Capital Pointeless

I don’t know how any Regina journalist who is on the city hall beat doesn’t include, in every story about our generation’s answer to the Chateau Qu’Appelle, some line such as … ‘A Capital Pointe representative, who spoke on the condition of anonymity but who is so full of horseshite that the eyeballs are turning brown …’

Face it. If the people responsible for this project couldn’t scratch together the financing when Saskatchewan’s economy was as hot as the exhaust pipe of a Sabrejet on afterburners, there’s no way this project will be built when oil has fallen from $100 per barrel to $45 a barrel (and falling), the Canadian dollar has gone from par with the U.S. dollar to about 75 cents U.S. (and falling) and Saskatchewan’s economy is free-falling into recession.

The Roughriders’ Season in Rats Alley

The Saskatchewan Roughrider season isn’t so much over as it is in Rats’ Alley, where the dead men lose their bones. Forty-eight hours after Winnipeg journalist and Canadian Football Hall of Fame member Gary Lawless reported that head coach Cory Chamblin would be relieved of his coaching duties at the end of next week, the Rider brain trust said nada. Not a sausage. Bugger all.

Chamblin, whose manic-depressive coaching career in Riderland has gone from carrying the Grey Cup out of Mosaic Stadium in 2013 to winning two games in the 15 games since Darian Durant suffered his first season-ending injury last season, was left as the obligatory sacrificial virgin, to be thrown down the volcano to appease the Gods of Rider Pride. Maybe not today but sooner rather than later.

On the holiday Monday — after Lawless first made the report, which was picked up by TSN – general manager Brendan Taman said Chamblin is not going to get fired. Then he said Chamblin has more talent at his disposal than Greg Marshall did in the 2011 season (where he was canned before Labour Day, in his first and only season as head coach). Which brings a whole lot of questions.

If the Riders have more talent than they did in 2011, then why are the Riders not winning? Is it because the Riders are making the same kind of mistakes over and over, leading to broken plays and penalties? Isn’t that a coaching problem? And why didn’t the president and CEO of the club, Craig Reynolds, attend the press conference? Could it be that just as Taman has his meat shield (Chamblin), Reynolds has his (Taman)? Continue reading “The Roughriders’ Season in Rats Alley”

Election 2015: Stephen Harper Boxes With Shadows

Stephen’s Harper’s quest for political immortality (immoraly? Hey, they both pass spellcheck …) turned from the quixotic to the bizarre a couple of days ago when he turned his rhetorical guns on Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley. It’s kind of strange because neither one is on October’s ballot, and it’s not as if he’s run out of people to piss off.
Going after Wynne, at least on the surface, may make good politics, if you remember how she led the Liberals to a come-from-behind victory in the 2014 Ontario provincial election. Wynne won by uniting the progressive vote around her – a lesbian party insider. It also didn’t help that Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horvath ran a mean-spiritied, Lingenfelteresque campaign that was designed to united Ford Nation around her (as if). There’s no love lost between Liberals and NDP in Ontario, and Harper is counting on the two to commit parricide, split the vote, and bring more Cons to Ottawa.
The attack on Notley, however, doesn’t make sense at all. She and the Alberta NDP have been in power only since May’s stunning election upset, and blaming her for Alberta’s current poor economic performance is akin to blaming Mike Babcock for the Toronto Maple Leafs’ current Stanley Cup drought. It also ignores the fact that Alberta’s two largest cities are helmed by mayors (Naheed Nenshi in Calgary, Don Iveson in Edmonton) who are progressive policy wonks who have an ability to engage the public – in fact, the polar opposite of Stephen Harper. There must be times Alberta Conservative MPs get off the plane from Ottawa and think they’ve landed in a universe where Spock has a beard.
Jim Premtice tried to get elected by blaming Albertans for questioning his narrow vision, and look what happened to him. I guess Stephen Harper would know that if he didn’t spend all his time in his own little world, which is gradually contracting by the minute.

LBGT Recognition And The Commercial Factor

Please note: this was written before the Supreme Court of the United States proclaimed today that allowing gay Americans the right to marry is the law of the land. It’s not often anybody has said this in years, but … Good on America. We’ll probably have more to say about that later.

Saskatoon’s mayor and the worst-dressed politician in Saskatchewan, Don Atchison, heads for Rob Ford territory as he runs out of reasons not to take part in the Pride Flag raising at City Hall, leaving many in the culturally sophisticated city wondering how they elected a city council that thinks they live in Rosetown. Meanwhile Moose Jaw – a city overrun with Bible-thumpers since the Ku Klux Klan ran the hookers out of town in 1927 – had its own Pride Parade.
Regina’s event, which went Saturday, boasted not only 50 floats and participation from unions, human rights groups, businesses, supporters, and some political parties, but also an appearance by a two metre tall, pants-less Richardson ground squirrel, otherwise known as the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ sideline mascot, Gainer the Gopher. This is as big an endorsement from the Old Regina Families as having the Lieutenant Governor lead the crowd in a rendition of the Village People’s ‘YMCA’ from the premier’s balcony at the Legislative Building.
Almost a quarter century after Regina city council tried to undo its first ever gay pride week proclamation (and we owe a massive debt to the late Joe McKewen, the city councilor who refused on principle to give the unanimous council consent to overturn the proclamation), Regina – at least official Regina – is as far away from the bigoted philosophy of Bill Whatcott as the city is from Whatcott’s current residence, somewhere in the Philippines.
Continue reading “LBGT Recognition And The Commercial Factor”

Mike O’Brien –30–

I first met Mike O’Brien in the fall of 1986, as we and about 30 others were lounging around the offices of the University of Alberta student newspaper, The Gateway, waiting to be assigned to our billets at a Western Region Canadian University Press weekend conference. I was with the U of R paper, The Carillon, he was the co-editor-in-chief of the University of Victoria student weekly, The Martlet. In the collection of freaks, gay rights activists, punks, poseurs, anarchists, and social misfits that student newspapers attract like hay bales to cattle, O’Brien stood out, wearing relatively short hair and a button down shirt, and keeping his own counsel, except occasionally talking to a thin blonde woman who was the other Martlet co-editor. He looked like Bob Newhart wandering into the middle of the dance floor at a Siouxsie and the Banshees concert.

Until the cancer that took his life May 24 arrived in his life a few years ago, and he undertook the ensuing treatments that caused his hair to fall out, he looked the same in The Gateway office as he did later in life. When he appeared as liquor vendor/insurance salesman Wes Humboldt on Corner Gas’s third episode (the one where Oscar stages a grand national freakout because Wes won’t give him his deposit back for an empty case of old stubby beer bottles), it looked as though Mike found his groove. Continue reading “Mike O’Brien –30–”

More On The Divine Right Of Conservatism

In the most recent edition of prairie dog I postulated on what I called The Divine Right of Conservatism: the ability of the chattering classes and business leaders to overlook the most basic, the most stupid and the most egregious mistakes by right-of-centre political parties and governments in the name of preserving the political and social status quo. A couple of things happened between writing that and today which reinforces that theory.

In a recent Globe and Mail, Preston Manning talks about the future of conservatism in Alberta in the same tones used by the German playwright Bertolt Brecht in 1953, after Soviet troops used tanks and machine guns to put down anti-government demonstrations in East Berlin. When that happened, Brecht, until then a Communist, wryly remarked that since the people lost confidence in the government, the people shouldn’t get a new government, the government should get a new people. Except what Brecht said as gallows humour is Manning’s unironic stance.

Manning seems to have missed the point entirely: it’s not just the people promoting conservatism that were rejected by voters, it was conservatism itself that was rejected. Continue reading “More On The Divine Right Of Conservatism”

First Nations University: Ten Years After

It was just over 10 years ago that the First Nations University of Canada was plunged into a devastating, nearly fatal, and ultimately needless power struggle at the behest of its political overseers. At the time of the takeover, First Nations University of Canada was one of the most respected aboriginal academic institutions in North America and playing an important role in redeveloping aboriginal society. Now, it’s academically and administratively learning to walk all over again.

It’s interesting to note that many of those on the political right in Canada used the FNUC incident as a lesson that aboriginal governments were/are too immature to be trusted with the future of their societies through such institutions. And, in one perspective they’re right. The allegations of corruption at the top of the college’s administration, made by then FSIN vice chief Morely Watson, were a mere MacGuffin (especially considering that in 2009-10, the college nearly foundered on charges of corruption, incompetent spending, and general stupidity by its administration that dwarfed any alleged (or in the case of Wes Stevenson, a charge for which he pleaded guilty) wrongdoing done by the previous administration the FSIN turfed out. And the FSIN went to the wall to defend their hand-picked administrators, who nearly destroyed the college.

No, the takeover was done for one reason only. Watson’s idea had nothing to do with the academic or intellectual health of the institution – it was to make the college a mere cog in the FSIN patronage machine. To do that, Watson and the FSIN had to ‘make their own reality’ – that the college was biased against the Cree of Saskatchewan, that aboriginal control of an aboriginal education meant aboriginal political control of aboriginal education – which is definitely not the same thing. Inventing one’s own reality – unless you’re a fiction writer, which in that case, have at ‘er – is not only dangerous, it’s a sign of delusion, and mental illness.

But inventing one’s own reality, and the efforts people and governments (in particular) make to live in that alternate reality, aren’t limited aboriginal governments. Anybody who’s watched Stephen Harper in action for the past decade would understand that Harper doesn’t live in the real world, where climate change is a reality, where the oil industry doesn’t have a long-term future, where he’s pissed off the leader of the free world, and where governments now run with no real long-term planning except to say that governments now run for the economic and social benefit of corporations, not for the people who elect the government.

And that’s why, when Canadians confront the mess and havoc that the HarperCons have created this country will be in the same kind of crisis that First Nations University of Canada was in during the ugly time of 2009-10. FNUC was saved by the combination of social media and student activism – the kind of activism, led by the FNUC student council, that put the student radicalism of the 1960s to shame. If it wasn’t for the actions of the student council in protesting the corruption at the top, lobbying the provincial government to assist in changing the structure, and telling the people back home that what was happening was going to destroy the institution if the chiefs wouldn’t reform it, and get themselves out of the way in favour of aboriginal people with academic and administrative expertise – FNUC would have been a memory by Christmas 2010.1

Maybe it’s because it’s my birthday, and I am passing into the netherworld of old fogey-ness, but I wonder whether there’s the same kind of grass-roots political will amongst a younger generation of Canadians are willing to do the same with the HarperCons, whose political cronies they appoint to boards are incompetent at their jobs, who regard the words of their Maximum Leader as unalterable law, who destroy and restrict evidence that doesn’t fit into their world view, and who, as far as actually running a government, are not so much over their heads as they are floundering on the bottom of Challenger Deep. And I also wonder why the HarperCons have it in for aboriginal peoples, since the way they run the Canadian government is almost exactly the way they allege band and tribal council governments are run – corrupt, stupid, and not in the best interests of their people.

1. At the FSIN Chiefs’ congress outside of Saskatoon in February 2010, the chiefs initially threatened to pull FNUC out of its funding operations with the federal and provincial governments and pay for it themselves. Given the only thing that has kept the FSIN and some of its member bands anywhere close to financially solvent during that time (and today) has been gambling revenue from the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority – and considering that money’s pretty much spoken for – I can’t imagine anybody in Ottawa or Regina doing anything but laugh when the chiefs made that threat.

So That’s Why They’re Called The Weyburn Red Wings

There may be some straws in the wind – hearing a neighbor’s been laid off, hearing about the dysfunctional Target Canada coming apart like the Hale Bopp comet into Jupiter – but the news that the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s Weyburn Red Wings are close to insolvency should set off alarm bells in the provincial Department of Finance, and not just amongst hockey fans.

As people from southern Saskatchewan are wont to tell us – at least until recently – the Weyburn-Estevan area, the Canadian area of the now infamous Williston Basin – became almost as large an economic generator as the Athabasca Tar Sands thanks to fracking and high oil prices. But those high oil prices are no more.

Weyburn’s also known for being an area where the business community apparently thinks that if you’re not working in the oil fields or directly supporting the oil field industry, you can go hang. The city fathers and the Weyburn District Chamber of Commerce launched a grand national freakout nine years ago, when some of the employees at the city’s Walmart planned to unionize the staff. And the district voted heavily for a SaskParty candidate whose party, amongst other things, would rewrite labour rules so it would be harder for employees to unionize.

More recently, the Chamber of Commerce strongly endorsed the Temporary Foreign Workers program, which allows businesses to bring in workers from Third World countries to work in jobs, even though local people may need jobs. It’s understandable, in a cynical fashion, why the Chamber thinks that way. If the labour market isn’t diluted, then the laws of supply and demand mean that they will have no alternative but to increase wages, or go out of business if they have to pay market rates for labour. I mean, you can’t have workers making too much money and having more disposable income, can you? Look at what happened to Seattle when it passed a hike in its minimum wage … okay, bad example.

But now, let’s see the Weyburn Chamber of Commerce try to convince these TFWs that the Red Wings survival is important. And let’s see the Weyburn Chamber of Commerce try to convince those people who got laid off or who couldn’t get a job because the local business thought they could save a buck and hired TFWs instead of local people, that they should care about the Red Wings’ fate. And let’s see the Chamber, who endorsed anti-unionization so workers have a harder time bargaining collectively for, amongst other things, better wages, tell those same people that they should spend their hard-earned money, which doesn’t go too far in a boom town, for a hockey team when, if they have cable, they can watch all they hockey they want at home.

Now, the likelihood that the Weyburn Red Wings don’t play next season is up there with the threat in bygone years that the Saskatchewan Roughriders would fold if they didn’t sell enough tickets. The threat is real insofar as it’s made to the public; appealing to its sense of community spirit, forgetting that the other ways of illustrating community spirit – like making sure everyone has an adequate income and shelter, that everybody can feel at home – should be ignored because it might inconvenience the business community.

The Wings will probably be bailed out by local businesses buying tickets for the remainder of the current season and season tickets for the next year. The businesses will then sell tickets at a discount (think of Safeways selling Pats tickets in the Hunter years) or give them away to their business associates and/or employees. This is what the Roughriders did in the 1997, ’98, and ’99 seasons to inflate attendance figures. The Riders’ problem with that strategy, however, was two-fold. It was only the truly dedicated, the desperate, and the ones with no connections in the business community who paid for tickets, whether seasons’ or walk-ups, and once businesses learned that they couldn’t give away Rider tickets, they started wondering why they were spending promotional money on a product nobody wanted. By the end of the 1999 season, the Saskatchewan Roughriders were in worse shape than in late 1996, when Fred Wagman threatened to pull the plug on the team because of its financial state. They were just as much in the hole as they were three years previous, they had a public that wasn’t willing to buy tickets they could get for free, and they had a business community who now knew the public wasn’t always willing to sell what the Riders were trying to get them to buy.

As the news reports state, the Wings are about $180,000 to $200,000 in the hole with, if it is in keeping with the rest of the SJHL, a budget of about $900,000 to $1 million. In the oilfields’ go-go days, the collection of drilling companies, service companies, and others associated with the industry could have raised that amount from their petty cash reserves. The fact that they can’t do that now, and the Weyburn Red Wings now are going cap in hand to a public that, until now, the business and political community have largely ignored, is not just ironic justice, it’s a major sign that the New Saskatchewan that people such as Brad Wall and John Gormley have envisioned is pretty much an illusion.

At Least Nobody’s Calling Them The Wascana Village Idiots

It’s a good day for a journalist when s/he can write something that leaves a smile on the face. So I image Will Chabun was chortling like a department store Santa after his first plate of has brownies when he wrote about the latest gigglefest involving the Rural Municipality of Sherwood, which surrounds Regina like a doughnut.

In one way, the system reflects the drawback of the rural municipal governance system in Saskatchewan, largely unchanged from the days when my grandfather, Arthur LaRose, sat on the R.M. of Wellington council and hauled his grain by horse team four miles to Tyvan’s Saskatchewan Wheat Pool elevator. A tiny council, run by volunteers, maybe a half- or third-time administrator, a couple of high-school dropouts in their 40s or 50s running the graders, and that’s it. Such councils would be ripe pickings for flim-flam men and hustlers, which the proposed Wascana Village housing development appears to be.

It’s unfortunate Chabun never got hold of the entire report (which apparently is still embargoed), and that the Leader-Post no longer has either the resources or apparent desire to follow this story since it started about two years ago, because if and when the report is released I would bet the RM council members would be unable to show their faces in public without people on the street laughing at them.

In 2013 the R.M. of Sherwood pulled out of a joint planning committee with the City of Regina, while formulating plans, with a developer, for a development project called Wascana Village, a city (15,000-population) sized real estate development just southeast of the city boundaries. I don’t think you need to be a conspiracy theory buff to note the coincidence. The City of Regina wouldn’t like the development because (a) for all the promises the R.M. was making about a stand-alone project (it’s own water/sewer supply, for example) it would eventually have to tie into the city within a decade or two and (b) it’s a competitor to the city’s own developments, including Coopertown. The provincial Department of Municipal Affairs was caught in the middle. A year after Wascana Village was unveiled, the department ordered an inquiry.

Because the now completed report has still to be vetted by government lawyers and bureaucrats (that’s the stated reason why the report hasn’t been released, but the R.M. has responded in a fashion), the public doesn’t know whether one or two on the R.M. council, or the whole council, or somebody in the administration, or some combination of all three, either got in way over their heads on a project beyond their ability to understand, or they did this deliberately.

Many of these development projects in rural southern Saskatchewan come to a bad end, because those customers might desire country living, but they also want city services – libraries, transit, police, fire, doctors, shopping, a night on the town – without having to pay city-sized taxes. Once those small-town councils make people pay for big-city services, the tax advantage is lost, and, if you’re paying city-size taxes, you may as well live in the city.

Another problem is the small size of the R.M.s, where not only does everybody know everybody else but the people on council are often in conflict of interest due to real estate holdings or business deals with the R.M.

At a time when the Canadian economy is swirling the toilet bowl, I would imagine the Wascana Village project is in the same limbo as the old Plains Hotel development. The boom is over, nobody is interested in our one-trick-pony economy, and there’s already a glut of real estate on the market. At best for the R.M. of Sherwood, the report, and the provincial economy, will allow them to walk back from this silly project, re-establish the ties with the City of Regina that they slashed in this debacle, and start a proper regional planning commission. If that doesn’t happen, well, Chabun should have a good time.

Weston Dressler Was The Best He Could Come Up With?

I am probably the biggest Saskatchewan Roughrider fan in the prairie dog editorial universe, such as it is. And I think Weston Dressler is one of the best receivers to play for the Riders in a generation.
But I am quite sure that there are many other native-born Reginans who should have been recognized for their contributions to the city than a football player. Hell, there are a lot of other retired Roughriders – George Reed, Ed McQuarters – who should have been so honored before Dressler. That is, if Mayor Fougere spent any more time deciding on this honour than he apparently did on Regina’s transit system.
It’s sadly obvious that Mayor Don’t Care Fougere sees the City of Regina as a taxpayer-funded support system to property developers, construction companies, and realtors, and the Riders are the equivalent of ‘bread and circuses.’ This so-called honour shows less about Dressler’s off-field contributions to our city and more about Mayor Fougere’s disconnect from the life of Regina.

A New Market For Fowl Supper Tickets, Pickup Trucks, And Rider Gear

The New Yorker has a real fascinating story about a York University professor who has been studying the learning and social habits of endangered orangutans in the wild. Of course, this has to be mentioned …

“I grew up in rural Saskatchewan,” (Anne) Russon, who now works and teaches at York University, in Toronto, told me. “And, for me, that is exactly what orangutan social life is like. There are communities, but they are very broadly dispersed. It might be fifteen miles to your cousin’s place, or another twenty miles to the next nearest relative, but everybody knows everybody.”

Pardon me while I go pick the fleas off Brad Wall.

Have Some More Haggis, John Conway

John Conway’s analysis of the Scottish independence referendum, philosophically, reads about the same as my attempt to review records by new Canadian bands or artists. Just as every group with two guitarists makes me think of either The Tragically Hip or The Rheostatics, never thinking that newer contemporaries may be a bigger influences, Conway tries to shoehorn his comparing of next week’s groundbreaking vote with the 1995 Quebec sovereignty referendum.

About the only things those two events will have in common is the behaviorism of the leaders. Scotland’s first minister, Alex Salmond, is promising a greener, cleaner, richer Scotland without explaining how it will come about. He’s also promising economic divorce with bed privileges – an independent government that will share the pound sterling with the country to the south (which, economically, isn’t independence at all).

And the No side is led by idiots too busy defending the established political and economic order to a populace that has been ripped off, politically and economically, by that order, and consequently has tuned them out. They’re trying to win the referendum by scaring Scotsmen and Scotswomen. You can reason with a Scotsman (or woman), debate him or her, argue with him or her, or fight with him or her. But you can’t scare a Scotsman. I speak from experience. Mum’s from Kirremuir.

Quebec’s separatist movement has always been inward looking, while Scotland has mostly been an outward-looking society. Scotsmen went to India on business; Scotsmen built the railway systems and mining empires in South America in the 1800s (and introduced soccer in the process), Scotsmen have been involved in Canadian affairs since the days of the fur trade. Maybe that’s why Quebec’s independence movement is more inward-looking (especially now, in the wake of the blunder around the Charter of Values and the PQ’s destruction in the last Quebec election) while the kind of cultural nationalism and fear that’s an integral part of Quebec’s independence movement is absent in the Scottish debate.

If the PQ philosophy on ‘who is a member of our country?’ was prevalent in Scotland, many who are Muslim, east Indian, from the Caribbean, or wherever, wouldn’t be welcome at pro-independence rallies or within the Scotland National Party. Anyone proposing a tartan equivalent of the Charter of Values would be laughed all the way to the Firth of Forth, if not become the recipient a Glasgow Kiss.

Scotland’s referendum brings to mind the Occupy movement, or Canada’s Idle No More activism, in which people who have been made victims by the economic and social policies of the day have their chance to kick the arbiters of the system right in the goolies. Thatcherism – the dismantling of Great Britain’s social safety net, the consolidation of economic power in London, transferring the tax load from an even consumer business split to consumers via consumption and income taxes, and the devil-takes-the-hindmost social mindset – hurt Scotland as much as it’s hurt any other area of the country. It’s just that Scotland’s population, as opposed to, say people in Liverpool or Yorkshire, get their say on whether to stay in a political system that’s permanently rigged against their favor. That’s the message being spread by Glasgow-area MP George Galloway — but the No side has pretty much ignored his (in my opinion, spot-on accurate) analysis.

The No side is trying to defend the indefensible. Most Britons want to see the end of Thatcherism and corporate rule by the establishment – when Thatcher died earlier this year, the song from the Wizard of Oz, ‘Ding, Dong, The Witch Is Dead,’ raced up the pop charts.

The best example comes from former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who in a recent speech in a Glasgow union hall railed on about the benefits of the National Health Service, and warned that the NHS was at risk in the event of Scottish independence. Everybody in that room – everybody who’s paid attention to UK politics in the past while – knows that Cameron’s Tory government is set to dismantle the NHS. There goes that argument.

Possibly the incompetent figure in this whole exercise in the British opposition leader, Ed Millbrand, leader of the Labour Party. Labour is strong in Scotland but the people of Scotland are as non-enamoured with Blair’s Cool Britannia (Thatcherism plus BritPop) as they are with the real deal. But Millbrand is as beholden to Blair’s template as Cameron is to Thatcher’s philosophy.

Austerity – the new name the political right has given Thatcherism – benefits the people at the top. There’s more people at the bottom. The people on the bottom of the economic pile want something different, and that’s why Alex Salmond is given the benefit of the doubt. Underneath the bluster, the deathbed repentances, the … I don’t know, promises to play Andy Stewart on BBC 3? … is the sound of a political establishment encountering a populace who no longer believes their bullshit.

Scotland’s people aren’t so much voting in favor of independence than they are voting against Thatcherism. But the political and economic establishment that dominates Great Britain today would rather destroy the country than question the political and economic value of the system which empowered and economically benefited them – at the expense of people outside of London and the banking community. People like the Scots. On that, I think Mr. Conway and I can agree.

What Happens When Governments Invent Their Own Reality

The psychotic nature of the Harper government reminds me of a joke that floated around Soviet Russia during the 1970s. The Ministry of Finance was looking to hire an economist, and they interviewed several people for the position. A Communist Party official would sit in on the hiring interviews, but would remain silent most of the time. The bureaucrats would ask the candidates a series of complex questions about economic matters, and at the end of the interview the Communist Party official would ask one question:

“How much is two plus two?”

All but one of the candidates were surprised by the question and replied, “Obviously, four.” Those candidates for the job were thanked for their interest and sent on their way.

One candidate, after hearing that question, leaned over conspiratorially, and whispered, “What would you like it to be?”

That was the candidate who got the job.

All Rosie Wants is His Galaxy S3. Or His Money Back.

If you purchased an insurance policy along with your new cell phone from a year or so ago, and the policy was held by GWG Insurance of Toronto don’t be surprised if you can’t collect your insurance policy if your phone gets stolen, goes missing, or gets broken. Regrettably, I speak with the voice of experience.

In November 2012 I purchased a Galaxy S3 from the store at the Cornwall Centre, complete with a $7 per month insurance policy, in case the phone is ever stolen, broken, or what not. Around the 23 of July this year, it was stolen (The Regina Police Service and the North American cell phone system, through SaskTel, have the phone’s serial number so anyone trying to register the phone on any cell phone network will have some explaining to do, preferably to an RPS officer with the badge number 5293). So if you see anyone with a red 16 G S3, you might want to ask how he or she got it.

A day or so later, I contacted about launching an insurance claim. The guy at the store printed off the bill of sale, highlighted the toll-free number of GWG Insurance, and their fax number, and told me to call them. So I did. The person at the other end of the line told me they needed a $95 deductible before they send me my replacement phone. So I did, via registered mail (I have a phobia about using credit cards on the internet). For three or four days, I called GWG Insurance in Toronto, asking if they got the $95. Nope, said the people answering the phone. Either it’s in the mail room, or Canada Post hasn’t delivered it.

So I phoned Canada Post. It was delivered to the address specified on July 26.

So I called GWG Insurance in Toronto again, on July 31. Oh, they might not have cashed it, the person at the other end of the line told me. And then they have to get approval from the head office in New York. (New York? This was the first I had heard of it).

So on August 1, I called GWG Insurance’s toll-free number again. This time I got a recording: “THIS NUMBER IS NO LONGER IN SERVICE OR HAS BEEN DISCONNECTED.”

What the …

On the off chance that the loss of phone service had to do with the phone system going AWOL during a holiday weekend, I called on Tuesday. I got the same message. You can hear for yourself when you call 1.877.293.6843.

After the first time I got the recorded message, I got back in touch with, asking what the hell was up. The assistant manager of the Cornwall Centre store told me that he understood why I was frustrated but both parties had entered into the insurance agreement in good faith, and that for some reason or other, no longer provides cell phone insurance coverage with GWG Insurance.

So, who should I be angry at? The rapscallion who made off with my cell phone? Sure, but who is he or she? They just sold me the phone. I could have said no to the insurance policy (that way, by my calculations, I could have had an extra $237 towards my replacement phone ($7 for 21 months plus the $95 deductible). (UPDATE: the manager of the Cornwall Centre operation sold me a new smartphone, cutting a deal and acknowledging the inconvenience) GWG Insurance? I would be if I could find them in Toronto.

Then again, there appears to be a lot of people throughout North American who are also mad at GWG Insurance. And, like me, they don’t seem to be getting anywhere with their complaints to the company, either.


Andrew Coyne And The Cult Of Right Wing ‘Truthiness’

Reading Andrew Coyne’s column in Thursday’s Leader-Post says a lot more about Andrew Coyne than the subject he talks about. It’s also a perfect example of how ‘magical thinking’ and ‘truthiness’ has corrupted political thought.

A bit of background. In the Ontario provincial election, Conservative Party leader Tim Hudak says his party’s platform will create a million jobs in his first term. The problem is, as Jim Stanford has pointed out, Hudak’s proposal has one big flaw: his math is off. By confusing years of employment with permanent jobs, Hudak’s math is off by a factor of eight.

When confronted with this fact, not just by Stanford but by many major economists, Hudak says they’re wrong and he’s right, though he won’t say where those economists are wrong and his data is right. And when confronted with this, Andrew Coyne says, in effect, so what if Hudak is wrong? He sounds right, and that’s good enough not only for me but also for the province of Ontario.

Usually a candidate who can’t ensure that his staff are capable of doing basic math is a laughingstock, consigned to the dustbin of history. That may yet still happen with Tim Hudak, since the election campaign has about a week or two to run.

But Hudak seems to have a lot of political enablers, just as Rob Ford did. Enablers such as Coyne. The whole concept of ‘truthiness’, as Stephen Colbert explained, is the idea of wanting something to be true, whether or not it is true. Even though, for example, the New York Rangers defeated the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup semi-finals, there’s probably a few Habs fans dreaming of what Rue Ste. Catherines would be like with a Stanley Cup parade next month. Hudak is the political equivalent of someone pandering to that fantasy, and Coyne is one of those doing the fantasizing.

Someone who isn’t competent enough to understand basic mathematical mistakes shound’t be premier of a province, that goes without saying. A newspaper columnist who endorses a political leader who makes those mistakes because the candidate is saying things the columnist wants to hear is not a credible columnist.

Dunno What Stupidity Affected U Of R Cheerleaders, But It’s Spread To North Dakota

Much like Saskatchewan, the state of North Dakota is living proof of the inverse relationship between new oil money and intelligence …

A group of students at the University of North Dakota are being criticized after they created and wore T-shirts that seemed to make light of alcoholism in the Native American community.

The website Last Real Indians pointed out the controversy after photos of students in the T-shirt began to spread on social media. The shirts depict a stereotypical “Indian chief head” drinking from a beer bong. Above the head are the words, “Siouxper Drunk.”

How do they let people that stupid into university in the first place? Mostly because the university`s administration doesn’t care, apparently.

Rock, flag and eagle, everybody.

Big Trouble In River City

In a prairie dog blog post 15 months ago, I opinioned that nobody has mentioned why a 35,000-seat football stadium in Regina will cost nearly $300 million while a 33,000-seat football stadium in Winnipeg had cost about $200 million to build.

Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz has come up with the information that I requested, and, in truth, it appears as though that the saga of the University of Manitoba Institute For Mosquito-Breeding Studies is a case of haste makes waste.

And the president of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers is trying to make sure that reporters and the public don’t learn of the full extent of the damage, even though the public, through their tax dollars, are the ones who are paying for the stadium, and for the damage from the flood waters. We’re just supposed to take his word for it that the stadium is in fine shape. Because football.