Cree Walkers, Ralph Klein, Richard Griffiths, Shehnaz Ishtiaq, Obsolete Words, Whale Bone Porn, The Toronto Star vs. Rob Ford, Why Did We Stop Crucifying People?

Podcast 36 | Week of 31.03.2013

Scrimshaw, handiwork created by whaler made from the teeth of a sperm whale. Image shot 2010. Exact date unknown.

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The Derelict Honourary Chief of the Blood Tribe

It’s been more than a few years now since my afternoon Calgary chat with a Kainai (Blood) acquaintance, but I do remember a bit of the history lesson I received that day. One thing I recall above all else is a sensation of correspondence: the Haudenosaunee have the largest population within Canada’s borders, the Kainai the largest land base; the Haudenosaunee are known to be of an independent cast of mind, so too I gathered from my interlocutor the Kainai. (The name is pronounced “Ken-Eye,” and fittingly means something like Many Chiefs.) I left the conversation that day rather feeling a sense of kinship, which is unusual for me in most any social encounter.

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All In A Day’s Work

It happens that Stockwell Day once again has the misfortune to be rather thickly in the news. You must have noted the tautology in that: Stockwell Day in the news is always a misfortune, never anything else. Quite without needing to, the man is perennially at the habit of putting himself before microphone and camera, only to make a bung of it.

Do you recall the extraordinary media hyperventilation which attended his farcical lunge, conducted partly by Jet Ski, at the Canadian Alliance leadership, in 2000? As Finance Minister, in the Ralph Klein government, Day had paid down debt and balanced the provincial budget. On these accomplishments, and little else, rested the extraordinary enthusiasm for an unexamined man who began to dismay as soon as the shrink wrap was off.

Everywhere Stockwell Day went throughout his leadership campaign against Preston Manning, he said plainly wrong things, made an ass of himself, and in the end split the Alliance Party in two. It is worth remembering that Day has a federal political career only as a result of a deal made with Stephen Harper — a deal which brought prominent party members disgusted with Day back into the fold, restoring the Alliance and enabling them to take power. There’s another, even less kind, way to say this: the Conservative Party of Canada is today united and in power because its absurd and impossible leader got out of the way and let someone competent take over.

One is tempted in speaking of Day’s political career to produce the actuarial. Well then, one instructive example of the real-world liability he represents is his illogical and tub-thumping attack on Lorne Goddard, which cost the Albertan taxpayers over $700,000, again needlessly. The expression, “it is better to keep one’s mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt,” could have been written about Stockwell Day and in any case would provide him some sound direction. His mistakes were at one time innocent and therefore merely comical, such as when he got the direction of the Niagara River backward. This is no longer the case. His lazy indifference to the assimilation and production of relevant facts, and his recourse to settled ideological conviction, are liabilities and nothing beside.

Nor are these character traits limited within the Harper Government to the Treasury Board President. He is unique only in that looking over his career one can see that he always brings the misery upon himself, and upon his party, despite there being an alternative within an easy reach. Now it appears the misery will overtake Canadians as well, as they endure yet another avoidable controversy, this time about whether crime is going up or down. All that, and more, in a Day’s work.