Tales from the northern woods .. sex at the CBC, Don Cherry, Obama, Nanos numbers, Bank of Canada surprise

Jan 23rd, 2015 | By | Category: In Brief


Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day up here in the northern woods, but still cold.  And like others I’m getting a little tired of waiting for the 2015 Canadian federal election campaign to seriously begin.

All the professionals (including those on this website) are saying the campaign has already begun. But if you know anyone who is not a card-carrying junkie you know that’s not true. There are still more than a few Canadians not yet aware there is going to be a federal election this year — and that will continue until when … Labour Day?

So-called fixed election dates (if that’s what we’re having, at last) may seem to make us more like our American brothers and sisters. But someone still has to tell the voters.

In any case, I am finding the most interesting things on the CBC News site lately have virtually nothing to do with federal politics. For some time that has also applied to the CTV site and many other things clearly Canadian (including, sort of, of course, MSNBC in the USA!).  Viz:


(a) Kudos to the lovely Lauren O’Neil from Darcy McQ’s old hometown of Chatham, Ontario for “Instagram takes heat for censoring photo of models with pubic hair.”

Some people object to this scene in a University of Moncton promotional video.

In case you’re thinking that I’m singling Ms O’Neil out for praise just so I can post the Ainsley Hutchence photo with which this report begins (above), you’re wrong. (Well, sort of.)  Ms O’Neil is doing a great job promoting such causes as “This Banned Instagram Photo Exposes the Company’s Sexist Double Standards.” And generally as well.

(b) I don’t want to leave out Ms O’Neil’s worthy CBC Community Blog colleague John Bowman from my deep winter applause. And he does happen to have an excellent current piece as well with “University of Moncton’s kiss promotes student life, say readers.”

Once again, I am not singling Mr Bowman out just so I can post a charming photo of young students kissing in the University of Moncton library stacks. But the mirror ball trophy for best Twitter response to the issue (and the photo) here just has to go to Kate Lake, who is “Just a girl” from “Montreal, PQ.” As she so perhaps honestly puts it : “Thats nothing compared to what I’ve done in university libraries.”

Kate Lake, just a girl from Montreal, PQ, with extensive experience in university libraries.

If you actually want more of this late January cabin fever, when you click on “Read the rest of this page” and/or scroll below you will find further fresh reporting on  (2) THE LATEST FROM ROB FORD’S BRAIN TRUST ; (3) BARACK OBAMA’S STATE OF THE UNION ZINGERS, AND USING DNA TO TRACE MICHELLE OBAMA’S PAST ; (4) NIK’S LATEST NANOS NUMBERS SAY THE HARPER CONS PROBABLY SHOULDN’T WIN ; and (5) WHO’S AFRAID OF THE BANK OF CANADA, OR SOUTHWESTERN ONTARIO IN THE 21ST CENTURY????

Whatever you do, have a great weekend. I’m taking the rest of Friday, January 23 off myself, to go skiing. (Well, that’s not really true. But it’s better than saying I’m going to the University of Moncton library. And that’s not true either. It would be a very long walk. What I’m really going to do is camp out in the basement, and read some books.)


Why am I not surprised that “Don Cherry calls jersey-throwing Leaf fans ‘jerks’ … Hockey Night commentator won’t pile on struggling team” ????

Another dreadful losing streak continues to dampen the spirits of fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press.)

Cherry reserves his sympathy for the coaches and other professional hockey bureaucrats. He was a coach himself once, and he remembers : “You go to bed thinking of it and the family suffers …You get up and it’s a nightmare. At the time I was the highest paid coach at the time and I’d give it all up to win.”

Isn’t that awful, especially when the rest of us have such wonderful jobs where we never have to worry about anything?  The biggest trouble with the Leafs is that the Toronto hockey establishment (which very much includes Don Cherry, of course) just doesn’t really respect the fans and their nightmares. (Like his political master Rob Ford, Don Cherry only pretends to be a populist when he thinks it will work for his own brand of elitism.)

The second biggest problem, I agree with my wife, a longtime Canadiens sympathizer, is probably that the Leaf Nation fans don’t respect themselves. If they did they wouldn’t keep buying ridiculously expensive tickets to see their heroes play. But hey, hope springs eternal in the maple leaf logo — and if they do start winning again, I grew up in this city and I’m not like my wife, in this respect anyway. I will at least watch them on TV, sometimes.


Is this Laureen Harper actually offering Justin Trudeau the Government of Canada, at some recent secret meeting of an Ottawa secret society? No, she is just politely offering him some Twizzlers at a party thrown by the Heritage Minister in the spring of 2010. No doubt nothing quite like this will be happening in 2015?

Perhaps partly because he’s so hated by so many in his homeland, US President Barack Obama is more popular in Canada not just than Conservative PM Stephen Harper, but also than any of Elizabeth May (Green Party), Thomas Mulcair (New Democrats), and even the hoped-for second generation saviour of the once mighty Liberal Party of Canada, Justin Trudeau.

So many Canadians will enjoy “Obama’s top five State of the Union zingers,” according to Aliyah Frumin on the MSNBC site : “I know because I won both of them” ; “Let’s set our sights higher than a single oil pipeline” ;  “Well, I’m not a scientist either” ; “It’s time to try something new” ; and Congress: You try living off the minimum wage.

In engaging here myself I somehow also stumbled across “Using DNA To Trace Michelle Obama’s Past”on the ancestry genealogical site. And it has a fascinating photo of various descendants of the 19th century African American slave Melvinia Shields —  black and white —  who gathered recently in Rex, Georgia, in the greater Atlanta area.

Genealogical research and DNA testing masterminded by journalist Rachel L. Swarns has suggested that Melvinia Shields was the great-great-great grandmother of US first lady Michelle Obama.

Descendants of the African American slave Melvina Shields, black and white, gathered recently in Rex, Georgia. Genealogical research and DNA testing masterminded by journalist Rachel L. Swarns has suggested that Melvina was the great-great-great grandmother of US First Lady Michelle Obama.

I think I’ve got the genealogical point right. Ms Swarns just writes : “The DNA testing indicated that Melvinia’s owner’s son was the likely father of Melvinia’s biracial child, Dolphus Shields. (Dolphus Shields is the first lady’s great-great grandfather.)”

In any case it seems that the first lady’s husband is not the only mixed race American adult in her family. And it also seems likely enough that, one way or another, the majority of people living in the United States (or Canada) today are mixed race too.


The clever thing about the numbers pollster Nik Nanos devises for his CTV website feature is that, for the most part, they never quite tell you what all the other pollsters claim to predict — the shares of the popular vote the parties would get if the election were held today.

Carving the roast on a winter night in Ottawa. Some will not be impressed. Others ...

So on the basis of his weekly numbers it is that much harder to prove Mr Nanos wrong about the results of an election.

The Nanos “Party Power Index,” eg, is “comprised of a basket of political goods that includes ballot preferences, accessible voters, preferred PM views and evaluations of the leaders. It is modeled similar to a standard confidence index.”

If you somehow do understand this, then it may also mean something to you that, as of January 21, 2015, “the federal Liberals are at 57 points out of 100 followed by the Conservatives at 51 points, the NDP at 49 points, the Green Party at 32 points and the BQ at 27 points (QC only).”

Another of the Nanos numbers is more straightforward : “Asked a series of independent questions for each federal party, 58 per cent of Canadians would consider voting Liberal, 46 per cent would consider voting NDP, 43 per cent would consider voting Conservative, and 29 per cent would consider voting for the Greens.”

This statistic also suggests that, of all three major parties, the Conservatives have the least broadly based support among Canadians at large. They still might win the federal election this year (I remain in the October 19 camp myself) — as a result of the particular political arithmetic built into our electoral system in its present incarnation. But this would not be the most democratic or even the fairest result. At the moment, the federal Liberals are the only party that a solid majority of the Canadian people will consider voting for! (And even the New Democrats have somewhat more broadly based support than the Conservatives.)


Eugenie Bouchard smiles as she receives gifts from her supporters after winning over Lauren Davis of the US at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Friday, January 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi.)

Like others I was surprised by “Bank of Canada unexpectedly drops interest rate to deal with ‘oil shock‘” — and the related “Loonie tumbles after Canadian interest rate surprise” and “TSX surges on news of interest rate reduction.”

Was it a good or bad thing for Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz to deal with the impact of falling oil prices, by lowering Canada’s trend setting rate (or “target for the overnight rate” as the Bank says itself), from one per cent to 0.75 per cent this past Wednesday, January 21 — in “a move that blindsided the vast majority of experts”?

Time will tell, as usual. Meanwhile, if you need encouragement try “Interest rate cut may boost job creation, home ownership” and/or “Mortgage rates to decline following rate cut: economists.” (And the expert views of even several economists plus $2.99 will get you bacon and egg on an English muffin at Tim Horton’s — before taxes.)

Meanwhile again, as Governor Poloz was making his announcement, Justin Trudeau’s “Liberal Party of Canada concluded its Winter Caucus meetings in Southwestern Ontario today with a clear message to Canadians: we are building a strong team and plan that prioritizes success for all Canadians.”

The Canadian-born American liberal economist John Kenneth Galbraith (1908–2006) who grew up in the agrarian democratic heartland of Southwestern Ontario, where his father was a Liberal Party activist.

It is intriguing as well, I think, that Trudeau’s economic advisory team includes Mike Moffatt, a professor at Western University’s Ivey Business School — and a “trade expert who also focuses on the economy of southwestern Ontario, likely a key 2015 election battleground.”

In any case I want to end this too-long exercise with a bow to the past. Southwestern Ontario has had recurrent Conservative tendencies for some time now. But it fell for the McGuinty Liberals provincially in 2003 and 2007,  and it is ancient Liberal and old Grit territory — agrarian democratic homeland of the iconoclastic Canadian economic historian and communications theorist, Harold Innis, and the great (Canadian-born) American liberal economist, John Kenneth Galbraith.

In the 19th century Southwestern Ontario was often known as “The Peninsula” —   surrounded as it is by Lakes Erie, Huron, St. Clair, and Georgian Bay and so forth. And the Conservative John A Macdonald once more or less famously told the Montreal Gazette : “The Peninsula must not get command of the ship. It is occupied by Yankees and Covenanters … the most yeasty and unsafe of populations.”

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau en famille.

This is the deep and traditional Southwestern Ontario the Trudeau Liberals ought to want to revive. It is not what it was once, but it is still breathing. It helped Bob Rae’s New Democrats win the 1990 Ontario provincial election. And it liked the McGuinty Liberals in 2003 and 2007. Federally Southwestern Ontario fell for the Harper Conservatives big time in 2011. Can Justin Trudeau win it back into the Liberal fold ? See the Toronto Star feature : “Why Justin Trudeau needs Southwestern Ontario: Walkom … The region has become a wasteland for the Liberals. If Trudeau wants to be prime minister, he’ll have to change that.” And, in the very end, only the hairdressers of such places as Woodstock, St. Thomas, Windsor, Sarnia, Goderich, Wingham, Owen Sound, Wiarton, Stratford, and St. Mary’s will know for sure.

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