April 14, 2014

Queen’s student goes looking for racism, doesn’t find it, declares it’s happening anyway

Filed under: Cancon, Politics, Religion — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:44

Your source of all sorts of odd news, the Daily Mail has this little gem from up the lake in Kingston, Ontario:

A Canadian college student recently conducted a social experiment to see if people treated her differently if she wore a hijab — a traditional Muslim veil that covers a woman’s head and chest — and what she discovered was a bit unexpected.

Anisa Rawhani, a third-year student at Queens University in Ontario, wore the traditional Muslim garb for 18 days in January as she worked at the university’s library, visited stores and restaurants near the campus and as she did volunteer work with local children.

According to Rawhani — who conducted the experiment to see if people in her community were racist towards minority groups — she noticed that people actually treated her more kindly and with more respect than when she didn’t wear the hijab.

Rawhani, who is not Muslim, wrote about her experience wearing traditional Muslim clothing in the March edition of the Queen’s Journal, where she works as a copy editor — the article is titled ‘Overt to Covert.’

Fortunately, as the Queen’s Journal account makes clear, she was able to get a clear explanation of the phenomenon from a professor:

Leandre Fabrigar, an associate professor in the department of psychology at Queen’s, cited “impression management” as a possible explanation for my experience.

He explained that often individuals who harbour biases, but fear social disapproval, will publicly act respectfully towards minorities. “Impression management is when [someone] very strategically, and usually quite deliberatively, tries to manage the impressions that others have of [them],” he said.

Impression management is focused on manipulating others’ perception of the self, but there are more genuine reasons why someone would be kinder towards minorities. Fabrigar said that sometimes individuals realize that they harbour biases, or other unwanted influences on their behaviour. Then, when interacting with members of minority groups, they experience an internal conflict between their negative biases and the egalitarian values that they believe in.

So the fact that Rawhani didn’t encounter overt forms of discrimination actually proves that the people she was interacting with in her Islamic disguise are hugely bigoted, hate-filled wretches who just don’t want to show it. Cool, got it, thanks.

April 10, 2014

New poll shows PCs leading Liberals in Ontario

Filed under: Cancon, Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:46

As always with polls, take a big pinch of salt before you take them too seriously:

A new poll suggests Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives have taken the lead in popular support over the Liberals in the wake of the gas plant scandal, according to a published report.

A Forum Research poll conducted for the Toronto Star suggests Tim Hudak’s Tories have 38 per cent of support, versus 31 per cent for the Liberals. Andrea Howarth’s New Democrats are at 23 per cent.

Two weeks ago, Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals led with 35 per cent of support, while the Tories were at 32 per cent and the NDP at 25 per cent.

The surge is attributed mainly to the simmering gas plants scandal.

“It’s almost all due to the scandal over the deletion of those emails concerning the gas plants,” Forum president Lorne Bozinoff told 680News.

The poll also reveals that 45 per cent of those surveyed believe Wynne knew about the alleged deleting of emails related to the gas plants.

It also found that 47 per cent believe she ordered deletions.

“We did ask was the premier aware — a lot of people believe the premier was aware,” Bozinoff said.

“We also asked if people think a crime has been committed and a lot of people also think a crime has been committed.”

Of course, as long as Horwath’s NDP continue to prop up the Liberals, there won’t be a provincial election … and I doubt Horwath sees much chance of improvement over the current poll numbers. The only way the Ontario NDP will topple the government is if the scandal gets worse: the NDP can get more of their agenda passed by the Liberals than they could in a Conservative legislature, but the NDP can’t afford to look as though they’re in any way complicit in covering up wrongdoing — that would offend their base even more than it would offend undecided voters.

Update: This is one of the reasons you need to take poll numbers with a degree of skepticism:

March 28, 2014

McGuinty staffer alleged to have wiped key computer hard drives

Filed under: Cancon — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:43

I’m sure there’s a perfectly simple, non-suspicious reason for the outgoing chief of staff of a provincial premier to arrange a non-government employee having access to key computers at a change of administration… because otherwise this would look particularly bad:

The Kathleen Wynne minority government went into serious damage control mode after the release of an OPP warrant which alleges criminal behaviour in the office of the premier.

The explosive document, made public by a judge Thursday but not proven in court, alleges a former chief of staff for ex-premier Dalton McGuinty committed a criminal breach of trust by arranging for another staffer’s techie boyfriend to access 24 desktop computers in the premier’s office as Wynne took over the reins in 2013.

A committee investigating the Ontario Liberals’ cancellation of gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga, at a loss of up to $1.1 billion, had already ordered the government to turn over all records related to that decision.

Wynne said the allegations, if true, are “disturbing” but she was not aware of and would not have condoned such activity.

“I was not in charge of the former chief of staff, I did not direct the former chief of staff, I did not direct anyone in my office to destroy information, nor would I ever do that,” Wynne said. “And, in fact, we have changed the rules about the retention of information.”

OPP investigators probing the alleged illegal deletion of e-mails executed a search warrant last month on a Mississauga data storage facility used by the Ontario government.

March 12, 2014

The unheard-of withdrawal of a corporate welfare request

Filed under: Business, Cancon, Government, Politics — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:28

A strange thing happened in Ontario last week:

A major corporation, Chrysler, withdrew its request for federal and provincial subsidies for a multibillion-dollar revamp of its assembly plants in Windsor and Brampton. Decrying the fact that its request had become a “political football,” Chrysler said it would fund “out of its own resources whatever capital requirements the Canadian operations require.” How about that! A capitalist firm acting like a capitalist firm.

The reason this is so strange is, of course, that capitalist firms haven’t behaved this way in a long time. Instead, they impress upon governments the importance of what they’re doing in terms of jobs, innovation, economic growth, research and development and then not so subtly threaten to take their investments elsewhere if the governments don’t come across with generous financial assistance. It’s a genteel and widely accepted form of extortion, but extortion is what it is and it seems Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak’s having called it that is what Chrysler is referring to in saying the issue has now become a political football. If that’s true, then good for Hudak. He’s already saved the province a couple of hundred million dollars even before becoming premier.

Chrysler’s decision is also strange in light of the tough-guy lecture its Canadian-raised CEO, Sergio Marchionne, gave our governments just a few weeks ago at the opening of an auto show in Toronto. Canada is “like a guppy playing in shark-infested waters,” he said. The car business “is not a game for the faint-hearted. It takes resolve, and it takes cash.”

March 6, 2014

Ontario wineries facing severe losses to the vines this winter

Filed under: Business, Cancon, Wine — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:20

In Decanter, Carolyn Evans Hammond says two of Ontario’s three wine-producing regions are experiencing damage to the vines as this long, cold winter continues:

Freezing temperatures across Ontario have damaged vines in the Canadian province’s vineyards, with some producers reporting bud loss of around 90%.
Niagara Peninsula Sub-Appellations
Producers in two of Ontario’s three wine appellations are already facing a smaller 2014 harvest after reporting severe bud loss in the past few weeks.

‘Our winery has 95 to 98% bud loss, so we won’t be getting grapes this year,’ says Tom O’Brien, owner of Cooper’s Hawk Vineyards in Lake Erie North Shore.

That appellation shows the most damage, with an average bud loss of 86 to 90% across all varieties, according to Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI).

Meanwhile, average bud loss in Niagara Peninsula ranges from 34% for Pinot Noir to 66% for Syrah, according to CCOVI with Chardonnay, Riesling and Cabernet Franc faring better than Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot.

Due to the normally colder winters in Prince Edward County, most wineries bury the vines until spring, so the damage in that region will not be as bad as Lake Erie North Shore or Niagara/Beamsville.

February 12, 2014

The Beer Store’s pre-emptive strike against a competitive market in Ontario

Filed under: Business, Cancon, Government, Law — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 11:22

Yesterday I got a robo-call from someone representing The Beer Store (what used to be known as the Brewer’s Retail … for my American readers, think of your local DMV crossed with a Cold War-era Soviet department store). The call was to alert me to the possibility that the Ontario government might do something to destroy the worker’s paradise we live in today and allow the total anarchy of private sales of beer, wine, and liquor. I was invited to take part in some sort of “town hall” meeting where all the interested parties would be represented … if you consider only those who are afraid of this change being introduced as being all of the interested parties.

As we all know, the Ontario government isn’t comfortable with the idea of letting go of their own vast-profit-generating booze sales machine (the LCBO), and I doubt that the current Premier and her party are actually going to break the foreign-owned oligopoly that currently controls the sale of beer in the province. In spite of that, the Beer Store and their “stakeholders” are mounting a rather hysterical counter-offensive to preserve the current status quo. As Colby Cosh points out, their success or failure will probably hinge on keeping Ontarians innocent of how a non-monopolized market works in other jurisdictions … particularly in Alberta:

It is encouraging to see so much ridicule being flung at the Beer Store’s “study” defending its role in the Soviet-flavoured Ontario liquor retailing system. The effectiveness of the Beer Store’s white paper depends on its Ontario audience knowing no practical details of freer retail schemes, particularly Alberta’s: yet, by an amusing paradox, the ur-source for the report appears to be Alberta. No one was willing to attach his name to the report itself, but it comes with a foreword by the Parkland Institute’s Greg Flanagan, who deems it a “valuable contribution”—one that, on an unrelated note, makes heavy use of Flanagan’s own past polemics against liquor privatization. What a terrible shame nobody took credit for this excellent document!

What Colby is missing is that Ontario is a unique, precious snowflake of a province, whose residents are unable to handle this so-called “freedom of choice”. Our loving government is protecting our vulnerable, weak-willed selves from the evils of a callous, uncaring, exploitative sector of the economy that ruthlessly wants to sell us more of their intoxicating poisons at lower prices. This is why we must stand firm against “free markets” and rally our shrinking moral forces!

He even admits that the destruction of Alberta’s proud, noble, and much-loved liquor monopoly has brought untold misery and ruin to literally tens, possibly even hundreds, of Albertans:

The effect of liquor-retail privatization in Alberta was to put liquor stores in many small towns that did not have them before and on darn near every block in the big cities. Most, by design, are small stores with large markups. Before privatization you had a handful of stores in the entire province, all offering strongly regulated uniform prices. But you might have to travel a long way to get the advantage of these prices; you might have to leave work early to show up before closing, particularly if you intended to load up for a weekend or a party; and you might have to stand in a queue when you arrived. (Ah, memories.) And if you didn’t compute your needs accurately and you ran out of booze at the wrong moment, you were out of luck.

After privatization, there are stores everywhere, open all the time, on every day but Christmas; and you might be charged an extra buck on a 12-pack. Go on: ask 10 Albertans who are old enough to remember the old system if they would like to go back. I’ve actually performed this exercise, and I usually get ten “hell no”s. But if you make your sample a hundred, you will certainly find a person or two in one of two categories: (1) socialists nostalgic for the days when ALCB employees were duly organized, and could shut down all liquor sales in the province by striking; (2) geriatric grouches who really don’t enjoy alcohol and don’t like its ready availability and what’s with those goddamn kids these days with the reefer and the XBox and the hey hey hey.

See? He even admits that prices went up! Proof that market failure is smeared all over Alberta! And queues are a good thing: they allow you to meet your neighbours and have long, pleasant conversations about all kinds of things! Albertans have been wantonly deprived of this wonderful balm of human contact and interaction!

No, Ontarians are not ready — and may never be ready — for the additional burden of free choice and wider selections at lower prices. We must set our hearts and minds to work against this tradition-destroying innovation and keep our booze prices high and variety minimal!

February 6, 2014

He’d have gotten away with it, except for those pesky girls

Filed under: Cancon, Randomness — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 07:56

Being shy can be a handicap for certain kinds of activities. It can prevent you from doing things you might otherwise want to do. Shockingly, however, the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal doesn’t think that you should get special treatment just because you’re afraid to be the only guy in a class full of women:

Sexual politics have erupted again in Toronto’s ivory tower as another male student has lost a bid to be excused from a class with women without losing marks, this time because he’s shy.

The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal has dismissed a complaint by University of Toronto student Wongene Daniel Kim, who accused his professor of discriminating against him as a male when she docked him marks for not coming to class because he was too shy to be the only guy.

The second-year health science major arrived at the opening of a Women and Gender Studies course for which he had signed up in the fall of 2012 — “It had spaces left and fit into my timetable” — only to discover a room full of women and nary a man in sight.

“I felt anxiety; I didn’t expect it would be all women and it was a small classroom and about 40 women were sort of sitting in a semicircle and the thought of spending two hours every week sitting there for the next four months was overwhelming,” said Kim, 20, adding he manages a part-time job with women because there are also other men.


However the tribunal ruled his complaint did not warrant a hearing.

“The applicant has not satisfied me that his claimed discomfort in a classroom of women requires accommodation under the (Ontario Human Rights) Code,” wrote adjudicator Mary Truemner. “He admitted that his discomfort is based on his own ‘individual preference’ as a shy person … and stated he thought they (the women) would not be willing to interact with him because of his gender.”

This was “merely speculation as he never gave the class, or the women, a chance,” wrote Truemner, vice-chair of the tribunal.

Kim had no evidence of being “excluded, disadvantaged or treated unequally on the basis of” his gender, she said.

H/T to Joey DeVilla who posted on Facebook, “Way to perpetuate the feckless Asian nerd stereotype, Kim. After all the work I did dispelling it!”.

January 9, 2014

Selling Ontario wine at a farmer’s market? Must be a by-election in wine country coming up

Filed under: Business, Cancon, Wine — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:34

Michael Pinkus on the Ontario government’s latest cynical ploy to shore up electoral support in a wine-producing riding just in time for a by-election:

There was a certain amount of optimism over the holidays coming out of the wineries of Ontario as the Wynne Liberals, who lead this province, announced a new initiative to get Ontario wines into the hands of more Ontarians … or at least that’s how they are selling it.

In case you missed it, Kathleen Wynne and the Corrupt Liberals (sounds like a great 90’s band) have released their latest McGuffin on the land, an announcement that Ontario VQA wine is to be sold at farmer’s markets throughout the province. It’s all part of their 75 million dollar plan to support the local wineries and help them grow. The timing couldn’t be better, for them anyway; this announcement comes just before a soon-to-be scheduled by-election in Niagara. Funny, how it is only now the Premier and her troops have decided to finally help the wineries of Ontario … seems rather convenient. I starting to experience a little déjà vu about this though; didn’t they use this same technique to grab a couple of seats in the last election?

Now, before you accuse me of being anti-Liberal, I’m not. Before this government completely let me down I would have counted myself among them, but my personal politics aside, I’m not anti-Liberal, I’m pro-Ontario Winery — and anything that can help these hard working, passionate folks get their wines into more hands of the Ontario populace, the happier I am.


If they truly want to help the wine industry in this province stop handcuffing them as to where they can sell their wines. Give them actual retail space like the Wine Shoppes and Wine Rack stores that Peller and Vincor hold onto like gold (because they are). Let them sell their wines not just at Farmers’ Markets but at festivals and events where you can sample the wine before you buy. Nothing makes attendees of festivals more annoyed than our prohibition era laws, that keep them from buying bottles of their favourite wines tasted at expos, festivals or events. It’s mind boggling and baffling to any who have attended wine shows in other countries. Let wineries actually sell their wines at these events … I promise, no one is going to open the bottle in their car on the way home; no more so than they would after purchasing it at an LCBO store.

And so that it’s not just my voice of dissension you hear, allow me to bring winery owner Daniel Lenko into the conversation, as he posted his thoughts on Facebook: “Ok, this could get long winded. I think in general wine producers in Niagara are supportive of this olive branch being offered. Why not? This is the start of something, and anything is better than nothing. Here are the pitfalls: 1) You can’t sample wine before 11am legally, and farmers markets primarily occur in the early morning hours. 2) Can I have a stand-alone store in the “PATH” and call it “The Farmers Market”. I will offer produce as well. Or is this too civil? 3) I can’t warehouse anything offsite so that means that I must drive pallets of wine back and forth daily to Niagara, how environmentally irresponsible. 4) And hold on a second … Why is it that [Cellared in Canada] wines can be sold ANYWHERE in private stores and wines grown and vinified in Ontario can only now, 25 years later, be available at farmers markets. It really feels like I am a second class citizen here”.

December 23, 2013

Induced aversion to a particular Christmas song

Filed under: Business, Cancon, Media, Personal — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 00:01

Earlier this year, I had occasion to run a Google search for “Mr Gameway’s Ark” (it’s still almost unknown: the Googles, they do nothing). However, I did find a very early post on the old site that I thought deserved to be pulled out of the dusty archives, because it explains why I can — to this day — barely stand to listen to “Little Drummer Boy”:

Seasonal Melodies

James Lileks has a concern about Christmas music:

This isn’t to say all the classics are great, no matter who sings them. I can do without “The Little Drummer Boy,” for example.

It’s the “Bolero” of Christmas songs. It just goes on, and on, and on. Bara-pa-pa-pum, already. Plus, I understand it’s a sweet little story — all the kid had was a drum to play for the newborn infant — but for anyone who remembers what it was like when they had a baby, some kid showing up unannounced to stand around and beat on the skins would not exactly complete your mood. Happily, the song has not spawned a sequel like “The Somewhat Larger Cymbal Adolescent.”

This reminds me about my aversion to this particular song. It was so bad that I could not hear even three notes before starting to wince and/or growl.

Back in the early 1980′s, I was working in Toronto’s largest toy and game store, Mr Gameway’s Ark. It was a very odd store, and the owners were (to be polite) highly idiosyncratic types. They had a razor-thin profit margin, so any expenses that could be avoided, reduced, or eliminated were so treated. One thing that they didn’t want to pay for was Muzak (or the local equivalent), so one of the owners brought in his home stereo and another one put together a tape of Christmas music.

Note that singular. “Tape”.

Christmas season started somewhat later in those distant days, so that it was really only in December that we had to decorate the store and cope with the sudden influx of Christmas merchandise. Well, also, they couldn’t pay for the Christmas merchandise until sales started to pick up, so that kinda accounted for the delay in stocking-up the shelves as well …

So, Christmas season was officially open, and we decorated the store with the left-over krep from the owners’ various homes. It was, at best, kinda sad. But — we had Christmas music! And the tape was pretty eclectic: some typical 50′s stuff (White Christmas and the like), some medieval stuff, some Victorian stuff and that damned Drummer Boy song.

We were working ten- to twelve-hour shifts over the holidays (extra staff? you want Extra Staff, Mr. Cratchitt???), and the music played on. And on. And freaking on. Eternally. There was no way to escape it.

To top it all off, we were the exclusive distributor for a brand new game that suddenly was in high demand: Trivial Pursuit. We could not even get the truck unloaded safely without a cordon of employees to keep the random passers-by from snatching boxes of the damned game. When we tried to unpack the boxes on the sales floor, we had customers snatching them out of our hands and running (running!) to the cashier. Stress? It was like combat, except we couldn’t shoot back at the buggers.

Oh, and those were also the days that Ontario had a Sunday closing law, so we were violating all sorts of labour laws on top of the Sunday closing laws, so the Police were regular visitors. Given that some of our staff spent their spare time hiding from the Police, it just added immeasurably to the tension levels on the shop floor.

And all of this to the background soundtrack of Christmas music. One tape of Christmas music. Over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.

It’s been over 20 years, and I still feel the hackles rise on the back of my neck with this song … but I’m over the worst of it now: I can actually listen to it without feeling that all-consuming desire to rip out the sound system and dance on the speakers. After two decades.

November 20, 2013

“Ford Nation” as the Canadian equivalent of UKIP

Filed under: Cancon, Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:45

In the Telegraph, Jake Wallis Simons tries to explain to a British audience how Rob Ford has managed to stay alive in Toronto politics all this time:

… from a British perspective, the oddest aspect of the story is Toronto’s seemingly indomitable affection for its mayor. It is only now, after months of scandal, that public confidence in him is finally starting to dip, and not particularly sharply.

The reason for this reveals the sharp divisions within Canadian society. And while it would be simplistic to offer a like-for-like comparison between different countries, it seems certain that there are lessons here for Ukip.

First some background. Toronto is a divided city. In 1998, six separate municipalities were merged as a “cost-saving measure” by the Government of Ontario. This led to a huge increase in levels of municipal staff, while ambiguity surrounded the question of whether money had actually been saved.

People felt that they had been deprived of their local identities. Even today, in many districts, such as Scarborough and North York, the old names are still defiantly used. The issue is given an added bitterness by the fact that in a referendum on the question in 1997, more than 75 per cent of voters opposed the amalgamation; it was forced through anyway.

Ironically, the unification only entrenched the distinctions between people living in different parts of the city, particularly between those with a 416 (inner city) area code and those with a 905 (the outer suburbs).

Among the metropolitan 416-ers, there is a visceral hatred of Mr Ford. In the more conservative 905 suburbs, however, where people are pro-car, pro-booze and pro-sport, voters feel unfairly removed from the levers of power. Here the mayor commands widespread affection.


Canadian divisions may not map precisely onto Britain, but the rise of Ukip has demonstrated that we too live in a split society. From the perspective of Ukip followers, their needs and views are simply not represented by the overly polished political elite known as Lib-Lab-Con.

Of course, Nigel Farage’s cigarettes and pints are nothing compared to Mr Ford’s crack pipe and drunken stupors. In Toronto, where tensions and divisions are even more marked, the suburbs have an even greater appetite for the “ordinary guy”.

September 19, 2013

The LCBO’s new “Ontario Boutique” outlets – doing a Wal-Mart to Ontario wineries

Filed under: Business, Cancon, Wine — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:13

In the latest Ontario Wine Review, Michael Pinkus talks about the opening of three new “Ontario Boutique” LCBO stores. These stores are the LCBO’s response to rising demand for quality Ontario wines … opening stores to directly compete with the wineries.

Well it happened; the LCBO opened their Ontario Boutiques to great fanfare on September 12, in three cities: Niagara Falls, St. Catharines and Windsor … three places that have wineries nearby. Three places where the local populace could hop in their cars and within 15 minutes be at any of a dozen wineries in the area. The way we should all view this is the LCBO utilized the Wal-Mart approach to competition: get in there and fight it out with already established businesses. According to reports, they are beautiful, well-stocked and something to see. Now, I’m not questioning whether or not the LCBO was going to do a nice job on these in-store boutiques, heck they have the money to sink into them (yours and mine), I question their location and I question why the Wal-Mart tactics?


Someone who did get it (Bob) emailed me directly, putting it very succinctly: “The Wine Council’s information shows that the majority of VQA wines are still sold at the wineries. I asked one of their staff why they were putting a new VQA [boutique] in the Glendale store in St. Catharines rather than Toronto, and was told that it was because they sold more VQA wine in that store than any other in their system. Obviously, they are intent on trying to steal as much business away from the local wineries as possible, and therefore to deny the wineries (for the most part Canadian small businesses) as much profit as possible.”

While another reader, Gaye, admitted she has finally seen the light: “I always took your rants re: the LC mildly, as I like being able to shop in the “biggest” importer of wines in the world (sic). But I love Ontario wines, and living in Toronto always bemoan the difficulty of going to Niagara wineries and driving back … for obvious reasons. So I thought these boutiques were inevitable and of course would be in the place most Ontario wine was drunk, Toronto. As your excellent wife said, “a no-brainer”. This is incredible, opening in Niagara Falls? As if our wine was just something to be sold to tourists. Now I’m totally on side.”

September 5, 2013

LCBO to offer expanded Ontario wine displays starting next week

Filed under: Business, Cancon, Law, Wine — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:57

Sounds like a reasonable thing, doesn’t it? The LCBO is the primary distribution channel for all Ontario wine, so making the best of the province’s wines more accessible is a good thing, yes? Well, sorta, as Michael Pinkus explains:

The LCBO must think we’re all stupid … that or they are run by a bunch of nincompoops – or maybe it’s a combination of both. On September 12, 2013 the Ontario wineries are finally going to see the fruits of their labours sold in special, larger and more prominent sections in some LCBO locations. Now if you were running the LCBO (more apropos to say: if you ran the circus), but if you ran the LCBO and you had some extra money kicking around and deemed it time to (finally) help Ontario wineries, show pride in the wines this province makes, and get the word out that Ontario is making world class wines, where would you put those new locations?

I asked my wife, an American, who can’t seem to grasp the concept of the LCBO, that very same question: “if you were opening up new sections within existing LCBO stores to promote Ontario wines where would you put them?” Her answer was immediately, “Toronto, it’s a no-brainer,” she said, “why where are they putting them?”

London, Ottawa, Kingston and Kitchener also all come to mind as potential locations for these new “boutiques” before the three locations the LCBO has chosen: Niagara Falls, St. Catharines and, you guessed it, Windsor; if they added Belleville to the mix they’d really hit the quad-fecta – but I shouldn’t give them any ideas – who knows, maybe that’s already in the works.

Why these locations matter is because they are smack dab in the heart of wine county; where wine already exists. There the locals have access to drive to their favourite wineries to buy their wine. As we all should know by now the LCBO can’t have you shopping at the competition, can they? Not when their unwritten mandate is to rule the province with an iron fist where booze is concerned … big sister Wynne doesn’t want to take her eye off the bottle, not for a second. Why you might ask would the LCBO put their stores in these locations? Think about it this way: when Wal-Mart comes to town where do they park their stores? Right next to the Canadian Tires and the Zellers locations (or as close as possible anyway) – they want to take on the competition directly. The LCBO is placing these new expanded Ontario sections in St. Catharines, Niagara Falls and Windsor – I trust you see the similarity.

Youth soccer without keeping score? Too competitive for our kids

Filed under: Cancon, Humour, Media, Soccer — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:16

While I’m pretty sure this is a fake news item that the CBC should have run on April 1st, it’s amusing enough to link:

With the growing concern over the effects of competition in youth sports programs this summer, many Canadian soccer associations eliminated the concept of keeping score. The Soccer Association of Midlake, Ontario, however, has taken this idea one step further, and have completely removed the ball from all youth soccer games and practices.

According to Association spokesperson, Helen Dabney-Coyle, “By removing the ball, it’s absolutely impossible to say ‘this team won’ and ‘this team lost’ or ‘this child is better at soccer than that child.’”

“We want our children to grow up learning that sport is not about competition, rather it’s about using your imagination. If you imagine you’re good at soccer, then, you are.”

For reference, a quick Google search for “Midlake, ON” only comes up with links to this story and random uses of “mid-lake” in unrelated posts.

H/T to Doug Mataconis for the link.

August 12, 2013

Replacing Tim Hudak

Filed under: Cancon, Politics — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:21

Richard Anderson looks at the racing form to try to determine just who the Ontario Progressive Conservatives might look to as a replacement for current leader Tim Hudak. The pickings appear to be rather slim:

Christine Elliot — A sometime leadership candidate and long-time wife of Jim Flaherty, the federal minister of finance. Considered too moderate by the red meaters and too old by everyone else. About as close to an establishment candidate as you’ll get in any potential leadership race.

Randy Hillier — The party’s designated “crazy libertarian.” It would be nice to have a premier who uses the word “freedom” without it getting stuck in his throat. It ain’t happening. At 55 he’s getting into the “old range” in the political world. His record of activism would also be an issue. Leftists can have all sorts of activist skeletons in their closet. Right wingers can’t. Even if that activism was merely to defend their own property.

Frank Klees — While certainly the most plausible leadership candidate, having the required polish and gravitas, his 62 years and record as an ex-Harris cabinet minister are huge liabilities. His previous leadership bids, and odd attempt to become speaker in 2011, have likely generated a fair amount of bad blood in the Tory fold.

Lisa Macleod — Young, feisty and reasonably photogenic. Not too well known outside political circles, she could probably hold her own in a debate with Andrea Horwath. She might also be able to hold the slippery Kathleen Wynne to account. Downside: She sometimes comes across as shrill and is, how to put this delicately, a tad overweight. I know that’s a stupid thing to say, but unfortunately larger women are considered slovenly in our culture. There is also, of course, a double standard. An equally well insulated man would probably curry somewhat less disfavour. Visuals matter in politics, even when their stupid.

Jim Wilson — A Mike Harris-era retread, it’s likely that the unions recall his efforts as Health Minister in the mid-1990s. It’s also likely that they recall those efforts in an extremely negative light. The last of the relatively senior ex-Harris ministers in the legislature, now that Elizabeth Witmer is comfortable ensconced over at WSIB, Wilson would likely be dismissed as a relic..

While Hillier would be a fascinating choice as replacement leader, I doubt he has much support in caucus. Elliot is my local MPP, but I don’t know how her chances stack up either. The others are pretty much unknown to me. Anyone whose political career includes any kind of association with former Premier Mike Harris is automatically a media pet-hate. The Toronto Star and other media outlets have spent a lot of time and energy painting the Harris years as our local experience of brutal dictatorship, famine, plagues of locusts, and all the horrors of Revelations.

August 8, 2013

A brief moment of sympathy for Thomas Mulcair

Filed under: Cancon, Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 07:54

Richard Anderson finds a drop of sympathy for the unexpected plight of the leader of Her Majesty’s loyal opposition:

It must be galling to be Thomas Mulcair right now. A decades long career spent climbing the greasy pole of Quebec politics. A quick ascent to the federal level and then, by the oddest stroke of luck, an unexpected death places you into the leader’s role. It seems that with a bit of luck your old nemesis the Liberal Party might be finished after the next election. Happy days to be leader of the Official Opposition.

That is until the MSM started following around the latest bright shiny thing: Justin Trudeau.

While the Once and Future King is touring the sumptuous beauty of British Columbia, poor Tommy is wandering through the backwoods of Northern Ontario. The region is horribly neglected. An afterthought to provincial administrators in downtown Toronto. The area above the French River, sadly, has always failed to capture the imagination of Canadians.

The settlement of the West is one of the great romances of Canadian history, if not the greatest. The charm of the Maritimes is irresistible. The North’s terrible majesty demands admiration. Quebec is Quebec. Southern Ontario is the center of English Canada, Toronto commanding the region like, well, an Imperial Capital around which all else revolves.

Northern Ontario is kind of just up there. Somewhere between Barrie and Winnipeg. What small romance that region conveys is from faded memories of the great mineral boom a century ago, and the twangy recollections of Stompin’ Tom. Only he could make Sudbury Saturday Nights memorable. At least Hamilton has the virtue of being between Burlington and Niagara.

Poor, poor Tommy. There isn’t a major media outlet that gives a damn about his “listening tour.” Leader of the NDP shaking hands with a miners union representative doesn’t make for great copy, especially not when competing with Justin’s adorable family.

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