Monday, March 21, 2005

Dunk this Doughnut!

Is there anything better than a frozen pond, a snow day, a puck and just enough sticks to go around? No. Of course not. That's a slice of Canadiana not even Tim Horton's can ice. But how about watching the game with your mates over a few pints at the pub? That's a Canuck tradition as old as Timbits, which were invented in 637 B.C. (about 3 years after hockey). The inexorable progression of modern technology, whereby people are able to access channels other than the CBC, presents us with a new and dangerous dilemma: What happens when you arrive at your local watering hole only to find that the game on the tube isn't hockey, CFL football or curling, but rather NCAA basketball!

Apparently this is a severe problem for Canadians who have traded their dog sleds for whatever people use to get around in places where there's no snow. You see, in other countries, people actually like basketball. Please remember that these are primitive countries who don't even know what a Coffee Crisp tastes like. Nevertheless, not even the sweeping changes proposed by Kofi Annan can hope to bring Coffee Crisp to the darkest recesses of the globe, although they might help to make the United Nations relevant again.

Naturally not every country will enjoy the same sports that we do in Canada. Hockey is confusing to Americans in the south because the players on the ice can turn both left and right. The rest of them fear hockey because, as you know, Canadian pucks are made of beef.

In Canada we know the value of multiculturalism. We understand that not everyone knows how to pronounce the letter 'z' or spell 'labour'. (If you're an American and you see funny little squiggly red lines underneath some words in this blog, do not be alarmed. The Canadian language uses a lot of those as extra punctuation. They are not a way for terrorists to send secret messages across the border.)

Many Americans are troubled by the recent allegations of widespread steroid use in major league baseball. Unfortunately, baseball is the type of sport where a juiced-up slugger or pitcher can make all difference. It's encouraging to note that performance enhancing drugs have had little effect on hockey. If the recent state of the game is any indicator, drug usage is inversely proportional to quality of play. Need more proof? In a recent interview to promote the new book Mémoires d'un Dur à Cuire (“Memoirs of a Tough Guy”) by Journalist Mathias Brunet, former Montreal Canadiens player Dave Morissette claims that “the majority of the guys had their pills. It wasn't a big deal. It was pretty common to take pills before a game. It didn't bother anyone.” Morissette notes that steroids didn't help him to become a better hockey player. No shit. Anyone care to guess how many NHL games he played in his illustrious career? (Hint: use your fingers to count.)

Friday, March 18, 2005

Persistent Vegetative State

While the lack of updates here at The Maple Lounge could be blamed on the latest flu bug going around, we prefer to believe that there really hasn't been much to talk about in the news recently. Case in point: The Supreme Court of Canada today delivered a decision regarding the colour of margarine in Quebec. Margarine!

Are we as a nation in a persistent vegetative state? Is this why nobody is complaining that the Gomery inquiry will end up wasting more taxpayer money than the sponsorship scandal it seeks to investigate? Can anybody explain why we needed two official reports to determine that the the submarine we bought from the British Navy, the HMCS Chicoutimi, was in fact set ablaze by water?

I think I'm going to throw up on the country of Turkey. While I might be able to blame it on avian flu, that's certainly not what's massacring the eagles in BC.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Clubbed to Death

The ice will be stained with blood. Expect huge amounts of carnage in the name of money. There are millions to be made. It's that time of year again in Canada. No, the NHL season is not back on. It's time for the always controversial commercial seal hunt. Let the clubbing begin!

Cod Good, Seals Bad!

In the search for answers after the collapse of fish stocks in the Newfoundland Grand Banks, some sought to pin the blame on burgeoning seal populations. While the average harp seal diet does include a small amount of cod, they also eat predators of young cod. Rampant overfishing killed the Grand Banks, but in an article dated February 24th 2005 (No Cod? Blame the Seals!) Greenpeace accuses the Canadian Government of claiming otherwise. According to Greenpeace, the absence of a significant recovery in fish stocks is the only justification Canada employs to explain the recent increase in seal hunt quotas. To back up their claims Greenpeace cites a 1995 petition signed by 97 scientists.

The “heavily-subsidized seal hunt is being promoted by the Canadian government as necessary to bring back fish stocks on the eastern seaboard,” claims the website of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. “The Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans is a bureaucracy run primarily by Newfoundlanders,” says founder Paul Watson, who also writes that the official position of Fisheries and Oceans Canada “is that the harp seal is a major predator of the cod,” and therefore the government “insists seals must die so that the cod populations can increase.”

“The seal hunt is an economically viable activity and is not subsidized by the Government of Canada,” according to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. As for the relationship between the seal hunt and fish stocks, “the commercial seal quota is established based on sound conservation principles, not an attempt to assist in the recovery of groundfish stocks.”

It's one thing to argue each other's scientific findings, but quite another to justify your cause by making outright erroneous and slanderous claims.

Seals Good, Sea Shepherds Baaaaaaaaad!

A woefully inept environmental group, the Sea Shepherds have been in the news for all the wrong reasons of late. Recently their vessel, named after Farley “Fuck the Facts” Mowat, was detained in a Halifax harbour by Transport Canada because it did not meet oil pollution prevention standards. “I have no doubt it's political harassment” says Paul Watson.

Indeed, after being released by port authorities the boat sprung a leak in the engineering room and had to be rescued by the Canadian coast guard. How long until Watson claims the boat was sabotaged by Canadian inspectors?

Just how out of touch is this American-based organization? Here's what they have to say about the people of Atlantic Canada (emphasis added by The Maple Lounge using CLUBBED TO DEATH SEAL BLOOD RED):

“The Harp and Hood seals are hunted in the Gulf of St.Lawrence by residents of the Magdalen Islands in Quebec. These are French speaking people. The other location is called the Newfoundland Front in the Atlantic and this hunt is conducted by Newfoundlanders. As a point of interest there are no native people in Newfoundland.”

Fuck the facts indeed. At least they named their boat after the right guy! How can anyone be expected to take the case against the seal hunt seriously when organizations such as the Sea Shepherds are leading the charge?

Oh, and about those cute little white seals the Sea Shepherds can be seen kissing in their propaganda video: They haven't been hunted in Canada for over twenty years.

So what do you do when millions of innocents are about to be slaughtered and the only boat that can save them is stranded and sinking in the north Atlantic? Hire MacGyver to fix it, of course!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Shoot, Shovel and Shut up!

When U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice canceled her scheduled April visit to Ottawa, many believed it was a reflection of the Bush administration's displeasure over Canada's decision not to support the ballistic missile defense strategy. Although this has been denied by both governments, it seems the Americans have found a far more serious way to punish Canada.

A lobby group of U.S. Ranchers, who have seen profits soar ever since the ban on Canadian beef was enacted, have successfully obtained an injunction against the planned March 7th reopening of the border. It's the second time R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) has been able to halt the plans of the U.S. Department of Agriculture by persuading Montana judge Richard Cebull. Yes, it was the same Montana judge both times.

A statement by Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns says the USDA is “very disappointed in today's ruling” and continues to stand the results of its own studies which “determined Canada to be a minimal risk region.” The USDA called the injunction a “procedural delay” and continues “to believe that international trade in beef, founded on science-based regulations, should be re-established in an expeditious manner."

R-CALF argued that allowing the import of Canadian beef would result in huge economic losses and would shatter consumer confidence in the American cattle industry. This would totally undermine the American “shoot, shovel and shut up” policy towards cows infected with BSE.

What you don't know can't hurt you, and what you choose to ignore probably won't hurt you either. I thought that particular American governmental policy died on September 11th 2001. Then again, many Canadians thought ballistic missile defense, space-based lasers and dreams of Star Wars ended with Reagan's presidency.