It’s summertime here in Alberta (well, actually it’s not, but we tend to call any time with temps in the teens ‘summer’), a time when the sun shines for 18 hours a day. At least, we assume the sun is shining.

For the past week, what would have been a lovely few days were obscured by smoke from a distant fire; in this case, hundreds of kilometres away in northern Alberta. On Thursday of this past week, forest fire smoke gave the entire city an otherwordly orange glow, like something out of a post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie. (By the way, why are all sci-fi moves post-apocalyptic? Why not pre-apocalyptic? Or non-apocalyptic?) Later in the evening, the entire city smelled like a campfire. It was bad, but it was a lot worse for thousands of Albertans forced to leave their homes.

This is nothing new. Last year there were countless days ruined by forest fire smoke from British Columbia. At least this year it’s made in Alberta. Hooray for us.

Tragically, this appears to be the new normal. With winters becoming milder and milder with less and less snow, forests are parched and combustible. The only thing that can really stop the fires, and the smoke, is good old Mother Nature, and she is in a bad mood these days. Seems we haven’t been treating her too well lately, and now she’s making us pay. So long summer. It was nice knowing you.

Justin Trudeau hit a new low in grubby politics this week. U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence, who looks like a Ken doll all grown up, was in Ottawa this week, talking trade. But Trudeau felt that a press conference with Pence was just the right time to comment on a vital cross-border issue – abortion.

Abortion? Here’s what Trudeau told the media: “I highlighted to the Vice-President that there was a significant amount of concern amongst Canadians on the new anti-choice laws being passed in a number of American states and highlighted that Canadians and, indeed this government, will always be a staunch defender of women’s rights and a woman’s right to choose.”

To bolster his flagging feminist credentials, Trudeau commented on an issue that is of no concern to Canada-U.S. relations. He used a visit by the veep to continue his attempts to reignite the abortion debate in the hopes of creating a wedge issue for the next election. This is truly shameful. One wonders how Trudeau, and all of Canada, would have felt if Pence had commented on Canada’s complete lack of a law regarding abortion. There would have been howls of protest, and rightly so. Internal Canadian politics are none of his business, just the way internal U.S. politics, particularly STATE politics, are none of Trudeau’s business.

I thought that when the Boston Bruins eliminated the Toronto Maple Leafs that the country would be spared Toronto’s endless navel gazing. But I forgot about the Raptors.

As you have no doubt heard – even if you’re not a sports fan – the Raptors of the NBA are in the league championship, fighting for the coveted Larry O’Brien trophy (only the NBA would name its trophy after an old white guy who never played the game). With the Raptors being the only team Canadian team in the NBA, the media is in full ‘Canada’s team!’ mode. The Globe and Mail has gone to extreme lengths to write about how this group of American millionaires playing the world’s least challenging team sport somehow represents just how wonderful Toronto is. The Raptors represent all that is good in Canada, and especially Toronto, the media gushes. The team’s superstar is such a nice guy, one hack wrote, that he might as well be a Canadian. Oh, and the way the fans in Toronto sang the national anthem? It was so wonderful, even the American media noticed! Aren’t we special!!

Enough, already. The Raptors do not represent Canada. The represent Toronto, the least Canadian of Canadian cities, but thanks to the fact that the national media is based (and obsessed) with Toronto, anything Toronto is dubbed ‘Canada’s team’. If Vancouver still had its NBA team, and found itself in the position the Raptors are in right now, they would not be getting the wall-to-wall, over-the-top, gushing praise that the Raptors are getting right now.

And now, the New York Times corrections of the week. These are actual corrections that appeared in the Times:

An article on Thursday about the game Pokémon Sleep misspelled the name of a Pokémon species. The creatures are Eevees, not Eevies … An article on Thursday about a boat sinking in the Danube River misidentified the Hungarian news outlet that reported that 14 people had been brought to shore and other details. It was the state television news broadcaster M1, not the state news agency MTI … An article on Thursday about the mini-series “Good Omens” misstated the title of a movie directed by Terry Gilliam. It is “12 Monkeys,” not “13 Monkeys.”

RIP

Bill Buckner, 69, former Boston Red Sox first baseman who would have been basically forgotten had he not bobbled a routine hit in a 1986 World Series game that gave the Mets an unexpected win, leading to a seventh game and a Mets victory. The mistake haunted him for the rest of his life …. Bart Starr, 85, Green Bay Packers legendary quarterback … Jose Antonio Reyes, 35, Spanish soccer star, killed in a car crash.

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