20 Dec

Virtual Drive Around Manitoba

For those of you who are interested in a virtual drive around Manitoba, here are some of my most recent updates on CanHighways.com:






These shots come from separate tours I’ve taken to the Morden Corn and Apple Festival as well as to the Peace Gardens. There’s a lot more at that site if you wish to browse around.

17 Dec

Going Out With Class

In recent years, Manitobans have been treated to some sore losers in the political arena. The names of former MP’s Anita Neville and Raymond Simard are foremost among them.
We listened as these defeated candidates, ingrained with a feeling of a preordained right to hold public office, complained and whined rather than exit with grace.
Such cannot be said for outgoing Manitoba PC leader Hugh McFadyen.
On the heels of a second consecutive disastrous campaign that has saddled us with yet another term of a spend-happy NDP government and a near billion-dollar deficit, McFadyen stepped down as leader. Manitobans can only hope his successor has the stones to take the offensive and hit the NDP hard. Trying to outspend the NDP is not the answer.
In spite of the humiliating defeat, however, McFadyen has resisted the temptation to behave like a spoiled brat, unlike Neville and Simard. In particular, he graciously received visitors in his office at the Legislative Building last Saturday accepted best wishes from Manitobans, including myself.
However he may have dealt with his political fate privately, he put a smile on for the public and held himself to a higher standard.
As the conduct of our elected officials continues to deteriorate, McFadyen’s exemplary class under trying circumstances is a breath of fresh air.
Elsewhere from last Saturday’s annual open house at the Legislature, I noted with interest how one particular MLA handled the two-hour affair that afternoon.
A relative newcomer to Manitoba politics, this MLA tried [his/her] luck in the most recent civic election and was trounced by an incumbent ripe for the picking. In the civic election, [he/she] boasted on [his/her] campaign Web site how [he/she] always made an effort in past elections to discover what the candidates stood for, yet filled [his/her] own site with nothing but political rhetoric.
During the provincial election, [his/her] signs were significantly outnumbered in an area that does not traditionally vote for [his/her] party. [His/her] major competitor came to my door three times. [He/she] did not make one appearance. Even the candidate from the non-existent Liberal party came to my door once.
Mysteriously, [he/she] was declared the winner.
[He/she] wasted no time in plastering [his/her] mug on a major thoroughfare that passes through [his/her] constituency.
Rather than spend the two hours meeting and greeting constituents during the open house, [he/she] spent the time roaming the halls with [his/her] family showing off [his/her] new workplace to [his/her] children. One can not normally be faulted for spending time with one’s family, but there would have been plenty of time before or after the open house to roam the halls of the majestic building.
By way of comparison, countless number of [his/her] colleagues on both sides of the political spectrum were only too happy to spend time with this visitor.
The identity of this MLA is left as an exercise for the reader.
08 Dec

Hockey History Display Looks to the Future

Last month, there was a display on hockey history at the Millennium Library. It’s mostly gone now, but there wasn’t a lot there, so there’s no reason to feel badly if you missed it.
What was there, however, painted a graphic picture on the dark and disturbing state of hockey in our city.
I walked along and saw items showing the Winnipeg Victorias along with other teams from the distant past, which was good to see. Moving on, there were a few items on the Jets. A Randy Carlyle and a Thomas Steen jersey were hung in the background and a few nice artifacts were available for viewing that included a game program, a couple of pictures of players, and even a pom-pom from one of the White Outs.
Across the aisle, there were two panels, one dedicated to the Manitoba Moose, and the other to the team formerly known as the Atlanta Thrashers.
In the Moose panel, there was a flag hung in the background along with a jersey and a picture of Mark Chipman, the team’s owner, president, and de facto general manager. In the next panel, along with a flag, were more pictures of Chipman.
I glanced back at the Jets’ display. I saw players. I didn’t see Ben Hatskin, Michael Gobuty, or Barry Shenkarow.
The Moose, whose presence was largely ignored and sometimes resented, did, against considerable odds, play here for 15 years. They retired Mike Keane’s jersey and had other players such as Jimmy Roy and Brian Chapman have long tours of duty wearing the antlers. Like them or not, they had a history almost as long as that of the NHL Jets. Despite that, there was only the owner’s picture on display.
In fairness, I suspect that neither Chipman nor any of his servile cronies had anything to do with the content of this display. In the case of the former Thrashers, there isn’t a lot of history to be displayed.
However, the content was no accident either. Chipman, in the cases of both his teams, made himself and continues to make himself the face of the franchise. Whenever there is any news surrounding the team, Chipman is front and center and he has probably received more air time since seizing control of the Thrashers than Shenkarow had during nearly two decades in a leading role with the Jets. When the final chapter is written for his current hockey team, it is highly probable that the display would not have to be changed to accurately reflect the team’s history.
I was a Jets’ season ticket holder for five years. During that time, I went to see the players play. I went to see Dale Hawerchuk, Paul MacLean, Morris Lukowich, Dave Ellett, and others. I did not go to see the owner own. I didn’t even care who owned the team, nor did I want to hear from him.
I ceased my support and ended all my interest in the Moose as Chipman took an increasingly active role in every facet of the team. Sadly, things are no different today with his current hockey team.
The game is about the players, not about the owner. Too many owners in pro sports today have taken on the role of “face of the franchise” and Chipman is foremost among them.
Part of being a fan is feeling like you have a stake in the team. You may not have a financial investment in the club, but you have a deep, emotional investment in it. That emotional investment can be even more binding than a financial commitment as you religiously follow the day-to-day fortunes of the team. I know the feeling as many of you do of living and dying with every goal, win, or loss.
When the presence of the owner becomes bigger than the team, that feeling goes away. The team no longer has a life of its own, it just becomes another corporate asset, no different than your local Wal-Mart.
I doubt that the people at the library had this in mind when they set up the display, but they could not have painted a clearer picture of the state of hockey in Winnipeg.
As I’ve said before to anyone desperately clamoring for an NHL team, be careful what you wish for. Now you’ve got it and it may be more than you can digest. You might be buying Pepto-Bismol by the case in a few years time.