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Bruce Dowbiggin

Dead-End Streets & Empty Graves: Faking The Past

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The problem with history is that you can attach your name to passing fads— say, Ukraine flag emojis— and be considered one of the cool kids. For a while. But eventually truth catches up with you. (Just ask Joe Biden.) And if you cannot defend your attachment to banning Dundas Street or calling Canada genocidal you will eventually find yourself on the wrong side of history, mocked, disparaged and rightfully ignored by future generations.

If you are Stalin or Mao in such a bind you simply shoot everyone who points out your gross inaccuracies. But if you live in a less blood-soaked tyranny, you’d better be prepared to face your critics.

Which brings us to the virtuous folks at Toronto City Hall who want to remove the name of Scotsman Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville, from the 23-kilometre stretch from Mississauga to Scarborough that bears his name. In the same rush of blood to the head that saw radicals change the name of Ryerson University to the Anodyne School of Nothingness, these crack researchers decided Dundas was an active proponent of slavery in the eighteenth/nineteenth centuries.

The proposal they’ve presented to Toronto City Council would cost (their estimate) $8.1 M to remove his name from the endless street. This at a time when the Gardiner Expressway is set to collapse. And city parks are filled with drug addicts and mental health patients. And getting a building permit is only slightly less difficult than the Egyptians creating the pyramids. Priorities!

But we digress. The cost to every person, business or church located on that span or to those doing business with, sending a parcel to or planning a transit trip on Dundas dwarfs that estimate. But Wokeness must be served. Dundas had tried to prevent the anti-slavery forces in England from banning the practice universal in the world at the time. Smart guys say so.

Now—saints preserve us— three former Toronto mayors beg to disagree. They’ve actually read the history of Dundas that the civil servants misrepresented, and they want new lefty mayor Olivia Chow to stop the Dundas Street purge. Turns out Dundas was a LEADER in ending slavery in the British empire, after all. Oops.

For media slappies— you know who you are— who embraced the demise of Dundas much as they embraced the defrocking of Egerton Ryerson, Joseph Brant and Sir John A. this creates whiplash. How to stay onside with the real history after going balls-deep on the slavery devil narrative?

The easy answer is to— look at that shiny object— refer to the handy list of other street names still to be banned by city hall. Yonge Street. Wellesley Street. Simcoe Street. Even Baby Point Road. Go hard on them. Sure, you’ll run out of tyrants and racists eventually, but by then everyone will have forgotten how you libeled Dundas and Sir John A.

A similar rethink is also underway in regards to the “Mass graves/ Genocidal Canada” story promoted by PMJT. You remember? Skippy clutching a teddy bear in a Kamloops cemetery that was rumored to contain the graves of children who met a bad end in the care of the Church or residential school? Then cancelling Canada Day and leaving flags at half mast for months. And telling the UN that Canada is genocidal, because x-rays showed what could have been dead babies underground. Or just rocks.

Forget that no parent of a Rez school child had ever reported a child missing or alleged murder or exorcism, the PM cast his lot with the murder meme. In several cases Trudeau was told by chiefs that the locals knew precisely who was buried in those graves. Cowessess First Nation band member Irene Andreas . “There is no ‘discovery’ of graves.  We buried our dead with a proper funeral. Then we allowed them to Rest In Peace…To assume that foul play took place would be premature and unsupported… So please, people, do not make up stories about residential school children being put in unmarked graves. No such thing ever happened.”

Trudeau was unrepentant. It was Teddy bear or bust. As we wrote in June, the narrative was furthered by the absence of any exhumed graves. Critics— labelled as deniers— were forced to disprove the story. Former Indigenous Affairs Minister Marc Miller described as “ghouls” those who pointed out that residential school indigenous children died of the diseases of the day. As a few brave souls discovered, crossing Miller was a ticket to non-person status.

Until now. Turns out that Brandon University excavators examined a site under a Manitoba church identified as problematic by x-ray. The ground search cited 57 abnormalities. Their finding? Nope. Just rocks.

Which should be good news. Except if, like Trudeau’s chum Miller, you’re invested in Justin’s Genocidal narrative. Then it’s very bad. Pine Creek nation chief Derek Nepinak took great pains in announcing the discovery to stress, like Yosemite Sam, that I-don’t-know-how-they-done-it, but-I-know-they-done- it.

Nepinak’s preamble: “As a community we were preparing for more than one possible outcome, which meant we would prepare for the worst but hope for the best.” This suggested no remains was a positive.  https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/excavation-after-14-anomalies-detected-at-former-residential-school-site-found-no-evidence-of-graves-manitoba-chief

Guess again. “The results of our excavation under the church should not be deemed as conclusive of other ongoing searches and efforts to identify reflections from other community processes including other (ground-penetrating radar) initiatives… “This does not mark the end of our truth-finding project.”

No kidding. Except the very limited excavations done so far have revealed none of the alleged murdered children so desperately conjured up by the Trudeau media and the radicals in the Indigenous community. Barring forensic evidence we are left with stories from elders and the lurid tales at the reconciliation committee.

That standard may be fine for the Indigenous community, but in the outside world those journalists who described scenes of horror and Canada’s role in it should disappear for a while. Fat chance. That would include David Butt, a Toronto criminal lawyer writing in the Globe and Mail, claiming “The discovery of thousands of unmarked graves of Indigenous children on the sites of former residential schools…looks and smells like criminal activity.”

Activist firebrand Robert Jago said anyone questioning the validity of his own genocide allegations should be considered equivalent to “Holocaust denial” and punished as a hate-speech purveyor. And then there’s Trudeau cabinet hacks like Miller echoing The Boss.

So don’t expect a reckoning. There are truths, and then there are truths. As former CRTC vice chair Peter Menzies observed: “The one thing this process has made abundantly clear is that the interests of anyone outside their club are irrelevant to all inside it.”

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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 bookauthority.org . His 2004 book Money Players was voted sixth best on the same list, and is available via http://brucedowbigginbooks.ca/book-personalaccount.aspx

BRUCE DOWBIGGIN Award-winning Author and Broadcaster Bruce Dowbiggin's career is unmatched in Canada for its diversity and breadth of experience . He is currently the editor and publisher of Not The Public Broadcaster website and is also a contributor to SiriusXM Canada Talks. His new book Cap In Hand was released in the fall of 2018. Bruce's career has included successful stints in television, radio and print. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster for his work with CBC-TV, Mr. Dowbiggin is also the best-selling author of "Money Players" (finalist for the 2004 National Business Book Award) and two new books-- Ice Storm: The Rise and Fall of the Greatest Vancouver Canucks Team Ever for Greystone Press and Grant Fuhr: Portrait of a Champion for Random House. His ground-breaking investigations into the life and times of Alan Eagleson led to his selection as the winner of the Gemini for Canada's top sportscaster in 1993 and again in 1996. This work earned him the reputation as one of Canada's top investigative journalists in any field. He was a featured columnist for the Calgary Herald (1998-2009) and the Globe & Mail (2009-2013) where his incisive style and wit on sports media and business won him many readers.

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Bruce Dowbiggin

Coyotes Ugly: The Sad Obsession Of Gary Bettman

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It came to this. Playing in the 6,000 seat Mullet Arena on the campus of Arizona State. Owned by a luckless guy who eschewed the public spotlight. Out of the playoffs, their bags packed for who knows where, the Arizona (née Phoenix) Coyotes gave an appreciative wave to the tiny crowd gathered to say  Thanks For The Memories.

With that they were history. Although NHL commissioner-for-life Gary Bettman has promised the last in a set of hapless owners that he can revive the franchise for a cool billion should he build the rink that no one was willing to build for the Yotes the past 20 years.

The Arizona Republic said good riddance. “Metro Phoenix lost the Coyotes because we are an oversaturated professional and college sports market with an endless supply of sunshine and recreational choices. Arizona may have dodged a slapshot:

We have the NFL Cardinals, the MLB Diamondbacks, the NBA Suns, MLB spring training, the WM Phoenix Open, the Phoenix Rising, the WNBA Mercury, the Indoor Football League Rattlers and the Arizona State Sun Devils. There hasn’t been a household name on the Coyotes since Shane Doan, and half of Phoenix probably doesn’t know who he was”.

Likely they’ll be a financial success in Salt Lake City where there’s a viable owner, lots of money and a will to make it work. They’ll need a will because— stop me if you’ve heard this before about the Coyotes—  the rink they’ll play in this fall has only 12,500 unobstructed views for hockey.

Watching this farce we recalled getting a call from Blackberry co-founder Jim Balsillie in 2008, shortly after our book Money Players was a finalist for the Canadian Business Book of The Year. We’d written a fair bit about the Coyotes in our work and someone had told Balsillie we might be the ones to talk to about a plan he was concocting to buy the bankrupt Coyotes and eventually move them to Hamilton.

Balsillie was salty over the way he’d been used as a stalking horse in the financial troubles of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1990s. Flush with money from the huge success of RIM, Balsillie offered to buy the Pens, with an eye to moving them to southern Ontario if Pittsburgh didn’t help build a new arena for the team.

In time, Balsillie saw that Bettman was only trying to protect the investment Mario Lemieux and others had in the Pens. Balsillie was the black hat who eventually spooked Pittsburgh into giving the current owners what they wanted. At the end of the day, Mario got his money and Balsillie was given a “thanks for trying”: parting gift of nebulous promises.

Still smarting, Balsille vowed not to be used again. in his desire to bring the NHL to southern Ontario. So when the Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes threw the keys to the team on Bettman’s desk, he saw an opening in the bankruptcy that followed. Seeing Bettman as the impediment, Balsillie decided to buy the team out of bankruptcy, a process the NHL could not legally prevent.

What Balsillie wanted to know was “What then? How would Bettman fight back?” We told him that no one flouts Bettman’s authority within the NHL. (All the current owners since 1993 have come aboard on his watch.)  And that he’d have to get the Board of Governors to approve his purchase. Odds: Nil.

That’s what happened. Rather than admit that the Valley of the Sun was poisoned for hockey, Bettman found another series of undercapitalized marks to front the franchise while the league quietly propped up the operation. No longer was the Coyotes’  failure about the fans of Arizona. It was about Gary Bettman’s pride.

Protestors stand outside a press conference in Tempe featuring Arizona Coyotes executives discussing propositions related to a new arena and entertainment district. (Photo by Brooklyn Hall/ Cronkite News)

Where he had meekly let Atlanta move to Winnipeg he fought like hell to save Arizona. And his power. (His obstinacy on U.S. network TV is another story.)

Fast forward to last week and the abject failure of that process. The Arizona Republic naively fawned on Bettman for his many attempts to save the team. In fact, they were just attempts to buttress his grip on the league. While the Coyotes may have been a mess, Bettman has succeeded in preserving the investments of most of the business people who bought his NHL business prospectus.

Sometimes it meant riding into Calgary to chastise the locals for their parsimony in not giving the Flames a new rink. Ditto for Edmonton. Ditto for Winnipeg  and other cities. Other times it was to shore up weak partners to protect the equity of other prosperous cities.  Sometimes it was to tell Quebec City, “Not gonna’ happen.”

For his loyalty to the owners and through some luck— Gretzky to the Kings— Bettman has made the NHL work in places no one might’ve imagined. Nashville. Raleigh. Tampa. Las Vegas. Dallas. Not at the level of the NFL, NBA or MLB, but at a comfortable equity-affirming status. Nothing happens without his say-so in the NHL. Or without him getting credit. Secondary NHL execs who wanted credit for their innovations were quietly punted.

When Houston finally gets a franchise from Gary they’ll part with $1.5 billion for the honour. While the commissioner has played down new franchises and expanded playoffs, you can bet your last dollar that he’s told owners they’re in line for more expansion cash— cash they don’t have to split with players in collective bargaining.

One more certainty. As long as Bettman rules the NHL you won’t see an NHL team back in Arizona.

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 bookauthority.org . His 2004 book Money Players was voted sixth best on the same list, and is available via brucedowbigginbooks.ca.

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Bruce Dowbiggin

Why Are Canadian Mayors So Far Left And Out Of Touch?

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‘The City of Edmonton pays for a 22-person climate team but doesn’t know who on that team is responsible for what, or what that team has accomplished. Meanwhile, Council takes a pay raise and bumps our property taxes by 8.6%”  @michaelistuart

We just returned from a long trip to discover that the City of Calgary wants to potentially re-zone our neighbourhood. Bridle Estates is a collection of 175 bungalow villas for people aged 55-plus. While some people still work most of the inhabitants are retirees. The city’s earnest idea is to create low-cost housing for the tens of thousands arriving here in the city from away.

You can see why a city hall obsessed with white privilege wants to democratize our neck of the south-west corner of the city. Enforced justice has a great tradition. 1970s American cities decided that bussing was the antidote to segregation. After a SCOTUS decision allowing the practice in 1971 (back when liberals owned the court) progressives pushed through an aggressive plan to bus kids from the inner city to the leafy suburbs. And vice versa.

It worked like a charm. For conservatives, that is. It radicalized a generation of voters who soon installed Ronald Reagan as president, and empty buses went back to the depot. The Democrats went from the party of the people to the party people in Hollywood. With time dulling memories, contemporary Woke folk are reviving the integration dream. This time the mostly white suburbs will bear the brunt of the government’s immigration fixation (400K-plus in the third quarter).

There are meetings planned where citizens will be able to address their elected officials— no doubt in a respectful voice. But anyone who’s dealt with Climate Crisis Barbie— Mayor Jyoti Gondek— has much optimism. This is a mayor who exploited a three-way split in centre-right voting here to declare a Climate Emergency on her first day in office.

Then she rolled out hate-speech laws to protect her from being razzed in public. For this and other fabulist blunders— her messing with the new arena project drove a worse deal and a two-year delay in a home for the Calgary Flames— she faced a recall project (which failed to collect over 400K voters’ signatures).

With a housing bubble expanding everyday, Her Tone Deafness has decided that owning a home is so passé. ”We are starting to see a segment of the population reject this idea of owning a home and they are moving towards rental, because it gives them more freedom.” She added that people have become “much more liberated around what housing looks like and what the tenure of housing looks like.”

As the Calgary’s schmozzles and Edmonton’s dabble in climate extravagance illustrate the municipal level of government in Canada is a few lobsters shy of a clambake. Across the country major cities are in the hands of radical NDP soldiers or virtue warriors who would rather have symbols than sewers to talk about.

In Toronto, Jack Layton’s widow Olivia Chow is leveraging her 37 percent mandate to make Toronto a kinder, Wok-er city. In Vancouver and Victoria, B.C., the open-air drug agendas of new mayors and city councils have sent capital fleeing elsewhere. Despite crime and construction chaos, Montreal mayor Valerie Plante won a second term, by emphasizing her gender.

In times when the coffers were full, this ESG theatre might have been a simple inconvenience. But since the federal and provincial governments began shoving responsibilities and costs downward to municipalities there is no wiggle room for grandstanding politicians at the city level. Or for hapless amateurs.

With the public incensed over residential property tax increases on one side and the blandishments of aggressive developers on the other, competent governance has never been more needed in the urban areas. While feds can (and have) printed money to escape their headaches and the provinces can offload costs onto the cities, the municipalities have no room for risk.

The time bomb in this equation is the debt load that the three levels can sustain. After this week’s budget, federal spending is up $238B, or 80 percent since 2015.  Coming off this free-spending budget the feds have pushed the federal debt to more than $1.2 trillion this year (in 2015, the debt was $616 billion.) None of the provinces has shown any appetite for the 1990s-style cuts to reduce their indebtedness. Leaving cities to crank the property-tax handle again.

So far, Canada’s cities have been able to use friendly municipal bonds to ease their fiscal problems. But if the Canadian economy continues its tepid performance with no reduction in debt, financial experts tell us that there could be a flight from Canadian municipal bonds— with a consequent spike in interest rates elsewhere.

The backlash on free-spending governments will be severe— and restricted municipalities will be hardest hit. None of this is resonating with Canadians still flush with cash from Covid. The stock markets are still buoyant and those living in cashbox houses are counting their dividends. Willful denial is the Trudeau legacy.

Which is why so many Canadian were shocked last week when American AntiTrump media star Bill Maher did an intervention on Canadian conceits. Using the True North as his warning to America, Maher ripped apart the gauzy leftist dream of Canada as the perfect society, the Sweden north of Estevan. By the time he was done, the single-payer myth was bleeding on the ground.

Maher knows that the bill is coming due for free-spending Canada and its climate charlatans. (The IMF is already warning of a global crisis over debt loads.) The question is: will Canadians come to the same conclusion before it’s too late to save the cities?

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. His new book Deal With It: The Trades That Stunned The NHL And Changed hockey is now available on Amazon. Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft Years In NHL History, his previous book with his son Evan, was voted the seventh-best professional hockey book of all time by bookauthority.org . His 2004 book Money Players was voted sixth best on the same list, and is available via brucedowbigginbooks.ca.

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