A weekly look at the top (and bottom) five in the world of sports, politics, and culture
1. The Toronto Raptors finished their turn around season with a heart breaking loss on Friday night in New Jersey. I didn't expect them to win the series, but they played hard and with a few breaks, perhaps should have been playing a game seven today in Toronto. Any way you look at it, it was a successful year for the Raptors, who embodied everything good about sports. This was a rare team, especially in the ego driven world of professional sports, which genuinely liked each other. An unselfish, modest, and diverse group of athletes who, if not Canadian, embodied Canadian values. Looking forward to next season, but in the meantime, take a bow, fellas, you done good.
2. Embattled Defense Minister Gordon O'Connor. Yeah, I know that he hasn't handled the Afghanistan file very well lately, and I know he should have been more forthright about what the arrangement was about handing over Taliban detainees. But over his short time in the minister's office, the Canadian Armed Forces are more equipped, better funded, and better served then any time in the last twenty years. Liberals who are calling for him to be removed should ask the soldiers on the ground what they think, especially since it was the Liberals who cut their funding so much that at one point in the Nineties, some soldiers on the ground were wearing their green fatigues... in the desert!
3. The resolute nature of Canadians. All of this awful politicizing of Taliban prisoners, who according to some of the opposition, should be given Canadian citizenship for killing our soldiers, had not made a dent in our support for the United Nations, and NATO supported mission over in Afghanistan. What I love most about this is that Canadians understand we must stand up for those who can't stand up for themselves, that it's an integral part of who we are. Good for you for not listening to all the crap coming from Parliament Hill.
4. Our soldiers. Just a quick note to say thank you for what you're doing. Did you know that recruitment for Armed Forces is higher than it's been in decades? Probably haven't read that lately, but a lot of young Canadians want to make a difference, and believe that they can make a difference, even in troubled, dangerous spots like Afghanistan. The Canadian soldiers, all of you, are setting a great example. And we see it.
5. The Ottawa Senators. This is the year they get to the Cup. I said it before, and I'll say it again. Congratulations. And for Bob Cole, my favorite announcer, can you please work up a little excitement for the Sens? I know Ottawa fans have trashed you through the years, but last night's game in Jersey was brutal. And a special shout to the Golden State Warriors for one of the greatest upsets in NBA history, beating the Mavericks in six games. Baron Davis... what a fighter.
1. The federal Liberals and Bloc Quebecois who dragged the whole Shane Doan incident back before the media. Shane Doan, a devout Christian, was cleared of supposedly making a comment about a ref two years ago. Now, you question him being chosen as Captain for Team Canada? This is so disgusting to me, I'm frothing. Don't you have a job to do, something other than trashing people's reputations who are representing our country, like, I don't know, running the government? And where are the Conservatives? Doesn't anyone have the courage to speak up for this good Canadian kid? Special shout out to Susan Riley, a columnist with whom I rarely agree. Her take on this incident is searing and well written. Good for you, Susan.
2. The Dallas Mavericks and Dirk Nowitzki, the probable MVP, are out of the playoffs. The best team in the NBA this year is out in 6 games. And Dirk, well, where was he? Just another reason why Nash is and should be a three-time MVP.
3. The environmentalists' lobby refusal to be honest about cost. Look, I think most Canadians are concerned about the environment, but please be honest with us about the cost. I am begging for all you activists out there to not "Michael Moore" this whole thing, because than we'll lose support from the moderates, who we'll need to push through some real changes. Governing is about balance. That said, you've done a wonderful job opening our eyes to some of the real changes we should be trying to make.
4. Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Monarchy. Does anyone know who Stephen Harper's parents are? No. Hmmm... And he went to the University of... where was it? Somewhere in Alberta? First Paul Martin and his dad... That was bad enough, now we have the son of the worst Prime Minister in Canadian history... okay, the last fifty years anyway, which is about as far as we remembers... who is being embraced like he's some kind of hero. Sigh. I get that he will run on his dad's name. Fine. But why is the media going gaga over this kid? Because he's good looking? Because he taught elementary school? No, that can't be it. Must be nice to George W. Bush your way into office... and people say I'M conservative...
More hits than misses this week, folks, as it should be. A special shout to Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has done quite a bit of good (excepting Iraq) in Britain these past ten years. Good luck in the future, Mr. Blair.
Have a good Sunday, everyone.