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Alberta

Edmonton’s connection to the defection of Baltimore Orioles’ superstar Jose Iglesias

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Here’s the simplest possible message for all and any who are bothered by the realization that the real world has interfered with the world of sport, so often described with great accuracy as “the world’s playpen” — it has happened before and surely will happen again.

For many, the most dismal example of politics destroying a major sports event is the 1936 Olympics, when Adolf Hitler’s prejudices were on open display. Memory of the brilliant sprinting by Black American Jesse Owens during those Games stands as civilized society’s best-known antidote to such critics of what now is identified as “social justice.”

In some ways Alberta is central to this debate: strong statements were made in support of Black Lives Master by players in the anti-Covid bubble designed to keep them healthy enough in Edmonton to complete the NHL’s first-ever late summer Stanley Cup playoffs at Rexall Place.

The international response, pro and con, will continue for some time, close observers predict.

“…. (Castro) was really angry. He was loud.”

It surprised me during the weekend to recall that a hubbub, but smaller, touched international baseball in 2008, when 18-year-old Cuban infielder Jose Iglesias defected from his national team during the world junior baseball championships in  Edmonton’s North Saskatchewan River Valley. The memory was triggered by coincidence: Iglesias showed on television as a member of the Baltimore Orioles in a series against the Toronto Blue Jays.

That world championship was one of several conducted in Edmonton by a group of volunteers headed by the late alderman, Ron Hayter. There was immediate evidence that the shortstop with excellent defensive skills was important in his nation: Premier Fidel Castro called personally to object..

Longtime Edmonton resident Don Clark of Edmonton has spoken often of the experience. He wound up taking a long-distance call initially intended for Hayter.

“I only got on the phone because Ron wasn’t around,” Clark said. “At first, I didn’t know who I was talking to, but soon it got pretty clear.  There was nothing any of us could do. They were gone.”

Smiling at the discomfort of that distant moment, Clark recalled the sound of Premier Castro’s voice.

“There’s no doubt he was really angry. He was loud.”

Years later, in an interview with a Detroit newspaper, Iglesias explained the departure from team headquarters on the University of Alberta campus. During a stretch of about two hours when the team was not under direct supervision, “We just got up and walked out.”

At the time, Iglesias spoke no English.

“It was tough. Really tough. I had no family. No friends. I just wanted to do what I loved: play baseball.”

He signed a big-league deal with the Boston Red Sox in 2009 and made the all-rookie team before signing his current $3-million one-year deal with Baltimore. He  also played with the Cincinnati Reds and Detroit Tigers. With Detroit, he signed long-term contract for about $6 million a year.

Major League Baseball lists 32 active players as defectors from Cuba, including promising Toronto outfielder Lourdes Gurriel, New York Yankees pitcher Aroldis Chapman and other stars.

Read more of John’s stories here.

 

Alberta

Popular roller-coaster at West Edmonton Mall amusement park to be removed

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Canada’s largest shopping centre says a popular roller-coaster at its amusement park is being removed after nearly 40 years in operation.

West Edmonton Mall’s vice-president of parks and attractions says in a statement that while the Mindbender will be missed, the mall is excited to announce it is working on new plans for the site.

The Mindbender was known as the world’s tallest and longest indoor, triple-loop roller-coaster.

In 1986, three people were killed on the roller-coaster, which forced the mall to shut it down for a year for safety modifications.

Galaxyland initially opened in 1983, but was known as Fantasyland until 1995.

The indoor amusement park partnered with Hasbro in 2022 and features attractions licensed from the franchise.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 30, 2023.

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Alberta

Qatar, Norway and ‘The Trouble with Canada’

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From the Canadian Energy Centre Ltd 

By David Yager

Resource developers in Canada face unique geographical, jurisdictional, regulatory and political obstacles

That Germany has given up on Canada to supply liquefied natural gas (LNG) and instead signed a massive multi-year LNG purchase agreement with Qatar has left many angry and disappointed.  

Investment manager and perennial oil bull Eric Nuttall recently visited Qatar and Saudi Arabia and wrote an opinion piece for the Financial Post titled, “Canada could be as green and wealthy as Qatar and Saudi Arabia if government wakes up – Instead of vilifying the oil and gas sectors, Canada should champion them.” 

Nuttall described how Saudi Arabia and Qatar are investing their enormous energy wealth to make life better for their citizens. This includes decarbonizing future domestic energy supplies and making large investments in infrastructure.   

Nuttall concludes, “Why is it that Qatar, a country that embraced its LNG industry, has nearly three times the number of doctors per capita than Canada? We can do it all: increase our oil and natural gas production, at the highest environmental standards anywhere in the world, thereby allowing us to help meet the world’s needs while benefiting from its revenue and allowing for critical incremental investments in our national infrastructure…This could have been us.” 

The country most often mentioned that Albertans should emulate is Norway. 

Alberta’s Heritage Savings and Trust Fund has been stuck below $20 billion since it was created by Premier Peter Lougheed in 1976.  

Norway’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, which started 20 years later in 1996, now sits at US$1.2 trillion. 

How many times have you been told that if Alberta’s politicians weren’t so incompetent, our province would have a much larger nest egg after 47 years?  

After all, Canada and Alberta have gobs of natural gas and oil, just like Qatar and Norway. 

Regrettably, that’s all we have in common.  

That Qatar and Norway’s massive hydrocarbon assets are offshore is a massive advantage that producers in the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin will never enjoy. All pipelines are submerged. There are no surface access problems on private property, no municipal property taxes or surface rights payments, and there are no issues with First Nations regarding land claims, treaty rights and constitutional guarantees. 

Being on tidewater is a huge advantage when it comes to market access, greatly reducing operating and transportation costs. 

But it’s more complicated than that, and has been for a long time. In 1990, Olympic athlete and businessman William G. Gairdner wrote a book titled, “The Trouble with Canada – A Citizen Speaks Out.” It takes Gairdner 450 pages to explain how one of the most unique places in the world in terms of resource wealth and personal and economic opportunity was fading fast. 

That was 33 years ago. Nothing has improved. 

As I wrote in my own book about the early days of settlement and development, citizens expected little from their governments and got less. 

Today politics increasingly involves which party will give the most voters the most money.  

The book’s inside front cover reads how Gairdner was concerned that Canada was already “caught between two irreconcilable styles of government, a ‘top down’ collectivism and a ‘bottoms-up individualism;’ he shows how Canadian society has been corrupted by a dangerous love affair with the former.”  

Everything from the constitution to official bilingualism to public health care were identified as the symptoms of a country heading in the wrong direction. 

But Canadian “civil society” often regards these as accomplishments. 

The constitution enshrines a federal structure that ignores representation by population in the Senate thus leaving the underpopulated regions vulnerable to the political desires of central Canada. This prohibited Alberta’s closest access to tidewater for oil through Bill C48. 

Official bilingualism and French cultural protection has morphed into Quebec intentionally blocking Atlantic tidewater access for western Canadian oil and gas.  

In the same country! 

Another election will soon be fought in Alberta over sustaining a mediocre public health care system that continues to slide in international rankings of cost and accessibility. 

What’s remarkable about comparing Canada to Norway or Qatar for missed hydrocarbon export opportunities is how many are convinced that the Canadian way of doing things is equal, if not superior, to that of other countries. 

But neither Norway or Qatar have the geographical, jurisdictional, regulatory and political obstacles that impair resource development in Canada. 

Norway has over 1,000 years of history shared by a relatively homogenous population with similar views on many issues. Norway has a clear sense of its national identity. 

As a country, Canada has only 156 years in its current form and is comprised of Indigenous people and newcomers from all over the world who are still getting to know each other.  

In the endless pursuit of politeness, today’s Canada recognizes multiple nations within its borders.  

Norway and Qatar only have one. 

While relatively new as a country, Qatar is ruled by a “semi-constitutional” monarchy where the major decisions about economic development are made by a handful of people.  

Canada has three layers of elected governments – federal, provincial and municipal – that have turned jurisdictional disputes, excessive regulation, and transferring more of everything to the public sector into an industry.  

Regrettably, saying that Canada should be more like Norway or Qatar without understanding why it can’t be deflects attention away from our challenges and solutions. 

David Yager is an oilfield service executive, oil and gas writer, and energy policy analyst. He is author of  From Miracle to Menace – Alberta, A Carbon Story. 

 

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