Stuff Still Happens, week 19: Rumours fill in for facts in Fort Mac

Canadians continue to show remarkable kindness to the Fort McRefugees. The Red Cross is swimming in cash (much of which they have already distributed)  and donation centres are overflowing with donations. Charitable organizations are operating with remarkable efficiency, and even the government seems to be doing everything right.

Well, almost everything.

The government finally allowed the media to see Fort McMurray in a tightly prescribed tour. The media was ordered around like children at a kindergarten. Incredibly, anyone entering the area was forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement, resulting in the ludicrous scene of a nurse telling the assembled media “no comment” to a question about what she saw. Firefighters have been ordered not to say a thing. The government’s clampdown on information on Fort McMurray is ludicrous, and entirely unnecessary. When facts are lacking, rumours rush in, particularly in the Twitter age. I read that the RCMP detachments were destroyed; not true. The hospital was destroyed; not true. It seems to me that there was no central clearing house of information from the tight-lipped government that would have killed the rumours before they started. While most everything else about the government’s response to this calamity has been stellar, their information distribution has been a fiasco.

Still with Fort Mac … the fire chief there, Darby Allen, has been much praised for his work. And he deserves it. But does he deserve the ‘OUR HERO’ headline in the Friday Sun? My guess is that even he is cringing at that kind of adulation.

Ghomeshi back on the markets — job and dating. 

Meanwhile, the various trials of Jian Ghomeshi came to a quiet end this week.

After failing miserably to convict the former CBC star (yes, there are CBC stars, as oxymoronic as that sounds) of sexual assault in the most watched trial in recent Canadian history, the Crown came to its senses and threw in the soiled towel. Ghomeshi was supposed to stand trial on another sexual assault charge this week, but on Wednesday the prosecution let Ghomeshi agree to something called a ‘peace bond’ (basically, a promise to be good), and dropped the charges. Everyone looks bad in this sorry case: the Crown for overreaching on the charges; the police for doing a terrible job of interviewing the women; the complainants for lying about almost everything; the CBC for giving Ghomeshi carte blanche to be a grade-A asshole; and Ghomeshi, for being a grade-A asshole. Ultimately, the biggest loser is Ghomeshi, whose career and reputation (and bank account, no doubt) lie in ruins. He’ll never be back on the CBC, or on Q (which is a shame; the show sucks without him), but after a time away and the proper amount of penance, he will be back. Probably in a smaller market, or even in another country.

The Philippines flips out

Have you heard about the new president of the Philippines?

This guy is so radical, so dangerous, so out there, that even Donald Trump would think he’s crazy (if he even knows who he is). The new man is Rodrigo Duterte, the former mayor of one of the most violent cities in all of Asia, Davao City. While mayor, Duterte clamped down on crime with the help of death squads which he allowed to run free, which may have killed 1,400. But hey, whatever works; Davao City is now one of Asia’s safest cities. Crime is apparently a big problem in the Philippines. In his last campaign stop, Duterte warned “You drug pushers, holdup men and do-nothings, you getter get out, because I’ll kill you”. He previously said he would fill Manila Bay with the bodies of 100,000 criminals. He also said, in commenting on the rape and murder of an Australian nurse, that the mayor should have had first dibs on the woman. Seriously.

But he’s a man of contradictions; in heavily Catholic Philippines, he is a supporter of gay groups, and is trying to make nice with the Muslim minority. But overall, he’s batshit crazy.


Mark Lane, 89, the most prominent Kennedy assassination conspiracist. He wrote about it from 1966 (a bestseller called Rush to Judgement) all the way up to 2011. He died of a heart attack … or did he??? … William Schallert, 93, longtime character actor whose career spanned the Patty Duke Show in the 1960s, all the way up to True Blood last year. He earned a spot in the Star Trek hall of fame for his role as Nilz Baris in the popular episode from the original series, “The Trouble with Tribbles.”




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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