Ezra Levant Is An Asshole

Click this link and you’ll find a blog post on Rebel Media by noted Harper attack dog Ezra Levant castigating Prime Minister elect Justin Trudeau — or “Trust Fund Boy”, as Ezra calls him — for authorizing the expenditure of $10 million to “redecorate” the prime minister’s official residence at 24 Sussex Drive.

I have never seen the residence. But every report I have read about its current state has said it is in desperate need of significant renovations — first, to preserve its structural integrity; then to provide the people living and working there with a habitable environment (without central air, for instance, the residence is cooled in the summer by heavy window air conditioners that are destabilizing the window frames and making the house extremely drafty in winter) and finally; to provide a proper venue for the prime minister (whoever that might be) to host official national and international functions on behalf of Canada.

I’m not even going to link to any articles proving this point, because it’s just common knowledge. Except for a dick like Ezra.

Cream Bassist Jack Bruce Dead (Again)

20151028_102247_resizedAbove is a snapshot from today’s Leader-Post (page B2) that contains a brief report on the death of Cream bassist Jack Bruce at the age of 71. As the article correctly notes, Bruce was one-third of the British hard rock trio which also included guitarist Eric Clapton and drummer Ginger Baker.

The thing is, Jack Bruce actually passed away last year at this time — at least, if the Internet, including this Rolling Stone reportcan be believed. So it looks like Postmedia has a boo-boo on its hands.

That’s A Wrap!

After raising plenty of eyebrows with its head office-mandated endorsement of the Harper Conservatives on Friday, the PostMedia chain of newspapers invited further ridicule with a front page paid political advertisement that was carried nationally in the Saturday edition.

The ad, which mimicked the yellow colour scheme favoured by Elections Canada, was from the Conservatives naturally, and warned about the dire consequences that awaited Canadians if they dared turf the Cons and elect a Liberal or NDP led government.

I don’t subscribe, so I’ve yet to see one. But if you click on this Huffington Post link you’ll find samples from across the country. So score another point for corporate media, I guess.

And tomorrow is FINALLY election day!

Exciting Goings On In The Newspaper Biz

No shortage of drama heading into the final weekend of our oh so gripping 78-day election campaign as both the PostMedia chain and the Globe & Mail endorsed the Harper Conservatives as the best choice to keep Canada’s blah blah blah… blah.

The unsigned PostMedia editorial came from head office in Toronto, and was tweaked to fit the different provinces/regions in which the papers operate. The Leader-Post version even referred specifically to residents of “southern Saskatchewan” in urging  readers to grant the Cons four more years. Can’t get more authentically local than that.

The National Post is part of the same chain, and it endorsed the Harperites too. Political columnist Andrew Coyne is on the National Post editorial board. He would have participated in the discussions around the endorsement decision, but he planned a follow-up column of his own in Saturday’s paper that would endorse a different party.

Word is circulating, though, that the column was killed by higher-ups in the National Post. By any objective definition, Coyne qualifies as a centre-right journalist — but with a reputation for presenting well-reasoned arguments to support his position. So no left-wing media conspiracy bullshit here folks.

While supportive of the Harper government in some areas, he’s been scathing in his criticism at other times. Below is a quote from a column in May about the Conservatives’ contempt for democracy:

If one were to draw up an indictment of this government’s approach to politics and the public purpose, one might mention its wholesale contempt for Parliament, its disdain for the Charter of Rights and the courts’ role in upholding it, its penchant for secrecy, its chronic deceitfulness, its deepening ethical problems, its insistence on taking, at all times, the lowest, crudest path to its ends, its relentless politicization of everything.

Editorial staff at other newspapers in the PostMedia chain had no say in the decision to publish the endorsements, it was all done from head office. So score one for corporate media.

As for the Globe & Mail, it unleashed a shit-storm of scorn by endorsing the Conservatives, but then calling on Harper to resign to defuse the massive fracturing that’s occurring in the country due to his toxic leadership style. Make of it what you will — but with the Cons having earned the tag “Party of One” because of Harper’s vise-like control through the PMO it’s hard to envision how the party could transition away from him while still performing competently in government.

James Minifie Lecture

Derek StoffelGuest-speaker for the 35th annual Minifie lecture which is being held at the University of Regina on Tuesday Oct. 6 is CBC foreign correspondent Derek Stoffel (pictured above).

Currently based in Jerusalem, Stoffel has been in the thick of a lot of stories lately, from the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis to the Mohamed Fahmy “trial” in Egypt to the intense fighting that broke out in the Gaza Strip last summer between Hamas and Israeli forces that cost over 2000 Palestinian civilians their lives. Prior to that, Stoffel spent time in Afghanistan covering the Canadian military effort in that war-torn country.

Stoffel was born and raised in Regina, and holds degrees in journalism and political science from the University of Regina. The topic of his talk is “Staying in the Field: Why Face-To-Face Journalism Matters”. The Minifie lecture is sponsored by the U of R School of Journalism, and it will be held Tuesday at the Education Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free.

Oh Ye Of Little Faith

Capital PointeWas it Stephen LaRose’s intention to use reverse psychology with his Sept. 24 Capital Pointeless post to prod the developers into proceeding with the long-delayed project?

If it was, it may have worked, as CBC is reporting that the developer of the combination hotel/condo project on the corner of Victoria Ave. and Albert St. announced today that construction will begin next week.

Of course, after repeated false-starts on the mammoth project, which includes 144 condo units, along with a high end hotel, and was originally supposed to be completed in 2013, most Reginans are in “believe it when I see it” mode when it comes to Capital Pointe.

So I guess we’ll see what next week brings.

Big Boo-Boo For The Leader-Post

Die MannequinOn Thursday, the Leader-Post published a preview interview with the Toronto rock band Die Mannequin about their upcoming show in Regina at McNally’s Tavern.

They pumped the gig pretty good, giving it front page treatment in the Arts & Life section. The only problem is that the gig isn’t actually on Aug. 24, it’s on Sept. 24. So if you missed the mea culpa in Friday’s paper, don’t show up at McNally’s Monday night expecting to see lead singer Care Failure and her bandmates.  For that, you’ll have to wait until the 24th of next month.

Ghostkeeper

Neutral Ground Contemporary Art Forum is currently displaying two digital media works created by Ahasiw Maskegon-Iskwew: White Shame (1992) and Speaking the Language of Spiders (1997).

Born in the Peace River district of mixed Cree and French Canadian descent in 1958, Ahasiw was an early innovator in digital media. Some of his work as an artist and administrator was done at the Canada Council and Banff Centre for the Arts, but in the mid-1990s he spent several years in Regina, and was a founding member and first production manager for Neutral Ground’s digital media facility, which is now known as SOIL Media Art and Technology.

I spoke several times with Ahasiw about his work when he lived in Regina, and also remember him doing some live performance with Michael Toppings when he lived here too (some of you may remember The House Project Toppings did in 2000 when he took an existing house near General Hospital and turned it into a text-based art work).

In the late 1990s Ahasiw left Regina, and in 2006 he passed away while living in Montreal. In addition to the two digital media works noted above, Ghostkeeper also features works by Cheryl L’hirondelle, Adrian Stimson and Archer Pechawis and Sheila Urbanoski done in response to Ahasiw’s projects.

The show runs until Aug. 28, and there’s a reception at Neutral Ground (203-1856 Scarth) on Saturday, Aug. 22 at 8 p.m.

Verb Has Conjugated Its Last Issue

Verb DoneRumours have been circulating for awhile now, but the publishers of Verb have finally confirmed on their website that the magazine that burst on the Saskatoon scene with such fanfare seven years ago, and later added a Regina edition with equal fanfare, has ceased publication.

You can read their poignant farewell message to their readers, advertisers and contributors here.

Down The Social Media Rabbit Hole

Chantel hebertA couple of years ago, Toronto Star national affairs columnist Chantel Hebert (pictured) was in town to deliver James Minifie Lecture that the School of Journalism sponsors each year.

On Wednesday April 15, Hebert will be in town to deliver the 2015 Tansley Lecture hosted by the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy. The title of her talk is “Down the Social Media Rabbit Hole”, and here’s a brief synopsis from the University of Regina website:

With the advent of a wired world, what is the impact on the connection between the media, public policy makers and voters? Are we on the cusp of a golden information era or do we just talk a lot more and listen a lot less?

The lecture is being held at the Ramada Hotel as part of a dinner that JSGS hosts each year. Cocktails are at 5 p.m., and tickets are Adults $55 and Students $30. You can find out more information on the university website.

FILMS for ONE to EIGHT PROJECTORS

films-for-one-to-8-projectors

According to their Facebook page FILMS for ONE to EIGHT PROJECTORS by Roger Beebe is “an evening of carefully crafted and meticulously timed multi-projector experiments that pull from his practice of appropriating educational, industrial and mass-cultural imagery…with topics ranging from Las Vegas suicides to phone book politics. Made and projected in a variety of formats (Video, 16mm, and super-8mm)…” even with that description I am not quite sure what to expect. Koyaanisqatsi on speed? At least, Koyaanisqatsi and all the other Sqatsis had a wordless narrative. I hoping this will to, that despite the constant bombardment of imagery it will make sense and I will walk away profoundly changed from the experience.

This film event will be hosted by RPL film theatre as a programming partnership between The Saskatchewan Filmpool and the U of R film department as part of a monthly series called Independent Visions. The film-maker will be in attendance. Admission by donation. 7 pm.

Leader Post Columnist Answers Amanda Lang Questions

Remember about a month and a half ago when Canadaland scribe, Sean Craig, revealed some less than ethical behaviour from the CBC’s senior business correspondent, Amanda Lang? It inspired me to write a piece about certain of my own ethical lapses: those being all the cookies and coffee I’ve consumed at city hall.

After posting that, I kept tabs on the Amanda Lang story, curious to see how it would turn out. That included reading John Doyle’s call in the Globe and Mail for Lang’s resignation. And I was surprised to find out from Doyle’s piece that Lang did a speaking gig in Regina on Jan 19.

Doyle seemed unimpressed by the Leader Post‘s coverage of that event. He wrote,

The other day, Lang was in Regina to speak to the Chartered Financial Analysts Society of Saskatchewan. The Regina Leader-Post reported that “the peppery CBC business journalist” had loads to say on innovation and productivity.

At about the same time, in The Guardian, no less, George Monbiot was writing about the Lang story, the CBC and the controversy as an example that “those who are supposed to scrutinize the financial and political elite are embedded within it.”

The Jan 20 Leader Post piece Doyle references was written by Will Chabun and titled “Lang praises the power of innovation.” It doesn’t mention the then-brewing controversy once and that seemed odd. I considered writing a blog post at the time but opted not to. I enjoy reading Chabun’s stuff and he sounds like a decent guy so I thought, heck, I’ll send him an email, see what happened.

He was away when I first tried to contact him but we finally connected last week.

Continue reading “Leader Post Columnist Answers Amanda Lang Questions”

I Totally Ate The City Hall Cookie

canadalandwebsiteI’ve been catching up on all the coverage of CBC’s latest scandal. That’s the one where their senior business correspondent and The Exchange host, Amanda Lang, has been revealed as having way too friendly a relationship with some of those corporations she’s supposed to be covering.

First, we found out that she’d done paid speaking gigs for Manulife that she then followed up with softball interviews with Manulife’s CEO.

And now we’re learning that in 2013 Lang tried to interfere with an investigative piece by her CBC colleague, Kathy Tomlinson, about RBC’s misuse of the temporary foreign worker program. Lang even went to so far as to pen an editorial in the Globe and Mail trivializing what Tomlison had uncovered.

Going behind your colleagues’ backs to trash their work in another media outlet? Not cool.

And Lang did all this after doing paid speaking gigs at RBC-sponsored events and while she was in a serious relationship with a member of RBC’s board.

It’s all very sordid.

And, big surprise, CBC management has leapt to Lang’s defence. In other words, it’s backing its celebrity anchor despite being handed evidence of journalistic impropriety — same as it did for Peter Mansbridge and Rex Murphy when it was revealed they were taking money to speak at oil industry events.

It’s another ball dropped by CBC management. Seems they’ve learned nothing from their mishandling of the Q affair.

All these seedy revelations are coming out of Jesse Brown’s Canadaland, a website and podcast dedicated to Canadian media criticism. I recently signed on as a supporter through their Patreon page because I think it’s the most interesting thing happening nationally in media. And because I think people should sometimes maybe kick in some financial support for alternative news sources that give their product away for free… hint hint. (You’ve maybe noticed that Support Prairie Dog link to the right, right?).

Continue reading “I Totally Ate The City Hall Cookie”

Busted!

MaltaAs regular Dog Blog readers have known for some months now, and the rest of Prairie Dog readers found out in our Dec. 26 issue (via this cover story), our city hall reporter Paul Dechene is currently in Malta with his family while his math prof wife is on sabbatical.

During his time away, Dechene has begged off doing much writing for Prairie Dog, claiming that he’s too busy keeping an eye on his two children and checking out all the sights and sounds of his new Mediterranean island home. Certainly, we were prepared to cut him some slack. I mean, how many times does an opportunity like this to travel with your family and soak up some island culture (and weather) come along?

Turns out, though, Dechene has been doing some writing after all. In fact, he had a feature article in the Leader-Post’s Travel section on Friday (see photo above, double click to enlarge). He probably thought he could trick us by publishing under the name “Lucy Hyslop”, but we’re too smart to fall for the old gender switcheroo pseudonym trick Paul.

You can read Dechene’s Prairie Dog story via the above link. And for comparison purposes, you can read his sorry-ass Postmedia story, in which he doesn’t once — not once! — bitch about Malta being overrun with cars and having crap transit service, here.

Merry CHRISTmas

I appreciate the pagan origins of Christmas in celebrations our distant ancestors held to mark the winter solstice. Millennia ago, it must have been unimaginably difficult for them to cope with the short hours of daylight, long nights, frigid temperatures, frozen water supplies, lack of fresh food sources and other challenges. So props to them for developing crude astronomical calendars such as Stonehenge in England and Newgrange in Ireland (pictured) to chart the winter solstice, and for devising various rituals to articulate their hope for an end to winter and the eventual return of spring.

As for the modern incarnations of Christmas tied to Christianity and the secular tradition of frenzied gift-giving, it’s not really anything I’m into. Last night, though, while cueing up a concert video on YouTube to listen to while I did some writing, I did have an opportunity to check out the first 10 seconds of Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall’s Christmas message to the province.

I was expecting the usual sort of “peace on Earth, goodwill toward our fellow humans” type message. Instead, Wall opted for a hardcore Christian theme. Here’s how it started:

Seven hundred years before the first Christmas, one of many promises by Old Testament prophets was made about the coming of the Christ. “For unto us a child is born,” wrote Isaiah. “Unto us a Son is given. And the government shall be upon his shoulder. And his name shall be called Wonderful, Councilor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.

Couple that with prime minister Stephen Harper’s Christmas message where he urged Canadians to pray for Canadian military personnel who are currently waging war against ISIS militants in Iraq, and it was quite a double-dose Christian theology from our political leaders this holiday season.

Ironically, once Wall delivered his introductory remarks, in which he drew a pretty strong link between Christianity and the concept of government in a modern secular/multi-faith society, he did speak about the importance of peace. As for the West’s current campaign against ISIS, here’s a news flash: after this latest crusade is over, there still won’t be peace in the region.

Prayers won’t do much good either. Not when countries such as Canada and the U.S. provide unconditional military and political support for Israel as it continues to create new settlements in Palestinian held areas of the West Bank and Jerusalem. And not when we continue to prop up corrupt dictators in some countries in the region, and tear down others who displease us, creating ethnic and religious instability and power vacuums that radical groups such as ISIS are only too happy to fill — at the cost of tens of thousands of lives, and the displacement of millions more.

Really, the situation in the Middle East these days reminds me of South Africa in the 1970s and ’80s, where the apartheid regime would fund guerilla groups in frontline states such as Mozambique, Angola and Botswana to conduct terrorist operations. Not only did these South African-backed terrorists destabilize existing governments, they also sabotaged schools, hospitals, rail lines and other vital infrastructure, keeping residents of those countries in perpetual poverty and despair.

“Doing the Lord’s work” I believe it’s called in certain circles. And it’s hard to believe in 2015 that it’s still going on.

Vinyl Cafe Christmas Show

I’m not sure how long this tour has been going on, but for many Canadians it’s probably safe to say it’s become a bit of a holiday tradition. Similar to the CBC radio program, there will be a mix of stories from Stuart McLean and music — courtesy of the Winnipeg-based bilingual singing group Chic Gamine.

The Vinyl Cafe Christmas show will touch down at Conexus Arts Centre Tuesday, Dec. 9. Things should get going around 7 p.m., and tickets are $52. To give you a taste of what to expect, here’s Chic Gamine performing the song “All Night”:

Weekly Reckoning: Peek Freans Edition

weekly-reckoningHave you ever tried to concentrate on putting together a web post but suddenly you’re interrupted by a craving for Peek Freans? Even though you don’t particularly like them? But then you start wondering about the name and why in the world anyone would call them Peek Freans? Then the phrase “Peak Freans” hits you and start thinking about Frean resources? Then “Freak Peens” pops into your brain and you start laughing at your computer? Fortunately this has never happened to me, but I can imagine the mental stress of the Freen-afflicted. Hang in there!

ARE STARBUCKS CUSTOMERS OVER THE PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE? Well, are they?

PUNDITS GONE WILD. It’s ‘Lection Day on November 4, which means that my favourite bad TV shows will be pushed into next week by the juggernaut of American democracy. Here’s an enjoyable wonky piece on how these elections play in the political funhouse of Louisiana.

IS BEYONCE RELEASING ANOTHER ALBUM IN TWO WEEKS? Well, is she?

NOBODY LIKES JIAN. Last Sunday, the CBC announced that it was firing Jian Ghomeshi. On Monday the Toronto Star ran a story detailing the experiences of several women who had been assaulted by Ghomeshi, painting a picture of a psychologically damaged sexual predator incapable of understanding consent and utterly without compunction about his acts. His PR firm dropped him, speaking and hosting engagements (including the Giller Prize) dried up, and friends and associates (see Owen Pallett’s piece for a particularly powerful response) began to speak up. Teddy bear references appeared. More women came forward, including ones who are talking to the Toronto Police.  Now his former band mates from Moxy Fruvous have released a statement, and let’s just say that it’s not overflowing with support for Ghomeshi. I can’t imagine what next week is going to bring.

STOP HARVESTING! STOP IT RIGHT NOW. Harvest operations are 99 per cent complete in Saskatchewan, which means that you can stop harvesting right this moment, bub. Hop off your harvesters and run screaming through the naked fields, sacrificing your vocal cords to the corn king who dances through the sheaves in the dim autumn light. You’ve earned it.

 

Weekly Reckoning Of The Week of Reckoning Every Week Edition

weekly-reckoningHello! It’s time to reckon with things. Lucky for us, Pope Gregory XIII straightened out time for us with his handy calendar that lets us reckon on a weekly basis. Let’s get started. Which is really to say, let’s continue.

1. BREAKING: CBC DUMPS JIAN GHOMESHI What? CBC announced today that it is ‘ending its relationship’ with Jian Ghomeshi, host of Q. CBC won’t disclose the circumstances behind the decision, but Ghomeshi is planning to sue the Corpse for a nice $50 million, citing bad faith and breach of confidence. I have no idea what went on behind the scenes or who may be in the right, but I will say this much: CBC, you had one celebrity.

EDITED TO ADD: It’ll probably emerge that Ghomeshi has been doing some truly awful things, which will make my comments look insensitive and glib.

UPDATED: Ghomeshi posts an extremely detailed defence on Facebook.

2. WHO NAMES A RACCOON DENNIS ANYWAY Actually, I have the answer for that: Saskatoon resident Wendy Hook is the mysterious raccoon-namer and -keeper. Unfortunately, the labyrinth of Saskatoon bureaucracy has no provision for raccoons as pets. The Hooks have been pleading with the city, but it doesn’t appear likely that they’ll be able to keep Dennis around. Pity the Hooks and their pet Dennis, with his undoubtedly ridiculous little raccoon hands.

3. KULTUR MACHT SPASS Don Delillo, author of the po-mo classic White Noise, reviews eight seconds of white noise from Taylor Swift.

4. “THERE MAY BE TWO KINDS OF FEMALE ORGASM AFTER ALLThis is the sort of headline I will always click on.

5. WHO WILL PROP UP OUR BOOM-FUELLED JINGOISTIC MUNICIPAL FANTASIES NOW? The Roughriders keep losing games. Come on, Riders. We can’t go back to those pre-boom underdog days. Regina is a world-class something something. We can’t build a brand new stadium to house humiliation.

 

 

Weekly Reckoning: When You Reckon With The Week You Get The Reckoning Edition

weekly-reckoning1. STATE-SANCTIONED DEATH ISN’T CHEAP AND IT ISN’T TRANSPARENT. Everyone who’s anyone agrees that if you’re going to be sentenced to death by the State, the state to do it in is Oklahoma. If you end up getting shuffled off to their lethal injection chamber, you can rest assured that they’ve spared no expense in providing you with a state-of-the-art, $100,000 end-of-life experience. It’s now very unlikely that you’ll spend 43 minutes dying horribly on the gurney. Even more reassuringly, you won’t have to put with nearly as many nosy journalists; the new chamber provides only five seats for the press, down from the previous chamber’s 12.

2. REMEMBER THOSE PROTESTS IN FERGUSON? THEY’RE STILL GOING ON Thousands of protesters marched through Ferguson on Saturday to decry police violence and the broken system of law enforcement that allows uniformed police to shoot black youth in the street, leave their bodies in the sun and suffer no meaningful consequences. Meanwhile, I went for breakfast this morning at a golf club where I overheard three white guys make jokes about Martin Luther King Day, because they were dirtbags.

3. A LITTLE MORE EBOLA FOR YOU ALL. A health care worker in Texas who treated Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan has Ebola.

4. WHATEVER THE FUTURE HOLDS, HE’S NOT GOING TO OKLAHOMA. Oscar Pistorius, the girlfriend-murdering athlete who murdered his girlfriend in about as murdery a way as possible, may face the harshest punishment of all. Wait, he may face a suspended sentence or a fine. But we don’t know yet. It’s all about the intricacies of the South African legal system, which none of knows us a thing about, really. Is this even news? I just like a bit of outrage in the afternoon.

5. VICE IS INHERENT AND LOOKS PRETTY HILARIOUS. Here is the trailer for P.T. Anderson’s adaptation of the Thomas Pynchon novel Inherent Vice. Come for Joaquin Phoenix’s muttonchops, stay for Josh Brolin’s flattop.