The 11 of 2011

Hello blogosphere, it sure is nice to visit again. No excuses for my sporadic care and attention to you – life is busy, passions get re-directed and ultimately, when you have spent your life writing, having another beast in the lair of your mind to feed might be one extra beast too many.

However, rest assured, though my fingers did not dance as frequently across this keyboard as before, while blogging like no one is watching,  it did not mean I was detached from the lovely, recession plagued, one per cent driven, 99 per cent wailing, Arab Spring jumping planet of ours.

What will 2012 hold? Who really knows but some things are assured: economies will remain tight, atrocities will still occur, politicians will still confound, the Toronto Maple Leafs will not win the Stanley Cup and you, the constant reader, the internet nomad, the blogging rogue, will still be out there. Happy travels and I hope you return.

For your review, by the warm glow of your tablet, smart phone, laptop or desktop, during this frigid January, is our humble submission for top stories of the year called The 11 of 2011. Better late than never….


Who could have imagined the incredible public outpouring after the death of Jack Layton, NDP and official opposition leader, here in Canada. Gentleman Jack, as we fondly remember him, motivated and stirred passion among the Canadian voting public in the 2011 federal election. He WAS the Orange Wave that swept through Quebec and in other parts of Canada, pushing the New Democratic Party to unparalleled and likely never to repeat again heights.

The big screen at St. Andrew's for the state funeral nearby. Photo By: Vince Versace

Sitting in Toronto’s St. Andrew’s church to watch his state funeral on the big screen was a touchstone life moment. The celebration of his life in that church was an emotional rollercoaster I had never felt before for someone who was not an immediate family member or friend. From poignant audio and video clips, to rousing, almost Baptist-revival-like music and performances, Gentleman Jack’s memory was truly celebrated. He is still missed on our political landscape and for us political junkies, in our notepads and hearts too.


An example of the public outcry after the 2011 Vancouver riot. Photo By: Vince Versace

Stupid is as stupid does. That best describes the neanderthals, hooligans and thugs who ripped up downtown Vancouver after their Vancouver Canucks lost in the seventh game of the Stanley Cup finals against the big, bad Boston Bruins. No one likes losing but someone has to in sport. However, tearing up your city on national television is no way to vent.

A common refrain after the Vancouver riot. Photo By: Vince Versace

We were on the ground in Vancouver the day after the riot as volunteers and normal citizens tried to reclaim and clean up their city. What had occurred just 24 hours before had left that community in shock. Watching and then reading the outpouring of emotion by citizens as they wrote on sheets of plywood or on homemade flags and banners, denouncing the idiots and proclaiming their civic love, was a moving sight.


Every have a book you just can’t put down but at the same time, you cannot speed up to read through? Welcome to my life and the relationship I had with the book Paris 1919: Six Months that Changed the World by Margaret MacMillan. I LOVED THIS BOOK! However, before you rush out and buy it, take note, it helps to have interests in history and politics to read it. This is a dense, fact-filled book which is wonderfully researched and written.

A wonderfully researched and written book, perfect for the history-politico junkie in your life.

I learned so much, chapter to chapter, about the decisions and players that influenced and ultimately crafted the world we currently both enjoy and shake our heads about. The genesis of our mistakes, messes and some of our recent darkest hours, as a global community, can mostly be found in this book. If you do not like to read to learn, or do not enjoy history and politics, stay far away and go read another Twilight novel.


So, the mayor everyone loves to hate, in the heart of Toronto that is, is still apparently roundly loved by his suburban power base. Mayor Rob Ford rode to office with promises of eliminating the so-called “gravy train” at city hall. The head-shaking moments during his first year in office vary but one strikes us as troublesome, his war with the Toronto Star.

Mayor Ford refuses to be interviewed, let alone release his press releases and itinerary, to one of Canada’s largest dailies. He is still looking for a front page apology from the Star over a story he disagreed with. The mayor’s office is a public office paid for by the taxpayers…the same taxpayers who Mayor Ford holds dear (and I do believe his sincere care for them). They deserve to know the office they entrust to run the city is open to all…including media that the mayor may not agree with. Kudos to the Toronto Star city hall reporting team who have been doing an incredible job considering the obstacles in their way. Mayor Ford says he  respects the taxpayer, are the employees and readers of The Star taxpayers not worthy enough of his respect?

Seven other notable stories:

  • The Norway massacre in which 77 people were killed in two separate attacks orchestrated by a crazed gunman. So much youth and innocence lost to a madman.
  • NASA’s space shuttle flies its last space flight. Thank you for all the space exploration, spirit, innovation and memories on those majestic big birds.
  • Canada’s federal Conservative party secures their long elusive majority government on Parliament Hill. Like them or hate them, at least some work will get done.
  • The beating up of President Barack Obama. The American president has been besieged by his critics and wing nuts who would not survive a day in his shoes under such relentless and unfair scrutiny. He is still a good man who simply needs to lead like he can and throw some haymakers along the way.
  • The death of Osama bin Laden. For some Americans, this provided both real and symbolic closure. President Obama’s cool walk after making the announcement was priceless.
  • The 10th anniversary of 9/11. A heart wrenching day burned into most of our minds. Hard to believe 10 years have passed.
  • The “occupy” movement, from mere embryo initiative in New York to worldwide phenomena in mere months…what were its tangible results? Not sure…plenty of awareness? Possibly…that is if you were interested in listening.

The Saturday Six: May 22, 2010

A rusted out old car near where Route 66 used to run through the Painted Desert in Arizona. PHOTO BY: VINCE VERSACE


Today’s photo from the Versace Vistas archive was snapped in early 2009 after a great day hiking and exploring the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest in Arizona. The weather went from violently windy and stormy to placid and comfortable from one end of the park to the other. A great surprise was coming across the telephone poles which used to run along Route 66 when it stretched through the Painted Desert. You can see those poles just beyond the rusted out husk of the old car.

Here we go, your Victoria Day Weekend Saturday Six:

I’ll show you mine if you show me yours: So, our members of parliament do not want Auditor-General Sheila Fraser to take a peek at their expenses. Considering it is our money they have spent we have a right to see what they are spending it on. If you have nothing to hide, then there should not be a problem.

Calling Rogers…wake up and smell the war: Dear Rogers- Please revise your customer service representative training and contract policy ASAP. There’s a Canadian soldier who has been shipped to Afghanistan whose family is fighting Rogers to get him out of his contract temporarily. There should not be an issue here but obviously there is one when the dad of this Canadian soldier takes his story to the media.

Monster Mash Time- “The Ugly One” has arrived: Big Trout Lake in northern Ontario seems to have a monster mystery on its hands. Local elders call the animal body which washed up on the lake’s shoreline “the ugly one”. Looks like a lake otter whose facial skin and fur has deteriorated off….

Unique gravemarkers- talk about going out in style: An interesting collection of gravemarkers. Some people do get the last laugh.

London’s 2012 Olympic mascots: There’s only one word for those mascots: RIDICULOUS.

Now that is an invention!: Have you found yourself trapped at your desk among a gaggle of wires, power cables, USB chords etc. ? Here is a picture of an invention so incredible in its simplicity to help organize that chaos.

The “little dumber boys” beat election war drums

Iggy has his game face on and is ready to rock. How about you Stone Cold Steve?
Iggy has his game face on and is ready to rock. How about you Stone Cold Steve?

The steady drumming of the federal election war drums in Canada is picking up speed, possibly hurtling the voters who still care into a fourth election in five years.

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and his team have unveiled “campaign style” ads recently and his rhetoric has gained a more hostile tone. Promises that it is time to bring down the Harper government are being twittered, blogged and whispered about.

Ignatieff says the Harper Tories have mismanaged the nation into a horrible deficit and economic mess. He claims they have not done enough to help Canadians endure the recession, even after opposition parties gave Harper a chance to institute his economic recovery plan. Ignatieff says the time is now for change.

What pray tell would the Liberals have done better? Or how about the three-headed hydra of the now fallen opposition coalition which sought to bring down Harper earlier this year, would they have done a better job?

This is how bad opposition parties want Harper out, the famed and thankfully failed coalition.
The thankfully failed coalition, could they have done better?

If someone could point to some kind of policy, not rhetoric, but proposed policy by the opposing parties that would have helped Canada not sustain some kind of beating, from a recession which was worldwide in implication no less, by all means, please share it.

We have fared well and this space in the blogosphere has never been a haven for Conservatives. In fact, we welcomed Ignatieff as the foil to the Harper bully but this is not what we had hoped for.

Have there been job losses? Yes. Has stimulus money not “rolled out” as expected? Yes, but realistically, golden handshakes from the feds should not have deterred municipalities from starting to get projects out the door. Are opposition parties afraid that when all the stimulus does result in projects, people will look more positively at the Tories? You can bet on it.

Don’t be fooled by the hype folks, this government could work if it wanted to, instead this is all about who gets to sit in the big chair and can’t wait to do so.

Lastly, did the Conservatives blow calling and foreseeing the recession for what it was? Yes. Then again, so did pretty much every other nation on the planet, including every G8 and G20 nation. We did not see it until it landed right on our heads.

If the opposition parties do bring down the government over the next couple of weeks, after the house resumes, we could be in an election as early as October 26 or sometime in November.

Ignatieff and his Liberals would be entering the race a few percentage points behind, so let him beat his war drum and let the opposition parties follow. Is the risk worth it?

Is the spectre of Harper gaining momentum to head for a majority sometime in the future, a majority he could not secure with lightweight Stephane Dion as his arch rival, really that frightening or logical?

Stay the course. Allow Canadians to deal with this recession and then run a legitimate election at its appropriate time. Don’t be fooled by the hype folks, this government could work if it wanted to, instead this is all about who gets to sit in the big chair and can’t wait to do so.

Mr. Harper, that is 100 per cent BULL!

bullA screen capture of the Harper government’s chest-thumbing website that claims 80 per cent of their economic action plan to tackle the recession has been implemented. 80 per cent you say? That is 100 per cent bull we say.

Pardon any typos or fragments instead of sentences in this blog post. It is tough to type as you pick yourself up off the floor, partly from shock, partly from laughing hysterically at the Tory government’s recent update on their stimulus efforts.

What in the world does 80 per cent implemented mean in the Stephen Harper world of politics? Considering municipalities and a handful of industries have been wondering about when exactly funding for projects will actually flow, the pretty map with shovels on the Tory’s Canadian Economic Action Plan website is just that…pretty with all those shovels in Tory blue circles.

Does re-announcing and recasting funding already committed in the budget or better yet, the cash which is late in flowing from the $33 billion Building Canada Fund, help constitute “80 per cent implemented”?

Between the ridiculous Ignatieff attack ads and the snazzy website, it is clear, the Tory’s are becoming a lot of flash and little substance.

I never supported the opposition party power move earlier this year to remove them but this latest proclamation of progress is a pipe dream and signal that Harper and his Tory’s need to go. Why? Because they are trying to play the rest of us for fools. Money has not flowed. Infrastructure dollars have not resulted in a wealth of shovels hitting the ground.

They are taking us for granted and the fact we bailed out our auto industry to the tune we did is reason enough to give these guys the boot. Media and the public is partly to blame as well in this. Everyone gets up-in- arms, including the opposition, over a minister calling cancer a sexy issue (which it is to a politician and in the realm of politics and that is the cold hard truth) but throwing good public money to a privately created problem hardly got people up-in-arms with the same outrage.

An election during a recession is a tough sell. Put that election in the summer and it even gets worse but the plug needs to get pulled.

However, here is what I fear, most Canadians and people are superficial when it comes to their news, especially in the multimedia age, so the Tory’s strategy might just save their bacon.

A nifty website, funny and attention-getting tv ads might deflect enough attention away from their bull which is 100 per cent implemented.

Sexy Canadian politicians rule my blog

I humbly bow to the prowess and attraction of Canadian politicians.

After over a year of trying to pen solid prose, analysis and thoughtful blogs, even funny ones at times, I lay down my pen to the mighty sexual wiles of Canadian politicians.

My post about sexy Canadian politicians that I wrote on May 4 of last year has stomped its way into dominance on my blog stats. It now has more views than the next three most popular posts COMBINED.

On my search terms that brought people to my blog, once again, it holds the top two spots. Also in the top five, the term “Ruby Dhalla sexy”, a search for the exotically beautiful Brampton-Springdale MP appears. I would like to think it is people just wanting to learn more about her political bio but note the word “sexy”.

I will fully admit, I knew what I was doing when I penned that original post, sex sells and I hoped to capitalize. But, wow, I never thought it would be like this. I know, this sounds like a whine, but it is more about writer pride and ego being slightly bruised.

Has that post generated return visitors? Not too sure about that. Does it draw visitors daily? Yes. Even when I went through two horrible spells of writer’s block, that post kept the dust from settling down around here too thick.

Canadian politicians are sexy, who knew and my blog is better for it…I think.