Stuff Still Happens, week 47: Tarnish on the golden boy

Is the shine coming off the golden boy?

Justin Trudeau is under the gun these days for what appear to be, if not lapses in ethics, at least some questionable activities. The Liberals have stretched the fundraising rules to the breaking point, engaging in cash-for-access fundraisers where well-heeled folks get to hobnob with government ministers in return for donations, often around $1,500 a head. Now, Justin has been dragged into the mess, showing up at a fundraiser attended by Chinese millionaires and billionaires. One of them, after the event, made a donation to the Pierre Trudeau Foundation and chipped in $50,000 for a statue of Trudeau (the elder). The Liberals are piously saying that everything they do falls within the rules, but for a group that campaigned on cleaner politics and doing things differently (i.e. not like Harper), this smells. It doesn’t quite stink yet, but it’s pretty close to rotting. Politics as usual is the not what the public wanted from Trudeau, but that is what we’re getting.

Trudeau took another hit this week for his far-too laudatory comments upon the death of Fidel Castro. The Trudeau family and Castro go way back, and Trudeau the elder used Castro to give a subtle middle finger to the U.S. Castro even attended Trudeau’s funeral. Trudeau the younger was much too kind to Castro in his eulogy, failing to mention his years of total dictatorial control and jailing of those who disagreed with him. Trudeau made his comments at a meeting of the Francophonie, a feeble group of French-speaking countries, where he lectured countries on, irony of ironies, human rights.

Black Friday blues

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A selection of the Black Friday flyers that appeared in my mail box. Twice the size of the daily paper.

Three of four years ago, Black Friday didn’t exist in this country. We had our own national shopping holiday, Boxing Day, where we go nuts and line up to buy low-priced TVs. This year, however, Black Friday grabbed a hold of the retail market in a way we’ve never seen before. On Thursday, I got a pile of flyers in my mailbox that was about two inches thick. The stores are open early, and the sale prices are often 50% off. As a shopper, I kind of love this. But as a Canadian, I’m a little sad. Boxing Day is still a bigger deal, but last year more money was spent in this country on Black Friday than Boxing Day. It’s just a matter of time before Boxing Day becomes a relic that older Canadians tell younger Canadians about, and the younger Canadians ask ‘Why did you ever do that?’

The easily offended people of Canada have struck again.

An off-campus party attended by Queen’s University students has caused an uproar that has become pathetically common on college campuses these days. White students – clearly virulent racists to a man and woman – attended a party last week dressed as Buddhist monks, Middle Eastern sheiks, Mexicans and Viet Cong fighters in rice hats. The photos of the party were shared online amongst friends, but they were seen by someone named Celeste Yim, who claims to be a Toronto “comedian”. Yim (whose act must be a real side-splitter) called the event “shockingly racist” and went on to say the costumes “are indisputably and unequivocally offensive, tasteless, and should not be tolerated. Context and intentions have no bearing.” (I always have a problem with people who use words like indisputably and unequivocally.) The university reacted the way universities react these days, saying it takes the incident “very seriously”. Of course, the party happened off campus, so it is far beyond the university’s boundaries, so there is nothing they can – or should  – do about it.

CFL, you’re killing me

I’m a fan of the Canadian Football League. Have been for as long as I can remember. But the littlest league has just gone through a season that tries the patience of even die-hard supporters.

This year, the CFL widened the scope of official challenges, where a coach can question the wisdom (or lack thereof) of an official’s call. Since CFL officials are notoriously inept, the new challenges resulted in an already long game getting longer. The flow of the game was destroyed by lengthy stoppages, and coaches were going on fishing expeditions to look for tiny infractions away from the main play. The expanded replay was instituted to the league could get calls right, but they still got them wrong! On three occasions, the league had to apologize for getting replay calls wrong; on two occasions, the wrong calls had a direct impact on the game. So what’s the point of a fail safe system if it fails? CFL, you’re killing me.

Today is Grey Cup day, and it is being held in Toronto, a city that has gone from being indifferent to the CFL to being openly hostile. Reports from the game city are bleak, but this is hardly a surprise. Toronto is hipster paradise, a ‘world class’ city that can’t be bothered with something as rinky-dinky as the Canadian Football League. If I was the commissioner of the CFL, my top priority would be to get a team in Atlantic Canada, and say goodbye to Toronto.

RIP

Fidel Castro, 90, the Communist leader of a puny, impoverished little country called Cuba that somehow terrified the United States for 11 presidencies. Castro was one of the major figures of the 20th century, mostly thanks to geography. If Cuba has been located thousands of miles from the U.S., nobody would know or care about Castro  … Florence Henderson, 82, best known as the hairstyle-challenged mom on the fondly remembered but truly wretched comedy The Brady Bunch … Holly Dunn, 59, country singer who had hit songs Daddy’s Hands, Are You Every Gonna Love Me and You Really Had Me Going …Jerry Tucker, 91, who appeared as a stereotypical ‘rich kid’ in the Our Gang shorts from 1931-1938 … Ron Glass, 71, best known as Det. Harris on the great Barney Miller comedy, and more recently on Firefly.

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