Friday, February 13, 2009




I received the following chummy invitation to a forthcoming event to be held on St. Patrick's Day. Unfortunately, I will be unable to attend due to previous commitments at the bar at the Shamrock Hotel. However, some of my loyal and faithful readers may wish to attend. Ticket Details are below:

Here’s the invite as per my call..

Subject: March 17th

Good afternoon - please find attached and below, information regarding the private, invite only, George W. Bush luncheon. Table of 10 is $4000 with an opportunity to also purchase up to 2 VIP passes to a 100 person private reception hosted by the former President. Individual tickets are $400 each.

A Conversation with President George W. Bush
Calgary - Tuesday March 17th 2009 – TELUS Convention Centre
Lunch 12:00pm to 12:45pm
Speech – 12:45pm to 1:15pm
Q&A Session – 1:15pm to 2:00pm

Please let me know if you have any questions,

Jozefina Grabic
Senior Events Coordinator ? Calgary Chamber of Commerce

P: 403-750-0422 ? F: 403-266-3413
100 6th Avenue S.W. ? Calgary, AB ? T2P 0P5




What will they call a Calgary Herald editorial writer after CanWest bites the dust?


What do you call a Calgary Herald editorial writer who has been thrown out of his girlfriend's apartment?


Thursday, February 12, 2009


In Alberta there was a time when people of a different political stripe were pleasant and civilized to one another. They could work together and enjoy each other’s company. Whether it was the workplace or mutual charitable pursuits or interests, politics was only the slightest impediment to normal discourse and communication.

This civilized and democratic behaviour began to disintegrate in Alberta and elsewhere some time ago. I don’t exactly know when, but it seems to me to have originated with the era of conflict infotainment in the media, hard-edged talk shows, and the rise of the neocons. The neocons of course can be traced right back to the Reagan era, and I suppose that’s probably where it all began. In Alberta, this disturbing trend was magnified by the highly partisan Klein era, the rise of the ideological right in the Reform/Alliance rebellion against the old federal Tories, and the very divisive editorial policies of the major print outlets first under Hollinger and now CanWest.

But there are still oases of civilization in the body politic out here. There are still people in Alberta, who although having very divergent views as to what is best for Canadians, can speak to one another with wit, intelligence and respect.

One of those is Ron Wood. I met Ron the first time many years ago when he was a prominent radio newsman and had the misfortune of moderating a political forum that I participated in during one of the federal elections 1979, 1980 or 1984. I’m not sure which one it was exactly. I did run as a Liberal candidate in Calgary North in all three. And no, I didn’t win any of them. I had no idea of Ron’s politics back in those days as he handled his duties with such an even hand he was the epitome of fairness.

Ron had gone to school in Calgary and began his career in the news business there. By the time I met him he had already worked in Ottawa for some time in the Press Gallery, had been news director at a couple of radio stations, and was on his way to becoming an award winning journalist.

In 1990 he went into politics, first working as press secretary to Reform Party leader Preston Manning. He later worked as an executive assistant and communications advisor to opposition leaders John Reynolds and Stephen Harper. Now if that isn’t a conservative pedigree I don’t know what is. When Harper won the big show in 2006, Wood decided he’d had enough. He returned to Calgary and began his career as a damn good writer.

I have just finished reading his first venture into the literary world ‘And God Created Manyberries’ published by Frontenac House in 2007. For those of you unfamiliar with ‘Manyberries,’ it is a very small Hamlet of no more than 100 souls in Forty Mile County very close to the U.S. border about 50 miles south of Medicine Hat at the eastern end of Highway 61.

Wood’s book is a tribute to small town virtues and values. It is a gentle, funny, and at times sentimental work about small town characters, their adventures, and their spouses and secrets. The reader will learn about their town celebrations and listen to their conversations and political and world views. We get to know their pets and, in their dotage, even accompany them on their sad final visit to the vets. We join them on their hunting trips and learn something of the town’s colorful history. We get to meet Three-Eyed Tom and even Four-Eyed Tom, two prominent residents of Manyberries, only one of which is a human being. And we learn much about their civilized drinking habits in their beloved Ranchmen’s Saloon.

‘And God Created Manyberries,’ is written in the down home tradition of Garrison Keillor’s “A Prarie Home Companion’ and Stuart McLean's 'Vinyl Cafe.' The chapters are short and crystal clear snippets of experience and shrewd observation from a great admirer of rural western Canadiana. It is a great read.

Recently, I have had occasion to spend some quality time with Ron. Over good vintages of Oaky Merlot, we trade stories of our experiences, talk politics and talk about writing. Ron is from the old school. He’s candid, honest, civilized and great company – he’s a throwback to the good old days when most everyone was civilized.

Monday, February 09, 2009


Purge? Or Time for Last Rites?

I hear that the once proud Calgary Herald continues its long, tragic, and inevitable nosedive into journalistic history. I was informed today by an impeccable and pristine source that Les Brost’s intelligent and stimulating column will be no more. It is terminated. Finito. Kaput. The editorial page editor, the Contessa Corbella delivered the bad news to Brost within the last day or so.

According to my unimpeachable source, the Contessa advised Brost that the gazillions of debt load heaped on the Herald’s parent company Canwest in the lead up to Izzy’s final curtain has put the rag into “perilous financial shape.” The result, according to the Contessa, is that “most freelancers are being terminated.” Poor Les finds himself among the expendables.

I look forward to testing Corbella’s explanation in the days and weeks ahead to see if Brost is likely being purged for his moderate views. If neocon Bushite trash from the likes of Susan Martinuk, Mark Milke, and G.W. Bush’s former chief speechwriter Michael Gerson continues to soil the editorial page, we can assume that poor Brost has been done in, silenced and muzzled because of his moderate and civilized views.

It will be interesting as well to know what remaining freelancers are being paid. Are they writing courtesy of organizations that can provide free hackers to the rag – such as neocon think tanks whose names you can guess. Is anybody buying access to the opinion pages of a once mighty and honourable newspaper of record now sinking quickly into a sea of ego driven debt?

As for Brost, he’s a classy guy and has accepted his fate with good humor and a positive outlook for the future. He also reads the business news and stock market quotes. This leads him to believe that there is truth to Corbella’s explanation. Canwest and the Herald are on their knees. Alas, Corbella and Herald staffers should probably be dusting off their own resumes.

Anybody want to administer the Last Rites?

Friday, February 06, 2009


Senator Duffy: A Conservative Shill

With No Class

At Christmas time Mike Duffy, the famously corpulent and cherubic, but aging, former television newsman was rewarded for his many years as a Conservative shill. He was one of eighteen Conservative faithful to receive courtesy of their pal the Prime Minister, the crown jewel of Canadian political patronage – an appointment to the Senate of Canada. Among the party hacks, flaks and hangers-on like Duffy, a Senate appointment is a dream come true - the big enchilada of politics - the mother of all cushy political appointments.

And no wonder. Senators make a base salary of $130,400 a year and get extra for serving as committee chairs. The pension is 75% of the Senator’s five best years of salary and is payable after the tender age of 55 and only six years in the Senate. And of course, it is indexed to the cost of living.

And there is more. A Senator gets 64 free return trips a year anywhere in Canada by plane or train and can give away his ticket to someone else to use. If he lives 100 km or more from Ottawa, he can pick up an extra twenty grand a year in expenses. He also has a hundred fifty thou to fix up his new offices, and can hire staff, etc., all courtesy of you and I the loyal and faithful Canadian taxpayer.

Ah, but was Duffy qualified to receive such munificence? Of course he was, and in two very important respects. First of all, his reporting on CTV in recent years so clearly supported his patrons, that alone would have made him a natural selection.

But he is qualified to be a Conservative Senator in another very important way, as evidenced by his rich oratory in his maiden speech delivered in the Red Chamber on Tuesday. After buttering up his patron and offering an assortment of banalities, his blackberry buzzed - a big no, no in the Chamber.

After that gaucherie, Senator Duffy had this to say to his distinguished colleagues of the gravy train: “Honourable Senators, I was disappointed to see that our dynamic young premier in Prince Edward Island, Robert Ghiz, has climbed into bed with the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, and honourable Senators know what a grotesque scene that is. Do honourable Senators know what happens when two politicians climb into bed together? One of them comes out on top and I am afraid that when one is in bed with Danny Williams he will come out on top and I would hate to see where that will leave P.E.I in the end.”

His comments in the Senate were a little tamer than what he said at the P.E.I. Progressive Conservative annual meeting a few days before. At that meeting Duffy, in referring to Ghiz and Williams said, "when two men get into bed together one is going to get the shaft, and I assure you it won't be Danny Williams."

When pressed for an apology the classy Senator only had this to say: "Honourable senators, if the metaphor I used in my speech on Feb. 3 was offensive to some members of this chamber, I withdraw the metaphor."

All of this reminded me of another instance that Duffy revealed something of himself. More than ten years ago he launched a defamation lawsuit against the now-defunct but wonderful publication known as Frank Magazine. During the proceedings he gave testimony that he had been deprived of an Order of Canada appointment because of the things that Frank had written about him. Duffy alleged that his source was Prime Minister Chretien no less. Of course, he was unable to prove his allegation.

And so if shilling for the Conservatives was Duffy’s first qualification to be a Conservative Senator, what was the second qualification? It is the same characteristic possessed by present day Conservatives too numerous too mention. It is what has set people like Gerry Ritz, Myron Thompson, Art Hangar, Stephen Harper, Stockwell Day, John Baird, a host of other Conservatives and now Duffy, apart from distinguished and respectable parliamentarians.

They all – Duffy among them - have no class.

And so, being a Conservative shill and having no class, of course Senator Duffy is qualified to be a Conservative Senator.