts, Molson, Coors and many Euro brands. Plus Kraft who own Cadbury, Heinz and Burger King whose products I personally find execrable, and through them Tim Hortons who need to find a bean that tastes of coffee, but I digress. The head of 3G Capital, Mr. Lemann, is a Brazilian billionaire.

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