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City Council decides to keep investigation into one of it’s own a secret


21 minute read

When governments have to release information they really don’t want the public to know about, they’ll release it late Friday afternoon.  That’s the one time in the week virtually no one is paying attention to the “news cycle”.  In fact, a Friday before a long weekend is as close to a perfect time to bury some information as you can get.  Reporters are people too.  They’ve got long weekend plans and they’re trying to get done early like everyone else.  Reporters are just as anxious as the average person to get home and desperately finish packing so they can rush out and pay more more to gas up (long weekend price hike coincidence/tradition).  More likely in these days of covid they’re just rushing home to fill up a glass (also more expensive but worth it at virtually any price, right?).

That’s why it was so interesting to see this news release from Red Deer City Council on Friday afternoon at 4:09.  It was actually posted to the city website at 4:05, so now I now it takes about 4 minutes for an email to get to me (It’s those fun little details that make the world go round eh?).

Actually I didn’t see it at 4:09 because like most people I don’t sit still in the afternoon watching my inbox to react immediately to every email.   Maybe I should.  Instead I typically check my email periodically, and typically that happens far less regularly late Friday afternoon.. especially on the Friday of a long weekend.. especially this particular Friday.  Instead of seeing this at 4:09 I was rushing from a quick trip to Calgary to pick up our oldest boy (U of C student) and I was transitioning to hockey coach, going over some U13 drills on the Hockey Canada website to prepare for our late afternoon U13B West Country hockey practice.  (The kids were awesome by the way). Then it was a meeting with team parents.  Then it was home to late supper.  Then it was movie night with our two boys.  Then to bed without even checking email and phone messages.

Just as they hoped (in my own humble opinion) I and many others didn’t see this email right away.  Now that I have seen it, I’m in quite a conundrum.  It’s a long weekend and I have plans to continue painting trim on our house.  I also plan to continue safe social distancing practices by staying away from loved ones for the second Thanksgiving in a row.  While painting I’ll also wonder why our governments and doctors aren’t aggressively pushing for early treatment so we can relieve pressure on our hospitals and save some lives and stop living in fear.. but I digress.

Saturday morning I started the typical upkeep of and periodically checked email messages.  Then I came across this beauty sent Friday afternoon at 4:09.  In case you haven’t seen it yet, here it is….

News Release from the City of Red Deer

Second Code of Conduct investigation closes

(Red Deer, Alberta) – An investigation stemming from a code of conduct complaint received by City Council on May 7, 2021, has closed, and a majority of Council did not accept the investigation report at yesterday’s Council meeting. The investigation is considered complete and will remain confidential under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIP).

“City Council’s Code of Conduct bylaw is a set of expectations for Council member’s conduct and behaviour. This is the second of two Code of Conduct complaints that were investigated in 2021,” said Deputy Mayor Lawrence Lee.

All municipalities in Alberta are required by the Municipal Government Act (MGA) to have a Code of Conduct Bylaw that sets shared expectations for conduct or behaviour. The bylaw outlines how members should conduct themselves while carrying out their responsibilities and establishes a review and investigation process when a complaint is received. The City of Red Deer passed its Code of Conduct Bylaw (2608-2018) on July 23, 2018.

After a review committee of three Council members initially reviewed the complaint, there was a majority vote to proceed to formal investigation. An investigator was hired to investigate and report back to City Council, and City Council had three meetings on this issue.

“Upholding City Council’s Code of Conduct, procedural fairness, relationships and role clarity are essential as we work to ensure good governance that is in the best interest of the organization and our community,” said Deputy Mayor Lawrence Lee.

Council passed a second resolution directing the confidential report be shared with the City Manager to prepare a confidential memorandum outlining “lessons learned” to be brought back to Council in the first quarter of 2022. The memorandum should make recommendations on the integration and relationships of the Mayor and Council’s office with administration. Through the City Manager, the staff and council will work together to move forward.

For more information about City Council’s Code of Conduct Bylaw, visit

So what does all this mean?  Well we know there was an investigation into the conduct of at least one member of city council.  We know three councillors reviewed this complaint.  Then the majority of council decided we (taxpayers) should pay an investigator to look into this complaint.  (That doesn’t sound cheap).  We know council met three times to discuss this complaint. Then the report came back and the majority of Red Deer City Council did not accept the investigator’s report that we (taxpayers) paid for.  And.. we know the investigation is considered complete and that it will “remain confidential” until someone pays for and goes through the process of applying for a Freedom of Information Request.

WE also know this might be the last time this council will meet before the 2021 Municipal Election.  What a brutal meeting to have hanging over your head as you gun for re-election!  Makes me feel horrible for all those candidates I know (and in some cases REALLY like) who have to face the electorate in a few days.  Kind of makes me SUPER curious about the contents of this second investigation.  Seems like precisely the kind of information I’d like to have before I decide who to vote for in a few days.  But as is happening so much these days, our elected officials are saving us from the details and we should rest easy knowing that they have our best interests in mind (you know, before their own).

So we’ll have to imagine how Thursday’s “in-camera” conversation went (and thousands of voters will be doing just that).  I guess someone must have said something like “I know this seemed like a big deal back in the spring.  I know we talked about it in three separate meetings and that three of us reviewed it and we all decided we should hire an investigator to look into this.  Buuuuuuut.  That was such a long time ago.  Now it’s fall and with an election just days away, frankly we’ve got better things to worry about.”   To which the majority of council must have said something like “You know. You’re right!  I don’t know what we were thinking back there in the spring.  The truth is there’s nothing to see here.  Why don’t we prove it by telling the people who pay us absolutely nothing about why we spent our time and their money investigating a complaint that three of us reviewed in the spring and the majority of us voted to proceed to formal investigation.”   Then I guess someone called for a vote.  When only Buck Buchanan and Dianne Wyntjes disagreed, (as reported here in this really interesting opinion piece/video by 2017 Council candidate Calvin Goulet-Jones) those seeking reelection all took off to presumably check on their election signs.

Actually this being the “Second” Code of Conduct investigation, it reminds me there was a “First” Code of Conduct investigation back in April.  Although that investigation started 1 month before this one, it actually wrapped up more than two months ago.  Investigation #1 resulted in Councillor Buck Buchanan facing some embarrassing disciplinary measures.  Remember that?  That news release was also released late in the afternoon, but NOT late Friday afternoon.  The news release regarding investigation number 1 was released at 4:59 Monday, July 26.  Media types know this means it’s going to be all the rage come Tuesday morning and will have lots of time to build up for the rest of the week.  Here’s what that looked like (in case you’re keeping score of the Council Code of Conduct investigations at home)….

News Release from the City of Red Deer

Code of Conduct investigation closes with sanctions for Councillor Buchanan

Following an independent investigation stemming from a complaint received by City Council on April 15, 2021, Councillor Buck Buchanan faces sanctions for breaching Red Deer City Council’s Code of Conduct Bylaw. By a majority vote on July 26, 2021, Council accepted the findings in the investigator’s report, which conclude that Councillor Buchanan breached three sections of the Code of Conduct Bylaw.All municipalities in Alberta are required by the Municipal Government Act (MGA) to have a Code of Conduct Bylaw that sets shared expectations for conduct or behaviour. The bylaw outlines how members should conduct themselves while carrying out their responsibilities and establishes a review and investigation process when a complaint is received. The City of Red Deer passed its Code of Conduct Bylaw (2608-2018) on July 23, 2018.The formal Code of Conduct complaint (C-01-2021), submitted by Mayor Tara Veer in response to public and staff complaints, alleges that Councillor Buchanan breached the bylaw through his social media activity in January 2021 and prior actions, causing City Council to lose leadership credibility and frustrating The City’s pandemic response efforts.

After a review committee of three Council members initially reviewed the complaint, and by majority vote determined that it should proceed to formal investigation, SAGE Analytics Inc. was hired to investigate and report back to City Council.

SAGE is a municipal consulting firm with expertise in governance evaluation, dispute resolution, and council code of conduct complaint investigations. SAGE utilized a process that included interviews and follow-up with both parties, witness interviews, a review of related correspondence received by The City, document review, analysis and report writing.

With the investigation complete, the findings conclude that Councillor Buchanan breached three sections in the Council Code of Conduct Bylaw:

  • 7.1, which states “members shall uphold the law established by the Parliament of Canada and the Legislature of Alberta and the bylaws, policies and procedures adopted by Council.”
  • 7.2, which states “members shall respect the Municipality as an institution, its bylaws, policies and procedures and shall encourage public respect for the Municipality, its bylaws, policies and procedures” and
  • 4.1(d), which states, City Council must “arrange their private affairs and conduct themselves in a manner that promotes public confidence.”

According to the findings, a social media post made by Councillor Buchanan in January 2021, combined with his prior actions, amounted to a breach of the bylaw. SAGE determined these actions were disrespectful to the local pandemic response efforts and increased a division in the community between individuals in favour of and opposed to health restrictions. SAGE’s report finds that through Councillor Buchanan’s actions, The City’s reputation was damaged, and The City’s pandemic response efforts were negatively impacted. They also determined he demonstrated a pattern of conduct where he made negative comments that did not promote public confidence in The City’s pandemic response efforts.

Having accepted that Councillor Buchanan contravened three sections of the Bylaw, Council considered the sanctions recommended by SAGE and ultimately resolved by majority vote to require that Councillor Buchanan:

  • Issue a public apology to Red Deer residents, businesses, staff, and Council for his actions and social media post on January 27, 2021, which caused increased confusion and division in the community during a time of crisis; and that this apology be provided to the satisfaction of Council, during a public portion of a Council meeting.
  • Arrange an in-person meeting with the AHS Central Zone Medical Director, or designate to offer a personal apology to Alberta Health Services for any harm caused by his public comments during the pandemic response.
  • Be suspended from all Council committees and all Deputy Mayor rotation duties until sincere apologies are provided.
  • Complete social media training hired and paid for by The City of Red Deer that aligns with typical media training for City staff.

The investigation is considered complete. Councillor Buchanan continues to serve as Red Deer City Councillor.

This is the first formal Code of Conduct complaint received by The City of Red Deer.

So we have two Code of Conduct investigations against this council.  The first looks kind of like an expensive slap on the wrist to Buch Buchanan for daring to ask on Twitter whether AHS had shown up at a restaurant in Sylvan Lake that was protesting covid restrictions.  (The Horror).  The second complaint?  Well it looked like a bigger deal back in the spring.

Just before I let you go back to Turkey prep and avoiding your loved ones I’d like to offer some free advice to the members of City Council who voted to keep the details of investigation number two from the people who pay for everything they do and for their salaries (as insufficient as they may seem to those who have to cash the cheques).  I admit this has to be free because in all likelihood no one in their right mind would pay for it.  However I’m avoiding the paint brush for just a few more minutes.  Here goes:  I really think it might be a good idea to tell voters who was investigated and why.  That’s it.  The problem with keeping this quiet is that it will tarnish not just the unfortunate soul(s) who was investigated.  Now all of you who voted this way will be part of that same embarrassment and presumably you could pay the price for this.

Yes 31 percent of the 60 percent of Canadians who vote, continually vote for Justin Trudeau no matter what aboriginal female minister he turfs for daring to question his friends at Canada’s most notorious construction firm, or how many times he wears black face or how many times he declares a holiday to recognize one of the most serious problems in Canada and then forgets he might be the most important person to appear at events on that day and accidentally takes his family on a private jet to an 18 million dollar hideaway (and then forgot to hide very well).  No matter what, some elected officials will have a blind following.  But you are definitely taking at least a small risk here.  Some people are paying attention (hi Calvin).  And some people talk to other people.  And some of those people will be voting.   And some people will jump to the conclusion that you voted to keep this quiet because you care about something else, anything else, more than you care about the voters who you are undoubtedly shaking hands with at the farmers market right now while you tell them that nothing is more important to you than they are.  But something is more important.  You should tell us.

Sorry for rambling.  I’ve completely run out of things to say.  If you want to run a beer over to our place to reward me for doing a second rate painting job.. just keep your distance.   I’ve got a valid negative covid rapid test that has to last until I get another one and another one before my vaccine kicks in.


After 15 years as a TV reporter with Global and CBC and as news director of RDTV in Red Deer, Duane set out on his own 2008 as a visual storyteller. During this period, he became fascinated with a burgeoning online world and how it could better serve local communities. This fascination led to Todayville, launched in 2016.

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Brownstone Institute

Witnessing the Media’s Covid Coverage from the Inside

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From the Brownstone Institute


If right-leaning outlets wanted my words and left-leaning ones did not, my Occam’s razor landed on ideology as the explanatory factor. So-called progressive media had a story to uphold and rejected any plot twist that threatened the cohesion of its narrative.

In the movie An Education, the main character gets sidetracked from her studies by a smooth-talking art dealer who turns out to be a criminal—and married. Our protagonist learns more from that experience than from all the medieval literature books she cracked open before. I have similar feelings about my own education. While I’ve been earning my living as a writer for the past 29 years, it’s only during the Covid era that I learned what the writing business is really about.

I wear two hats in my professional life: medical writer, creating materials for doctors and the healthcare industry, and feature-article journalist for consumer magazines. It wasn’t until Covid that I began pitching essays and op-eds for publication.

I started with a piece called “A Tale of Two Pandemic Cities,” which grew out of my short trip to Amsterdam and Stockholm in the summer of 2020, when the European Union opened its doors to “well-behaved” countries like Canada. The Covid hysteria in my country had made me desperate to visit more balanced parts of the world, and my trip didn’t disappoint. The article found a home at a Canadian outlet called Healthy Debate, though the editor asked me to temper my enthusiasm for the Swedish strategy with an acknowledgement of its risks. Happy to find a legit publisher for my first Covid piece, I capitulated, sort of. (You can judge for yourself.)

Thus began a feverish outpouring of essays, each one motivated by the same bewildered questions: What the hell is happening to the world, and why? Has everyone else gone mad, or is it me? I had written a few controversial articles throughout my career, but never before had I held a “dissenting view” about an issue that affected the whole world—or felt such an urgent need to express it.

The Great Divide

I quickly learned that certain news outlets were less open to my pieces than others. Salon, fuggedaboutit. Spiked Online, bull’s eye on the first try. Washington Post, not a chance. Wall Street Journal, a couple of “close, but no cigar” efforts and then finally a yes. It boiled down to this: the further left a publication leaned, the less likely it would publish my pieces (or even respond to my inquiries). I’m sure a statistician could write an equation to capture the trend.

So why the radio silence from left-wing publications? I doubted I was tripping their “Covid disinformation” radars, as my pieces had less to do with scientific facts than with social philosophy: the balance between safety and freedom, the perils of top-down collectivism, the abuse of the precautionary principle, that sort of thing. If right-leaning outlets wanted my words and left-leaning ones did not, my Occam’s razor landed on ideology as the explanatory factor. So-called progressive media had a story to uphold and rejected any plot twist that threatened the cohesion of its narrative. (Not that right-wing media behaved much differently. Such is the age of advocacy journalism.)

Most nerve-wracking of all were the publishers who accepted my articles but, like that first Healthy Debate editor, insisted I make substantive changes. Should I concede or push back? I did a bit of both. The most important thing, I told myself, was to make people reflect on the topsy-turvy policies that had freeze-framed the world. If I had to soften a few sentences to get the word out, so be it. I have the utmost respect for writers who refuse to yield on such matters, but 29 years of paying the bills from my writing have tipped my internal compass toward pragmatism.

I did stand my ground with an article on the mask wars. My thesis was that the endless and pointless disputes on social media—masks work, no they don’t, yes they do, no they don’t—had less to do with science than with worldview: irrespective of the data, social collectivists would find a way to defend masks, while my freedom-first compatriots would never countenance a perma-masked world.

One editor agreed to publish the piece if I mentioned that some studies favor masking, but I argued that quoting studies would undercut my central argument: that the forces powering the mask wars have little to do with how well they block viruses. He wouldn’t budge, so we parted ways and I found a more congenial home for the piece at the Ottawa Citizen.

Hidden Treasures

The process of pitching counternarrative essays, while arduous at times, led me to a smorgasbord of lesser-known, high-quality publications I never would have discovered otherwise. Topping the list was the glorious UnHerd, a UK news and opinion website with such daring thinkers as Mary Harrington and Kathleen Stock on its roster of contributors. The US-based Tablet magazine offered consistently fresh takes on Covid and never took the easy road in its analyses. In its pages I found one of the most powerful Covid essays I have ever read. The author, Ann Bauer (no relation), teased out the common threads between the “settled science” about the virus and the litany of quack theories about autism, which fed into her son’s death by suicide.

Then there was Quillette, whose contempt for the sacred cows of wokeism gave me a special thrill. True confession: I blew my chances with Quillette and it’s my own damned fault. Like many working writers, I sometimes pitch a piece to more than one outlet at the same time, a practice known as simultaneous submissions. This goes against protocol—we’re supposed to wait until an editor declines our pitch before approaching the next one—but the reality is that many editors never respond. With the deck thus stacked against us, we writers sometimes push the envelope, figuring the odds of getting multiple acceptances (and thus pissing off editors) are low enough to take the risk.

On this particular occasion, I submitted an article called “Lessons from my Half-Vaxxed Daughter” to three publications. Medpage Today responded right away, and I accepted their offer to publish it. (This was while Marty Makary, the dissident-lite physician who called out people’s distorted perception of Covid risk in mainstream media, led the editorial team.) A few hours later, Quillette’s Canadian editor sent me a slightly reworked version of my piece and told me when he planned to run it. I had no choice but to proffer a red-faced apology and admit I had already placed the article elsewhere. He never responded to my email or to a follow-up mea culpa a few weeks later—and has ignored everything I’ve submitted since then. I guess I’ll have to wait until he retires.

Podcast Polarities

Earlier this year, Brownstone Institute published my book Blindsight Is 2020which critiques the pandemic response through the lens of 46 dissident thinkers. By all standards a moderate book, it stays clear of any “conspiratorial” speculations about the origins of the pandemic or the political response to it. Instead, it focuses on the philosophical and ethical issues that kept me awake at night during the peak Covid years—the same themes I explore in my essays, but in greater depth. I wrote the book not just for “my team,” but for those who vehemently opposed my views—perhaps especially for them. I didn’t expect to change their minds as much as to help them understand why some of us objected so strenuously to the policies they cheered on.

After the book came out, a few podcasters invited me to their shows. I appeared on a Libertarian Institute podcast in which the host puffed on his hand-rolled cigarettes while we talked. I spoke to an amiable ex-con podcaster who made it his mission to share Ayn Rand’s ideas with the world. I bonded with Rupa Subramanya—a brilliant Canadian conservative journalist and podcaster featured in my book—over the Freedom Convoy we had both supported.

All told I’ve appeared on 22 podcasts to date, each of them hosted by a right-leaning or libertarian host. Crickets from the left. Not one to accept defeat, I’ve begun reaching out to left-leaning podcasters on my own. Perhaps one day I’ll hear back from them.

Covid media, like so much else in modern life, has become hopelessly fractured: the tall, left-facing trees dominate the landscape, telling the story of a deadly virus that we “did the best we could” to manage. Below the tree canopy lies the tangle of weeds that sway in the wind, whispering songs of freedom and warning against the totalitarian impulses that all too readily emerge during crises. While I’ll continue to throw my essays at those unyielding trees, the messy underbrush is where I’ve found my journalistic home.


  • Gabrielle Bauer

    Gabrielle Bauer is a Toronto health and medical writer who has won six national awards for her magazine journalism. She has written three books: Tokyo, My Everest, co-winner of the Canada-Japan Book Prize, Waltzing The Tango, finalist in the Edna Staebler creative nonfiction award, and most recently, the pandemic book BLINDSIGHT IS 2020, published by the Brownstone Institute in 2023

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Bruce Dowbiggin

Could AI Make Yesterday Into Today For Culture, Sports & Politics?

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On a recent trip to the Fredericton Playhouse to see PEI’s splendid The East Pointers we couldn’t help but notice amongst the coming attractions an appearance by the Glenn Miller Orchestra. As far as we know, Miller disappeared over the British Channel in 1944 on his way to play a concert for the troops post D-Day.

Since then a succession of people have carried his musical heritage under the Miller name. Most of them have joined Miller in the great bandstand in the sky. It is safe to say that the number of people who heard anything by Miller himself live are virtually nil. Still, someone is still buying tickets to hear A String of Pearls, Pennsylvania 6-500, Chattanooga Choo-Choo and In The Mood.

Perhaps it was serendipity but seeing that Miller was still a thing came shortly after the arrival of a final Beatles song “Now and Then”. It’s not as long ago as the final Glenn Miller original cut, but “Now and Then” is the first original Beatles music since the 1970s. Which is when this lacklustre John Lennon composition was born from a demo cut by Lennon.

Its provenance has been talked about by Beatles obsessives ever since. Frankly they’d be excited to hear Lennon/ McCartney read the Liverpool phone book. (Which won’t be any less underwhelming than this song.) Now And Then stayed out of the public realm, probably because George Harrison (d. 2001) hated it, and the recording was scratchy at best.

But thanks to the officious Paul McCartney cleaning it up in the studio and AI producing a catchy video to accompany the song “Now and Then” is on the Billboard chart with a bullet. Where it will probably stay for a while. No doubt this artful dodge will put the idea of reviving other dead musical icons into the heads of their colleagues and supporters.

The AI variations already extend past music. “@ilumine_ai This has been my first test of an experiment I’m doing, which is why it might feel a bit rough. It might not seem like it, but this video shows a single, uncut take at normal speed, where I move through a 3D stage that I am generating at will and in real time.”

Can some clever soul use AI to create a new Humphrey Bogart movie using previous material? What about reviving Katherine Hepburn from her many films? Could Glenn Miller suddenly emerge from the mists to lead his band in Fredericton? We already know about The Beatles.

There ramifications, says cartoonist/commentator Scott Adams.. “If you let ChatGPT answer without constraints, it gives you the “approved narrative,” also known as bullshit. In other words, you can use AI to give you any answer you want on political questions by manipulating the allowed “experts.”

No wonder the Screen Actors Guild went on strike this year to protect the properties of stars dead and alive. What security will they have if AI makes them redundant? AI is, in the words of Hunter S. Thompson, “a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.”

To say nothing of the AI implications for sports. Can AI replicate the greatest of the past? Already there’s a slightly cheesy commercial running in which present-day Wayne Gretzky counsels 18-year-old Wayne Gretzky on the future. But could AI create a better NHL mixing Gretz, Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr and Bobby Hull with the best of today? A league with no injuries, no travel fatigue, no bad coaching? Ditto for the other leagues. An NFL with Joe Montana, an NBA with Michael Jordan, an MLB with Barry Bonds?

In Canadian politics AI could revive Pierre Elliot Trudeau to assist his dimwitted son (“Interest rates are at historic lows,” PMJT, 2020). Bill Davis could bring back the days of Blue Ontario. Ralph Klein could recreate the Alberta Advantage. If someone younger and more charismatic pops up you can use them in the present. With an AI figure waiting in the wings for when the real politicians eventually screw up.

In the US-AI, the leading candidates for U.S. president in 2024 are creakingly old. Democrats are in a lather over Joe Biden’s decrepit state as he hit 81 this week (he’d be 87 when a possible second term ended). Polls show Americans are not fooled by the grinning Amphetamine Joe staggering up the stairs of Air Force One.

Republicans are alternatively exhilarated and exhausted by the prospect of loopy 78-year-old Donald Trump carrying their banner next November. With Trump it’s less age than instability. Were he remotely stable he’d be leading Biden by 15 points in the polls.

In the Senate and House of Representatives octogenarian and nonagenarian members are literally dying at their desks for want of term limits. Across the political spectrum voters and media are asking, “Is this the best we can do?” Some recall the movie Dave where Kevin Kline plays a doppelgänger for a comatose U.S. president. Maybe that might work?

Or what if AI could revive JFK or Ronald Reagan in their primes? Or John McCain and Ruth Bader Ginsberg? “Now and Then” would be an appropriate slogan for re-inserting these tried & true political figures into the present, using their former selves to re-craft today’s arguments. (We’ve seen how it might work since most believe that Biden is simply the conduit for a third Obama term.)

Anything has to be better than two old guys who could’ve heard “I’ve Got A Gal In Kalamazoo” when it was originally released by Glenn Miller in 1942.

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Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster  A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft Years In NHL History, his new book with his son Evan, was voted the seventh-best professional hockey book of all time by . His 2004 book Money Players was voted sixth best on the same list, and is available via

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