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Bruce Dowbiggin

How Friends In High Places Protected A Felon

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The current controversy over Hockey Canada’s handling of sexual abuse allegations— exacerbated by HC’s Scott Smith handing out gold medals to Canada’s world champion women’s team— is not the first time the organization has been plunged into disrepute.

When it was revealed in the mid-1990s that Hockey Canada’s director of international hockey Alan Eagleson had serially defrauded, cheated, embezzled and betrayed the trust of his clients and members the revelation hit like a thunderbolt well beyond the hockey community. Pitiful pensions for Gordie Howe, self dealing at Hockey Canada, stealing players’ disability insurance were just a few of the disgraces for the original NHL Players Association director.

But an upcoming new book reveals that, despite the public outrage about his behaviour, Eagleson was protected and coddled by the highest echelons of Canadian business, politics, justice and media— right up to the Canadian prime minister’s office. In John Turner: An Intimate Biography of Canada’s 17th Prime Minister (Sutherland House) author Steve Paikin recounts how Turner would explode on anyone speaking ill of the convicted felon.

“He’s my f***ing friend,” Turner would say. “He made a mistake, and I won’t f***ing hear any more of this… I don’t want to f***ing hear of it.”

Made a mistake? Eagleson’s Bernie Madoff act covered a quarter century of hundreds of acts of self dealing and fraud— all buried by compliant media and reluctant police. We had a front-row seat for the charade from 1991, the year former star player Carl Brewer and his partner Sue Foster began pulling back the curtains on his former agent and union leader for us. (For more, see our two books Defence Never Rests and Money Players at brucedowbigginbooks.ca)

Together with the late Russ Conway of the Lawrence Eagle Tribune we uncovered a pattern of Eagleson putting himself— and the NHL— ahead of his solemn duty to the players he represented. Whether it was pocketing the disability insurance of former client/ Vancouver GM Mike Gillis or seizing Hockey Canada travel benefits from the players who sacrificed for Team Canada in 1972-91, Eagleson rarely let a deal go by without carving out something for himself.

His law office— complete with downtown Toronto parking— was paid for by the NHLPA. He orchestrated fraudulent bargaining sessions between the NHLPA and the league. He lent union money to business partners, receiving prime real estate in the Collingwood, Ontario, area. He received a flat in downtown London, England, from insurance executives. And much, much more.

He made a mistake, Mr. Turner?

The entire process was backstopped by intimidation. When he sued us unsuccessfully for libel, Eagleson was never shy about letting people know he was supported by Turner, Supreme Court justices John Sopinka and Bud Estey, business executives like Hal Jackman and a raft of political pals from his days as an Ontario Conservatives party hack. And that the NHL was his pal, not his adversary.

If you were a player who got too inquisitive, a nosey agent or a media member with questions about where the money was going you knew you could lose your job if you got too close to the truth. While reporters like TSN’s Rick Westhead are now justly celebrated, we were ostracized in the tight hockey community of the 90s for taking the word of Bobby Orr over Eagleson on how the great player had been cheated out of an 18.5 percent ownership stake in the Boston Bruins.

Even when the U.S. Department of Justice and Canada’s Justice ministry finally indicted Eagleson in 1994, he received comfort and counsel from Turner in his fight to avoid extradition to Boston (where the charges were announced). Paikin writes that Turner urged defiance, calling the DOJ “the worst bastards in the world… They’ve got unlimited time and resources. Stick that big chin of yours up front and defy them.”

Paikin quotes the present-day Eagleson, now 89, saying Turner “boosted my morale in the worst time of my life. His friendship means all the world to me.” Turner backed that up by supplying a character letter for Eagleson at his sentencing in Toronto in 1998.

How about those hockey heroes who played for the nation? Who brought excitement to generations of Canadians? Who suffered injuries and mental health issues without a proper union or agent representation? What did they get? It was all chump change to Turner. And, apparently, to a long list of political, media and business leaders at the time.

When Eagleson was released after serving a laughable four months in the Mimico, Ont., jail (his U.S. judge had told him he’d have received five years “not less a day”in his Boston court) Turner staged a “Freedom Lunch” for the just-released felon at the Senator Restaurant in downtown Toronto. According to Paikin, the dozen Al Pals who showed included the crême de la crême of Ontario: former premier Bill Davis, Roy McMurtry, Paul Godfrey, David Smith, Hal Jackman, Bud Estey and Darcy McKeough.

“Gentlemen,” Paikin quotes Turner as saying, “Whatever debt Alan Eagleson owed to society has been paid in full.” According to the book, the lunch was an annual pick-me-up for Eagleson till Turner’s passing in 2020. For this and other reasons, Eagleson— who has split time between Collingwood and England after his disgrace— is unrepentant about his behaviour. As the book reveals he’s still eager to exploit any media opportunity to resurrect his profile.

Thankfully, not everyone was dazzled by him: Eagleson was removed as a member of the Order of Canada and resigned from the Hockey Hall of Fame where he had been inducted in the builder category. The NHL has wisely kept him out of its business since. Few, if any, current politicians seek him out. TV has whited-out his name.

But for those who think there are rules for “us” and rules for “them”, the Eagleson saga is perfect example of privilege serving itself.

Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster (http://www.notthepublicbroadcaster.com). 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 YearsIn NHL History, , his new book with his son Evan, was voted the eighth best professional hockey book of by bookauthority.org . His 2004 book Money Players was voted seventh best, 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

No More Teachers, No More Books: Education’s Demographic Crash

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We come bearing good news and bad news. First the bad news. The steep decline in the North American birthrate since the 2008 global recession will have a significant impact on the future of K-12 and post-secondary education. The two-decade delay in demographics dating to 2008 means society is entering a fallow period that will require fewer schools, fewer teachers, fewer administrators.

Already, funding to bricks-and-mortar schools has taken a hit during Covid-19. More and more learning is going online with subsequent loss in teaching jobs for PhDs and TAs— especially in the liberal arts. According to Kevin Carey in Vox “colleges have likely hit a ceiling in terms of how many 18-year-olds they can coax onto campus. The percentage of young adults with a high school diploma has reached 94 percent. “

Additionally, the demographic shifts away from non-urban areas will unbalance the learning curve outside the Beltway or southern Ontario. In four years, the number of students graduating from high schools across the country will begin a sudden and precipitous decline, due to a rolling demographic aftershock of the Great Recession.

For those not acquainted with demographics, the next act in this play is inevitable. Says Carey, “The 2008 global financial calamity also created a bomb with an 18-year fuse: Birth rates immediately reversed course and began to plummet. From the early 1970s until 2007, the number of annual births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44 stayed between roughly 65 and 70. 

“Starting in 2008, the ratio went down, down, down, to 56 in 2020, the lowest rate in American history. There were 4.3 million births in 2007; last year, there were 3.7 million.” (The slide is about the same in Canada.)

Now calculate the rate of abortions, suicides and assisted deaths into the future of plunging birthrates, and you will see the problem facing many ultra-liberal schools. So now we can extend David Foot’s demographics book title to “Boom, Bust, Echo & Silence”.

The good news is that these hives of progressive education are going to see their pernicious influence decline commensurately. While elite schools with huge endowments might adjust, the rest of the education chain will be hard-pressed to stay open, let alone compete. So the suffocating effect of their radicalism will decline as well.

The satisfaction with seeing Woke idiocy drop will be partially offset by the increasing role of governments— using the tools developed in colleges and universities— to control learning, research and publication. Bill C-11 and C-18 are just two Canadian examples of stifling competition in the information scheme.

Which leaves us with the corrosive legacy of modern educations’s dance with death. As Heather Mac donald describes in her book “The Diversity Delusion: How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine Our Culture,” spineless administrators and politicians have allowed schools to be mobbed by the outer fringes of radical thinking. With the goal of suppressing contrary speech.

Says journalist Matt Taibbi, ‘Americans who once venerated self-reliance are building a church of conformity, whose chief means of worship is destroying heretics’”. As we wrote earlier this week “The CBS journalists who have long  praised Edward R. Murrow’s 1950s defiance of the McCarthy hearings  are now all-in with authority. 

As such, the curriculum has morphed from questioners of authority to adherents to a globalist catechism. Most parents blissfully slept through these changes. For example, here are things you never hear from the guilt factories or the governments who follow their diktats.

  1. North America whites should gladly accept a total cultural transformation brought on by unchecked immigration. But it’s okay for Japan, China, Pakistan, Russia and many other nations to protect their cultures by severely limiting immigration that might dilute centuries-old cultures.

  2. We hear extensive discussion about reparations for the families of African American slaves. We never heart of any comparable compensation to the families of the 360,222 Union soldiers who died in the service of ending that slavery.

  3. While ESG prophets and the U.S. Justice department are vigilantly attempting to end meritocracy—changing equal opportunity to equal outcome— no one seems especially bothered that the NFL and NBA are well over 75% black while their number in the real population in 12-13%.

  4. Society must help upper-middle-class graduates of post-secondary education by wiping out the tuition debts they ran up. No one in authority seems to feel the same way about those whose plumbing or electrical apprenticeships cost them many thousands of dollars, too.

  5. All women must be believed. Unless they’re CPC member Melissa Lastman or Democrat defector Tulsi Gabbard. Then they’re a mountain of lies.

  6. Universities have forgiven Germany and Japan for the unspeakable crimes they committed 75 years ago. But there is no forgiveness for the events of 160 years ago in America.

  7. Universities are allegedly oppressors of women, dens of rape and sexual aggression. But nearly 70 percent of current liberal arts programs are women.

These are but a few of the educational pieties that seem of no interest to the first writers of history, a.k.a. establishment journalists. If they were to look, here’s what Carey says they’ll find: “The empty factories and abandoned shopping malls littering the American landscape may soon be joined by ghost colleges, victims of an existential struggle for reinvention, waged against a ticking clock of shrinking student bodies, coming soon to a town near you.”

Sign up today for Not The Public Broadcaster newsletters. Hot takes/ cool slants on sports and current affairs. Have the latest columns delivered to your mail box. Tell your friends to join, too. Always provocative, always independent. 

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

 

 

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Bruce Dowbiggin

The Unhinged Plan To Destroy Elon Musk & Twitter

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We know that many of you hate betting content on sports TV. This weekend’s Grey Cup broadcast bristled with wagering talk. Puritans just couldn’t wrap their heads around the presence of lines, sides and parlays on the broadcasts of their favourite CFL teams. And the spares who are pitching it all.

Fair enough. It ain’t your grandfather’s CFL broadcast. But betting is here to stay. If you’re looking for something to blame then stick a pin in Twitter. The “worldwide web” took gambling from barber shops, speak-easys and back alleys to a giant presence across North American sports.

When the gambling dam broke, wagering went from a bad habit to the sports version of day trading. The sexy new thing. And the money rolled in. Casinos and betting sites are spreading that money across social media and broadcasters.

The tide of this money has raised all boats. How high has the revenue river risen? An NFL franchise (Denver) is now worth $4 billion. TV networks and players like Amazon will pay almost anything for a piece of the league’s broadcast/ digital pie. (It’s a similar but less pricey scene in other leagues.) Twitter helped do that.

So it is fascinating to see the debate about cratering Twitter since it was purchased by Elon Musk. A cursory glance at the wildly popular site this weekend showed an alliance of Woke scolds and entertainment industry preeners ready to wreck the world’s largest marketplace of chatter, because they don’t want to hear anything that challenges their world view.

Or contradicts the Church of Rachel Maddow on (choose any) Trump, abortion, climate, Afghanistan, racism, Trump, trans dysphoria, inflation, voting integrity, guns, Trump, Hunter Biden, electric cars, veganism, CO2, Trump, white privilege, SGM, polar bears, FBI, Dreamers, ballot harvesting and… Trump.

Imagine a betting site that banned the contrarian tips of a legendary character. That only allowed discussion of taking overs not unders on sports bets. Or banned teaser talk. That’s today’s Twitter.  @kylenabecker “They demand complete cultural hegemony. Anything that gets in the way of that must be destroyed.”

The progressive scolds who’ve controlled the spread of opinions on Twitter since the Obama administration of social justice now want to abandon the site because Musk had the wacky idea of allowing a former president back on the site. This after conducting an informal poll about reinstating The King of Mara Lago.

Even people you’d thought sane about the new tech have lost their marbles over the prospect of hearing things they find vexing. Here’s NBA owner Mark Cuban  @mcuban The greatest challenge Twitter has is making users feel safe. Safe that they won’t be abused by users on the platform. Safe that tweets won’t lead to action off the platform that hurt people. I think this is the element that @elonmusk is missing that current AI can’t protect.

By safe Mark must mean from the Ayatollahs who promise death to Israel or Nancy Pelosi’s daughter Christine who tweeted “the neighbour was right” after senator Rand Paul was savagely beaten by a neighbour? No? They’re still on Twitter after the Babylon Bee was silenced? Wow.

Here’s another sample of a Madame Defrage as she reaches for her pitchfork. “@shannoncoulter Just emailed the head of safety at Apple and Google respectively to ask if their app stores will continue to carry the Twitter app now that Elon Musk has reinstated Donald Trump.” Because Hitler. Or something. From a church lady who advertises cats on her site.

It’s more than individuals who’ve taken the “safe space” mantra to next lengths. This weekend CBS News— which gleefully printed all the Russiagate lies and fake Ukrainian impeachment hoax—decided it was just too raffiné to dip its toe into the Musk version of Twitter after its entitled staff began quitting in protest.

Reporter Jonathan Vigliotti provided CBCS’ rationale. ”In light of the uncertainty around Twitter, and out of an abundance of caution, CBS News is pausing its activity on the social media site as it continues to monitor the platform.”

An abundance of caution from people who banned the 2020 Hunter Biden laptop story because there was an election in three weeks and his Dad might lose to Trump? Sure. The Walter Cronkite network was ripped for erring on the side of censorship, one writer saying the decision was “so stupid it makes my head hurt”.

Prompting a doubleback on Sunday. “After pausing for much of the weekend to assess the security concerns, CBS News and Stations is resuming its activity on Twitter as we continue to monitor the situation.” Their entitled vanity could choke a mule.

The CBS journalists who have long praised Edward R. Murrow’s 1950s defiance of the McCarthy hearings are now all-in with authority. Says journalist Matt Taibbi, “Americans who once venerated self-reliance are building a church of conformity, whose chief means of worship is destroying heretics”. 

Making the charade even more risible is the new role of Musk as evil incarnate for buying Twitter, turfing a large portion of its useless, self-absorbed employees and restoring a semblance of balance to the site.  From hero of youth culture the Tesla pioneer has become an evil that must be burned at the stake lest he remove the blue-check bias of the site.  Not that he’s intimidated. https://twitter.com/JoshuaPHilll/status/1594512374408810496

What is clear from this convulsion of fear is that the fire of safe spaces— segregated convocations, banning of speakers, crushing of businesses— that took root in academia has now jumped the fire line into the public where it is now burning every corner of free speech.

It bristles with its new power. Says Taibbi: “The math isn’t hard: if the DHS or the NSC can do this to the world’s richest man, they can do it to anyone, making this story into a test case to see what the new censorship regime can get away with.” There’s hope. When you hear Joe Biden say it is “worth looking into” whether Musk is a “national security threat” due to his “cooperations” and “relationships” with other countries, you know that the censors are nervous he’ll succeed.

Let’s give them something to really be nervous about. Keep tweeting. Pay the $8 fee.

Sign up today for Not The Public Broadcaster newsletters. Hot takes/ cool slants on sports and current affairs. Have the latest columns delivered to your mail box. Tell your friends to join, too. Always provocative, always independent.  https://share.hsforms.com/16edbhhC3TTKg6jAaRyP7rActsj5

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

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