Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Briefing notes (2006-09-13)

Lincoln Chafee wins Rhode Island primary. This must no doubt be very upsetting to the religious right, who want to wipe out the last vestiages of liberalism in the Republican Party (the others being Shays, Collins, Snowe, and Specter). But Chafee, the only Republican to vote against the Iraq War, has been a voice of reason in an extremely partisan environment. Despite his Iraq stance, Laura Bush campaigned for him which should have been the nudge over the top. It really wasn't necessary: Chafee easily won by 8 points. In the last week or so, he derailed a vote to make the "recess" appointment of John Bolton as UN Ambassador a Senate-ratified one; and there's probably no new vote scheduled any time soon. This makes the job for Democrats a whole lot harder ... but even Chafee hasn't polled much above 43% lately in a head to head against any opponent. His opponent will be Sheldon Whitehouse -- don't know too much about that candidate, but this will be one heck of a battleground race to watch. I'd still like Whitehouse to win -- but Chafee is still a lot pallitable than Steve Laffey.

Parkdale-High Park byelection gets nasty. With Gerard Kennedy quitting the seat so he could make a run at the federal Liberal leadership, the unofficial start to next year's general election (October 4, 2007) which should have been about local issues such as property taxes and child care has become ... well, it's hard to say what it's become. The other day, the New Democratic candidate, Rev. Cheri DeNovo, was accused of smuggling LSD into Canada when she was much younger, and liking it: "We did it in hollowed out Bibles. It was good stuff, not the crap you kids use today," she was accused of having said. Actually, she was quite upfront about it during a TV interview during the spring. The Liberals' candidate, Sylvia Watson, accused DeNovo of not having the right kind of values to sit in the legislature. In turn, DeNovo accused the Liberals of hypocrisy as George Smitherman, the Health Minister, admitted to a drug addiction during the 1990s only recently. The Liberals then turned around and ridiculed the NDP for saying the media was being unfair to serial killer Karla Homolka, who ended her 12 year sentence last year and was last seen a month ago in Montréal. If I was living in the district, I'd spoil my ballot and fill every circle with the international one finger salute. Making it personal like this does nothing for the people who live there.

Van-Doos mobilizes for Afghanistan -- now. They were supposed to rotate in a few months from now when the contingent from Petawawa moves out, but with NATO geting hammered on a daily basis, about 200 of the Royal 22e Régiment are being shipped out at the end of the month. The 22e are Canada's largest mostly French-speaking military unit, and the war which is already unpopular in Québec is probably going to get a whole lot more so. No doubt they're ready for the job, as they said last night. However, Stephen Harper is clinging on to the ten districts in the province that put him into minority government back in January; and the question must be asked is if he is willing to sacrifice his gains in hopes of shoving out the remaining Liberals and NDPers out West -- making the Prairies and Rockies solid blue. I for one think he's taking a massive risk here. If even one of the Van Doos falls victim to a bomb or shrapnel, he could lose the support of the Bloc Québécois, and that means a snap election. We need the Liberals back in Ottawa, but not before the convention is held.

Post lockout NHL goes contract crazy. The whole point of the floor to ceiling salary cap, which the owners fought so hard for, was to ensure small and middle market teams had a fighting chance against the big guys -- and June's terrific final between Edmonton and Raleigh would not have been possible if the players had finally cried uncle. More likely it would have something like Philadelphia versus Dallas: Boring. Yesterday, two developments happened that could make the whole salary cap a mockery. First, Rick DiPietro, a goaltender, signed a fifteen year contract with the New York Islanders for nearly $68 million dollars. No goalie, far as I know, has ever signed on for that long. But that was small potatoes when Philadelphia extended an "offer sheet" to a restricted free agent from Vancouver, Ryan Kesler. He earned the minimum salary last year -- $564,000. Philly is offering a one year contract for $1.9 million. Vancouver must either match the offer to keep Kesler, or it gets Philly's second round draft choice next year if they let him go. Either way, Kesler gets a pay hike of 237%. Now, tell me where in the real world someone gets a pay raise that high, and I'll apply for the job. Athletes are greedy fools, and their agents a hundred times worse. The game may be more exciting and meaningful to watch (sorry, Don Cherry) but the financials are out the toilet, and we'll be back to where we were when the collective agreement expires a few years down the road.

Those are my thoughts for today. As for the Parents TV Council, their "best and worst" list is late -- for the second year in a row.

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