Saturday, December 27, 2008

Admiral Landymore

As captain of HMCS Iroquois, he knew every sailor by name

December 27, 2008
Christopher Pratt, captain (RCN) retired, writes about Admiral Bill Landymore, whose obituary appeared Dec. 15.

Not one person who knew him would be able to write a full memoir of Bill Landymore's long and eventful life. Although short in stature (as many admirals seem to have been), he was oversized in every other dimension, from the depth of his parade ground voice to the breadth of his generous heart. His classmates at RMC nicknamed him "shadow," but he was no shadow in real life, in which he was always the embodiment of all three elements of the RMC motto: "Truth, Duty, Valour."

Above all, he lived in the knowledge that morale is the key to success. No "popularity Jack," he was instead imbued with the "Nelson touch," that ability to motivate and bring out the very best in his men. He worked in subtle ways to make the rigours of life at sea more tolerable. While in command of HMCS Iroquois in Korean waters, he could address every sailor on board by name and knew their family circumstances.

Small wonder that his sudden forced retirement came as a shock to the fleet. After defence minister Paul Hellyer told him to retire, he considered taking drastic action. On the flight back to Halifax, he told me that he had thought of asking for a court martial, which would have brought the whole conflict into the open. He was prevented by the thought that might result in destroying the very thing he was trying to preserve - the identity of the navy during the process of unification.

Nobody who was there will forget the scene in the Halifax dockyard on the day of his departure. Had he so much as lifted a finger, the sailors would have walked ashore in protest. Instead, in his farewell message (I still have his handwritten draft), he told the sailors to stand fast and do their best to keep the naval spirit alive. The sendoff was tumultuous. Flags flew from every yardarm, sailors cheered and the band played. It was a day in history.

Lacking self importance, he laid aside his rank after his retirement and asked to be called Bill. And behind his bluff exterior lay a mind that was always ready to have some fun. One time, he startled a meeting of the staid Naval Officers Association in Toronto by arriving in a Beatles wig.
He spent his retirement on his farm overlooking the sea, and gave himself to raising funds for charities and serving on a hospital board. And even when he himself became a hospital patient, with his hearing gone and his memory sometimes failing, his courtesy never failed. Not long ago, a friend of mine who is a retired chief petty officer stopped by to pay a visit. The admiral looked at him and announced, "McBride ... radar plotter ... Iroquois."

Fraser McKee of Toronto also writes about Bill Landymore.
About three years after his spectacular firing by Paul Hellyer, I was serving as the local president of the Naval Officers Association and decided to call Adm. Landymore to see if he would be a speaker at a forthcoming dinner and review his feelings after events.
I spoke to Mrs. Landymore in Nova Scotia who said he wasn't available just then. When pressed, she advised that he was at Grace Hospital in Halifax. When I expressed concern, she laughed and said he was working in the laundry. It seems the hospital services staff were on strike, and the board members, including the admiral, were voluntarily filling in.

When I did reach him a few days later, he said he no longer discussed unification publicly. "That would simply cause problems for the current maritime commander," he told me. "I've made my point, and the commander's job is difficult enough without me adding fuel to the fire."

Not only was Bill Landymore a dedicated naval commander, but he was prepared to step in and help at any level and yet not contribute to the difficulties of others.

from The Globe and Mail, December 27 2008.


I well remember my father speaking of Bill Landymore. Landymore was at RMC at the same time that my father was. In fact, Landymore might have been my father's "recruit." In those days, the senior cadets took recruits under their wing for a year, to help them acclimatize to RMC, and to offer guidance. Perhaps they still do that.

Landymore had a reputation, not of being "bad" but of being one who undertook/led schinnagans! He also was well-regarded by the class that my father was in.

The remembrances in The Globe are interesting. Pratt's comment that Landymore knew that "morale is the key to success" is a useful thought that today's Canadian leaders might keep in mind.

Friday, December 26, 2008


Christmas is a special time, a religious holiday.

Pope Benedict's comments in his Christmas message are appalling. To liken homosexuality to global warming is probably the most amazing, and ridiculous comparison made in all 2008.

If he thinks there is sin in the first, perhaps he might comment upon sin in the latter. The idea that companies deposit very harmful emissions into the environment, and do this thoughtlesssly, is sinful. And do it all with little regard for others.

A person's orientation is private. Contributing to global warming is public. One has no impact upon others, while the other impacts others for generations.

One is a force for good, while the other is a force for bad.

Just think about it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It's a Matter of Principle

OGL (Our Glorious Leader, according to John Doyle of The Globe) continues his unprincipled bossing around of Canadians.

This man said he would not appoint Senators; they had to be elected.

Yesterday, he appointed 18 new Senators, including two people who consider themselves (and are considered by others) to be journalists. It's no surprise that Wallin and Duffy are closet Conservatives, but it's pretty blatent not only to appoint them, but for them to accept appointment. Their status has plummeted in the eyes of Canadians.

One wonders what other countries think of Canada, if they think of the country at all.

There are few mentions of Canada on CBC Overnight, a fine program that brings news, commentary and info from other public broadcasters to Canadians on a daily basis. OGL would be well-advised to listen to the radio overnight for even one night, to hear what other countries, like Germany, Australia, Great Britain, are doing and thinking.

Canada is small potatoes in their eyes. And no wonder, since the current PM is an unprincipled bully.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Barack Obama's Inauguration

It is disappointing to read that Obama has chosen Rick Warren for an invocation at his inauguration. In fact, it is very upsetting.

Warren is anti-abortion and anti-gays/lesbians, and he makes no secret of his opinions.

Perhaps we expect too much of Obama, but surely in this day and age, he could select someone who supported the right of women and men to have an abortion, should it be their choice, and marry someone of the same sex.

If he is courting a particular sector of the American people for political reasons, it is disappointing. He HAS been elected President. He doesn't have to cater to any constituency.

One wonders if he is going to change his stance on issues, like the Canadian PM did after HE got elected (with a minority). Let's hope not.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

No More Senate Appointments

That WAS the position of Stephen Harper before he got power. Talk.
How power changes one's actions.

In the Globe and Mail this morning, two university professors (in a letter to the editor) suggested that IF Mr Harper is going to fill the 18 seats (and they do not say that he should), the seats should be filled with 18 women.

Now, there's a great idea! The percentage of women in the Senate would still be less than 50, but it would be a great improvement.

No one should doubt that Mr Harper could find 18 Alliance/Conservatives to appoint.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Stephen Harper's Place in History

I'd love to be here in 30 years to read what historians have to say about Stephen Harper's place in Canadian history. He will probably go down as even less popular and more disliked than Brian Mulroney.

The interesting questions are these: why is he so Machavillian? what does he think he is accomplishing? why does he have so little regard for this once-great nation? why does he need such control and apparent power?

We will recover from whatever he does that is hurtful to Canada, but it will retard our growth, our standing in the world, and our ability to help less fortunate countries.

That's a pretty sad part of his legacy.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


This morning on CBC Overnight, in the segment from Albania, a man spoke about the work of their government, which is a coalition.

One sentence stood out: "Compromise does not mean persuading the other side to YOUR position."

I wonder if Stephen Harper heard that??!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Afghanistan...3 more Canadians die

News just in the last hour that three Canadian troops died this morning in Afghanistan.

I wonder if Ottawa politicians pause to reflect when they hear this.

Do they think what they have been squabbling over (do we really know?) for the last few days is more important than other issues that Canada is involved in? Like the war? Like our peace missions? Like the thousands who are now out of work, and who, at their age, are unlikely to EVER have another job?


When these politicians get to the Pearly Gates, do they think that they will be asked if they ever were PM or if they ever governed Canada? Not very bloody likely.

Why Is He so bitter and Angry?

I sure hope that some fine grad students are studying the Prime Minister.
It would be interesting to know how he got to be so angry and bitter. Where did this come from in his background?
Does he deal with his family this way? Imagine being one of his children, and doing something that made him mad.
Stephen Harper has not demonstrated the interest or ability to work co-ooperatively with anybody (perhaps not even members of his own party) throughout his political career. I can't see him changing at his age and stage in life. He couldn't even work with Preston Manning.
This isn't a hopeful situation.
Canadians are upset. This is OUR country that the PM and other parties are "playing" with, and we don't like it.
Politicans, take a break. Have some eggnog and don't talk about what you have created until the end of the year. Then, make a New Year's resolution that you will look for common ground, you will respect everyone, you will converse, and you won't raise your voice...anywhere, including in the House.
That's the easy part.
The next steps are to make a public statement to your constituents and the country, that you have made this resolution. AND, that if you break the resolution, you will resign your seat.

The honourable thing is to promise something, and explain the consequences of not fulfilling that promise. THAT is the ethical thing to do.

There has been little discussion about the ethics of the current situation. For the first time , there is a letter to the editor in The Globe in which the writer uses the word "ethics."

Don't the principals in this rhubarb see anything related to ethics in it?

Those of us who are interested in ethical behaviour, and have done a bit of study on it (in my case, in sports), wonder if these politicians consider their behaviour to be "ethical."

I have plenty of time these days to reflect. Yesterday, I wondered about Stephen Harper's ability to reconcile his blatent lying with his religious beliefs. Is there a "guideline" in his religion that says anything about being truthful? Being honest?

One of the fundamentals in the Christian faith is adherence to the Ten Commandments. I truly wonder how the Commandments fit into Mr Harper's philosophical and/or spiritual paradigm. Perhaps they don't, and that is why many of us find his behaviour incomprehensible.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Return of the GG

I hope when Steve pounds on the front door of the GG, she welcomes him with these words: "Welcome, Mr Prime Minister. Please wait in this ante-room until you settle down. I won't talk to you while you are yelling and screaming, and have lost perspective. Press this little button when you are ready. I'll send in something to eat later, and a sleeping bag later tonight."

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

"You Are Playing A Very Dangerous Game"

This, from Stephen Harper, last Friday in the House.

This "game" was started by Harper, and it will be finished when he goes down in Canadian history as the worst, most deceitful PM that the country ever had.

It won't be long before elected Alliance/Conservative MPs start leaking info and expressing their view about their party's leader. It's impossible to believe that all those faces behind the PM on TV agree with him, and support what he has done and is doing. Some of them are going to crack soon, and the sooner the better. Perhaps then, Stephen Harper will resign as their leader, as Canada's PM, and a more moderate, concilliatory leader of the Alliance/Conservative party will emerge. One of the "old" Conservative line and not one of the red-necked Alliance members.

Let's hope.

Monday, December 01, 2008

The PC Party Should Rise Again

Never will I be mistaken for a conservative. Period.

But, the Alliance/Conservative Party of 2008 should give impetus to members of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada to get their "old" party going again, sell memberships, insist that their members tear up their present "Conservative" party cards, and start being vocal.

The PC Party wasn't malicious and autocratic.

The Alliance Party, under the cloak of the Conservative Party, is all this and more.

Let's hope that the backroom "boys" and "girls" are planning a quick resurgence of the old PC Party.

A Positive Front-page Story

On a day when the PM is at his worst (well, let's hope it is his worst), and Canadian politicians are in a feisty mood, the Whig Standard runs a positive, hopeful story above the fold on the front page.

Queen Street United Church in Kingston is facing a $1 million repair/renovation bill. Realizing that that kind of money isn't within their realm of possibility, they have put their church, their adjacent houses and property on the market, for $1.45 million.

Parishioners are actively exploring, along with St Margaret's Church, the possibility of coming together to form one strong church at the location of St Margaret's on Sir John A Macdonald Blvd.

The Whig's story, written by reporter Jorden Press, is a positive look at their day together yesterday, and the church members most positive steps to build one strong church. The two churches have taken advice from experts, it appears, on how to affect change, what to do to forge one organization from two. There's lots written on this topic, and it seems that it has been heeded.

No doubt is is difficult to lose one's church. It is something that I can't imagine. In Saskatoon where I held a senior position in the Anglican Cathedral, I could not support an idea to sell the Rectory in order to raise money. But now, I can see that it has to be done. But it wouldn't be a decision that I would take lightly.

Members of Queen Street and St Margaret's United Churches deserve any support that we can offer them. Their journey over the next year will be guided by their faith. May it be strong.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

No law against being repugnant

Acquitted: Abusive ex-hockey coach of teen teams known for their 2-fisted drinking and 3-way sex
November 29, 2008
by Rosie Dimanno, Columnist
NAPANEE–He wore untucked fat-man shirts to court that failed to conceal the sagging paunch of a beer gut.
His hair is a modified mullet, the face slack and jowly.
Some days, he appeared greasy enough to slide off his chair.
And he's got an anatomical abnormality that, mercifully, was never entered as a photographic exhibit – a plum-sized blood sac resembling a third testicle.
But little is actually known about who David Frost is today – apart from innocent of sexual exploitation, acquitted across the board. Frost: 4, Crown: 0.
Does he even have a job, this evermore hockey pariah, decertified as an agent, stripped of coaching credentials, barred from rinks in various leagues, though often spotted? And whence the money for the sharp cookie lady defence lawyer, who so devastatingly deked a brace of accusatory witnesses out of their Jill-straps?
Court never heard. Frost never spoke.
Except yesterday of course, expletive-short, after long-winded Justice Geoffrey Griffin finally got around to the punch-line of his not-guilty verdict and abruptly left the room in a swish of judicial robes.
"Scumball!" a spectator – sibling to one of the aforementioned witnesses – hissed at Frost. "That's for my sister."
Upon which the cleared defendant turned, faced the female and spat back: "Go f--- yourself."
Now that's the Frost most people know, defiant and crude, ego wider than his girth; not the accused who sat so quietly through weeks of trial, endlessly writing notes, rarely lifting his head.
Frost: The coach whose teen teams were known for two-fisted drinking and three-way sex.
Frost: The agent targeted by one of his own NHL clients in a loony murder-for-hire plot.
Frost: The bench boss who brutalized his players, verbally and physically – there's no disputing this – slugging one of them in the face during a playoff game, pleading guilty to assault and receiving a conditional discharge.
So, a creep and a bully and a repugnant human being. But there's no law against that.
Frost walked out of court an innocent if disgraced man: Not guilty of perverting the trust of teenage boys as a person of authority in their lives, not guilty of inappropriately, directly or indirectly, touching their splendid young bodies, thus not guilty of coerced and sordid two-on-one sex involving the youths and their girlfriends.
While stating his decision wasn't simply a matter of accepting one package of evidence over another, Griffin clearly did not believe the testimony of two ex-girlfriends recalling events more than a decade after the Season of Frost, in nearby Deseronto.
Or, more accurately put, Griffin disbelieved the women more than he disbelieved the heated denials of three-way sex by a one-two combo of Frost's former player protégés.
Frost may have been "loud, vulgar, offensive, very aggressive ... abusive and intimidating'' in his coaching style, said Griffin. "But I am not prepared to conclude the level of control was as extreme and pervasive as the Crown would have me believe."
Griffin also smacked around the prosecution – led by assistant Crown attorney Sandy Tse – for failing to convince him on the crux of the case. The judge expressed amazement the Crown hadn't called players' parents, sports psychologists and police investigators, or subpoena cellphone records.
Even minus all that, the trial did expose a seamy underbelly to Canada's beloved national game, at least at the junior level, more specifically in Frost World, where females were routinely debased and males subjected to traumatizing abuse. It was an ugly environment.
"He's really relieved," said defence lawyer Marie Henein, speaking on behalf of her client. "It's been going on for four years. He has a lovely wife, lovely children and everything's been very difficult, just going out and about in town, sending their children to a regular school."
The Crown found itself in the awkward position of not only prosecuting the named defendant but needing to crush the credibility of the two "complainants'' at the heart of their case.
Now both 28, these former hockey players took the stand – in one of those courtroom gasp moments, and this trial had many – as witnesses for the defence, flatly denying sexual exploitation and three-way shags with their coach/mentor.
In coming to the testimonial rescue of a man they once feared and revered, the one-time junior stars methodically contradicted the evidence of friends, lovers, teammates, even their own previously sworn statements to police.
The four sexual exploitation charges related to alleged incidents dating back to the late 1990s, when Frost appropriated the coaching job on a rogue league junior team in Deseronto, the Quinte Hawks.
Teenage girls, some at least, were clearly giddy over the young stud players arriving in their dull hamlet and pursued them as boyfriends.
Two of these girls, now women in their late 20s, testified they'd reluctantly agreed to threesomes with their boyfriends and Frost.
Under cross-examination, one of the women admitted she'd never noticed Frost's blood sac, despite all the three-way sex she'd described.
Her ex disputed any sex with Frost had taken place, or that he'd ever touched the coach's penis, under any circumstances. There had been, he readily acknowledged, two-on-one sex, but only involving same-age teammates, with Jennifer more than a willing party.
These consensual threesomes, the player testified, included two specific teammates, one of whom was Mike Danton – then still using his family surname of Jefferson – the former St. Louis Blue currently serving a seven-year sentence in the U.S. for trying to hire a hit man to kill Frost, his then-agent.
The other key female witness, Kristy, recalled two alleged incidents of three-way sex with Frost.
Henein told court none of these sexual follies ever occurred, suggesting the women had colluded in a plot after the Crown dropped charges of sexual exploitation against them.
Technically, the "complainants" were the players – their identities protected by a publication ban – alleged by the prosecution to have been under thrall to and sexually exploited by Frost. But the players never actually complained to authorities and, driving a stake into the Crown's case, exculpated Frost of all allegations against him.
Frost will be back in court in a few weeks. He's been charged with fraud and impersonation for using Danton's credit card to buy gas.
The above column is from The Star.
Rosie seldom minces words.

Friday, November 28, 2008

That David Frost got acquitted is a travesty.
It's not the judge's fault.
Two of the players must have lied on the stand, saying that Frost never was in any of the "group sex" events.
The two former team members changed their testimony from their previously signed, sworn statements to police.
That the events happened is not in doubt. Those who have followed the sordid story of this man and his stranglehold on the players on his team, knows full well that these events did happen.
Now, the two women who described the "group sex" events will become the victims.
Just watch the media go after them.
Let's hope that some of the reputable journalists (probably women) who have space in mainstream newspapers write about this, and how the two former players changed their stories, making it look as if the women made it up.
If you follow Junior Hockey in Canada, you know that it is an unhealthy place for young people. No male who wants a career in professional hockey should have to go through what they have to go through to get there.
Just look for the dark side of Junior Hockey, and you'll find it.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Coach Patrick Roy

Patrick Roy, a coach in Major Junior hockey in Canada is an embarassment to the coaching profession.

Recently his second son was suspended for 15 games for deliberately checking an opponent in the face, after the whistle.

The Globe and Mail remarks in an editorial that "sportsmanship is not his long suit." This is a lukewarm condemnation of Roy's sense of fair play and what sport is all about. The Globe is hedging its remarks when it should adamently say that this behaviour is unacceptable.

The coach is responsible for his/her athletes' behaviour. If the coach stands by and watches this sort of stuff, as Roy did, he is negligent in his coaching responsibilities. No one would say that Roy was an angel when he played the game, so no one should expect hism to be a shining example of a coach.

The league should act. Patrick Roy as a coach should be disciplined as his son was.

Let's hope that coaches weigh in on this, to let Canadians know that this sort of violence is not acceptable. It's not sport. If the athlete did this outside a downtown bar, he'd be charged.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Fine Line

The PM is saying that politicians and bureaucrats are going to tighten their belts: no more First Class/Business Class flights, less hospitality, fewer paperclips, less photocopying.....

Maybe politicians should have set an example long ago!

But let's not hamstring the bureaucrats so that they aren't able to do their jobs. In the sport world, effective bureaucrats are essential, and if they are supposed to be "Consultants" to sport organizations, let's make sure they can do that.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Everyone Has Advice

So here's mine, for the PM and the Minister of Finance......
Take two weeks off whatever you are doing.
Every night, turn on CBC Overnight at 1am, and listen till 6am.
Think about what some of the rest of the world is thinking and doing, and their opinions about a whole list of things.
Don't telephone your minions during to day to find out what's going on in Canada and around the world. Just think about what you heard for 5 hours.
What will you learn? You'll hear a whole new perspective on the world. You'll hear how much (or little) other countries comment upon what is happening in Canada. You'll hear what other countries are doing about their financial difficulties, and how they are learning from from each other.
Mostly, you will discover that Canada cannot be an island. We must reach out to other countries on many levels, not the least of which is financial.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Alfred E. Neuman

"What me worry?"

The PM has this look in recent pictures.

HIS salary won't likely change (unless it goes up), and his pension is guaranteed, BUT there are millions of Canadians whose earnings have pretty well dried up.

And I doubt that the leaders at the APEC Summit enjoyed being lectured to by Canada's PM, a "new kid on the block" even if he is reputed to have a degree in economics. If he doesn't, he must have missed the series of lectures on spending money like it is water coming out of a tap.

The Mike Harris Ontario years are being re-visited on Canada.

It's not too early to write Harper's epitaph as PM.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Did he Expect All These Challenges?

Queen's new principal Tom Williams has yet two more challenges on his hands.
It is reported that two senior administrators, David Mitchell and Andrew Simpson, are leaving.

Simpson't resignation is abrupt and immediate, according to reports. Simpson is the person in charge of the extremely-over-budget Queen's Centre. And, when a group of quite prominent sports people in Kingston, named "The Group for Excellence" tried to have input into the contents of the Centre, some but few of our suggestions were entertained. Speaking to him was frustrating, but not nearly as frustrating as speaking to two other senior administrators at Queen's.

Now, eavesdroppers, resignations of senior staff and Aberdeen Street are BIG messes on his plate. Wonder if they will try to re-cycle George Hood.

Lunch on Monday with the Principal will be interesting!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dealing With Political Incorrectness

Queen's hires people to monitor conversations on campus
November 19, 2008
Students who make politically incorrect comments at Queen’s University can expect a lecture, whether they’re in or out of class, the Canadian Press reports.
The university has hired student facilitators to step in if they overhear students making homophobic or racial slurs, remarks bashing women or other offensive language.
The dean of student affairs at Queen’s says if students are making offensive comments loud enough for others to hear, it’s not a private conversation anymore.
Jason Laker says the facilitators use a respectful, non-confrontational approach.
But Angela Hickman, who edits a campus newspaper, says having such a program could stifle public discussion
---------------taken from The Whig website----------

This is amazing.
On the same day that the Principal "cancels" fall homecoming, the university acknowledges that there are students who are "trained" to help other students see the error of their speech.
The question is: Is this the best way to let people know that they should respect others?
How about parents teaching their children (and setting a good example) that calling people names isn't a positive way to live? When are parents going to teach their children some manners and how to behave?
Sure, people feel stressed, unimportant and lots of other things, but it's time for adults to teach their off-spring how to behave.
It's no wonder we see such dreadful behaviour in the House, and that TV viewers think it is OK to behave like this. It's NOT OK.
It's long past time when our leaders demonstrated civility. Perhaps our students would see that one can be oneself and express an opinion without using labels for people.

And, while we are on this topic, those who are in classrooms will attest to distrespectful behaviour by students. I spoke yesterday with someone recently retired from the classroom. He can recount endless stories of lack of respect and mouthy students. He said he was glad to leave. And these were young people, some of whom will end up at Queen's (and other universities). When he "called" them on this sort of behaviour, on one occasion he was reported to the principal!
I call this "doing what a teacher should be doing."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Two Events

Everyone knows that a blog is a "public diary." Open for criticism, opinionated, and timely, we hope!

Yesterday, two events rang in this part of the world.
The Commons elected Peter Milliken as Speaker, once again. While doing this, they affirmed the common opinion that MPs in the last parliament behaved poorly, almost all the public time, and intimated that this parliament should see better behaviour.
Well, the ball is in the MPs court. They have to be responsible for their own stuff, and not act like children.
Yes, the Speaker has authority over them, but the House Leaders can insist that their members don't act like badly-behaved children. In comments on one public blog, virtually everyone said that they strongly objected to MPs behaviour in Question Period, and want this changed.
Let's hope that these MPs who are up on their hind legs today, remember down the road what they said.

And, Queen's (of which I am a graduate), decided that the fall Homecoming will be put off for two years, and there will be some kind of spring alum event.
Well, yes, I did express my view to the Principal about Homecoming.
Students won't let the change of date affect their party. They will just pick a weekend (football game, of course) and have the Aberdeen Street party then.
The most galling part of all this, is that since Queen's has washed its hands of the Aberdeen event, taxpayers of Kingston will alone be on the hook for the cost of this party. In 2008, the cost of this party, police, hospitals, emergency staff, etc, was over $320,000. Queen's offered to pay the city about $150,000 toward these costs. Now, we taxpayers will pay the whole thing, and Queen's will be smiling at the bank.
Principal Williams is speaking at a lunch I'm going to on Monday, so it will be interesting to hear his rationale.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Golden time with Wetzel

by Cory Wolfe
The StarPhoenix
Thursday, November 13, 2008

Olympic rowing gold medallist Jake Wetzel speaks Wednesday to grade 9 and 10 students at Aden Bowman Collegiate
"We're in hell right now, gentlemen. Believe me. And we can stay here, or we can fight our way back into the light. We can fight our way out of hell one inch at a time." -- Canadian rowing coach Mike Spracklen
Olympic rowing champion Jake Wetzel doesn't intend to pick up an oar ever again.
But when he hears the words of his coach Mike Spracklen -- a 71-year-old Brit who "looks like a janitor" but roars like a lion -- Wetzel's competitive juices kick in.
"When I hear that stuff, it's just so hard-wired into you and you never feel like you're not an athlete," said Wetzel, whose Wednesday presentation to Aden Bowman Collegiate students included a video with a rousing speech from Spracklen.
"People can say they're retired and all of that stuff, but (the competitiveness) is still in your head."
The 31-year-old Saskatonian retired from rowing in September after helping the men's eight win gold at the Beijing Olympics.
He's now working toward his doctorate in finance at the University of British Columbia. Wetzel has one year of studies under his belt and another three or four to go.
"When you've been so focused on one goal for so long, you don't think past it," said Wetzel, an Aden Bowman grad. "You use up so much mental energy on what you've been focusing on, so to shift gears and refocus is a real challenge.
"When you're the best in the word at something and then you go into something where you're at the bottom, it's hard on the ego."
In his youth, Wetzel excelled at multiple sports, including fencing, cross-country skiing and cycling. His parents, Kurt and Eva, were both professors who lectured at the University of Saskatchewan, but Wetzel told students Wednesday education wasn't at the top of his priority list during high school.
His interest in education blossomed while he was attending the University of California, Berkeley, on a rowing scholarship. But even now that he's returned to academia, he admits to feeling a little like a rower out of water.
"On the academic side, there's not as much measuring. You don't know where you're at every day -- you don't know if you're winning or losing," said Wetzel.
"When you leave rowing, you lose all of your structure. You have different goals and now I have to figure out for myself how to get there. Before, I had a coach and there was a very clear path laid out. You could tell, on a daily basis, whether you were getting closer or further away."
Wetzel is one of several Saskatchewan Olympians who'll be recognized today during a ceremony at the legislature in Regina. In addition to sharing his experiences with students, Wetzel is also using his profile to lobby for Canadian Athletes Now (CAN).
"It's a great organization that has raised over $6 million to fund athletes directly," he said. "It comes from ordinary Canadians and bypasses the whole sports system to give athletes help when they need it."
To support the CAN Fund, a nationwide telethon is scheduled to be broadcast on Shaw TV this Sunday from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saskatchewan time. Hundreds of items are up for auction -- including Wetzel's unisuit, autographed memorabilia from the likes of Henri Richard and a Canadian team jacket from the closing ceremonies in Turin.
Shaw has committed to matching every dollar pledged up to $500,000.
"I think all but two of the (Canadian) athletes that were in Beijing received grants from the fund," said Wetzel. "It's something that's really worth supporting and it really makes a difference, so I hope people will have a look."
© The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) 2008
Comment: Jake Wetzel grew up on the prairies and became a rowing Olympian.

As Brian Price said last week: set your goals, and go for them.

Among the legacies of the 1989 Jeux Canada Games is a boathouse and a 2000m rowing/canoeing course on the South Saskatchewan River through Saskatoon. Wetzel is a product of that legacy.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Now There's a Joke

Mr Harper is going to Washington to meet with other world leaders.
He is saying that he will promote open and global action for the financial crisis.
Now, the question: when did Stephen Harper EVER do anything in an open fashion???

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Brian Price at Loyalist

While the Advisory Committee to the Sport Journalism program (on which I serve) was meeting, the Co-ordinator of the program had teed-up an Olympian to speak to students at Loyalist. Well, actually, apparently it was coincidental, as November 10th was the only day that 2004 and 2008 rowing OLYMPIAN BRIAN PRICE was able to give a talk at the college.

I'd never heard Brian speak, so was very interested to hear his perspective on the Olympic Games, as well as many other facets of his life, his involvement in sport, and his role as the cox for the Mens 8s . Having been involved in the Olympic Movement for almost 15 years, I am interested in the athletes, for whom the Games are intended. The road to an Olympics is a long expensive road; it takes years to get there, and few actually make it.

As I sat there with my notebook, I was surprised that there were so few students present to hear him speak. No, he's not one of the "big name" Olympians, and his physical stature (essential for his position!) would never make him stand out in a crowd.

Students from the BJ program as well as Sports Journalism programs had been told that he would be on campus to speak. One would think that every breathing, interested student in BOTH those programs would have gone to hear him speak. But no, there were few students in Alumni Hall when he started to speak, and fewer when he finished. Perhaps 25 people were there when he was introduced.

Price spoke about his role as a cox, the team's approach to the Olympic village, their routine in the months leading up to the Games, distractions, the future. Toward the end of his talk, a few questions were asked from the audience, particularly about his future as an elite rower. He is 32, he said, and London is 4 years away. That is a long time, he has a child, and he would have to live in Victoria where the rowing team is centralized.

I loved his "It's fun to beat people" comment. So true. It's more fun to win than lose. Somehow, we can't get this idea in balance in this country, but that's another story.

There was a planned "media scrum" after the talk, so that students in the two programs could participate in one of the most common aspects of journalism. But, by my count, there were 4 scholars in the scrum: two had tape recorders, one female seemed to be with radio, and one seemed to be with print. But it was hard to really tell from my location. The point is that as a media "scrum' it sure was a bomb. Four questionners? Ridiculous, considering that Price would have appealed to two Loyalist programs, having 45 students or more???

In retrospect, it would have been interesting to participate in it. One of the things that would have been interesting to hear his views on, is "Money for Medals" that media so often spoke of when in November 2007, the COC rolled out its plan to give money to Canadian medallists.

Giving money to medallists is the most significant turn-on-position that the COC has done since it introduced its unpopular (but executed) Team Selection Criteria of 'top 16' in the early 1990s. Debate on money for medals inside the COC was heated, but in the end, those who acknowledged the time and finances that it takes to get to the Olympics, and then to be in the top three in the world, prevailed. Finally, Canadian athletes would be rewarded as Spanish and American Olympians would be.

No one should think that $20,000 to a gold medallist will cover the cost of living and training and competing in this day and age.

The COC reportedly handed out $515.000 in Toronto on October 11, 2008. Some medallists were present to receive their cheques; of the 34 athletes who were to get cheques, just over 20 were there.

Only the Toronto Sun reported on the smiling faces of our Bejing medalists. It also reported on the pending visit of Canada Revenue Agency (formerly Revenue Canada).
(As an aside, the reporter who ran with this story, including the tax aspect, is herself an Olympian, 1996 & 2000)

So it would have been interesting to har Price's perspective on his "windfall." With a family, training expenses, competition (including travel) expenses, and no job Price's viewpoint would have been pretty typical of a Canadian Olympian.

Let's hope that the few students who took advantage of the opportunity to meet and interview an Olympian, appreciated that what they had won't be repeated often in their lives. Even if they think it will.

If there IS a next time, they will have to create it, and given their apparent attitude on Monday, don't bet your house on it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Loyalist College, Belleville: Sports Journalism Program

The Sports Journalism program at Loyalist in Belleville is well into its first year, and from accounts of the students in the program, is a great success.
At a meeting yesterday of the Advisory Committee, we heard from the student representative Darren Matte as well as faculty involved in delivering the program.
Our day started with an informal meeting with the eleven students in the program, and ended with a meeting of the Advisory Committee, faculty and senior administrators of the College.

More later, but......this is a program well worth consideration by people who are keenly interested in sports and journalism, both written and broadcast.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Kingston's waterfront is a jewel in the rough

Blue-Ribbon Panel

The waterfront is Kingston's premier recreational resource. It offers opportunity to get outdoors, to be active, to celebrate nature and to enjoy our natural advantage.
But Kingston needs a waterfront that is accessible to everyone, not just a few people, from Collins Bay to Ravensview. Accessible means that people can get to the shore via public walkways. They can ride bicycles on the pathway. Persons with disabilities can manoeuvre their wheelchairs easily, and people can actually use the shoreline and water. There is no shortage of ideas; just ask your family members and neighbours how they imagine the waterfront.
Kingston's waterfront pathway should be widened to offer separate cycling and walking lanes. The gaps in the trail need to be eliminated. The trail should have consistent pavement, signage and other markings along its entire length from west to east. The waterfront needs picnic tables, little fireboxes
to cook hot dogs, bathrooms and emergency communication in case assistance is needed.
Citizens and tourists should be able to visit marinas, walk on the docks and view the harbour from a boardwalk constructed on the breakwater at Flora MacDonald Basin. Private developers must no longer be able to build on the precious little bit of land left beside the water that has not been developed.
Make swimming in Lake Ontario and the western end of the St. Lawrence River a priority. Easyaccess beaches, ladders at docks and life-saving gear would encourage use. Put a couple of rafts out at Richardson Beach, restore the bathhouse, open a canteen and look for the swimmers. Open-water swimming is a natural for this area, so Kingston should have lots of athletes trying to qualify for the long-distance 10-kilometre events at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Continued After Advertisement Below

Hang-gliding and sailboarding are naturals for Kingston's waterfront. Provide suitable facilities at the PUC docks, where hang-gliding now takes place. There has been rowing in the Kingston area for almost 170 years. The Cataraqui river is perfect for rowing and canoeing (especially the competitive kind). A long competition course and new, attractive easy-to-access facilities, launching ramps and parking would draw more people to that part of the waterfront, and offer more "on water'" activities. This part of the waterfront is ideal for rowing and Olympic-style canoeing.
Recreational canoeing and kayaking are quite inexpensive activities, but there's no place to launch easily. Launch sites at West Street and at the rowing club are slippery and not planned for getting underway in one's canoe or kayak. As well, those sites aren't designed for trailering a small boat with an outboard motor or a Laser with a mast and gear. Besides, where do you park your trailer while you're out on the water?
The waterfront trail needs to be opened up from Collins Bay to the Woolen Mill, and along the shore to Ravensview. Post historical information all along the trail, as well as information about flora and fauna. There are many varieties of flowers, weeds and trees to see; wildlife is common. Walking tours with this sort of information available in windproof and waterproof boxes could be provided, and would be very popular.
Kingston's waterfront needs a champion. It needs someone or some group willing and able to go to bat for the waterfront, remove obstacles that are in the way and keep a citizen-focused vision in front of everyone. The waterfront champion needs to engage the municipality, province, federal government and citizens. Everyone in Kingston has opinions about the waterfront, and most of us yearn for the day when we can boast about our greatest treasure.
Our waterfront champion will empower us to take pride in what has been referred to as "the crown jewel of Kingston," will advocate for the waterfront and will enable us to find the means to do what Kingstonians wish for. Together we must do everything we can to develop this opportunity. It's long overdue.

* Diana Davis Duerkop is a former vice-president of the Canadian Olympic Committee and former president of Synchro Canada. She oversaw development of the rowing/canoeing course and river-edge boathouse for the 1989 Jeux Canada Games in Saskatoon. She has an extensive involvement in recreation, particularly swimming and boating, and is a waterfront enthusiast.
Article ID# 1279959

from The kingston Whig Standard, October 31, 2008.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Bishop Dolegiewicz Dies

Shot putter admitted his steroid use
Dolegiewicz, 55, died this week in Utah
Oct 31, 2008 04:30 AM

by Randy Starkman SPORTS REPORTER (The Star)

Canadian shot putter Bishop Dolegiewicz, a three-time Olympian who had a larger-than-life personality to match his mountainous physique, died Tuesday night in his sleep at the age of 55.
Dolegiewicz, a Toronto native who starred at Parkdale Collegiate, won two gold medals at the Pan Am Games, two silver medals at the Commonwealth Games and 13 medals at Canadian championships. He was 11th at the 1984 L.A. Olympics and fourth in 1980 in a world's strongest man contest.
He was later stripped of his Canadian shot put record after admitting during the Dubin Inquiry to using steroids for more than a decade.
Dolegiewicz, who had success as a coach at Southern Utah University, was suffering from cardio and circulation problems. He died in Lehi, Utah, leaving behind his wife Anna, 30, a thrower he coached.
Former teammate Bruce Pirnie said Dolegiewicz's testimony at the Dubin Inquiry, where he also admitted to supplying steroids to athletes, cost him his coaching job at the University of Saskatchewan and took a toll on his health. Justice Charles Dubin also died this week.
"It's definitely (a coincidence) that Bish and Justice Dubin should pass away at the same time," said Pirnie, adding that Dolegiewicz had a positive coaching legacy in Canada. "Saskatchewan still sees the benefit of Bish's imprint. They turn out more throwers than anyone in the country."
Former Canadian discus champ Rob Gray was saddened by the news. "Whatever you say about the guy, he was a great competitor, a mountain of a man and a great athlete," said Gray, who also admitted to steroid use. "He was a big, strong guy because he worked his butt off and showed us how hard you had to work to get to the next level. It's hard to call him a role model, but he was in some ways."
Dolegiewicz told the inquiry he regretted using steroids because of the toll it had on his mind and body and that as a coach he strongly warned athletes against them.
"I give people the examples of individuals that I have known that have gotten sick from the use of steroids and I try to come across and give the kids the message, `Look, you're going to pay the price at some point in time,'" Dolegiewicz said during his testimony.
Pirnie said he had been pondering whether steroids had a role in Dolegiewicz's health issues. "I would be very surprised if there wasn't a connection," he said.
Gray said, "I suspect it has got a lot more to do with that he was a 6-foot-6, 330-pound man who was probably overweight."


Terrible headline as his claim to fame was that he was the greatest thrower in Canadian history. We called him the "Big One" as he was the biggest and strongest of us all. Athletics Canada wiped out his career achievements for telling the truth at the Dubin inquiry (funny how all the liars at the inquiry and those who avoided testifying still have their tainted performances recognized). I can't believe that Athletics Canada has already taken down their announcement of his passing -possibly as a result of the Star headline ? Athletics Canada should reinstate his performances instead of pretending he didn't exist like they are doing again. He will live on in my memories always as a mentor,friend,training partner and teamate. He was a great man who accomplished a great deal and I would hope that his memory shouldn't be tarnished by the fact that he admitted to doing what everyone was and is still doing to reach the highest levels of sport. Rob Gray
Posted By Rob Gray at 4:47 PM Friday, October 31 2008
I remember Bish
As someone who did look upon Bishop as a role model being a young thrower in the 70's with a modicum of success in the 80's I am saddened at the loss of an old friend, former room mate and training partner. Despite any admissions of errors by Bish I will always recall the gentle giant who helped me along, the hours spent working out in California as the sun went down, bbq's in Dallas, the friend and role model. Shame on anyone who has hind sight sanctimonius judgement, look in the mirror. My condolences to his wife and family.
Posted By jharkness at 11:08 AM Friday, October 31 2008


Dolegieweicz admitted his drug use and if the pictures on the internet are recent, it seems that he continued to use them.
Bishop played a large part in speedying the evolution of throwing events in Canada, and deserves to be remembered.

The story of this death was posted on www.athletics .ca the website of Canadian Track and Field. It was taken down. That's unfortunate. Bishop, like Ben, is a recognized figure, and he lived his life in this country. Both men, although acknowledged drug users, lived and deserve to be recognized. To ignore Bishop's death is pretending it never happened.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Election Day: Vote Liberal!

Time to vote Liberal. A better choice.
The leader isn't a bully and he doesn't break his promises.
He doesn't blackmail parliament by saying "Either vote for this (a confidence vote) or else." That's about as low as you can get.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

If You Need Only One Reason Not to Vote Tory,..... it is. Canada needs a National Child CAre Program!

Choice in child care is what Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised in the last election with the Conservatives' Universal Child Care Benefit, a taxable, $100-a-month payment to families for each child under age 6. The money, Harper said, would give all parents the ability to choose the child-care option that best suited their family needs. Since July 2006, some $5 billion has been spent on the initiative.
In addition to cash for parents, the Conservatives pledged $250 million per year in tax credits to help businesses and community groups create 125,000 new child-care spaces over five years. But employers weren't keen to get into the child-care business, so the Tories folded the money into Ottawa's annual social transfer to provinces.
It's unclear how many spaces that money has created, because Ottawa hasn't kept track. But a review of provincial daycare programs by the Toronto-based Child Care Resource and Research Unit shows growth in licensed daycare spots across the country is slowing. In 2006, just 26,600 new spaces opened in Canada, a drop from 32,600 in each of the previous two years and about half of the 51,000 a year that opened between 2001 and 2004.
The centre's research shows that the percentage of Canadian children who have access to regulated child care has grown by just 10 per cent, to 17 per cent, in the past 15 years. And the bulk of those new spaces have been in Quebec.
At this rate, it would take another 60 years to reach universal supply, says the research unit's Martha Friendly, who has been tracking child care in Canada for the past 30 years.
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has singled out Canada on several occasions for its poor record on child care. A 2004 report blasted the country's chronically underfunded patchwork of often mediocre programs run by underpaid and poorly trained staff. A 2006 report by the agency ranked Canada last among 14 Western nations in spending on early-learning, child-care and kindergarten programs – either through tax breaks, cash or services – putting us behind nearly every country in Europe and even the United States.
In Canada, fewer than one in five children under age 13 have access to licensed child care. Meanwhile, 71 per cent of mothers in two-parent families – and 83 per cent of single moms – are in the workforce.
"Monthly cheques (to parents) have been sent out since July 2006, but there has been no attempt to account for the dollars," says Friendly. "What is it spent on? Does it deliver choice in child care? Does it help Canadians balance work and family? Is it a good use of $2.4 billion a year? We just don't know.
"What we do know is that finding and affording high-quality early-childhood education and care continues to be an ongoing crisis for families. Indeed, since the Conservatives came to power in 2006, child-care space expansion dropped to its lowest level in some years."
But the popularity of the Tory child-care benefit means no other party has risked proposing to scrap the cash and plough the money into more daycare spaces in this campaign.
The Conservative child-care benefit replaced the previous Liberal government's five-year, $5-billion national child-care plan, aimed at creating 250,000 new high-quality, affordable and accessible spaces.
Under the ill-fated scheme, Ontario would have created 25,000 new affordable spaces by now, with more than 5,000 of them in Toronto. Instead, the province has been able to add just 15,000 new spaces, and Toronto has been able to create barely 2,000 new spots with the federal money.
Although the Liberals howled when Harper axed their child-care plan in favour of cash payments to parents, leader Stéphane Dion says if he's elected he'll keep the Tory benefit and add a new, $350 refundable child-tax credit to all families with children under age 18. But Dion says he's committed to reviving the Liberals' vision of a national child-care system and has promised to pump $1.25 billion into the creation of 165,000 new regulated spots within four years.
"Unfortunately, all too often, children are stuck on waiting lists because of a shortage of spaces," Dion said at a Kitchener child-care centre last month. "And as every parent knows, no space means no choice."
Leaside parents Chris Markham and Raghad Zaiyouna, whose children are 6, 3 and two months old, are relieved none of the parties wants to scrap the Tory child-care payments.
Unable to find daycare when their first child was born, Zaiyouna scaled back to part-time work, and for the past three years has relied on her mother and mother-in-law for help. Until Harper's cash payments, they felt their family's choice was being ignored.
"People who use child care can recover some of their costs through the child-care tax deduction," Markham says. "But there's no recognition of my wife's loss of income or of our parents' travel costs and time. The $100 payment begins to level the playing field. But so much more needs to be done."
Markham, who works for a non-governmental agency promoting healthy, active lifestyles, realizes his family is lucky to have grandparents nearby who are willing and able to help. And he knows they were lucky to get child-care spaces in their local school this fall for their eldest two children, now in Grade 1 and junior kindergarten.
Etobicoke single mother Jennefer Desrochers is one of those parents. Two years ago she lost her job just as her network of family supports fell apart. Without child care for her two boys, then 2 and 7, she struggled to get back on her feet.
Last month she found a job and was thrilled to get a child-care spot in a neighbourhood centre. But on wages of just $11 an hour, there's no way she can afford to pay almost $1,000 a month in fees. And with 14,500 other children in Toronto waiting for daycare subsidies, Desrochers is frantic.
"I borrowed money from a friend to pay the first week, and now I'm three weeks in arrears," she says. "What is the government doing for me? I don't want to sit at home and collect a welfare cheque. I want to contribute and be part of society. But without (affordable) child care, I can't do that."

from The Star, October 5, 2008

A disgrace. Licensed programs should be funded and there should be a system of accountability.
Grandparents should not be forced to care for their grandchildren because there is no alternative.

He Kept It

...the smarmy patronizing smile.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Leaders' Debate Tonight

Hope he ditches that smarmy, patronizing smile.

This Move Won't Get Any Votes...Sports People Aren't That Gullible...

October 02, 2008

2015 Summer Universiade Bid: CIS praises Prime Minister Harper's support

OTTAWA (CIS) - Canadian Interuniversity Sport is delighted to announce that the Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Stephen Harper, has pledged support in principle to CIS in the bidding process to host the 2015 Summer Universiade.
All three orders of government officially confirmed their support for Edmonton's bid at a press conference in Alberta's capital on Thursday afternoon. "A successful 2015 Summer Universiade Bid will provide Albertans and Canadians the opportunity to host the world and experience the excitement of this major multisport event," said CIS President Dick White. "The support in principle for the Edmonton bid process demonstrates the commitment towards developing an integrated and comprehensive approach to the long term development of Canada's future Olympians."
The International University Sports Federation (FISU) circulated the call for bids on September 1st, 2008. Canada plans to submit a letter of intent to bid to FISU on October 8 and the final bid package by March 15, 2009.
Competing bids for the 2015 Summer Universiade are expected from Spain (Vigo), South Korea (Gwangju), Poland (Poznan) and Brazil (Rio de Janeiro).
Canada has hosted the Summer Universiade once, in Edmonton back in 1983.
The Universiade is an international sporting and cultural festival that is staged every two years. It is second in size and scope only to the Olympic Games.
The Summer Universiade consists of 13 compulsory sports and up to five optional sports chosen by the host country. It is estimated that the 28th Summer Universiade hosted in Edmonton in 2015 would attract over 7,000 student-athletes, 2,000 coaches and team officials, 1,250 officials, 1,200 dignitaries, 250 media and 6,500 volunteers from 140 countries.
The Summer Universiade plays an important role in the Canadian Sport System and developing Canada's future Olympians. Forty-seven Canadian Olympians from the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics participated at recent Summer Universiades, including Olympic gold medalist Carol Huynh and bronze medalist Tonya Verbeek.
The next three Summer Universiades will be held in Belgrade, Serbia, in 2009, Shenzhen, China, in 2011, and Kazan, Russia, in 2013.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Harper: speaks the most "Spin". Mr Insincerity Himself

Queen’s own spin doctor
Computer model detects deception in political speeches

By Kerri Macdonald and Mike Woods, Journal Staff
Queen’s Computing Science professor David Skillicorn says campaign advertisements are harder to analyze than speeches because they’re more staged. (Tyler Ball)
In so many words
Computing Science Professor David Skillicorn analyzes speeches made by politicians such as American presidential candidates Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain. Here are some samples of “typical” speeches made by Obama and McCain:
Barack Obama (Feb. 13, 2008)“That our prosperity can and must be the tide that lifts every boat; that we rise or fall as one nation; that our economy is strongest when our middle-class grows and opportunity is spread as widely as possible. And when it’s not—when opportunity is uneven or unequal—it is our responsibility to restore balance, and fairness, and keep that promise alive for the next generation.”
John McCain (May 27, 2008)“I believe we must also address nuclear testing. As president I will pledge to continue America’s current moratorium on testing, but also begin a dialogue with our allies, and with the U.S. Senate, to identify ways we can move forward to limit testing in a verifiable manner that does not undermine the security or viability of our nuclear deterrent.”
In the throes of two major elections, it can be tough to detect which politicians are genuine and which are spinning tall tales. But according to a model developed by a Queen’s professor, sniffing out spin is as easy as crunching a few numbers.
David Skillicorn, a professor in the School of Computing, analyzes political speeches to determine how truthful a candidate’s words are. Skillicorn has examined speeches by American Republican presidential candidate John McCain and Democratic candidate Barack Obama. In comparing speeches from both parties’ conventions, he found Obama’s speech had a higher level of spin than did McCain’s.
Skillicorn said people lie on a spectrum. There are outright, deceptive lies, but there are also more socially acceptable forms of lying. Politicians live somewhere in the middle of that spectrum, he said.
“Politicians are always trying to present himself or herself as the most attractive person they can possibly be, and that’s a form of deceptiveness,” he said.
But that form of political deception is a conscious choice politicians make, Skillicorn said. His research focuses on what’s primarily unconscious and comes across in large, publicized events such as political speeches, as well as in everyday situations such as job interviews.
“What you’re going to get is a variation on what that person is actually like that makes them look just a little bit nicer and better and stronger than they really are,” he said.
Although he works with computing science, psychology is where much of Skillicorn’s model is based. He said his work comes from the research of James Pennebaker, a psychologist at the University of Texas at Austin.
The difference between his model and Pennebaker’s research is the new focus on correlation information, Skillicorn said.
Skillicorn’s model is based on speech patterns among four classes of words. He said deceptive speech has fewer first-person singular pronouns and exclusive words, and an increase in negative emotion words and action words.
When somebody’s being deceptive, they use fewer singular pronouns such as ‘I,’ he said.
“Psychologically, they’re kind of stepping back a little bit from what they’re saying—distancing themselves from it—and that shows up from this reduction in pronoun use.” Exclusive words introduce some variation to a story, Skillicorn said.
“A part of your brainpower is being spent to create this image that isn’t quite the unvarnished truth, and that means you have to keep things a little simpler than you otherwise would,” he said. “It’s really hard to keep adding complexities to whatever it is that you’re talking about.”
He said people use negative emotion words because it’s socially frowned upon to be deceptive.
“That negative feeling that they have about themselves leaks out a bit into the words they use,” he said.
He said the fourth change—an increase in action words—is the most puzzling.
“It has to do with keeping the story moving, trying to … push the listener over any bumps there might be in something that doesn’t quite fit or because you’ve constructed it on the fly, it doesn’t look quite as perfectly smooth as you’d like it to be,” he said, adding that the first three categories seem more plausible than the fourth on psychological grounds.
Although his program analyzes just over 80 words sending different signals to the listener, some words are more important than others in different contexts.
“The [words] that vary the most in the set of things you’re looking at will tend to tell you more information,” he said.
Skillicorn said examining the frequency of words used in speech is no easy task for the human ear.
“We don’t have that much control over the way we use language, not consciously,” he said.
He said other researchers examine speech patterns in terms of factors such as facial expression and voice texture to determine whether someone’s being deceptive, but much of that can be controlled consciously. Orators often go through training to learn how to control these other factors, but because spin is primarily unconscious, it’s difficult to modify.
“You could … go through your speech before you gave it and try and change things so that it would score a little bit more the way that you wanted it to,” he said. “But the trouble is what seems to happen is when you actually give the speech, you put all that stuff back again.”
“The only way you can change it is to change the way you frame the whole situation you’re in,” he said, citing Hillary Clinton—whose speech patterns changed when it became clear Obama was going to win the Democratic nomination—as an example.
Skillicorn said what politicians choose to talk about has a strong influence on how they’ll score. When a speech has a personal bent, it’s different than a speech on a broad issue and is less susceptible to spin.
“If you want to say, ‘I’m going to put giraffes on Mars because I’m an expert on space travel,’ then you’re almost forced to associate who you are to that part of that story,” he said.
Skillicorn said the Canadian election has been harder to analyze because the candidates haven’t posted enough speeches online, but Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s eight posted speeches have varied in their level of spin.
“You don’t have to look at them very hard to see that they’re very different from what’s going on in the U.S. situation,” he said. “Harper’s speeches are almost like press releases.”
Campaign advertisements are also harder to analyze, Skillicorn said, because they’re more staged than speeches.
“The more off the cuff it is, the more revealing it is,” he said.
Acknowledging many campaign speeches are speechwriters’ collaborations, Skillicorn said candidates still change their deliveries depending on how they’re feeling at the time.
“When a candidate’s reading from a teleprompter, they change on the fly some of these little words which are exactly the ones the model’s picking up,” he said. “Even the speechwriters tend not to notice that that’s happened.”
He said it’s more difficult to measure how deception comes into play for public figures in question-and-answer situations.
“If somebody says to you, ‘What are you going to do?’ you’re almost forced to say, ‘I am going to do this and that,’ … which means that now you’re sending a signal which looks like a lower level of spin.”
Skillicorn said his model can’t be applied to speech in different contexts—for example, it can’t compare a politician and a car salesman.
“The problem is that all these things rely on changes in the relative frequency of words, and so you have to kind of know what the norm is,” he said.
In business writing, for example, it’s much more common to use the pronoun ‘I’ than it might be in other situations.
Skillicorn said his model deals with the use of the word ‘I,’ not ‘we.’ He said politicians are trained to use ‘we,’ but psychologists have found that when men use the word ‘we’ it’s not inclusive at all. He said Obama uses ‘we’ much more often than McCain.
“That’s very much the velvet glove around the iron fist, and it’s a euphemism for ‘you,’ a command. So Obama’s ‘we’s’ are a dangerous thing for him to use, in a way.
“‘We’ can be collective responsibility, but you should always stop to think about it. Could you put ‘you’ here? If you can, then it’s a fake.”
Skillicorn said his model could be applied to everyday conversation, but at this point researchers don’t know how.
He has received requests from as far away as the United Kingdom, Spain and Portugal to apply his program to politicians. But he said the model doesn’t easily translate to other languages.
“In French you don’t know what to do with the pronoun ‘on,’ because sometimes … it’s equivalent to ‘je’ and sometimes it’s not, and it’s really hard to tell the difference,” he said. Skillicorn also said it would be difficult to apply his model to historical speeches because of changes in the use of language and a lack of political context.
“The problem with all of this is getting some estimate of the ground truth,” he said. “That gets harder as you go back in time because you just don’t know the political context nearly as well.”

See more results from Skillicorn’s research at

Reprinted from Queen's Journal, September 30, 2008 edition

Friday, September 26, 2008

Absolutely Inspired

"With Glowing Hearts"
Couldn't be a better slogan for Vancouver 2010.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Fall Election: Scandalous

Haven't heard or read about ANYONE wanting a fall election in Canada. That's in a national newspaper and on the radio, and in conversation.

ThePM even says that there will be a minority government after a fall election, so WHY in the world should Canadian taxpayers pay close to $700 million dollars to run an election? And why would parties want to spend their donated money to get the same sort of government?

Until this government, it was said that minority governments in Canada produce some of the best legislation possible. That is because, until the Conservatives got into their current position, the previous PMs were willing, able and committed to governing. THIS PM does not know what "negotiate" or "compromise" mean.

He is a "my way or the highway" person; or "I'll take my ball and go home if you don't play my rules."

Most of us learn how to play on the schoolground, and we make an effort to get along with our peers.

This man refuses to be "nice," to try to work with the other parties. The word "leader" does not apply to him. He's a bossy, mean man.

So, here's a short (but getting longer) list of his disgraceful decisions.
1. Cutting arts funding and supposedly giving it to athletes. Now that's a move that the artistic community hates, and one that athletes can see through, so there will be no votes from athletes in this.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Michael Phelps is NOT the Greatest Olympian

BEIJING -- Could everyone please stop hyperventilating about Michael Phelps?Yes, he now has won more gold medals than anyone in Olympic history.

Your Vote
Who is the greatest athlete in the history of the Summer Olympics?
1.3 %
Birgit Fischer-Schmidt, Germany, kayak
2.2 %
Larisa Latynina, Soviet Union, gymnastics
24.7 %
Carl Lewis, U.S., track and field
3.9 %
Paavo Nurmi, Finland, track and field
3.8 %
Steven Redgrave, United Kingdom, rowing
50.1 %
Michael Phelps, United States, swimming
14.2 %
An athlete not listed here
7238 total responses

Ahead of him?1. Carl Lewis, U.S., track and field.2. Paavo Nurmi, Finland, track and field.3. Larisa Latynina, Soviet Union, gymnastics.4. Birgit Fischer-Schmidt, Germany, kayak.5. Steven Redgrave, United Kingdom, rowing.Why is Phelps sixth?It is easy to win multiple medals in swimming.The sport is far more forgiving on the body than track or gymnastics.And Phelps does not yet have the long-term record of the others.

Lewis won nine gold medals, four in the 1984 Olympics and four straight in one event, the long jump.Nurmi won nine gold medals at distances from 1,500 to 10,000 meters over three Olympics. He likely would have won more had he not been declared ineligible after 1928 under rules that demanded Olympians be amateurs.Latynina won nine gold medals and 18 total medals over three Olympics.Fischer-Schmidt won her first of eight gold medals in 1980 and her last 24 years later as a 42-year-old mother of two. She won three for the old East Germany and five for the unified Germany. She won in singles, doubles and fours. She also won four silvers.Redgrave won gold medals in five consecutive Olympics while rowing in three different boat types.I asked Phelps on Thursday if winning the most golds makes him the greatest of all time, and he sounded like a man wisely focused on the present."I have no idea," he said. "I just get in the water and swim. That's the only thing I think about."I asked Olympic historian David Wallechinsky the same question, and he ranked Nurmi and Lewis as co-leaders."I think Phelps needs one more Olympics to join them," Wallechinsky said.

Over 12 years, Lewis won two gold medals in the 100 meters, one in the 200, two on the sprint relay and an unprecedented four straight in the long jump, an event in which the impact on the body of the run-up and takeoff has been likened to falling off a truck at 25 mph."What Lewis did is extraordinary. He is No. 1," said France's Marie-Jose Perec, one of three runners to win the 200 and 400 meters in the same Olympics."You can't compare track and swimming. In swimming, you can recover. You can do five races in a day and get world records in all of them. That's impossible in our sport."Don't try to argue that Phelps has been part of world-record performances in his first five events.New pool and suit technology have made swimming's world records meaningless, with 18 record performances through Thursday in the Olympics alone.

Just four world records have fallen in track and field all year.Swimming allows an athlete to race two finals in 29 minutes, as U.S. Olympian Ryan Lochte planned Friday morning.Track and field is so much more physically demanding that neither Allyson Felix nor Sanya Richards dared a 200-400 double after the Olympic schedule put the second round of the 200 within three hours of the 400 final."Swimming is pressure off your body, where we are pounding on it," Felix said.Swimming offers three relays with the risk of a false start minimal. Some sprinters run both of track's longer relays, the 400 and 1,600, but the exchanges on the sprint relay are so dicey Lewis lost a certain medal in 1988 when other U.S. runners botched a baton pass in a preliminary round.If Olympic track had an 800-meter relay, an event in which Lewis was part of a world-record performance, he probably would have won at least two more gold medals.Three of swimming's four strokes -- everything but the breaststroke -- might as well be the same. Otherwise, how could backstroker Matt Grevers say he barely trained that stroke before winning an Olympic silver medal in the 100? Nearly every good freestyler can be a good butterflyer, and vice-versa.

You don't see any 100-meter runners in the mile, or any milers in the long jump.Don't get the wrong idea. Track athletes have great respect for what Phelps has accomplished."It's inspiring to watch in amazement at everything he's doing," Felix said.But he's not the most amazing Olympian ever.

Hersh covers the Olympics for The Times and the Chicago Tribune.

Friday, August 08, 2008

No Harper, and No Minister of Sport (We Don't Even HAVE One). Canada sure is a Loser

IOC President to meet with world leaders

On the eve of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, IOC President Jacques Rogge is to meet with some of the world’s major leaders, who are visiting Beijing for the opening ceremony. Among the leaders Rogge will be meeting are Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Brazillian President Luiz Lula da Silva.

More world leaders – more than 100 sovereigns, heads of state and heads of government - will be attending the Beijing Olympic Games, as well as 170 Ministers of Sport.

As well as discussing the Beijing Games, Rogge will be using the meetings as an opportunity to raise issues of concern to the Olympic movement – the fight against doping, and the role of sport in education and in improving public health.

Sport’s role in improving health outcomes “It is essential that we promote the central role of sport in modern society,” said Rogge today. “Everyday sport can deliver substantial social, environmental and economic benefits by reducing obesity and cardiac disease and creating a healthy society. The IOC wants governments to support elite sport and the Olympic movement – that’s essential – but we also want them to invest in public sports facilities.”

Just as vital is that the IOC and governments collaborate in the fight against doping by providing consistent funding for WADA, enabling co-operation between law enforcement and doping authorities; and application of the World Anti-Doping Code. This may require legislative change.
Doping – a problem to be tackled together Doping, and particularly steroid abuse, is a public health issue – it is not simply a matter for elite sport – it reaches down into amateur sports clubs, universities and high schools and causes physical and psychological damage to the user. This trickle-down effect is what should worry everyone. Moreover, steroid use and crime are inextricably linked – many acts of violent crime in society are thought to be connected to steroid use.”

President Rogge will continue to promote these issues, through both the IOC and collaboration with other Olympic organisations, in his regular schedule of visits and consultations with world leaders regarding their national sport agenda.

[This is an IOC News Release, dated August 8, 2008]

"Last Minute Harper" and He's Still Staying Home. Probably a Good Thing.

Harper backing city's Pan Am bid

McGuinty off to China to lobby sports officials at Olympics to boost Toronto area's chances
Aug 08, 2008 04:30 AM
Be the first to comment on this article... Robert Benzie Queen's Park Bureau Chief
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is backing Toronto's $1.77 billion bid for the 2015 Pan Am Games.
Harper yesterday gave Ottawa's endorsement of efforts to host the international sports event in Toronto and a dozen other Golden Horseshoe municipalities.
"It's very positive. It's a boost for the entire region," federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty told the Star last night.
"Toronto hasn't had a major sporting event in many, many years," said Flaherty, who is Harper's Greater Toronto Area minister.
He added that in difficult economic times, the Pan Am Games would "create jobs and construction activity" and leave behind an infrastructure legacy in the GTA and beyond.
Flaherty emphasized that Ottawa's funding commitment is still being finalized because security costs are being calculated with the OPP, the RCMP and other agencies.
Ottawa's move, which came months earlier than expected, led Premier Dalton McGuinty to start packing to fly to China to lobby sports officials at the Olympics.
"The premier will be taking the important next step of going to Beijing Aug. 13 to 15 to speak with key national Olympic committee chairs, to make sure Ontario has the best opportunity to make a winning case," said press secretary Jane Almeida.
"Moving forward, we will be working closely with the federal government and municipalities."
McGuinty had been gearing up for the lobbying trip. "I am ready and raring to go," the premier told reporters on July 23.
"To say I'm really, really, really keen on this is a gross understatement," Michael Chambers, the Canadian Olympic Committee president, told the Star's Jim Byers in Beijing. "I really believe we can do this and that it's not a shot in the dark. It's a bid we can win.
"We'll have tremendous games and it will be a building block for what we're seeing here in China."
Chambers said the southern Ontario bid will be officially presented to Pan American Sports Organization officials at Canada Olympic House in Beijing on Aug. 14.
The Pan Am Games, open to 42 nations in the Americas, are held every four years. They were held in Rio de Janeiro last year and will be in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 2011.
Other cities expected to bid for the 2015 Games are Bogota, Colombia; Caracas, Venezuela; and Lima, Peru, but insiders say Toronto – one of the largest media markets in North or South America – has a great shot at hosting them. The winner will be chosen next year.
There had been concerns that Ottawa would not have completed its study of the bid before the Pan American Sports Organization's general meeting in October.
While the municipalities, the province and Ottawa will each be on the hook for about $620 million, Queen's Park has agreed to cover any overruns to the expected $1.77 billion tab.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Beijing, Echos of Cuba

On Monday night, Pastor Mansbridge began his National News program from Beijing.
There he was, smog and all behind him, but no teleprompter.

He had a segment about security in China, noting the neighbourhood community watches that have been set up. These are citizens who have volunteered (and recieved a little red band for their left arm) to keep watch on their own neighbourhood, and report anyone or anything suspicious.

There was even a shot of two women fanning themselves, sitting on pots or something, "looking out" for their neighbourhood.

How it took me back. In 1990-1991 when we made trips to Cuba in preparation for the Pan American Games, we saw and knew that locals would "report" on their neighbours. We saw the grandmothers out for their morning exercises, calesthenics actually, then they would disperse, and go about their business. Part of that business was ratting on their neighbours.

This is the way Castro keeps the population in check: have spies who report up the ladder.

Castro reigns not through the love of his people, but by fear. Do something wrong, say something about the government or a "leader" and find yourself in the clink.

The Cuban people are an amazing lot to have survived with so little, without contact with the outside world, and living in constant fear. It becomes a way of life.

So little "freedom" in China and Cuba.

How fortunate Canadians are.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Trouble on the Horizon and Lying

Trouble on the China borders as well as protests in Beijing that are quelled by rounding up the people and herding them into a paddy-wagon, foreshadow a stressful Olympics and serious trouble during the Games.

If anyone in the world still thinks that China is a fair and honourable nation, they must have been snoozing while the media reports on the third athlete whose age is in doubt. I hope that reporters don't let this one go. These female gymnasts are under-age, as their earlier documents show. The docs they submitted to the Organizing Committee were "doctored" to have these young girls able to compete in Beijing. FIG instigated the age rule for a stop medal-hungry nations from overtraining girls and putting their lives in jeopardy.

The Chinese are lying. Getting those medals ahead of the USA is the most important thing, except of course spending $35 billion on these Games, China's "coming out party."

China shames the Olympic Movement, and countries let them get away with this stuff.

Shame, Mr Rogge.

Some Beijing Stuff

With the Olympics just 3+ days away, we hear that Mr Emerson will lead a delegation to Beijing. Not the Prime Minister.

When talk of an Olympic boycott started several months agao, the PM said he would not be going to Beijing. Supposedly boycotting, although he said that wasn't the reason.

So, when Mr Emerson gets to Beijing, and is asked why the Prime Minister didn't go, which of the following will he answer?
1. He is too busy.
2. He is boycotting China because of its human rights record.
3. He had a vacation planned.
4. He didn't feel like travelling all that way.
5. His medical shots aren't up-to-date.
6. He is worried about the food (one reporter noted "Donkey Pot Pie" on a menu in Beijing)
7. He just didn't think it was important.
8. He's not good at "small talk."
9. He didn't want to have to answer questions about the federal government's dallying about and not being able to make a decision about support for the 2015 Pan Am Games.
10. None of the above.

Canadians are embarassed that he is not going. Once again, he demonstrates his disregard for Canada's international reputation, his contempt for the Canadian people, and his arrogance.

Let's get to the polls in the fall, and get rid of this government and this Prime Minister.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Globe & Mail and the 21st Century

It's hard to believe, but check this...The Globe does a nice story about swimmer Julia Wilkinson breaking her own Canadian record, set 3 weeks ago at the Olympic Trials.
BUT, along side the good-news story, they run a photo of a MALE swimmer competing in the 200m fly. And it doesn't even say that he won his event!
How far have women come????
Better still, how far has The Globe come?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Heat of the Moment

Sometimes when people get wound up, they get carried away, and say things that listeners cannot figure out.

Such was the case on Tuesday evening during a long, unfocussed discussion about an aquatic facility in Kingston. staff suggested continuing to explore details for a new aquatic facility. Their recommendation was quite clear: spend the money already agreed to in the current budget to get some answers to questions that were arising (this was Commissioner Beach's remark).

Nearing the end of the rambling, unfocussed discussion about the recommendation, Councillor Hutchison remarked "We are trying to hit a home run and we haven't even got to first base."

Does he know what he said? If so, what does this mean? A player hits a home run from the plate, not first base. What a comment.

On more than one occasion, the mayor (to his credit) reminded council what the proposal actually was...the one agreed to many moons ago, and described in the council materials: an aquatic facility that would be comprised of one long pool that could be divided into two 25m pools PLUS another 25m pool that would have a number of leisure features incorporated into it. He rightly commented that a long pool, the 50m pool, would not be adequate for competitions (major or minor) because there would be no warm-up pool.

On this he is absolutely correct. Proponants of a new aquatic facility support the location at the Invista Centre, and they support a complex that would be suitable for major competitions (in all 4 Olympic sports). This is in agreement with current practice around the world: if one expects to hold any kind of elite compeition, a warm-up pool is mandatory.

Let's hope that councillors read and understand the material that they have been given.

Councillor Osanic's frustration at the process (going over the same, already-decided material repeatedly) is I am sure felt by other councillors who have kept up with the debate, read their material, talked to people who know what they are talking about. And it surely must be frustrating for Commissioner Beach and her colleagues on staff, to have to find answers to questions that have already been answered, or worse, answers to questions that can only be answered when additional study has been done. [one councillor suggested that a Murtha pool was best, having just heard Councillor Gerretsen say "we are not experts in this." ]

Patience is the order for this day, this month, and for the last 2 years. One must admire the patience of Commissioner Beach who is carrying this project.

My patience is wearing thin.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Support A Progressive Community!

At the city council meeting tomorrow evening, councillors will consider whether or not to continue investigating the feasibility of a fine aquatic centre for Kingston.

Let's hope that this city council demonstrates what so many citizens want: a council that is progressive, that leads, and that isn't satisfied with just plodding along, but rather, wants to raise the bar for this community.

Eastern Ontario will use an aquatic facility full-tilt if they build it and then hire a creative, experienced programmer for it. This has the potential for being the hub of activity for this city, but it will take progressive councillors to make this happen.

No city in this country has even thought about building a 25m pool that could be expanded. Expanded? What is that...a miracle happening?

With the Olympics barely 26 days away, city council can take a lesson from athletes. Not one of them got to the Olympics by saying "I can't do it. I'm not good enough." Every one got there by believing they COULD do it, and then getting busy making it happen. And not one of them is going there planning to be second or third or down the pack. Every one is going there to win, to be first, to bust their buns. If they can do it, why can't Kingston?

Kingston can be a leader. It can be proactive. It can plan for today and the future. Let's hope it does.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Stop Stabbing Your Finger At Me!

Stop Stabbing Your Finger at Me!!!

One of these days, "important" people are going to figure out that we hate being pointed at and finger-stabbed at!
Look at this photo of Steve Harper, on July 6th.
Stop pointing!!!!

He's probably taken a lesson from that awful George Stroumboulopoulis on the CBC. He points to the camera, the fans, everyone all the time. No wonder we aren't watching his show. Or Obama or Clinton.

Do they think we like this? Someone tell them we don't!!!

Give them presentation lessons, quickly!


Thursday, July 03, 2008

As for the Olympics, don't you dare mention the B-word

Printed in The Kingston Whig Standard, July 2, 2008.
By Diana Davis Duerkop

Parents spend a lot of time helping their offspring understand the consequences of their behaviour. If you leave your clothes on the bedroom floor, one day, you won’t have any clean clothes to wear. If you don’t lock your bike securely, someone may steal it. If you drive a vehicle after drinking, you could be in an accident and cause tremendous harm to yourself and others
Young people aren’t the only ones that have to learn about consequences. Organizations, including governments, also need to understand the consequences of their decisions.
Talk of a Canadian boycott of the Beijing Olympic Games has thankfully dropped to a whisper. The consequences of boycotting are now apparent not only to athletes, but also to the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and to the government of Canada. Many people do not realize that the decision about whether or not to go will be made by the COC, not the government. It is in this context that the undeniable link between sports and politics is demonstrated once again.
Let’s look at a few of the negatives of missing these Olympics. It costs the COC a lot of money to send a team composed of athletes, mission staff and medical support. The money doesn’t come from the federal government because the COC is a private, not-for-profit organization responsible for Canada’s participation in the Olympics. The COC raises money through sponsorships, licensing goods and services, and donations. Interestingly, when the COC wilted under the federal government’s pressure not to go to Moscow in April 1980, the compensation package was about $3.2 million in 2008 dollars. Given that costs have increased and there are more athletes and support staff, it will cost around $5 million to send this team to Beijing. Much of this money has already been spent.
All the International Federations that organize sports on the Olympic program hold elections of executive and committees in the host city prior to the games. Key decisions about the sport are made at these meetings. If Canadians do not attend these meetings, they won’t have a voice or get elected, and Canada’s representation and ability to influence international sports will be greatly diminished. Election to these positions requires years of politicking; if missing this time, it is doubtful that Canadians will be elected even at the next meetings in 2012. Our ability to lead and influence in the international arena is therefore compromised.
If we didn’t attend the games, Canada’s reputation would suffer tremendously, not only in the sport community but in the social, economic, education and political spheres. A few illustrations. Canada is, for example, investing $13 billion in the Port of Prince Rupert and railway lines leading to it, to develop a transpacific trade corridor. The city is to become the gateway to Pacific nations from mid-America. Any uncertainty around Canada’s support for China, a significant trading partner, would be disastrous economically.
One other illustration. Since 2001, Canada has signalled its interest in once again holding one of the non-permanent seats on the United Nation’s Security Council. It wouldn’t be too far-fetched to think that China, a permanent member, would not welcome Canada at the table if it boycotts their games, and might actively campaign against Canada.
All this is not to ignore the people for whom the games are organized. Rather, it is intended to illustrate the interrelationship of sport and politics, and importance of being aware of some of the less obvious consequences of boycotting Beijing.
The biggest impact a boycott would have would be on the athletes. The road to the Olympics is long, difficult, and rewarding. One has only to follow the process to understand that few Canadians actually get to an Olympic Games. Canada’s men’s basketball team is in the final stages of preparation for the last opportunity to qualify for Beijing. Only 20 players in all of Canada were even invited to try-out for the team. The team must place in the top three at the conclusion of the July tournament to get to Beijing. This is a monumental task, and one that head coach Leo Rautins relishes. You see, he was a player on the men’s basketball team that didn’t go to the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. He knows the meaning of a boycott because he was one of the disappointed athletes. And just what did that boycott accomplish?
Let’s not even whisper of boycotts. They do more harm than good.
Diana Davis Duerkop is a former Vice-President of the Canadian Olympic Committee. She is a board member of the Kingston & District Sports Hall of Fame and Sport Kingston, and lives in Kingston.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Nearly Olympics Time!

Yeserday in a local grocery store, a couple of clerks were decked out in red and white to celebrate Canada day today.
One woman wore the Team Canada T-shirt and pants (aka pyjamas), which she said were very comfortable. [Get them at The Bay, and support the team. Remember, there is NO government money in getting the team to Beijing, keeping it fed and accomodated there, and getting it home. Not even unis .]
Apparently they weren't made for Canadian men: they are, shall we say, binding. A team meembr had tried theem on, and turned thumbs down.
Sure is going to be tough on the eyes, if they wear that outfit as the Parade outfit at the Opening Ceremony. Which I doubt. Athletes have several outfits, one of which is spiffy and is to be worn at the Opening.

No one Thought About the Equipment?

Thanks to all for your comments. Too bad the anonymous notes (left by those who just bitch and have no particular reason to be anyoymous) are left by people who are not prepared to stand by their opinions. That's why The Whig won't publish your letters: they only publish letters written by those who have the guts to sign their names.....

And, in follow-up to the comments about the generators.....keep checking the tenders on the city's website, and the line items in the dreadful reports of the LVEC operations that are sent to council. Soon, there will be calls for tenders for, not one, but TWO more generators for the LVEC. Yes that's right. The power supply was so inadequate for at least 2 of the shows that came through Kingston since the opening on February 12, that management has said that more power is needed, and two generators will be ordered. Probably when that can be done under cloak of darkness! ha ha.
For at least 2 shows, auxillary generators had to be "rented" in order to supply suffieient power.
Just keep watching for this....

And for those who enter downtown via Place d'Armes, 2-3 weeks of Ontario Street only should cause a few headaches. It's not really funny, particularly for fire truck drivers and ambulance drivers. If you have seen fire trucks travelling north on Ontario Street, screeching to a manageable speed at Fort Frontenac, you will have much appreciation for them. Especially when they are carrying a full load of water....2000 lbs. They don't really like it at all.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Where Will the Feds Place Their (Our!) Money?

Looks as if a bit of a problem is on the horizon fro Canadian sport, and the federal government.

The Golden Horseshoe is interested in bidding for the 2017 Pam Am Games.

Canadian University Sport (CIS) is thinking of bidding for the FISU (summer games).

And the Commonwealth Games Federation (Canada) would like to have a Canadian bid for the 2015 Commonwealth Games.

Time to dust off that Federal Hosting Policy!

IOC in fear of Beijing crackdown

by Paul Kelso, the Guardian
June 7, 2008 at 1.37pm.

The opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic games is just 62 days away, and across the Chinese capital clocks count the days. Among International Olympic Committee executives and members gathered in Athens this week they are counting the hours to a different landmark: "Everyone is counting the days to the opening ceremony," said one senior figure. "Me? I'm looking forward to reaching the closing ceremony on August 24 and getting on the plane home."
Publicly the IOC expresses complete confidence in China's preparations, but behind the optimism lie deep anxieties about the most politically-charged and culturally challenging games in Olympic history.

Many of the senior officials in Athens this week arrived direct from Beijing where they held a series of crisis talks with the authorities following the imposition of a huge security clampdown and a new level of government-led bureaucracy that threatens to disrupt the smooth running of the games.

As well as concerns over making the games work, there are genuine fears that athletes who choose to speak out against the Chinese regime, critical media and any individuals daring to protest publicly could prompt a huge backlash from the authorities and the general public.
At the heart of the IOC's concerns is the political fallout from events of the last three months. Riots in Lahsa, Tibet in March prompted a global wave of anti-Chinese protests which found a convenient focal point in the hapless Beijing Olympic torch relay. What Beijing hoped would be a triumph degenerated into a tawdry public relations fiasco that damaged both China and the IOC.
The response in Beijing has been dramatic. Shaken by events, the Chinese authorities have ordered a huge security clampdown on Olympic sites that threatened to disrupt basic games operations.

According to seasoned Sinophiles in the Olympic movement there has also been a tangible hardening of the public and official mood too. The attacks on the torch relay came as a genuine shock to many Chinese, who feel their country has been unfairly traduced. There is bemusement too at the actions of NGOs including Amnesty that have called on athletes to speak out against the Beijing government. The Chinese code of hospitality does not include insulting your host, and the reaction of the authorities and public to anyone who does criticise China is the great unknown of this Olympiad.

The collision of 20,000 journalists, 10,000 athletes and thousands of foreign spectators with the Chinese is causing acute unease within the IOC, and some influential figures fear that any backlash could be damaging to both the games and the Olympic movement.
Most sensitive is the issue of athletes speaking out. The IOC charter prohibits "propaganda and demonstrations", and the IOC has promised to apply "common sense" when assessing whether the line has been crossed by, for example, the wearing of a Free Tibet T-shirt or an inflammatory press-conference comment.

There are no such guarantees from the elaborate Chinese security apparatus, however, and the current mood in Beijing gives little cause of optimism that they will be indulgent of dissent.
There are technical fears, too. The Chinese central government has taken a tighter grip on the project in the wake of Lhasa, restricting the ability of the Beijing organising committee (Bocog), with which the IOC has worked for seven years, to take meaningful decisions.

New security arrangements have been imposed at many venues, and the IOC fear that the three-cordon procedure proposed by Beijing could prevent athletes, officials and media - the three categories prioritised by the IOC - from being able to smoothly attend venues.
Broadcasters already setting up operations in the city have also experienced difficulties, encountering restricted vehicle access to stadia and finding that permits for filming outside venues are currently taking 21 days to process. With the games lasting just 17 days, the drawbacks are obvious.

The IOC's task in trying to resolve some of these issues has been made harder by the introduction of a new level of bureaucracy, only revealed today. A two-tier command structure has been imposed, with central government officials leading the top tier and Bocog officials and the mayor dealing with day-to-day operations. With decisions usually having to be taken swiftly, the structure poses a major challenge to the smooth running of the games.

Hein Verbruggen, the chairman of the IOC coordination commission that has steered the Beijing games since 2001, acknowledges the challenge. "The biggest challenge that we face is bureaucracy," he said this week. "The Chinese way is to plan everything to the finest detail so there are a lot of procedures in place. But the hospitality and friendliness of the people will be spectacular, and I am absolutely certain the games will leave an incredible legacy for the country."

IOC president Jacques Rogge also expressed confidence that the games would proceed smoothly, and that security arrangements would not ultimately prove overbearing. "We have asked the Chinese to try and find the right balance between security and operations, and I have confidence that they will do so," he said today.

For all the outward confidence, it would be no surprise if Rogge was among those breathing a sigh of relief on August 25.

Doha rejection exposes weakness of the Olympics

When Rogge and his executive board gathered in Athens this week, they knew the agenda was likely to be dominated by the race to host the 2016 games.

What they may not have expected was that a contest likely to be dominated by marquee cities Rio de Janeiro, Chicago, Tokyo and Madrid would be swamped in controversy surrounding the ejection of a small Gulf state with more money than genuine prospects of success.
That is what happened however after Doha, the Qatari capital and the first middle-eastern city to bid to host the games, was thrown out of the race on Wednesday evening.

The decision may ultimately have proved correct - there are many reasons why you might consider the tiny desert state an inappropriate venue for the games, starting with the role of women and the treatment of migrant workers - but the cack-handed execution and the subsequent row reveals some deep-seated insecurities in the Olympic movement.

Officially Doha was junked from the race because its request to stage the games in October 2016, thus avoiding the searing summer temperatures of the IOC's preferred window between July 15 and August 31, was rejected.According to bid insiders, Doha had been assured that the dates were no barrier to inclusion in the race, and proceeded with a bid that on technical merits was ranked above Rio and level with Chicago.

Rogge denies that the IOC misled the city, claiming that the decision was made with the interests of athletes in mind. Doha's expulsion still represented a wholesale rejection of the recommendations of the IOC's technical committee, setting a precedent the movement may come to regret.

In the wake of the Salt Lake City scandal that exposed corruption in the bidding process, Rogge oversaw a change in procedure that placed technical merit above the political and personal whims of IOC members. In Doha's case that approach appears to have been set aside, ironically to help prevent a return to the culture of graft that characterised old-school bidding.

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that Rogge and the executive committee blocked Doha because they did not trust the full IOC membership to make the correct decision in an open vote. The IOC membership is capricious and unpredictable, and had Doha made it on to the short list the full weight of its petro-dollar fortune would have been unleashed on the membership. For an organisation desperate to remove the perception that its members' votes might be for sale, that could have been disastrous.

Perhaps more seriously for the long-term health of the games, the decision exposes the relative weakness of Olympic sport in the international market. An Olympics in October would pitch the games directly against the European football leagues and the NFL and major league baseball in the US. The IOC leadership know that with track-and-field at its lowest ebb, discredited by drug scandals and pushed to the margins as a consequence, the games would be crushed by a humiliating lack of interest.

Simply, the Olympic movement's only chance of sustaining interest and, crucially, broadcast revenue is to sit in a summer window that avoids competition. With the all-important TV negotiations for 2016 that will secure the IOC's medium-term future yet to begin, Rogge was not prepared to allow even the remotest prospect that broadcasters would be asked to pay billions for an autumn games in the desert.