Stuff Still Happens, week 16: The purple reign of Prince

The biggest news story of the week was printed in purple.

Prince, the diminutive, genre-spanning singer/songwriter/phenomenon, died unexpectedly this week at age 57. Even more than the death of David Bowie earlier this year (he was known to be sick, and always looked kinda sick), the passing of Prince Rogers Nelson rocked the rock world. Prince’s career spanned five decades, hitting its peak in 1982 with his massively successful album 1999, followed by the even more successful Purple Rain in 1984. The success of those two albums, which sold millions and spawned dozens of hits, allowed Prince to live like — yeah, I’m going to say it — a prince, and produce his own music his way. By all accounts, his live shows were unforgettable, and it also appears that he remained an essentially shy, publicity-averse figure. He married twice, dated a bevy of beauties (a collection of beauties is always called a bevy), but later cleaned up his act and became a Jehovah’s Witness. Along with the passing of Bowie, Eagle’s singer Glen Frey and country legend Merle Haggard, this had been a bad year for music legends.

Here in the great while north, the other major story of the week was the conclusion of the trial of Senator Mike Duffy.

The judge found the corpulent ex-TV newsman not guilty of a whopping 31 charges for things like breach of trust and fraud. Remarkably, the only person who came out of this whole fiasco unscathed was Duffy himself, who can return to his cushy Senate job (albeit with a colossal legal bill). The judge in his marathon trial found that Duffy didn’t do anything criminal, which indicates that the Crown either over-reached on its charges, or that the Senate’s rules are so lax, nothing is technically criminal. The trial revealed the Senate to be a laughably run organization that was under the thumb of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s autocratic rule. Now, can we just forget the Senate exists?

The name Karla Homolka is still notorious in Canada.

In 1995, her then husband, Paul Bernardo, was found guilty in the kidnapping, rape and murder of teenagers Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French. When they were arrested, Homolka claimed she was abused by Bernardo, and in return for her testimony got only 12 years. Bernardo was given life in prison with no possibility of parole for 25 years, and later declared a dangerous offender. But after the trial, it was revealed via videotapes made of the killings that Homolka was a willing participant, and that she was indirectly to blame for the death of her own sister, Tammy, who chocked on her own vomit after being drugged and raped by Bernardo. It was one of the sickest crimes in Canadian history, and while Bernardo will never see daylight again, Homolka is a free woman.  It was revealed this week that she is living in Chateauguay, Que., and her children from her second marriage attend a local school. No one told anyone that Homolka, who now goes under a new name, was living in the community, and that her kids are attending a local school. So, what can be done?  Sadly, nothing. Homolka served her time, and is free to become a citizen at large again. What irks people is that if the facts were known at the time of the trial that Homolka willingly participated in the murders, she’s still be in jail.


Doris Roberts, 90, the ultimate mother and mother-in-law from the great sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond … Chyna, 46, the first female wrestling superstar, who regularly competed (sorry, that should be “competed”) against men … Charlie Hodge, 82, former NHLer and six time Stanley Cup champion.



By Maurice Tougas

Maurice Tougas is a lifelong Albertan, award-winning writer and reporter, and a former MLA for Edmonton-Meadowlark.

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