Off to a wedding - here's some more hockey bits.... 
First, Chez 106.1 is selling 'Salary Caps' with the proceeds going to the local children's hospital CHEO:
Get your limited edition "I'm on my BEERiod" t-shirts or Doc & Woody $alary Caps... available exclusively through CHEZ 106!

Next, read the Middleman's thoughts on the lockout. His conclusion:
So in an interesting twist, although I like the players and admire the efforts made so far by their union, I am for the forces of reason that would remove the volatility from the hockey labour market, despite the fact that I have find the owners stupid, and Bettman's intransigence, insufferable.

Michael Wilson wrote a post on the lockout that included some comments from Andrew Spicer - including this one:
If the league takes money from the wealthy teams and gives it to the poor teams, I think that simply has to limit the payroll of those big market teams. How can it not?

Here's what I had to say:
Look at the Yankees and Red Sox. They have a luxury tax with revenue sharing in that league. The NHLPA has said they will not support a strong tax that has the effect of limiting payrolls.

Ah ha! 
All the signs seem to indicate that there will be Conservative coup shortly. Consider these items all appearing in the last few days:

1. Dalton McGuinty is actually a Harris clone - a powerful ally in Ontario is a most needed ingredient for coup soup...
The lobbyist suggested that "Dalton McGuinty really admired Mike Harris" and his
penchant for centralizing decisions in the premier’s office, he said. "We’re led
to believe Dalton McGuinty has taken the same approach," he added, describing
the current premier as a "student of Mike Harris."
2. The Conservatives are financially sound - especially when compared to the Liberals who obviously blew the bank on their TV ads in June....
Just a hunch, but I'm guessing that - if they're talking this tough, (refering to Harper voting against the Throne speech) this soon - the Tories don't have any substantial debt coming out of the June 2004 campaign. That would make things rather interesting, wouldn't it?
Warren K's Sept. 28th musing.
3. Harper meeting with the Governor General to discuss post coup governing....
....But after a lunch-hour meeting Tuesday with Gov. Gen. Adrienne Clarkson, he said the throne speech will be treated like any other piece of legislation.
"I lead a strong party, and we will do whatever we believe is in the best interests of the country..."
Prepare the militia's! Notify the underground!

Lockout fund 
Goodenow likes to say how the owners have been planning this lockout since 1998 and if it were up to him and the players they would still be playing. He often mentions the owners $300 million dollar lockout fund as some kind of proof of their intentions to have no hockey.

Ask yourself these questions:
1. When do you think the players started saving for their lockout fund individually - persuaded by the PA of course?
2. How much do you think the players have saved?
3. How much money did the NHLPA stash away from their licensing revenues?

I've done some calculations and I would bet the total lockout fund of the players far exceeds the $300 million of the owners.

Okay, are we in that bad a shape already? 
The Hockey Pundits:
An Explanation of Cricket
Since there isn't a lot of hockey to watch.

What rural divide? Oh, that one.... 
I had to copy this speech I saw on Ianism.com:

Jamie MacMasters address to the GLA innaugural meeting
Green Valley - 16 September, 2004

Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen, fellow taxpayers. I'm Jamie MacMaster, one of the Directors of the Glengarry Landowners' Association. Before I introduce my fellow Directors, I want to set some minds at ease. The GLA is not affiliated with any political party or candidate; we do not supportany particular political creed. We are not a negotiating committee or a debating society. We are, simply put; a group of property owners dedicated to ensuring that governments are not intrusive, wasteful or unaccountable.


You know, a couple of days ago I mentioned to my wife Louise that I had to sit down and write a speech together tonight. She said "How long a speech?" I told her, "about ten or fifteen minutes." "What are you going to talk about"? And when I told her it was mostly about politics and politicians, she said, " I don't know why you think you have to write anything. I've heard you rant and rave on those topics for a good 45 minutes without taking a breath. And if you took out all of the swear words I'm sure you'd still have a good 15 minutes of stuff you could use."

But I'm not really going to stand here tonight and blame politicians. I did that for at least thirty years and nothing changed. I bellyached and whined but governments became more intrusive, more wasteful and less accountable. And they've done it because we have allowed them to do it.They've done it because every three or for years we troop down to theballot box and put our X in the place where we think it will do the leastamount of damage, and we think that's all there is to democracy.


If property rights were in our Constitution we wouldn't have DFO officers sneaking up and down our ditches, looking for manure runoff while cities like Kingston purchase permits to dump sewage by the swimming-pool-full into our Great Lakes. We wouldn't have MOE inspectors keeping surveillance on manure piles and sawdust heaps while the smog level inToronto pollutes a radius of 100 miles from the city core.


So, we're going to supplement and improve the democratic process by giving our politicians the direction they need, and I really feel they want. How can they say "NO" if we don't attend council meetings? How can they say NO to the stupidities that the provincial and federal governments keep dumping on us unless we tell them "Stand up and say NO, we're behind you."

You know, there's an expression they use in the Caribbean: "Do not besurprised when you put a pig in your palace, if it continues to act like ahog." At first glance this seems to be a not-too-gentle poke at politicians. It's not. It points the finger right at us. We get what we deserve, and we get bad government because we don't get involved, because we think that that X on the ballot is all we have to do.


In the short term, we are going to support only those politicians who - by their track record and public commitment - support these notions. (1) Government should not be intrusive or wasteful; (2) Politicians should spend our money as if it was their own; (3) Upper level governments can, and should, be told "NO"; (4) That Property Rights must be included in the Constitution.

And we are going to come to the aid of any GLA member who becomes a victim of the intrusive stupidities of federal or provincial governments.

And if you don't think there is any cause to be concerned about intrusive governments, think of this, and think of what it has cost you. Twenty years ago I could go hunting groundhogs without worry of Criminal charges because I didn't have a stupid white sticker stuck on my Dad's .22 rifle. Twenty years ago I could put in a septic system for less than $2,000, not$15,000. Twenty years ago I could buy a beef and have it slaughtered and butchered without the government taking care of me. And if there is anyone ere tonight who would rather buy inspected beef, that's fine, I support you to - it's all about choice. Twenty years ago I could buy eggs from my neighbour and I didn't need the government to save me from God-knows-what by having then graded. And twenty years ago, if anyone would have told me that, one day, governments would be monitoring the water use from private wells and were thinking about taxing folks for over consumption; I would have laughed in their face. Think about that and the direction we're going.

Now I want you to look around this room. Think of the number of households that are represented here tonight. And think of the close results of the last Municipal elections when one candidate was elected by an eight-vote margin. And you don't think we can make a difference? These are the folks who are willing to help you; all they ask in return is that you help them when they need it.

Ladies and gentlemen, I picked up this hat in New Hampshire this summer. It's got the state motto on it: Live Free or Die; I'll be happy as hell to be Free Before I Die.

Thank you very much.

Goodenow on CBC 
He shoots, he misses.

Goodenow was on The National last night.

On the PR battle:
Goodenow said that the players weren't looking for empathy yet he used every opportunity to say how the players didn't go on strike and that if it was up to him the players would be playing. Of course they didn't, and of course you would - the players are getting 1.8 million dollar average salaries in a league that gets no TV revenue.

On the NFL salary cap:
Some players don't like it, some owners don't like it, and some fans don't like it according to Goodenow. I agree - but it works! Sure it's hard to keep a team together even when you're a large market - but that's why fans can believe that their team will have a shot a few years down the road - with good managment you can build a team for a run.

On 'the market':
According to Bob - "their salaries have been set by the owners, and salaries go up and down based on their performance." Really? I'd love to know the percentage of players that have had their salary go down based on performance. This whole market place arguement is so shallow but he kind of got away with it last night.

On his overall performance:
Some brutal facial expressions during some fans questions - looks that said "what the hell do you know?"
He basically said that fans were jealous of the players salaries and that the issues are too complex for fans to understand.

Come on players - negotiate on the cap already - start at 65% and negotitate down to 60% - a 45 million dollar payroll cap per team.

You sexy thing 
An interesting development.

All things Canadian is now linked from Come as You Are, a "co-operatively-run sex toy, book and video store." They have a page talking about the NHL lockout:
Like the rest of you, we were on pins and needles during the negotiations, and on September 16 we don't mind telling you the sex toys were flying at half mast.
But we're not giving up hope. Some of us are extreme fans: if we can't watch hockey as a nation, we want to build up the national sexual energy and good karma.
To ease the pain, and help you find other things to do during Hockey Night in Canada, we're offering fellow fans a hockey related discount on all our products.
Of course, many people have considered the impact the lockout will have on people's Saturday nights. A man on the CBC tonight told Goodenow to get a deal done because he couldn't stand the thought of watching Trading Places another night of the week all winter. It reminded me of the spoof the Team 1200 did on Greenday's Time of your Life - here's the chorus:

It's something quite predictable
But if they go on strike
You'll have to spend more time with your wife

Update - I saw from ottawasportsblog that you can hear the song here.

Bettman on CBC 
Well, on the whole I have to say that Gary Bettman's performance surpassed my own very low expectations. If you have seen him on Hockey Night in Canada you'll know why I say that.

The questions were fairly good, some brutal of course, but on the whole I think fairly representative of fans concerns.

The question I would have asked is this; "Do you think Bob Goodenow is Satan?" The answer is too predictable though to have made it through the CBC screeners.

Seriously though, there were a couple of very weak spots that I don't think Bettman should have gone to - ticket prices and overly defending his expansion record. On ticket prices, I noticed that he was nuanced in his approach - trying to bring the question to price inflation - not on whether tickets would actually go down if the owners get their 55% hard cap. Of course, in Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver, where the team salary basically wouldn't change, tickets would not change. The concept is however that those clubs will remain competitive with a hard cap and not have to trade away their developing players as other clubs wouldn't be in a position to sign them as freely in the past. (Weight, Yashin - thank you Milbury, Joseph, etc). Likewise, while his point that it's hard for Carolina and Nashville to gather fans when they aren't competitive is valid, they still suck as hockey markets.

Will Goodenow get some heat tomorrow? I hope so - look for the predictable answers, like Bettman, but will the fans and Mansbridge let Goodenow get away with the total joke of the PA answer of 'market salaries'?

Sportsnet Poll 

Which side do you agree with in the current CBA dispute? [21202 votes total]
The Players (1759)8%
The Owners (10964)52%
Neither (8479)40%

Maclean's Solution 
James Deacon offers 8 steps to get the CBA solved - it's worth a read.

My favourites:
The league has repeatedly offered to open its books and let the union perform its own audit, but Goodenow has just as repeatedly declined the offer. He refuses to tie salaries to a percentage of revenues, so why bother? But he should reconsider. ....
There's a far better chance of reaching a semi-amicable conclusion if Goodenow and Bettman get kicked out of the circle and their lieutenants take the faceoff.
Goodenow says the union's fight isn't about greed; it's about principle. But really, what principle is he talking about? Maintaining the free market? There is no real free market in hockey. Players can't become true free agents until they're 31. The just-expired agreement already had several mechanisms that limit (rookie salary cap) or enhance (qualifying offers) player contracts. And if union members are talking about the principles that Ted Lindsay fought for back in the 1950s, well, think again. The current union leaders have turned down a guarantee of 54 per cent of all league revenues. Old-timers asked only to be treated fairly, and 54 per cent seems pretty fair.
Fans usually support players in contract talks because, traditionally, the guys in skates didn't get their fair share of the pie from the guys in suits. But players do get a fair shake now, while the NHL has maxed out its sponsorship and licencing revenue potential, and its U.S. broadcasting income is going down. Some teams may fudge their numbers, but there's no doubting the NHL is in dire condition. Many players acknowledge this, although few of them speak up as New Jersey's John Madden did last week. They don't have to accept the league's current offer; they can negotiate better terms. But it's the players' turn to make the first move, and to kick-start serious negotiations, they'll have to accept a system, be it a stringent luxury tax or an actual cap, that offers more cost certainty. This isn't about capitulation. It's about doing what's right for the game.

Hockey on CBC 
Hockey Night in Canada now consists of a Mansbridge Q&A with Bettman (Goodenow tomorrow) and their reality series Making the Cut.

Unfortunately for the guys that did 'make the cut', they didn't make it to anything - imagine that - you actually have the chance to attend an NHL training camp and it's the year they are locked out.

Yeah - to a man... 
Bob Goodenow:
"To a man, when I meet with players, the sentiment is very strong. They understand the issues and they are fully prepared to stand by those principles.
"The players have told me they are not prepared to entertain a salary cap in any way, shape, manner or form."

Jamie Langenbrunner:
"I think that depends on what's included in that cap," he said. "Are they taking away our guaranteed contracts, like they're talking about? That's something I don't think any player's willing to do. There are different ways to do a cap."

John Madden:
"Those are the big issues. And if it needs to have a cap, give it a cap, you know?"
Madden said that a cap would only be acceptable if it was higher that the reported $31 million offered by the owners.

How true... 

From former British Columbier Shannon Davis:

And whenever I encounter one of Ottawa’s many lefties, I long for the slightly more tolerable lefties from my days at UVic. At the time, I didn’t really appreciate it, but UVic lefties, to their credit, at least appear to know they’re lefties. Lefties in Ottawa seem to sincerely believe they are moderate, pragmatic defenders of universal Canadian values.

A question 
Why are the players so set against a salary cap?

According to NHLPA President Trevor Linden:
Fans have asked me what’s wrong with accepting a salary cap like the ones used in football and basketball. Besides imposing severe and artificial limits on the market value of a player, salary caps also handcuff team managements. To stay under cap limits, clubs are forced to get rid of popular players or to take a pass on signing players who could help the club improve. Fans take a back seat under salary cap systems, where accountants rule, players come and go and winning becomes secondary.
Hmm, why did Doug Weight, Bill Guerin, and Curtis Joseph get moved from Edmonton? Oh, because winning was the most important thing for the Oilers?

Artificial limits on the market value of a player - YES! That's the point! You need to create an artificial market if you want Edmonton, Calgary, Pittsburg, Ottawa, etc, to compete with New York, Detroit, and Toronto!

There are two possibilities here:

1. That the players and the NHLPA don't understand. This is possible since the average education of a professional hockey player isn't up there but I have to believe they are capable of understanding the situation.

2. That the players are the NHLPA are lying about their reasons for opposing a salary cap. Their real reasons might be:
- they want to keep their proportion of league revenue
- they want to increase their proportion of league revenue
- they want to use it as a bargaining chip to keep their proportion of league revenue closer to the 75% market than the NHL proposed 53%.

I think the last point is where Goodenow is going - he will be give in on a salary cap eventually but we wants it to be around 60-70% of league revenues. The NFL cap is around 64% of revenues and the NBA cap is around 58%.

A good interview with Bettman is provided on the NHL website. Here's an exerpt regarding the cap:

Q. If you are talking about getting back to the negotiating table, under your system of cost certainty, is that negotiating what percentage the players would take? Are you going to negotiate 53 up to 60, or 67, 59?

COMMISSIONER BETTMAN: Obviously we would be happy to talk about any elements of a partnership. The Union, though, under every system that we proposed, says, 'that system is a salary cap. We won't talk about it.' But at the same time they say they want the marketplace.
Let me pause a second on the notion of a marketplace. When you focus on player salaries and player contracts in professional sports, everybody seems to start with the notion that the players are entitled to do that. The players are represented by a Union. The Union negotiates a collective bargaining agreement. The only way that the players get individual negotiations for their salaries is because you agree to it in a collective bargaining agreement. There is no rule, there is no law, there is no fundamental tenet from anywhere that says you have to agree to individual negotiations. So if you do agree to individual negotiations, then you define the parameters of those negotiations. That's how the marketplace is defined. The marketplace is not defined by individual negotiations. The marketplace is defined by the collective bargaining agreement.

Despite my feelings that Bettman is a weasly lawyer from New York, I'm with him on this one.

NHL players need YOU!  
Since September 11, 2001, Americans and Canadians have come together as never before in our generation. We have banded together to overcome tremendous adversity. We have weathered direct attacks on our own soil, wars overseas, corporate/ government scandal, layoffs, unemployment, stock price plunges, droughts, fires, mad cow, SARS, high gasoline prices, and a myriad of economic and physical disasters both great and small. But now, we must come together once again to overcome our greatest challenge yet.

Hundreds of Professional Hockey players in our very own nation are going to be locked out, living at well below the seven-figure salary level. And as if that weren't bad enough they could be deprived of their life giving pay for several months, possibly longer, as a result of the upcoming lockout situation. But you can help!

For only $20,835 a month, about $694.50 a day (that's less than the cost of a large screen projection TV) you can help an NHL player remain economically viable during his time of need. This contribution by no means solves the problem as it barely covers the annual minimum salary, but it's a start, and every little bit will help!

Although $700 may not seem like a lot of money to you, to a hockey player it could mean the difference between spending the lockout golfing in Florida or on a Mediterranean cruise. For you, seven hundred dollars is nothing more than a month's rent, half a mortgage payment, or a month of medical insurance, but to a hockey player, $700 will partially replace his daily salary.

Your commitment of less than $700 a day will enable a player to buy that home entertainment center, trade in the year-old Lexus for a new Ferrari, or enjoy a weekend in Rio.

Each month, you will receive a complete financial report on the player you sponsor. Detailed information about his stocks, bonds, real estate, and other investment holdings will be mailed to your home. Plus, upon signing up for this program, you will receive an unsigned photo of the player lounging during the lockout on a beach somewhere in the Caribbean (for a signed photo, please include an additional $150). Put the photo on your refrigerator to remind you of other peoples' suffering.

Your NHL player will be told that he has a SPECIAL FRIEND who just wants to help in a time of need. Although the player won't know your name, he will be able to make collect calls to your home via a special operator in case additional funds are needed for unforeseen expenses.

I would like to sponsor a locked out NHL player. My preference is (check below):

[ ] Forward [ ] Defenseman [ ] Goaltender [ ] Entire team

(Please call our 900 number to ask for the cost of a specific team - $10 per minute)

[ ] Jaromir Jagr (Higher cost: $32,000 per day)

Please charge the account listed below $694.50 per day for the duration of the lockout. Please send me a picture of the player I have sponsored, along with an Jaromir Jagr 2001 Income Statement and my very own Bob Goodenow (Executive Director of the NHLPA player's Union) pin to wear proudly on my hat (include $80 for hat).

Your Name: _______________________

Telephone Number: _______________________

Account Number: _______________________ Exp.Date:_______

[ ] MasterCard [ ] Visa [ ] American Express [ ] Other

Signature: _______________________

Alternate card (when the primary card exceeds its credit limit):
Account Number: _______________________ Exp.Date:_______

[ ] MasterCard [ ] Visa [ ] American Express [ ] Other
Signature: _______________________

Note: this was e-mailed to me

Paul Martin and Dalton McGuinty - you are hereby banished from Lanark County. 
I didn't get to the Lanark Landowners Association food strike and demostration on September 11th. I was busy cleaning sewage from my basement after the last of Frances went through Ottawa last Thursday.

Here are some pictures and a description of the LLA event. They even had a trial on site:

To begin proceedings of the Perth Mock Trial, the Judge proclaimed: "Ladies and gentlemen, I have been sent here by Prime Minister Paul Martin and Premier
Dalton McGuinty, to put an end to the illegal acts which are taking place at this farmers market, as well as to oppress the rebellious citizens of Lanark County".

With the crowd acting as Jury, the arrest and trial of local farmers (charged with being suppliers of LLA-inspected beef, ungraded vegetables & eggs and unpasteurised apple cider) who believe in Free Enterprise and private Property Rights, proceeded.

The cases against each of these farmers were argued by 3 bureaucrats - Faceless, Nameless and Useless. Charged, arrested and tried were:
Merle Bowes - charged with selling ungraded farm produce
Jack MacLaren - charged with selling unpasteurised apple cider
Pearl & Rick Cheeseman - charged with selling ungraded eggs

BUT - The Jury proclaimed all these hard-working farmers NOT GUILTY once each of the charged told their story!

THEN - LLA president Randy Hillier pleaded to the Judge and Jury: "Wait a second...Who IS the criminal?"

The Jury decided the real criminals are the bureaucrats and politicians. The Judge had them arrested, the Sheriff put them in handcuffs and balls & chains and, once secured in the prison cart, they were justly hauled away. The Judge ended the proceeding thusly: "It is clear that these bureaucrats are acting under the orders and authority of Paul Martin and Dalton McGuinty and we must try these ringleaders accordingly. The LLA issues a summons to these two scoundrels to appear at our next food strike, to answer to these charges. In the meantime, Paul Martin and Dalton McGuinty - you are hereby banished from Lanark County."

The NHL Fans Association 
From the NHLFA:

The NHLFA's position on the CBA conflict is our Members clearly want some form of salary cap or strict luxury tax in place to help control team's from overspending, which hurts small market teams and ultimately weakens the overall league. If a shortlock out is necessary to achieve this goal, we support it. If a long lockout occurs, fans will quickly grow even more disenchanted with both parties stances and their disregard for "our game".
Furthermore, the NHLFA would like to see negotiations held in private and for the nasty public relations war to stop. We have encouraged both parties to engage the services of a third party mediator/arbitrator, but they have declined to adopt this means to a solution.

Nobody believed him when he said it anyways. 
Posted to Jim Elve's Group Blog.

Paul Martin - a week before the election:
"Let Canadians see what their politicians really think and, in front of the cameras, let us debate the issues that are before us."
Transparency in government is vital, he said, and so is negotiating the future of health care.
"That is how I believe that a nation achieves its great national objectives," said Martin. "Not decision-making behind closed doors, away from the people."
The leaders met with Prime Minister Paul Martin at 24 Sussex Dr. until about 3 a.m. Offers went back and forth, but no deal was struck.
Negotiations continued Wednesday, delaying the start of the third day of the televised summit.
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty emerged from the closed door talks shortly before 3 p.m. and told reporters the session would continue.
Tomorrow, tomorrow, I'll love you tomorrow, it's only a day away.....

And the balance in the universe is maintained.... 
In the end, I guess all that matters is that Canada won.

I have to say - the Ruutu goal was one of the sloppiest series of defensive plays I've seen. The guy is close to the boards and three Canadians in a row go for the puck and end up watching him walk by them.

With Lecavalier winning tournament MVP I suppose that means that Gretzky and Co. should remind themselves of Canada's decision after the 1998 Nagano loss not to turn aside talent in order to round out a lineup with 'role' players. Picking Morrow and Maltby ahead of Lecavalier was a mistake.

All things considered, the team was fast, exciting, tough, and young. As long as the NHL/NHLPA screwups don't create a situation where the professionals can't play in the Olympics, we are well positioned to field an excellent team in 2006 and 2010.

CBC Viewpoint thoughts 
Commenter Chris pointed out Anthony Westell's column on the CBC website. Now I don't know much about Mr. Westwell but a brief glance at some of his other columns makes me question his judgment - he thought instead of the US invading Iraq that Bill Graham should have proposed a small armoured column flying the UN flag just cross the border and arrest Hussein - but regardless of his past let's look at his thoughts on the opposition's letter to the Governor General. He starts off:
The leaders of the three opposition parties need to take another look at the Constitution. The strange ideas they were spouting at their joint news conference last week suggest they are seriously confused about how our parliamentary government is supposed to work.
Well, some of their ideas will probably sound strange to a lot of people. We haven't had a minority government in this country for over 20 years but does he really think that Harper, Duceppe, and Layton don't understand the freakin' system?
He goes into a little bit of history of the GG and whatever and then try's to explain what the GG will do in the questioned situation...

If a majority of MPs vote down the government's program when it's presented in the throne speech, or the budget, or, in fact, any bill the government chooses to regard as central to its program, the prime minister will advise the Governor General that he has lost the confidence of the House. Normally, he will advise dissolution of Parliament and a new election, and she will consent. But if it's soon after an election and it appears that the leader of the Opposition could present a program and win the support of a majority of MPs, she can reject the advice of the prime minister – who will thereupon resign – and invite the Opposition leader to become her PM and seek the confidence of the Commons.

Prime Minister Martin's Liberals failed to win a majority in the recent election, but the opposition parties were even less successful. So it makes sense for him to lay his program before the newly elected Commons next month, and seek a vote of confidence. If he fails to win the support of a majority, he will resign and the Governor General will invite the leader of the next largest party, Conservative Stephen Harper, to become her PM and lay his program before the Commons. If he failed to win a majority, another election would follow.

Wow - that's what the stinking letter to the GG points out - or more exact - it says:
We respectfully point out that the opposition parties, who together constitute a majority in the House, have been in close consultation. We believe that, should a request for dissolution arise this should give you cause, as constitutional practice has determined, to consult the opposition leaders and consider all of your options before exercising your constitutional authority.
So, Harper and the other leaders are basically pointing out that they aren't so ideologically driven that they can't sit down together and write a letter - that the Governor General should 'consult' and 'consider' all of her options.

Besides these details, the letter wasn't for the Governor General. The letter was for Martin, the Liberals, and the press. To remind them that the Liberals can't play games, try to blame the opposition for a failing parliament and automatically get another General Election before Paul gets too old to pound back the Tim Horton's on the campaign trail.

Live from Yuk Yuks 
Posted to Jim Elve's Group Blog.

Well, they do say laughter is the best medicine:
"Remember etch-a-sketch? You sort of put it on, you shake it all up and it would disappear on you. You can't build a health-care system on the basis of an etch-a-sketch plan." - B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell.
"Now I've been on this money treadmill for close to 15 years, this more-money treadmill. And there's an old saying about treadmills: they're a great machine for politicians because you run like hell and you get nowhere." - Alberta Premier Ralph
"We're hoping he'll hold another press conference." - Quebec Premier Jean Charest about a federal offer that appeared to mysteriously rise by billions during Federal Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh's news conference.
From CP.

Back to Canada 
While most bloggers are watching the developments of the CBS memogate scandal (up here, we use new scandal terminology like Adscam but all American scandals must end in 'gate'), there are some people paying attention to developments in our own parliament. These two E-Groupers have some interesting thoughts on the opposition's united press release and their letter to the Governor General regarding their consultation should the Liberals seek the dissolution of parliament:

Matthew from Living in a Society:

The quote to remember from Stephen Harper in The Star: "I think we have put forward here some changes that are reasonable. These are things we would be prepared to live with if we were in government."

Write that one down.

What is telling is that the opposition parties are taking more initiative than the government on addressing one of PM PMs primary election promises (i.e. the 'democratic deficit'). Opposition parties that put forward concrete proposals and show that they are ready to govern don't stay in opposition for long. Of course, the three parties may not be able to show this type of unity for very long either.

Alan from Gen X at 40 talking about the GG and calling the opposition's request for consultation a "Kingy-Byngy power grab":
So here we are, 78 years later and Mr Martin and his Liberalés are 40-odd seats short of the others and face a united opposition intending on dropping the hammer at their convenience after half-running the show for a while. Sooner or later they will go to the Governor General saying, quite rightly, that they have over 60% of the seats and 60% of the popular vote and that they have the nuttiest coalition this side of Gilligan's Island. What is the ex-host of CBC TV's Take 30 to do?

Did you really think it would be close? 
In order to have an upset you need to have one or more of the following:
- an amazing goalie (Kiprusoff if they beat the US)
- team depth and consistency (Germany actually almost beating Finland)
- an extrodinary motivational edge (Hlinka's tragic accident?)

Slovakia has none of those at this time so, depsite some people's predictions of an upset, the script plays out as planned and Canada thumps them 5-0.

In his prediction Michael said "Sorry, Canada, Slovakia is going to be a different team than when they played in the prelims." Depth. Chara looked horrible by the third period - he's not used to playing those minutes - Jacques never had him over 25 in Ottawa.

Damn Americans - I hate those bastards. 
I read this at the Vancouver Canucks Op Ed blog:

"Nothing stirs the Canadian spirit and nationalism like the game of hockey. No thing -- not the beaver, the maple leaf, lacrosse, the socialized medical system -- can produce as much ear-splitting emotion and pride as a hockey game involving the Canadian national team.

Prior to the game, the American anthem was cheered with great enthusiasm and the Canadian anthem sung in full chorus. This wasn't a hockey game, it was more like Tuesday night worship."

From an editorial by American sports writer Rich Libero, after attending the game between Canada vs. the USA at the Bell Center on Tuesday. LINK

Whatever. The American Libero obviously hasn't spent hours in a hospital emergency waiting room up here where people will sporatically break out into singing O' Canada, to be joined by the nurses, doctors, and the crowd of waiting patients. It is very emotional - ear-splitting, stomach churning, fever inducing emotion. Socialized medicine not stiring the Canadian spirit - what's he talking about?

All scandal, all the time. 
Posted to Jim Elve's Group Blog.

Here we go. Welcome to the new parliamentary session.

Ms. Fraser, who was testifying on the first day of the long-awaited Gomery inquiry into the sponsorship scandal, said that in examining the Public Works' department's annual performance reviews, she could find no mention of the sponsorship program in the years from 1997 to 2001.
"The first mention of sponsorship is in 2001," she said.
Ms. Fraser said she couldn't understand why the program would not be mentioned given that other Public Works programs were described in detail.
"We have never seen a document that clearly stated what the objectives of the sponsorship program were."
She said she felt such a program should have been highlighted. For example, she said, the department's review for 1998-99 failed to mention $57.8-million in sponsorship spending.
“We believe that there should have been some mention in the departmental performance report of the sponsorship program."
”We were never able to understand why CCSB [the Communications Co-ordination
Services Branch, which operated the sponsorship program] had its own financial
group and its own contracting,” Ms. Fraser testified.

Yeah, I wonder why it had it's own financing and contracting? Recap what we might expect to hear....

The allegation is that senior political figures used the ad agencies to launder money and so, for example, the wife of a senior politician goes shopping in downtown Montreal, buying very expensive clothes, and a person from the ad agency goes along with a visa card and goes 'click' 'click' and it gets charged back to the advertising agency and gets charged back to the Government of Canada.
As more and more of this comes out it's not just about some esoteric plan to buy sponsorships in Quebec. Its about senior people using these ad agencies as what they say is a 'dry cleaning' operation so that, for example, if a senior official, very close to the top of the previous administration, wanted to have a condo in Montreal so he could go down and meet his 'lady friends' the ad agencies would provide that - bill it back to the government as if its advertising. This is the most corrupt thing I've every heard of in all my years on parliament hill and it's getting worse by the day.
I think all of the top people in the previous administration who were involved in the Quebec operation - we are talking about 8 or 10 people here - I'm not talking about public servants here - there were a few who probably knew what was going on but someone at the top had to give them the blessing.
It is so serious and so sickening, and goes so high and involves so much money that it makes anything that was ever said about Brian Mulroney and his administration pale by comparison. This is very serious stuff. The Royal commission will bring out the here-say because that's a lower standard of proof than you need for criminal charges but the police are on this in a very big way.
Trust me, store clerks who saw the little person with the visa card buying it for the wife of famous people and those who went on trips simply to pick up gifts on behalf of senior politicians and put them on the ad agency card and get back on the plane to bring them back home where they were given as a gift to these senior politicians - this will all come out. It may take a while but it will all come out and it's going to blow this town wide open.

And, of course, the Liberals will soon start again with the character assassination and playing up the Guite excuse that the program, it's secrecy, and it's fraudulent activities were worth it to save Canada. Of course it's Fraser's fault the Bloc cleaned up Quebec!


This woman has become a publicity-loving Ken Starr of the North. She has ceased
to be what she was hired to be - which, according to R.S.C., c. A-17, an Act
respecting the Office of the Auditor General of Canada and sustainable
development monitoring and reporting 1995, c. 43, s.6., "The Auditor General
shall examine...financial statements" - and become a headline-hungry,
self-mandating Special Prosecutor who comments on policy, not the numbers.
E-Group's own Ivan Yiu:
...she took it on herself to be judge, jury and executioner. If she is proven
wrong, the most immediate consequence of her actions (Regardless of what happens
in the rest of the country) will be the resurgence of the Bloc Québecois. If
anyone, outside of separatists, thinks that having the BQ in a renewed position
of strength in the commons is a good thing, then I suppose Fraser has done
Canada a great service. The realistic majority of us will not see it that way.
We will also have more than a few retired public servants suing for wrongful
dismissal, or for having their names dragged through the mud.

Czechs crush Swedes 

The third period of their round robin game set the message and turned this team around. They will now play Canada after we put aside Slovakia on Wednesday. Too bad - I think they are the second best team in the tournament.

Russia will beat the US tonight.

UPDATE: Okay, I was wrong. Who would have thought that after years of underwhelming hockey fans that Keith Tkachuk would actually rise to the occasion? The US will play Finland in the US. The big factor in this game will be Kiprusoff - though I don't think the Russian loss can be pinned solely on Bryzgalov.

NCC Blog 
I was mentioned on the NCC site today, so I feel I should make a special mention of Gerry Nicholls' Blog - a sample from today:
Topic: Black Vs. Ouellet
Here's one of the differences between the private sector and the public sector. In the private sector is you're accused of using corporate money for private gain you can face serious legal and personal ramifications perhaps even ruin - see today's headlines re Conrad Black. In the public sector if you're accused of using public money for private gain you simply resign and collect a pension worth more than $100,000 a year - see Andre Ouellet.

How long before Elections Canada starts putting a monetary value on blog views? Oops - you've just violated the election laws Gerry - no blogging for you.

Wayne reading this blog? 
How else can you explain them taking out Morrow for Draper - you're welcome Canada.

Also, the Czech Republic is down 3-0 to Sweden in the 2nd period. Look for a rally for the tie and a rant from Jagr on how nobody wants them to win yet in the end they'll be standing tall - or not.

UPDATE: The Czechs got down 4-0 after 2 periods but clawed back to 4-3 with 5 minutes to go in the third. They'll play the Germans next and will most likely play the loser of Finland/Sweden in the quarterfinals.

The real problem for the NHL 
The biggest problem facing the NHL and players isn't the CBA. It's this problem - as told by Darren Barefoot in a letter to the Canuck's Orca Bay Sports explaining why he wasn't renewing his 11 game pack of tickets:

Last season, I went to 11 games at GM Place. One game, against Colorado, was great. Despite being a 1-1 tie, it was an exciting, wide-open game with plenty of shots (38-28 in Vancouver's favour) and scoring chances. Aebischer had a stellar game, and Jovanovski beat two defenders to score the equalizer in the third.
Five games were mediocre.
Five games were extraordinarily, mind-numbingly dull. Minnesota, San Jose, Chicago, Ottawa and Los Angeles were all appalling examples of the state of the game in the 21st century. Minnesota clutched and grabbed its way to a desultory 1-1 tie, taking a mere 16 shots in the process. Ottawa and Vancouver, their playoff positioning sewed-up, played like figure skaters, avoiding contact and bent on handing the game to each other. I watched most of the games that I didn't attend on TV. At least half of those were miserable, talentless clinics in cautious play, the neutral-zone trap and garbage goals from three feet.
I don't blame the Canucks organization for this. Like Colorado (and it's no coincidence that was the best game I saw all season), they've built a fast-skating team with plenty of skill. The coaching staff has implemented an aggressive forechecking system that ought to be entertaining to watch. However, as in all sports, a good defence beats a good offense, and so I've spent the past few seasons watching the game's best players skate through a mire of stick checks and pulled jerseys. Most of the league has recognized that a decent defensive system and plenty of clutching and grabbing give them a chance to win every night. Furthermore, Orca Bay has treated me very well as a seasons ticket-holder. You run a professional and customer-oriented organization.
I've been a Canucks fan since I was five. I've now reached an age where I can comfortably afford seasons tickets. Why would I buy them, when the quality of entertainment is so shoddy?
Orca Bay Sports has plenty of people waiting to buy my tickets, but I thought I'd pass this on, from an dissatisfied customer.

It's in the election platform. 
I could hardly believe what I was reading on Paul Well's site tonight. The entire entry must be read to appreciate the actions of the current government.

The gist of the issue, if you are too lazy to actually click on the link and spend the 2 minutes, is that Saskatchewan's Lorne Calvert spoke to Wells complaining that little has been done in preparation for the health care meetings in a couple weeks. For instance, Calvert said regarding waiting time reduction that "I’ve not heard a very clear description, if any, about precisely how the national government proposes that we should do that….It’s just lacking." Wells writes that "The PMO told Le Devoir that Martin’s position is clear enough, having been spelled out in the Liberal election platform." Thanks guys.

But now I sit here thinking that it is just too simple to believe that the feds are really that bad. There must be a tactical explanation to all of this - but what?

First to come into my head is the possibility that the Earnscliffes don't want any 2 to 20 year 'fix' of our health care system. A fix in September means the press will talk about other things for the next 10 months instead of health care. Talking about anything other than health care is bad for the Earnscliffes.

Same-sex marriage - the court's reply and the inevitable vote is going to come out in the fall but could more health care talks keep the headlines down a bit?
Environment - the Earnscliffe's haven't had a plan for years - why would they want to start now and give the opposition something to attack
Military, missile defence, Quebec - yeah right.

For each of those issues - should something arise - having ongoing health care talks puts pressure on the opposition to be 'constructive' and not bring down the government. What's the only issue the Earnscliffes would want to run on in an election? - the defenders of health care.

So, the "sit down for as long as it takes" might be meant to take as long as it can. It's the best way for the Earnscliffes to keep control of the PMO.

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