Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Teen Burgers and Floats

This from my friend Michael Fata - he loves the last paragraph...

Lotto dispute heads to B.C. Supreme Court
(from News Staff)

A disputed $14.5-million lottery win will be divided up by a B.C.Supreme Court judge, says the B.C. Lottery Corp.

"We were informed by the various legal counsels representing the winners that they were unable to resolve their dispute," Jim Lightbody, theCrown corporation's operations vice-president, said Tuesday.

Nine workers at an A&W restaurant in Mission, B.C. initially claimed to be the winners.

However, co-workers Tanis McQuillan and Meagan Weisgerber came forwardto say they had been part of the group's lottery pool because they hadpreviously paid in -- although not during the time the winning ticket was sold, according to the nine.

Two more co-workers over the weekend came forward with claims on the earnings after that. The corporation wanted an answer by Monday, but extended that until Tuesday at the request of the group of nine.

But the various sides weren't able to resolve the issue amongst themselves. Lightbody said the money will earn interest while the case is heard through the courts.

"What a court is going to look at as a legal question is: What was the intention of these A&W employees when they entered that lottery poll?"Legal analyst Steven Skurka said, appearing on CTV's Canada AM.

"For example, what happened in the past when one of the employees missed a payment and there was a losing ticket? Did that employee still make the contribution?

"That's really going to be the crucial question here."

The feud was featured in a lead editorial in The Vancouver Provincenewspaper, which urged the nine workers to let the other two contested members have a share so that lawyers don't take their cut in a court battle.

Lightbody said the dispute has reminded the many Canadians involved inworkplace pools to write down who is in their pool.

If the matter does end up court, he said it would be the first such legal battle in the corporation's history.

Meanwhile, back at the restaurant, the combatants continue to work side by side.

"I have no comment about the lottery okay?" A&W manager Francis Carcasson told CTV News. "We're just here doing what we do, looking after our customers, serving teen burgers and floats."

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Saturday, August 27, 2005

Looking for America

It seems not that long ago that I was one of tens of thousand of Torontonians, rhythmically throwing our fists in the air with Bruce Springsteen as we shouted "Born in the USA, I was.... Born in the USA," out in the open air at the old CNE Grandstand. We were Canadians, of course, and always will be, but on those two, magical summer nights twenty years ago this weekend, borders were nowhere near our minds.

"We liked the same music, we liked the same bands, we liked the same clothes..."
In 1988, I took my first long road trip through the American Heartland, on drought-stained highways that wound through the Midwest cornfields to Tennessee and beyond.

In Memphis, there was Graceland, of course, and Beale Street where the avenue was actually equipped with electrical outlets, so the blues players could plug in their amps outdoors.

And onward.

The Grand Ol' Opry in Nashville.
Little Rock (where I almost met Governor Bill Clinton). Bourbon Street, the Grassy Knoll, the Canadarm at NASA in Houston. I even saw a taping of the PTL Club - after Jim and Tammy Bakker's fall - in Charlotte, because it was there and so was I.

Northbound. The White House, Washington Monument, and Lincoln Memorial. Side trip to Asbury Park, N.J. And then, Wall Street. Times Square. The Statue of Liberty. Broadway, Madison Square Gardens. The Lincoln Tunnel.

The World Trade Centre.

These places were American icons. But they were, in some not-so-remote ways, ours too. They couldn't help but be.

I've had many feelings about what has happened in America since September 11 (which, as an aside, is also my birthday - I turned on CNN that morning to the shocking sight of the first tower burning, just as the unknowing birthday calls were beginning).

I've generally been somewhat centre-liberal, politically speaking, so I probably would always have had a visceral reaction against the deceptive rationales for the War in Iraq, the excesses of the Schiavo fiasco, the rise of the neocons and theocons, and the distorted, wedge politics of Karl Rove, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly.

While I will always take intellectual issue with those sorts of right wing ideologues, I worry much more deeply that the growing estrangement between Canadian and American values is taking us toward the sunset of our crucial continental friendship with the USA.

Aside from the politics, it is kind of sad. I just don't recognize our old friend any more.

In Ambulance Blues, an obscure Neil Young dirge about the fabled Riverboat Cafe on Yorkville, North Toronto Collegiate's most famous musical alumnus tells us,

"There ain't nothin' like a friend
who can tell you you're just pissing in the wind."
(Sometimes I think I know what that line means).

Well, America, you are just pissing in the wind. And you're getting a tiny bit wet.

I have long believed that America's current eccentricities stem from a generalized, national post-traumatic stress reaction to 9-11.

I think the cloud, perhaps, may be finally beginning to lift.

Recent polls show President Bush's approval ratings falling as low as 36%. Perhaps this may signify a return to greater American moderation before the 2006 mid-term elections - Republicans like to win more than they like ideology.

Canadian political leaders, though, are starting to take this all quite seriously.

Still, I'm thinking Lloyd Axworthy's recent Toronto Star column, previously cited by blogger Cathie from Canada, goes a a bit too far.

Mr. Axworthy, Canada's former Foreign Affairs Minister, really pulls no punches:

"...The reality is that we are dealing with an American political system currently steeped in the ideology of "empire..." While most Canadians responded with dismay to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, few could quite grasp that the same cavalier, imperial attitudes exemplified in Washington's rejection of various agreements on disarmament, its fierce opposition to the International Criminal Court, its indifference to climate-change warnings, and its undermining of the U.N. would prevail in our continental relationship as well...

Let's face it: This is a painful and uncertain time in our relations with the United States... It's time for new policies and tough action to shift our trade and security strategies away from a preoccupation with continental matters to a more global footing....

Let's begin by seriously considering an end to NAFTA...
The emergence of new economic powers like China, India, Brazil and South Africa provides markets hungry for the resources and know-how that Canada possesses. Our NAFTA connection impedes our ability to take advantage of this potential. It's time to redefine this historic relationship....

Mr. Axworthy is a highly respected, former Canadian cabinet minister who has a lengthy and entirely dignified record. That he is advocating this radical policy direction is newsworthy, in and of itself.

Hopefully, we haven't come to this point, yet. This is a critical continental relationship. It can be, should be, and in my view, must be repaired.

If all else fails, 2008 isn't that long from now....

- Garry J. Wise

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Friday, August 26, 2005

Red, White and Balloon

My good friend, Dr. Lawrie Ingles, forwarded this by email..

Red, White and Balloon

A woman in a hot air balloon realized she was lost. She lowered her altitude and spotted a man in a boat below. She shouted to him, "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am."

The man consulted his portable GPS and replied, "You're 30 feet above sea level. You are at 31 degrees, 14.97 minutes north latitude and 100 degrees, 49.09 minutes west longitude."

She rolled her eyes and said, "You must be a Democrat."

"I am," replied the man. "How did you know?"

"Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to do with your information, and I'm still lost. Frankly, you've not been much help to me."

The man smiled and responded, "You must be a Republican."

"I am," replied the balloonist. "How did you know?"

"Well," said the man, "you don't know where you are or where you're going. You've risen to where you are, due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise that you have no idea how to keep, then you expect me to solve your problem. You're in exactly the same position you were in before we met but, somehow, now it's my fault."

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