Saturday, November 11, 2023
Sunday, October 15, 2023
Hamas has been designated as a terrorist group in Canada. They group opposes the legitimacy of Israel and any two state solution. They are Islamist and aim to push Jews and any other group out of the region. A former Hamas leader has called for a world jihad this week. Others have said prior their aims don't stop at Israel. One thing has been clear, Hamas is not interested in any negotiation. Their goal is the destruction of Jews according to their own words.
Inside the Gaza Strip, Hamas controls the territory after Fatah lost elections some years ago. Fatah remains as representative in the West Bank. The two factions are rivals for power in the region with different allies in the Arab and Muslim worlds. Since Hamas is not committed to the two state solution and supports violent expulsion of the Jews, Israel has walled off the very dense Gaza Strip. Egypt has done the same. And the air and the sea are blockaded to prevent arms shipments. Nevertheless, Gaza smuggles in weapons and rockets and continues to attack Israel to force them out.
In the days prior to the attack, it appeared Saudi Arabia and Israel might formalize some sort of relationship. This has a lot to with Iran which which many Arab countries feel is a threat to everyone. This still might happen but very likely everything is on hold while fighting still goes on. Israel has made progress with some of the big players in the Arab world but has stalled on the Palestinian front largely due to Hamas.
To be sure Netanyahu seems to have given up on the two state approach and has tried to blunt his critics in Israel and elsewhere. He has also continued to push settlements in the Golan Heights and West Bank. Support for his policies and for Netanyahu personally is sharply divided due to changes being made to the courts, corruption charges and security as it pertains to the region. Building houses in the West Bank has been contentious even for Israelis. It inflames already volatile feelings even more.
Blaming Israel for the attack from Gaza ignores the fact that there have been no Israeli settlements there for 20 years and that Hamas refuses to negotiate a two state settlement. Even those with sympathies for Palestinians have offered no solutions that don't involve the elimination of the Jews in Israel. And by elimination, Hamas has been explicit that it is extermination.
As for Canada, governments at all levels have to ensure security and safety. Violence here and exported from here cannot be tolerated. This applies to India, Israel or anywhere else where there is a hotspot. Freedom of speech is permissible but not when it becomes hate speech, incitement, calls for violence or raising money/arms for terror.
It is difficult to say what is to come in the next days and weeks. Canada's duty is to assist Canadians and permanent residents getting back home as best they can. That includes helping those who lost loved ones and need assistance in their time of grief. There may be refugees in the next while. It wouldn't be the first time bad people have tried to sneak in. We have had our fill of Nazis, warlords, terrorists and criminals try to come to Canada and some have succeeded. It is best we prepare now because often we are two steps behind as we have been in several recent conflicts.
We cannot tolerate militants using Canada as a safe base to attack their enemies in Canada and abroad. We have seen this from Irish as well as Indians in Canada supporting and carrying out terrorist attacks over the years. India certainly seems to think that Canada gives comfort to those who would commit violence. It may be why they are suspected in the extra judicial assassination of a Sikh Canadian. While free speech is permissible, fundraising for insurrection, incitements to violence and other violations can't be allowed to happen.
And as people protest, it is worthwhile to remember that if people are calling for peace and are peaceful, they should be left alone. And if they support one side over the other peacefully, they also should be left alone. Either might think the other side is hopefully naïve and misguided but non-violent demonstrations are part of the national discussion. Those who wish to do harm to one or the other have no right in Canada and should be dealt with.
Tough days ahead are likely. Lashing out at normal citizens because of their nationality, religion or ethnicity is uncalled for. Try to be kind to those who are hurting and fearful of family and friends caught in this. Do what you can to keep your neighbours and community safe. That should be a rule of thumb at any time. Work to create peace whenever you can.
Tuesday, October 10, 2023
The complete collapse of the PCs in the election could be attributed to so many conservatives stepping down earlier, the difficulties in generating momentum for a third majority and the policies needed for it. A winning campaign was just not what ended up happening. It kept going more negative and evidence in Canada has shown over the decades that there is not nearly the taste for it here.
Some of the ads featuring past brushes with crime or unsavoury aspects of an NDP candidate probably did as much harm to Tories if not more. After a number of elections already, past behaviour of Wab Kinew has been part of the calculus of how people have voted already. It can be fair to ask to ask about the background of candidates but the electorate are more likely to assess on the most recent years for suitability if they have held office for a while. In other words, the attack on Kinew's background during an election likely drew more cynicism and probably was regarded as a distraction from the policy record of the government over seven years.
The amount of cabinet ministers who went down to defeat and the near defeat of Stefanson in her own riding is likely to have repercussions on the direction of the party. Future and past leadership candidates are indicating early that they are not interested in the job. Some Tories lost their seats so running again for leadership might mean sitting on the sidelines unless one of their own steps aside for byelection.
In any event, Progressive Conservatives and Liberals will have at least four years of re-building ahead. Traditionally, Manitobans give a new government two terms so new leaders can expect to be in opposition up to 8 years. Certainly Kinew spent years in opposition himself before winning a majority. Such time allows for the leader and party to develop a strategy to win and govern. However, you can just as easily say that the electorate just gets tired of the governing party after two two terms and voters defeat governments rather electing governments. That is not to say the NDP or any new government doesn't have a mandate but it is worth considering how deep the support really is. On other words, a controversial agenda might sink a new government.
Expectations are high based on promises made by Kinew in the election. There may be some wiggle room such as when Gary Doer said the electorate could defeat the government if they did not fulfill their emissions promises. They didn't and Doer didn't take it to a vote but stepped down to let Greg Selinger lead his party to defeat. Voters will likely measure the new government in health outcomes, crime reduction and economic markers. There will be a honeymoon period but not an everlasting fountain of good will.
The instinct to concentrate power in the premier's office will be strong. Kinew has already said that the cabinet will be smaller. This is wise if only for the reason that parceling off responsibilities will dilute cabinet and the effectiveness of ministers. There are a lot of new people coming aboard. Most will have a tough time even knowing how to be a MLA and where the washrooms are in first months. Still, this is no excuse for taking all power and decision-making into the premier's office.
It would be wise to strengthen the committees of the Legislature which have been extremely limited in recent years. It is one way to assess worthy cabinet appointees sometime later and a better way to suss out issues and sort out policies in a bipartisan format. It is a big mistake to have a caucus of 34 where the majority don't have anything to do.
The NDP and Wab Kinew have some room to maneuver as the other two parties begin a slow rebuild. It will be the public and expectations that will be a challenge even if the opposition in the house is blunted and smaller. It is hard to know what unexpected things can happen such as a deep recession, fire or flood or societal breakdown. It will be important to have competent people in place and a plan. There will be little patience for scandal or sub-standard performance.
Sunday, October 1, 2023
Saturday, September 30, 2023
TV stations, as we saw in the last civic election, can grow impatient and call and election so they can resume regular programming. And get it wrong.
The election has not suffered from a lack of debate. No matter what happens, the result will likely be something different in that the first elected premier will be a woman or indigenous man. And possibly a return to party status for the Liberals. It it is probable that two of those those things will not happen.
There are only so many competitive ridings of the 57 in Manitoba. Some are stalwart Progressive Conservative or NDP seats. Maybe only one can be said to be a steady Liberal seat in River Heights. This leaves suburban seats in Winnipeg as the focus of much attention as they have histories of voting different parties.
In this election the Progressive Conservatives have a new leader as premier in Heather Stefanson. It is her first election after serving in cabinet including as health minister. Wab Kinew is a veteran in the house after building the NDP back up after the leadership of Greg Selinger. The Liberals also have a veteran leader in Dougald Lamont who won his seat in the former NDP leader Greg Selinger's riding in St. Boniface.
In recent decades, the attention on politics has been solidly on the leaders although no one directly votes for the leaders, they only vote for their MLA which may or may not be the leader. Local candidates can matter but aside from door to door, there are not a lot of ways to get noticed as not too many local debates are available nor profiles in community news papers which are rapidly disappearing. Podcasts is the only way I generally hear anything that is about individual candidates. Otherwise, I read their campaign websites.
Lots of MLAs/ministers stepped down this year so no matter what there will be a lot of new faces. And given the amount of promises made in the election there will also be a different direction that the province is going, presumably. It is worth noting that all of this is dependent on the economy. A recession could change all those tax cuts and program spending.
Some late polls have indicated a NDP lead. The lack of any Liberal or Green candidate in some ridings will make it harder for PCs to win in close ridings that they won in squeakers last time. The lack of incumbents in many PC ridings means more campaigning at home rather than helping other candidates as has happened in the past. As for the NDP, they have made direct appeals to past Liberal voters to vote for them to defeat the PCs. If the polls are any indication, it might be working. However, it will be hard to beat the Liberals in the three ridings they already hold.
Tuesday, October 3 is official election day. Voter turnout and which party motivates their voters could be a factor. Campaigns do matter and over the course of the election, momentum might have moved the electorate, especially in Winnipeg.
We'll find out soon enough how it turns out.
Thursday, September 21, 2023
Any chance of turning it into housing, boutique hotel or anything is gone. It will be a parking lot. And so it goes with any downtown building. It is always a rush to turn the spot into parking. Given the continued slow return to work downtown, the question has to be asked: parking for whom?
The fire department has said a record 100 vacant building's have burned down so far in 2023. The cause listed is arson. Many occupied buildings have had arsons as well. Even as the provincial election continues through to the vote October 3, there does not seem to be a concerted effort as there was in the 1990s to eliminate the threat. Moreover, the painfully slow process to remove rubble only grows with every fire.
Drug deaths are soaring and the desperation of addicts for shelter, money and resultant impulse control is seeing violent crime and property crime increase. Winnipeg is not unique in this. News from all over North America has reports of the harm that opiates in particular have wrought. The potency and overdoses keep going up and available law enforcement, health and addiction services are strained.
While we have not heard a definitive answer on what caused the fire, the officials on site seemed to lean towards arson. The Windsor Hotel will not be the last place building to end in fire. However, if there isn't a concerted effort to reduce arson, insurance companies could look at not insuring certain areas as we saw in the 1990s. Even now with a summer of fire in the forests, some insurance companies are evaluating the risks of their policies.
As the weather grows colder, the fear of more fires has to be in the minds of emergency services. If the bulk of the fires are limited to a few people, let's hope they are identified and removed as a risk factor for buildings and people.
Sunday, September 17, 2023
Sunday, August 27, 2023
Monday, July 10, 2023
Monday, July 3, 2023
Canada Day has been an evolving thing. Formerly, Dominion Day, it didn't even have federal supports for any celebrating until 1958 and only in Ottawa with a paltry amount of money. Canada had a coming out party in 1967 when it hosted Expo in Montreal but the name Canada Day didn't even become official until 1982 and with a great deal of controversy. Even the national anthem did not become official until 1980 and subsequently, has had word changes as part of its evolution. Canadians were calling it Canada Day unofficially since the 1970s.
The traditionalists in support of Dominion Day in name didn't really conceive of what a celebration it would become in practice. Parliament was usually in session July 1 and the first funded event had to require the prime minister to ensure his cabinet were ordered to attend rather than work. Less than ten years later, you couldn't hold Canadians back, they wanted a day to celebrate.
Friday, June 30, 2023
Prairie Public began in 1975 in Manitoba beamed in from North Dakota. I have written about the impact it has had on the province and what impact Manitoba has had an Prairie Public. The evening fare on a weekend of Prairie Public is a reflection of the strong influence of Manitoba viewers. Don't believe it? Then contrast Detroit Public TV which is also on cable with Prairie Public. Saturday might comedies from Britain don't appear on Detroit despite the large Canadian viewership. Prairie Public also has a Canadian charitable tax status which is not available for all those in Canada who donate.
My parents loved to watch the comedies on Saturday and if Jets were not playing on Hockey Night in Canada, a frequent occurrence, they'd watch Keeping Up Appearance, Yes, Minister? or Are You Being Served? There were others over the years such as Vicar of Dibley, As Time Goes By and, of course, Fawlty Towers. I ended up watching a lot of it with them if there was a stinker of a game and with the Leafs on, for many decades, it was always a possibility.
Sundays were for Masterpiece which started in 1971 in the States and in Winnipeg, we first started getting it in 1975. It was mostly classics TV from the Brits that showed but eventually, Masterpiece Mystery came to the fore. The Colin Dexter series of Inspector Morse mysteries was now more than decade old in print and in 1987 it about to be introduced to the UK and the world on screen.
John Thaw was cast as Morse. He was no stranger to the Brits playing a cop. Most in Canada didn't see him in his other shows but he was an experienced hand and fit the role of Inspector Morse like a glove. Compared to the book, they went with a younger man to play Sergeant Lewis. Their two styles of policing very different but their teamwork often needed to get the case right.
The music by Barrington Pheloung was classic and started off with Morse Code before it sweetly played over the beginning and end credits in a way that tugged at the heart. And then there was Oxford in all its glory. And let's not forget Morse's car. So in 1987, on that first Sunday I was able to watch with my parents who were now paying members of Prairie Public. I was still living at home and attending University of Winnipeg. Sunday shopping started that year so I was done by 6 and Sunday evenings were all the major networks with their movie nights. My parents usually watched Murder, She Wrote in 1987 on Sunday.
I was hooked on Morse from the moment I saw it and watched its first season with appreciation in January of that year. I had seen Sherlock Holmes in 1984 when it was ran on CBC and PBS in North America till 1994. I had a stuffed dog named Sherlock as a child so my interest in mystery came naturally. Many mystery shows in North America is that year ranged from gentle fare of Matlock and Murder, She Wrote. I was ready for an Inspector Morse that had many twists and turns as well as an acerbic investigator.
I was able to watch three seasons of Morse and adored it but from 1989 on I was in Japan. Had to catch up on past episodes only when I returned in 1992 (along with past episodes of Sherlock Holmes). More often than not, I'd watch with my mom and dad. It was sad when it came to an end, especially the end in 2000 but there was some comfort that six years later, Inspector Lewis would have a series of his own. I could have done without the wait but it was another super series with a Kevin Whatley reprising his role as Lewis.
Lewis was exceptional in showing what a partnership of detectives could do in solving mysteries in Oxford. Making Lewis a widow and having to impress the boss all over again became part a very human development in character. As well as having a partner in Hathaway who takes the intellectual role that Morse had in the original series. The series lasted into 2015 when the main actors decided they had taken the show as far as they could take it. In Whatley's case, 30 years.
While Inspector Lewis was on, PBS went ahead with another spin off series called Endeavour that was set in 1965 and on with a young Morse joining the force and being partnered with a senior detective in Oxford. A brilliant paring of Shaun Evans and Roger Allam and a great ensemble captured the times, look and feel of the era and showed Oxford in a whole new way. The first shows started in 2012 and I watched with my parents if I was able to drop by. By mid-run of the show my parents started began having health problem, including memory problems, and Endeavour became harder to follow although they tried. They passed away before this year's final episode. I can't help think they would be watching if they could.
The show's 36 years and how it showed the UK was among several reasons why my parents travelled there in retirement. I often wonder what they would have thought as the last show wraps this weekend. I know it will be a lot of good memories over the decades and I will miss show and what it brought to mystery on Sunday nights on PBS.
Sunday, June 25, 2023
The new location appears to be larger than Kenaston and Regent. Those were built to a standard 150,000+ square feet. Same size as what is in Fargo, North Dakota. I found no records they ever expanded beyond original building. The first two Costcos at St. James/Polo Park and Regent were built in 1990 and 1992. The third at Kenaston came, as mentioned, in 1992. The first Walmarts in Canada came in 1994 when Woolco was taken over by the big U.S. chain. It would take another six years or so for Walmarts to move to better locations. The original Costco in Burnaby, B.C. came in 1985 and this head start over other U.S. retailer gave it a strong advantage. The largest Costco in Canada is the recently completely one in St. John's at 182,000 square feet. That's pretty big but there largest in the States is 230,000 square feet.
Sunday, June 18, 2023
Friday, June 16, 2023
This was not the only bloodletting. Bell shut down foreign bureaus, fired senior reporters and unified the news room for all radio and TV stations across the country. London and Los Angeles bureaus are shut down, Washington Bureau majorly cut. Ottawa Bureau Chief Joyce Napier, chief international correspondent Paul Workman, senior political correspondent Glen McGregor and London news correspondent Danielle Hamandjian and Los Angeles Bureau Chief Tom Walters were all fired.
The loss of CFRW will generally only be felt by those with nostalgia. The comedy format on the AM dial was not compelling enough for audiences. However, back in the day CFRW, CKY, CKRC and CJOB battled it out. Eventually CFRW and CKY led a multi-year battle for top 40 radio listeners through the 1970s and 1980s. I was partial to CFRW myself but would flip back and forth between CKY and CFRW in the case. The yellow CFRW offices on Main Street were recognizable there for years. In recent years they have been on Pembina Highway with sister stations Virgin 103 and Bounce 99.
The growing strength of FM music station eventually led to format changes or stages where AM players moved to the FM dial. CKY was one station that jumped to GM and changed formats. CBC carries a signal on both and FM. CJOB remains the one large holdout.
In recent news, it has been announced that new cars will not have AM stations anymore. Only FM and HD Radio will be automatic (although many cars also have Sirius XM built in). and It seems the writing is on the wall is for AM and makes you wonder when CJOB will move to FM. Stations with only an AM signal will lose audience for every new car that goes on the road. There are no HD Radio channels in Manitoba presently. For those who see it on their new cars, it is a curiosity unless they have travelled to the United States recently. Then a station will pop up and say HD radio and can have at least three other stations off the same signal. Public radio in the U.S. seems to have taken advantage of this quite well where they will have their main signal but run classical music and other fare on the other channels. A top 40 radio station might have sub-channels of Spanish or oldies. There are a number of other provinces that have dipped their toes into this. Quebec Radio-Canada channels seems to have caught on with it. Might we see this in Manitoba?
The big concern is the combined newsroom Bell Media is talking about. Does it mean a Toronto anchor for local broadcasts in Winnipeg? Or do local news broadcasts just stop because local stations are closed and we only get a Toronto broadcast? What we do know is that CTV National news is going to be less international, less experienced and less unique in what it broadcasts. The answer for revenue is one news group for all platforms with the goal of increasing profits. But to what end? Is a sale to a U.S. hedge fund for the whole company in the works? To create the circumstances for a Rogers/Bell merger? What? Is the answer one big giant company for all of Canada for media?
In the mean time, we can reflect on the end of a 60 year old radio station in CFRW that is gone. If Canada is about to approach 40 million people, how is it that we can support less local media?
Saturday, June 10, 2023
It was in 1984 that USA Today's began to show up in Winnipeg. Unlike the U.S., it cost 50 cents. Canada got the U.S. version rather than the newly developed international version. Eventually USA Today boxes that looked different from any other news box arrived in the city. In various parts of the downtown and even in neighbourhoods like River Heights, the USA boxes shaped like TV stands appeared, usually by bus stops.
It would be wrong to call it the great era of newspapers in Winnipeg as each era has had great and sometimes terrible moments. The historical start of Winnipeg had many scrappy English and non-English newspapers covering the region and beyond. The 1970s had an epic battle between the The Winnipeg Free Press and the Winnipeg Tribune with many innovations for subscribers. Sadly, that ended when the Tribune closed in 1980.
Luckily, Winnipeg only went a number of months before a number of local business people and former writers of the Tribune got together to start the Winnipeg Sun. While tabloid in format, it was local and distinguishable from Sun counterparts for nearly 20 years. The sports department was excellent and the yellow news boxes were easily recognizable. From 1980 on there were often four or five news boxes on prominent corners. Local, national and international. And a good book store or new store might have copies of everything from New York Times to the Calgary Herald. It was a heyday for print media.
And why not? There was no Internet and print was the best way to report news and make money from advertising. Our family at one point sometimes had four newspapers in the house. With no Sunday shopping till the late 1980s, a weekend paper would stretch over two days. The Sun eventually added a Sunday paper and people took a section each to read whether it was local, sports, comics or opinion.
USA Today had a Friday, Saturday and Sunday version that I'd pick up. The price of 50 cents a day was too rich for me but a weekend paper often had special sections. Their "Labor" weekend paper was usually something we picked up when down in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The early 1980s Columbia Mall had 71 stores along with Target, JCPenney and Dayton's. Prior to the 1978 opening of Columbia, our family had made a few trips to Fargo, North Dakota for the 1972 built West Acres Mall. Often it was just a day trip from Grand Forks where we'd have our hotel. In Grand Forks, as young kids I remember shopping in downtown Grand Forks.
By 1984, we mostly stayed only in Grand Forks at the Westward Ho. And we always picked up a Grand Forks Herald and a USA Today. The Sunday Herald was thick with ads that we perused before shopping. The USA Today on Labor Day would feature the upcoming TV season. I had occasionally bought TV Guide's Fall Preview but found it less satisfactory than reading USA Today. Our family was fairly well informed about what might be good in the coming season. A lot it was revealed in the TV listings of both Free Press and Sun. But USA Today compared and contrasted the offerings and got me excited about shows I might like.
USA Today also ran special sections for baseball and the NFL that were popular. I'd liked the graphics for the various shuttle missions. The most impressive thing that often attracted the eye was the full page weather map. I contend that more geography and sense of America came from looking at the 50 state weather map than what appeared in any national media or in education. It also listed much of the world fairly well.
I loved the USA Today logo. The new one since 2012 feels more washed out and even years later I'm still not used to it. Truth is, since the pandemic, I have only been to the States once since 2019 and that was this spring. One thing had changed and that is, it isn't easy to find print newspapers of any kind. Where they used to be at every gas station or news boxes outside restaurants, these things have gone missing. And hotels used to have newspapers at front desk for free or dropped by your room. I still see newspapers at some Winnipeg hotels but not once in 2023 south of the border.
Perhaps the assumption is that people will get all their information and news online. However, the roaming charges for Canadians makes use of a cellphone prohibitive except when using WIFI. The good news is that WIFI is far more available than it was prior to the pandemic. But I'll be honest. I don't like reading newspapers or magazines very much on a cellphone. As such, I sought out USA Today and found it hard to find a print copy. I had to do a search about retailers who sold it. Some grocers and gas stations. But far less than a few years ago. And far less copies!
Contrast that to Winnipeg where there are quite a few Saturday papers at most 7/11s and grocers. And a good supply any other time they print during the week. The digital wave is only a part of the assault on news. Polarization means that many people stick to their silos when it comes to news and media. USA Today has some editorial and opinion content that is ranked left of centre but there is enough to appeal to many with sports, weather and entertainment as well as news stories from across the United States.
I hope papers like USA Today survive in print. We have seen books and records make comebacks in part because people have preferred the format instead of a digital option. The newspaper once called McPaper has been far more resilient, colourful and national than than the regional fare that came before it but it wasn't really meant to replace your local paper. The national scope of the newspaper was what made it different and special. Here's to many more years of USA Today.
Tuesday, May 30, 2023
Sunday, May 28, 2023
There is meaning behind both day although a lot of it seems lost in the rush to get to campground or beach.
Given geography, it might have been better for each country to exchange the week. Canada’s May 24 is often three different weather events over three days from snow, rain to sun. A week later might at least drop the snow part.
As for the U.S., they seem to have a lot of severe late May weather. Still, the general feeling is that the weekends are the kick off of summer as school age kids have that last weekend before most end school in the weeks ahead.
Travel is usually required. And barbecue and family often a must. As my dad was a teacher, the Victoria Day weekend was a getaway to either Grand Forks or Fargo. We didn’t get as far as Minneapolis except when travelling in the longer summer break.
Others in Manitoba took the time to officially open the cottage if it hadn’t been open already. As mentioned the weeks leading up to the May Long could be fabulous or terrible. A cottage weekend on Victoria could be three days of cold rain playing cribbage, trivial pursuit or puzzles. High speed, cable and satellite are more recent cottage attractions. Still, not every cottage is so equipped.
In Winnipeg, those remaining in the city made a sci-fi weekend a main attraction. And it should be pointed out that not everyone travels. For university and college students, it is a busy work weekend.
However, for our family, it was a chance to be in a pool, shop at stores not yet arrived in Canada and watch more TV channels and programs than we thought possible.
For Canadians, the Memorial weekend in the States meant the kick off the Hollywood blockbuster from the mid 1970s on. This weekend, of course, is Disney with a live version of The Little Mermaid.
But it also means seeing channels with Memorial Day programming. This means movies about war, many WWII movies. The second war is as important to Canada as it is to the States and Hollywood made a few films with Canadian angles. However, we did not have the industry then that we do today. Nor do we do nearly enough Canadian stories for the big screen. Blackberry this past month in the first in a long while that we have seen.
Still, the two weekends represent family, friendship and a chance to do something we don’t do nearly enough, get together and share something in common.