How to build a cabinet using mismatched pieces: pointers for Rachel Notley

Now that the euphoria of the election has worn off, I wonder if Rachel Notley is waking up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night, wondering, “What the hell do I do now?”

If she isn’t, she should. She has a big, big job ahead of her, and the first thing she has to do is put a cabinet together. Compared to that job, winning the election was a snap. Forming a cabinet from mismatched pieces is like trying to, well, put together a real cabinet with mismatched pieces.

How do you build a cabinet with a government that is made up almost entirely of people who are not only inexperienced in government, but inexperienced in running anything more complicated than a paper route? Hell, a lot of them are inexperienced at life, period.

Luckily for Notley, there are a couple of natural fits for two vital positions. Dr. Bob Turner from Edmonton-Whitemud is the natural — perhaps only — choice for health minister. I mean, c’mon, the guy is a doctor; that’s got to count for something. And Sarah Hoffman, the former Edmonton school trustee, would be a nice fit for education. (If you follow this logic, however, you might be inclined to appoint a college student as advanced education minister, but this would be a mistake.)

After that, well, it gets a little more complicated.

First, what to do about the veterans?

David Eggen will have to be given a cabinet post, and Deron Bilous will have to get a seat at the table, too. But what to do with Brian Mason? Clearly, the long-time MLA an party leader has to be rewarded, but he would be another Edmontonian in a cabinet that is shaping up to be too Edmonton-centric, if you take into account the four existing NDP MLAs all get seats, and if Turner and Hoffman get seats as well. The natural choice for Mason is to be the Speaker of the House. He’s one of the few who knows the rules, he would love to have all the attention, and my guess is he would love even more to get some revenge.

After that, cabinet is a bit of a crapshoot. Clearly, Calgary needs a lot of seats, but outside of Joe Ceci, a former alderman and the most well-known of the new Calgary MLAs, who do you turn to? Anybody over age 30 and with any experience outside of being a flight attendant or a yoga instructor can probably punch their ticket into cabinet. The energy minister pretty much has to come from Calgary, but who qualifies? I’m not saying they need to find an oil executive, but it might help to have someone who knows a little more about the oil industry than just how to use the self-serve at the gas station.

Outside of the big cities, the NDP will need rural ministers to ensure representation from the different parts of the province. The MLA for either Peace River or Lesser Slave Lake (representing northern Alberta) could get a seat. (Have you seen those ridings? Either one is bigger than Prince Edward Island.) Both Red Deer and Lethbridge went NDP, so at least one or two of the new MLAs from those cities will be rewarded.

Now, if I may quote Helen Lovejoy from The Simpsons, “Won’t someone please think of the children?”

Notley cannot just toss all of the children’s army to the back of the bus. Somewhere in that group of losing student union candidates there has to be a gem. I expect we’ll see a lot of ‘associate ministers’ — basically a minister on training wheels — appointed to get some young ‘uns involved. Associated ministers can also step in after the inevitable crash-and-burn of a minister(s). The NDP has also promised to create a women’s ministry, a nice 1980s idea that is paternalistic and kind of ridiculous today, that would be a nice starting point for one of the younger, female members.

Luckily for Notley, long-time veterans who believe they deserve their reward will not trouble her. And she won’t be forced to find positions for people who supported her. I suspect she’ll have a fairly small cabinet to start with, not because of ideology, but because she just doesn’t have enough cabinet material.

Perhaps the biggest break for the Notley government? They won’t have to face questions from Rachel Notley.

Coming to grips with the ungrippable.

Sometimes, there are events that are so huge, it’s difficult to wrap your brain around all of the elements involved, and try to come up with some sort of reason as to why it happened.

The Alberta election of 2015 is one of those events. For 43 years, we’ve had one-party rule in this province. Going into this election, it looked as if the Progressive Conservative party would be (a little less) large and in charge for another four years. But on Monday, Albertans enthusiastically went to the polls and turfed out the PCs in favour of the New Democratic Party, an organization that the province had rarely shown any real affection for or interest in. And they not only won, they won huge, often by massive majorities, going from four seats to 54. The PCs fell to third place with just 11 seats; they’re not even the official opposition, that position going to the Wildrose party, which rose from the ashes of the worst political betrayal in Canadian history to score an impressive 20 seats.

So, what to make of all this? It’s almost too much for my aging brain to wrap around. But what the hell, let’s try by apportioning the blame/credit mathematically. Needless to say, this is unscientific.

First, let’s give a solid 45 per cent of the blame to the Progressive Conservative party, and within that 50 per cent, give 80 per cent to Jim Prentice.

The PCs, previously the most surefooted, ruthless, diabolical machine in Canadian politics, made a miscalculation of epic proportions. Why did Prentice call an election a year ahead of time, just months into his term as premier, as oil prices fell and deficits rose, and after presenting a budget with tax hikes for so many while leaving big business unscathed? I can only surmise that the PCs, complacent in their arrogance and thinking that their chief rival would be the Wildrose, cynically called an election in the hopes of further crushing the opposition. Or, they anticipated the economy would be even worse in a year. What they clearly did not take into account was the fact that the NDP was building a powerful election machine with the help of the federal party, and war chest bulging with money. Oh, and they had a telegenic, trustworthy-looking new leader in Rachel Notley. The PCs clearly missed all of the warning signs, and I can’t say that I blame them. Prentice knew that he was going to lose some MLAs, but with a caucus packed with nobodies and do-nothing career MLAs, he probably felt the party could trim some fat and emerge OK. Good call, Jim!

The PCs ran a terrible, listless, uninspiring campaign, led by their frontman. Prentice certainly looked the part of a premier, or a CEO. But if there was anything to Prentice other than an impressive resume and nice suits, it remained hidden. Prentice resigned as leader on Tuesday as expected. But he also resigned his seat hours after winning it, surely the most churlish reaction to a loss we’ve ever seen. If this is the way this guy operates, we are well and truly rid of him, just as we are happily rid of the likes of the International Man of Mystery David Xiao, and the scheming vulgarian Thomas Lukaszuk. (Sidenote: during the fall session of the Legislature, Lukaszuk leaked damaging information about fellow PC MLA Manmeet Bhullar in an attempt to get revenge on him for leaking information about Lukaszuk’s phone bill when he was running for leader. Ironic footnote: Bhullar won his seat.)

Returning to my formula, I’d assign 25% to the NDP. Seems low, perhaps, but bear with me.

To the surprise of just about everyone, the socialists ran a perfect campaign. They went all in on Notley, and their number came up. Even when they stumbled — their costing numbers were hilariously out of whack, like they were created using Yahtzee dice — it didn’t matter because the PCs and the other parties failed to pounce, and the media didn’t do its job. In fact, the media fell hard for Notley, in a teenage crush sort of way. Nobody even noticed that the NDP, while trumping the fact that they had candidates in every riding, had multiple paper candidates who were just names on the ballot. They also avoided any bonehead eruptions from candidates and played down their most unpalatable socialist instincts. (Whether Notley can keep the diehard socialists within her party happy will be one of her biggest challenges, but that’s a blog for another day.) Whatever they did worked, and worked in ways I’m sure they never expected.

And finally, a solid 30% goes to kick-out-the-bastards, anybody-but rage.

The PCs have been insufferably arrogant for years. In the dying days of the Klein regime, they were perhaps at their all-time worst. Prentice actually didn’t seem like a bad guy, and given time go get to know him, the result might have been different. So why now did the public choose this election to rise up in indignation?

There are lots of reasons. The early, unnecessary election call. The budget that dinged the average Joe with dozens of service charge hikes, and left big business untouched. Years of accumulated anger over inept management of health care and education. A smiling, unthreatening opponent. Oh, and a big shout out to the Liberal party.

The NDP won many of its ridings by giant margins. Oddly, that doesn’t indicate deep support. The NDP benefited greatly from the collapse of the Liberals. In the past, disgruntled anti-PC voters were split between the NDP and the Liberals, giving the PCs plenty of split-vote wins. With the Liberals having collapsed completely (another blog for another day), the anger vote had only one place to go (you’re welcome, Rachel). As my son told me yesterday, a lot of his friends told him they voted NDP, but didn’t feel good about it. How else do you explain 20-year-old students winning?

The NDP benefited from a unique set of circumstances. An angry public, an inept, exhausted, cynical governing party, a brilliant campaign, and the coalition of anti-government voters around one party. Overall, I see it as more of an anti-PC vote than a pro-NDP vote.

The NDP has four years to prove that this win was more than just a one-off. This will be interesting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stuff Happens, week 14: And they’re off! But why?

This week, Premier Jim Prentice called his uncalled-for election. The question remains,  why?

The election — a year ahead of the lawful election date — has no validity. The PCs have a majority that any government in Canada, or the world, would kill for (and in some countries, that’s exactly how they do it). His “transformative” budget is unpopular, an ugly hodge-podge of tax hikes and service cuts. It does not, in any way, address the basic problem of the Alberta economy. The only possible outcome of this election is a win for the PCs, of course. But with the NDP polling well in Edmonton (with the shoddy track record of polling lately, this means nothing), and with the Wildrose showing signs of life (sympathy votes and anti-PC votes could give make them a surprise), the PCs are almost guaranteed to end the election with fewer seats than before the election. And if things go really, really wrong, the PCs could end with a minority. There is a very real chance that calling a 2015 election may be seen as a monumental blunder by Prentice. We shall see…

The National Hockey League season ended this week with thrilling playoff races. This surprised me, since I paid so little attention to the Oilers, and therefore the NHL, I wasn’t even sure it still existed. Anyway, I thought I’d try to catch a few of the games, secure in the knowledge that there are dozens of games on the various channels. Turns out, not ONE game I wanted to see was on TV. In any event, here in Edmonton we are forced to watch as REAL NHL teams in Ottawa (Go Sens! I guess), Montreal, Winnipeg, Calgary (ugh) and Vancouver (double ugh) enjoy the thrills of the playoffs. By a quirk of the schedule, two of the five Canadian teams will be eliminated for sure in the first round, as they play each other (Calgary vs. Vancouver; Ottawa vs. Montreal). On the plus side, that means either Calgary or Vancouver will be eliminated.

Once again, an unarmed black man was shot and killed by a white cop in the U.S. But this time, the whole sickening sequence was capture on video. TV news has replayed the killing repeatedly; this poor guy had died a thousand deaths. Remember the days when it was considered in the worst possible taste to show someone actually getting KILLED on TV? Not anymore.

The Walterdale Bridge is a year behind schedule; the steel required to build the structure was delivered months later than planned. Considering how no city project ever finishes on schedule, this is the least surprising news of the year.

The trial of Mike Duffy, the scandalous senator, finally began in Ottawa. Charged with making umpteen false expense claims, the money claimed by Duffy is small change compared to the real prize — Stephen Harper. So far, we’ve heard that Duffy was so quick to suck on the government teat that he filed an expense claim on his very first day as a senator. We’ve also heard that the rules around senate expense claims are so loosy-goosy as to be almost non-existent. Basically, it’s the honour system. And we all know how much honour there is amongst senators.

RIP: Stan Freeberg, 88, comic and voice character actor. Freberg produced his 1951 Dragnet parody, St. George and the Dragonet, which was a No. 1 hit for four weeks in October 1953. He was considered the father of the funny commercial. His Wikipedia entry is well worth reading to get the scope of his career.

Why good polls may be bad for the Rachel Notley Party

In the first week of the Unnecessary Election of 2015, the big story has been the polling numbers. The media, desperate to find something to report on in the early going, has fixated on the numbers which show the Rachel Notley Party with shockingly high numbers. The stats are so out of whack, even the pollsters are advising to take them with a grain of salt.

Pollsters have taken a beating lately due to a long string of wildly wrong results pretty much everywhere. That is in part due to the down-and-dirty method of polling, which is cheap and not very accurate compared to old school, talk-to-a-human-being kind of polling. The polls you’re reading about these days are free, and as the saying goes, you get what you pay for.

But clearly, something is afoot: the NDP is showing very well. And this may not be all good news for the Dippers. Let me explain.

First, I’ve got to hand it to the NDP. They’ve got a strategy, and it’s working, so far.

New face of the NDP, Rachel Notley.
New face of the NDP, Rachel Notley.

Obviously, the strategy is to play up Rachel Notley. Check out the website of the Rachel Notley Party (formerly known as the New Democratic Party); it starts with a video of Rachel, followed by a clip of rabid supporters chanting ‘Rachel, Rachel’, then there’s a sign up request the headline ‘I want to build a better Alberta with Rachel’, then there’s a profile of Rachel, then a picture of Rachel with some dude behind a sign that says ‘Rally with Rachel’. There are at least a half-dozen mentions of Rachel Notley, with only three small NDP logos. Almost all of the press release headlines have Rachel Notley in the lead. Clearly, the NDP is building a cult of leadership around Notley, which seems politically savvy, if a little anti-NDP. It helps that the media is absolutely in love with Rachel, providing the party with millions of dollars of unearned media.

So far, so good. The public seems to be responding to her, and the Dippers hope they will ride this horse all the way to official opposition status. But good poll numbers are not always good news.

Candidate Shaye Anderson, traditional face of the NDP.
Candidate Shaye Anderson, traditional face of the NDP.

As the polling numbers show support, it will draw more and more scrutiny to the party. And with increased scrutiny, curious voters will eventually want to know what the NDP stands for. Right now, however, you won’t find out on their website. As of April 11th, you won’t find one word on actual NDP policy. I’m sure in time they will release a complete policy document, but now they seem to be a Seinfeld party: the party about nothing. Eventually, the NDP will have to issue a full policy document for the interested public to study. It will have to be a carefully crafted document, with just enough red left-wing meat to keep the party’s lefties happy, without alienating the average voter. So far, we know they would raise corporate taxes, but so would the Liberals and anyone with a brain. The RNP is playing it very smart this year, and I’m sure when they come out with a policy doc, it will be as wishy-washy as possible.

A bigger problem is the ‘S’ word.

The New Democrats are a socialist party. That’s not a slur or an untruth, but a simple fact. I’m surprised that Jim Prentice has so far opted to call the RNP/NDP “far left”, which is silly. You’d think he’d be calling the RNP the socialist party at every opportunity. Socialism is anathema to Albertans, and just the way the Liberals had to wear the liberal label, the NDP will have to wear the socialist label. It’s just a matter of time, too, before the PCs link the NDP to federal NDP leader Thomas Mulcair and his previous references to “dirty oil”.

Life is good for the NDP right now. But if the polls, rightly or wrongly, continue to show the NDP staying strong, their strategy will be put to the test as the heat is turned up … way up.

Stuff happens, week 13: Election? What election?; this week in atrocities.

There was plenty of speculation amongst the political class about when Premier Grim Jim Prentice would call his (illegal) election. Monday came and went with no word. Then came the polls — suddenly the Wildrose was on the rise, and the polls were giving the budget the thumbs down. So Tuesday came and went, then Wednesday, then Thursday… then it was Good Friday, and Prentice would have been crucified for calling an election then. So, at earliest on Monday, but that’s Easter Monday, so Tuesday it is. Or is it? What a great way to run a democracy.

Gas prices took another inexplicable leap forward in Edmonton this week, jumping almost 10 cents, rising to almost a dollar a litre. Now if this sounds like a broken record from me, maybe it is. This is the fourth time I’ve mentioned rising gasoline prices in Edmonton in the 13 weeks since I started writing this blog. Meanwhile, the price of oil remains basically unchanged. How does this happen? I don’t know; wouldn’t it be nice if a politician, somewhere, asked that question?

Still on the provincial non-election front, the PCs continue their ugly infighting. The Edmonton-Meadowlark candidate was mysteriously disqualified in favour of a more sellable (i.e. female, TV-ready) candidate. Then Tony Caterina, who the last time I checked was a city councillor, announced that he was going to run in an Edmonton riding after getting a call from the PCs. Apparently, being a mere city councillor just isn’t enough for Caterina.

Another week, another atrocity. This time, the site was Kenya, the target Christian students at a university, the killers Boko Harum, and the death toll 148. No, the world isn’t getting worse, it only seems that way.

RIP: Cynthia Lennon, first wife of John Lennon, at 75. She was remembered as a “lovely lady” who was badly treated by Lennon … Gary Dahl, 78, came up with a nutty idea called the Pet Rock, which was a rock packaged in a little cage-like box and sold as a pet that you didn’t need to care for. Stupid? Sure. But in 1975, he sold more than a million pet rocks at $3.95, and became a millionaire. He tried again later with the Original Sand Breeding Kit (grow your own sand), but lightning didn’t strike twice … Robert Shuller, 88, one of the most successful of TV evangelists. His program, the Hour of Power from his spectacular glass Crystal Cathedral, was enormously successful. When he retired, however, the whole thing fell apart and the church fell into bankruptcy.

The Montreal Canadiens 'Punch Line' of Maurice Richard (bottom left) Elmer Lach (centre) and Toe Blake.
The Montreal Canadiens ‘Punch Line’ of Maurice Richard (bottom left) Elmer Lach (centre) and Toe Blake.

Elmer Lach, 97, the oldest surviving ex-NHLer, was a member of the legendary Punch Line of the Montreal Canadiens in the 1940s-50s which included Maurice Richard and Toe Blake. League MVP once, he won three Stanley Cups, and when he retired, he was the highest scoring player in the NHL … Character actor Gregory Walcott, 87, made dozens of appearances in films and TV from the 1950s to the 1970s. He would have been pretty much unknown, except for the fact he had a lead role in Plan 9 from Outer Space, widely regarded as the worst film of all time. “I don’t want to be remembered for that,” Walcott said in an interview. “But it’s better to be remembered for something than nothing, don’t you think?” Words to live by.

Everything you need to know about 2015 right here.

As a dues paying member of the blogosphere, I feel compelled to do at least one of the annual blogs: the year in review, or the predictions column. Since the year in review blog takes lots of work, guess which way I’m going? Besides, it’s really easy to write a predictions blog, because you can predict only what you want to talk about, and by the end of the year, nobody remembers any of what you’ve said.

Prediction no. 1: RIP Keystone XL

The Keystone XL pipeline was first proposed in 1922 to transport kerosene from Alberta’s vast kerosene fields, or something like that. It has taken this long to get to a decision, and I can say without a doubt that it will not be approved. President Barack Obama, freed from worrying about how his decisions will impact the mid-term elections (he lost), will certainly say no to the plan, regardless of what congress and the senate says. He has repeatedly signalled his disdain for the project, saying that it will only benefit Canada (not true). With the price of oil falling through the floor, and America awash in the stuff, there is no chance Keystone will get the presidential seal of approval. If I ran TransCanada, the pipeline proponents, I would withdraw the bid now. Then, in 10 years when the U.S. is begging for Canadian oil, no matter how ‘dirty’, I’d build a three-storey-high extended middle finger and put it right at the border.

Prediction no. 2: The federal election will be decided by the TV debates

Justin working on his thoughtful pose.
Justin working on his thoughtful pose.

It’s an election year here in Canada, and the situation is fluid (the only thing that is fluid in his frozen landscape). While support for Justin Trudeau’s Liberal party remains high, nothing has shaken Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s bedrock of support. Poor Thomas Mulcair of the NDP has found that being an excellent leader of the opposition gets you grudging admiration and a third-place standing in the polls. I think the election will hinge on the campaign, specifically the debate(s). We all know Harper will remain as unflappable as unyielding as a sphinx; in 10 years as prime minister, the guy has made maybe one verbal pratfall

Mulcair looking at the latest poll numbers.
Mulcair looking at the latest poll numbers.

(he called the Keystone pipeline “a no-brainer”). Mulcair is very quick on his feet and smart as hell. All eyes will be on Trudeau and whether he can play ball with the big boys. Canadians worried about Trudeau’s intellectual capacity — and that would be pretty much everyone — will be judging Trudeau on this performance. It could decide the election.

Prediction no. 3: Harper will win a minority

I just threw up a little in my mouth.

Prediction no. 4: Jim Prentice will win a majority for the PCs.

This is like predicting the sun will rise tomorrow, or that the PCs will win the Alberta election.

Prediction no. 5: Danielle Smith’s political career will end

Floor crossers sometimes win and sometimes lose. But there has never been a floor-crossing LEADER, and I’m certain the good people of Danielle Smith’s riding will let her know, loudly and clearly, what they thought of her actions. Most of the ex-Wildrose weasels will face the same fate.

Prediction no. 6: Winter will be cold, and sometimes not so cold.

Sorry, but I had to end on a sure bet.

(Finally, WordPress, the program I use for this blog, reports 18,300,771 new blogs were produced in 2014. Thank you for choosing this blog to read with all that competition.)

A blog hodgepodge, from politics to Portlandia.

It’s been a while since I last blogged, as I’m sure you’ve noticed (he said delusionally).  Maybe it’s just the January blues,  maybe it’s just that I haven’t found anything that really tickles my farcical fancy. Whatever the reason, I guess it’s time to get back on the ol’ blogging horse. And what better way to do that than with a slapped together mish-mash of random thoughts? (OK, I guess there are better ways to do this, but as I said, it’s January.)

Anyway, let’s begin with provincial politics …

Our Dear Leader, Alison Redford, dropped a major hint this week as to when the next election will be held. We already know that under her “fixed” (a-hem) election rule, it will be held sometime between March and May. But this week, she promised a speech from the throne, and the passage of a budget. Passing budgets is a lot like passing a kidney stone — it’s a long, painful process. Since the Legislature won’t reconvene until Feb. 7, and it takes some weeks to pass a budget, we can eliminate a March election. Candidates across the province are breathing a sigh of relief, since nobody likes the late winter campaign. So, the best bet appears to be sometime in April for the actual vote. Now, we’ve been promised all sorts of stuff by Alison Redford before. Remember the promise of a full judicial inquiry into the health care system? And the fixed election dates promise? (She did promise to return $100 million to the education system, but since that was the promise that got her elected, she had no choice but to make good on that one.) So, I’m not holding my breath on the promise of passing a budget. She’ll have to get the OK from Ron Liepert first.

With so many PC heavyweights (and I do mean heavy … nobody spends 20 years in politics and comes out weighing less) retiring this time, there are going to be some pitched battles for those safe Tory seats. There are even pitched battles for unsafe Tory seats, as we’ve seen when the evidence of skullduggery in Carl Benito’s PC association came to light. Benito, arguably the most disreputable MLA in the Tory ranks (and that is a hotly contested title), is toxic. He’s the Mill Woods MLA who promised to donate his salary to charity, and never did. He’s also the guy who forgot to file his city taxes, and blamed his wife. Naturally, PCs in his area are anxious to get rid of him now before the voters do. But his constituency organization tried to pull a fast one by organizing a nominating meeting during the Christmas season, and neglected to inform a couple of people who were interested in running against him. The party stepped in and nixed the meeting. Benito, of course, was unavailable for comment, but there is no doubt that he and his cronies on his board tried to pull a fast one. Frankly, I hope Benito wins the nomination, so Liberal candidate, former MLA and my friend Weslyn Mather can kick his ass.

Onto the national scene …

Something tells me the Northern Gateway pipeline is never going to be built, at least not in its current configuration. The hearings will take 18 months, followed by who knows how long to pump out the report, followed by the inevitable lawsuits, and ultimately a Supreme Court ruling. This is the way we do things in Canada. We’re looking at years and years down the road before any work can be done, if it is ever done. Since most of the pipe will run through B.C., and most British Columbians won’t see any direct benefit from it (why should they spoil their province for Alberta’s profit, they will say), I can’t see this thing ever happening. Frankly, I think the Keystone project will get the go-ahead after the November election in the U.S., which will take the pressure off the Northern Gateway project.

And speaking of the U.S….

Mitt Romney is, after one real primary victory, already being hailed as the certain Republican nominee. I may be wrong, but I think there are 49 states yet to hear from, but American talking heads say he is not the “inevitable” nominee.  They are probably right, but not because he’s such a wonderful candidate. His opponents are the weakest, weirdest, least appealing group of half-wits, nit-wits and no-wits every to be assembled by a major American party. Ron Paul may well be the nuttiest guy ever to run for the nomination of a party, and he finished SECOND in New Hampshire. And what does it say about a party when a candidate, Romney, is tarred with the epithet “moderate progressive”? Romney is the only Republican candidate who has even a remote chance of beating Barack Obama, and even then it’s a long shot.

And finally …

Last week I teed off on a really terrible TV show, Work It. Well, let’s end on a positive note. I’ve found a really funny show, called Portlandia, which runs on the IFC channel in the States but not, for who knows what reason, on IFC in Canada. Starring Fred Armisen (Saturday Night Live) and Carrie Brownstein, Portlandia pokes gentle fun at the laid-back, locked in the 90s vibe of Portland, Oregon. Fresh, original, satirical without being cruel, Portlandia is a little gem. Check it out.

And speaking of cable (which I kinda was), last month I berated Shaw cable for putting Sportsnet on a Sports 1 tier, which meant I had to pay an extra $10 a month just for one channel to watch the Oilers. Well, lo and behold, just a few days after my gripe, Shaw adds Sportsnet to its basic package, and I dropped the Sports 1 package. Good for them.  Clearly, my stinging denunciation of Shaw has made a different.

And speaking (again) of writing, your humble scribe is still seeking employment. I’m about a week away from applying for a greeter job at Walmart (“Welcome to Walmart… ask yourself why you’re here.”), I would appreciate hearing of any jobs that require a writer. Turns out this blogging thing pays very, very poorly.