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Bruce Dowbiggin

Western Discontent: The Days Of Our Lives

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“When Chekhov saw the long winter, he saw a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope. Yet we know that winter is just another step in the cycle of life. But standing here among the people of Punxsutawney and basking in the warmth of their hearths and hearts I couldn’t imagine a better fate than a long and lustrous winter.” — Bill Murray as Phil Conners in Groundhog Day.

Twenty-three years ago this week I arrived in Calgary to take a job as sports columnist for the Calgary Herald. It was like an ice palace, covered with snow drifts and frozen dirt. (I’d golfed in Toronto two days earlier.) As I shuffled to my rental car I seriously wondered why I had risked everything to move West, a place my mother hated after three dismal years living in the 1950s in Edmonton.

I certainly didn’t need the job. I was comfortable at CBC Radio in Toronto doing sports nationally in the morning. My executive thought I’d lost my mind. “Why are you going there? You’re a big city guy from Montreal and Toronto.” (My first inkling what CBC executives thought of the West)

But I was looking for a challenge and relief from getting up at 4 A.M. When the Herald’s editor told me, “At your age (45) you won’t get this offer again” I thought, “Why not?” To understand Canada you have to live in all of Canada. Describing the country from Toronto is like a worm describing the garden.

So hello Calgary, goodbye Toronto. Little did I know I was about to enter the plot from Bill Murray’s brilliant existential comedy Ground Hog Day. In the film Murray plays Phill Conners, an acerbic weatherman for a Pittsburgh TV station. He hates his assignment covering Punxsutawney Phil the groundhog who sees his shadow on Ground Hog Day.

He is snotty with what he sees as bucolic rubes. “This is pitiful. A thousand people freezing their butts off waiting to worship a rat. What hype. Groundhog Day used to mean something in this town. They used to pull the hog out, and they used to eat it. You’re hypocrites, all of you!”

Through a strange quirk he suddenly becomes destined to live the same day, February 2, in an endless loop till he gets it right spiritually and romantically. He is baffled, enraged, frustrated, depressed, suicidal as the same people and situations repeat themselves. Each day begins with the radio in his room playing “I Got You, Babe” by Sonny & Cher.

Phil wonders about the Buddhist nightmare he’s living. “Well maybe the real God uses tricks, you know? Maybe he’s not omnipotent. He’s just been around so long he knows everything.”

Like Phil Conners I was a TV snob who maybe thought he was slumming in Stampede land. With my Toronto and CBC biases intact, I sought to change Calgary rather than the obverse. It showed. After I wrote critically about a fatal chuckwagon accident, one local columnist hissed that I didn’t know “a Charolais from a Chardonnay”. Good line, BTW.

Like Phil Conners, I was destined to live the same day over and over till I got right with the people I met in Calgary. Replacing Toronto/ CBC data in my brain with an appreciation of the people I now met took time. Not everything in Calgary was perfect. Not everything from Toronto was worth abandoning.

But I found myself liking the authenticity of the West, the determination of the people to pursue a goal, the long line of purple mountains to the west as my plane would bring me back after assignments. (Nothing can make me like the weather.)

I began rooting for them in their eternal struggle against the snobs— like my exec who thought Calgary was Baffin Island with an energy industry. As this column from 2018 illustrates, I had become a vendu, a sell-out to the petro billionaires. I was a traitor to my class.

Like Murray’s character I began to see the honest beauty in so many and the value of their dreams. And got right with the freedom to speak, the freedom to pursue goals now being suffocated by the blue-check elite. Canada had enough liberal enclaves. It needs checks and balances.

Which is why I sympathize with how they’re being made non-people by the current prime minister and the Media Party. The recent naming of a Greenpeace agitprop extremist as cabinet minister for the energy industry is a clear provocation against his Western political enemies. The preening press conference in Glasgow where he grandiosely proclaimed a cap on an industry that made the entire nation prosperous was an excommunication (thanks Rex Murphy) of the West.

Worse the provincial Conservatives, who planned a challenge to the equalization system, have become mired in the Covid crisis, distracted by the diktats of the health “experts” whose remedies changed every five minutes. It got so bad that Calgary elected a new mayor who thinks the city is in the midst of a climate disaster.

For what? A Boy Scout badge for global citizenship while the rest of the world snickers at Canada’s gullibility?

There is pushback. Alberta approved the referendum to renegotiate the equalization scheme. In Saskatchewan premier Scott Moe says the province needs a new deal within Confederation. That led Globe & Mail editors to sniff, “Moe wants Saskatchewan to have nationhood status. Yes, it’s as bizarre as it sounds “

That snark prompted Toronto author and psychoanalyst Jordan Peterson to take up the West’s cause. “This is not bizarre, you elitist centralist snobs. This is exactly what is going to happen given Trudeau’s antipathy toward the economic engines of the west. It’s absolutely inevitable. Wake up, Toronto.”

But Peterson is unique. Led by Toronto media/ culture voices the West is a whipping post. My heart is with my neighbours as they try to keep their bearings in these stormy seas. I’m not sure how long I’ll remain here (my kids and grandkids have moved elsewhere to pursue their lives), but like Phil Conners my loyalty will be with the proud, rambunctious Albertans who’ve taught me the meaning of a fulfilled life.

 

Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster (http://www.notthepublicbroadcaster.com). The best-selling author of Cap In Hand has been nominated for the BBN Business Book award of 2020 for Personal Account with Tony Comper. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s also a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. His new book with his son Evan is called InExact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft Years In NHL History is now available on 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

Corporate Capture & Youth Checkout: The Covid Scorecard

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The decade past has witnessed a Great Realignment. (Mind we said realignment, not reset.) The election of Barack Obama through Donald Trump and Covid-19 has seen a tectonic shift in the plates beneath society. Alliances have been broken. Power has shifted. Loyalties have disappeared.

The result is a new coalition, a cult alliance of tech, knowledge-based industry, culture and corporatism. Under cover of social unrest and virus paranoia these former antagonists found common cause in punishing the middle and lower classes of society for not acknowledging their elevated, superior status. (Translation: they voted for Trump.)

These woke apostles are unapologetic. Through censorship, cancel culture and financial, leverage they’ve created an oligopoly unabashed in bare-knuckled self-interest. And to constantly remind you that they’re in charge.

To understand how revolutionary this alliance is one need only recall the dirigiste fervour of the 1960s. While it seemed to everyone at the time that society might tip in the maelstrom of riot and protest, the corporate side never blinked. They viewed the Weathermen and the Red Brigade as fringe outfits that would never see power. They held to the status quo (or privilege in today’s CRT newspeak.)

That has changed, because of writers such as French socialist economist Thomas Piketty. Thanks to him Corporate America is now obsessed with Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG), not shareholder value. It is dominated by HR departments deeply committed to radical notions of social justice and racial equity. Inspired by the example of Michelle Obama, they’ve made Wall Street into Woke Street.

As we wrote in February of 2021 “the New Left now ruthlessly employs Big Tech, Wall Street and the media against its idealogical enemies— including some of its former allies… the Democratic Party of 2021 has morphed from brave to slave, dedicated to intellectual conformity, not contrary opinions. Gone are the civil libertarians like (William) Kunstler. In their place are AOC and her brigades of SJWs purveying hate-speech laws and attacking deniers of the “true climate religion”. First amendment rights have been replaced by cancel-culture indictments.”

Jordan B. Peterson, who recently resigned his tenured position at University of Toronto, describes the corporate submission: “What in the world is wrong with you? Can’t you see that the ideologues who push such appalling nonsense are driven by an agenda that is not only absolutely antithetical to your free-market enterprise, as such, but precisely targeted at the freedoms that made your success possible?

“Can’t you see that by going along, sheep-like (just as the professors are doing; just as the artists and writers are doing) that you are generating a veritable fifth column within your businesses? Are you really so blind, cowed and cowardly?”

While this corporate surrender has transpired, another schism has developed under cover of the Covid-19 pandemic panic. Its effect could be just as enduring. This one is based on age.

The group in society most vulnerable to the ravages of the pandemic is the 55+ cohort, the aging Boomers— the same one orchestrating the reaction to the virus. They are also the most afraid of its impact on them personally. It would be no exaggeration to say those health concerns have been reflected in the overbearing lockdown, mask, distancing and detention policies used against the virus. The generation that once worshipped free speech was quick to abandon civil liberties in its panic to save its own hide.

But younger generations who are far less vulnerable to the virus are tired of being participants in the psycho-dramas of aging the Boomers and their death phobia. And they’ve reached their end. They now flock to clubs, arenas and stadiums to see their friends. They know some of them will get sick, but 99.99 percent of them will be fine even if infected.

They are dismissive of the political shell game of their elders and the autocrats of Big Health. And, as we can see from one of the major sports, they’re headed in a new direction.

NHL players, God bless ‘em, have recognized that old people’s worries are not their worries. For months the league has gone with the Covid catechism to please politicians. Players were ordered to be vaccinated. Anyone testing positive from the wonky PCR test was sidelined. Even asymptomatic players. Games were played with undermanned rosters.

With 100 percent vaccinated, the league still saw 70 percent of players test positive. So the NHL now says “No more”. Only players who show symptoms will be removed from play. Excellent athletes are not 81-year-old U.S. senators shaking in their Depends.

With the accepted narrative now collapsing— Britain has abandoned the mask and lockdown mandates— more jurisdictions will do contrition for overshooting the mark. Dottering Joe Biden can talk about belatedly sending out 400 million masks, but he’s lost the room. Under 50s have moved on.

The only question is how long the ESG folks propping him up will wait before he’s sent overboard. While health is important, everything is second to their power.

Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster (http://www.notthepublicbroadcaster.com). The best-selling author was nominated for the BBN Business Book award of 2020 for Personal Account with Tony Comper. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s also a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. His new book with his son Evan Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft Years In NHL History is now available on http://brucedowbigginbooks.ca/book-personalaccount.aspx

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Bruce Dowbiggin

Fortress Australia Gets Its Scalp, Tosses Djoker Out

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The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst   

Are full of passionate intensity. —W.B. Yeats

There has always been a large reservoir of affection for Australia in the West. The sun-kissed land down under. Kangaroos. Beaches. Crocodile Dundee. Aussie Rules Football. Men At Work. Foreigners embraced all the clichés gleefully.

The Australian Open tennis tournament was part of that scenario. The first Grand Slam, played in scorching sunshine while the Northern Hemisphere freezes in January. TV coverage was laced with tourist entreaties to fly 14 hours to the Great Barrier Reef and Gold Coast.

But with the nation’s behaviour in fighting Covid-19, this is all (in the words of Yeats) “changed, changed utterly.” The fever-swamp regime now running the nation has gone off the rails with detention camps for unvaxxed, flying squads of police roaming the streets and total lockdowns in emulation of the Chinese.

Australia’s heavy-handed “cures” for Covid would make Curfew Quebec look a model of tolerance. While America is moving away from draconian lockdowns, (Associated Press is now asking its writers to play down Covid numbers) Australia is still singing from the 2020 WHO hymn book that pretends lockdowns save lives. For example, mask mandates were recently re-imposed when five— count ‘em— five local cases were spotted in Perth.

Look, Australia is entitled to run their nation any way they want. They have the constitutional right to act like so many scared kookaburras in the face of a virus that will spare 99.98 percent of them. But don’t push the “shrimp on the bar-b” hokum on the world when the tennis begins.

This whack-a-mole mania culminated in Sunday’s expulsion of Covid rebel Novak Djokovic. After granting the No. 1 men’s player in the world a visa to play, Australia’s Minister of Immigration Alex Hawke said he had cancelled the 34-year-old’s visa for a second time on “health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so”. He said Djokovic’s example was— wait for it— a threat to his people.

Good order? Hawke and his government have to lock up the population because their Island Fortress strategy isn’t enough to curb Omicron’s arrival. Yet Djokovic is the threat, not their frantic search for a fifth column of viral killers in Canberra.

Djoker knew he was going into headwinds as he sought to play in the Open as an unvaccinated player. He was less than forthcoming on his entry documents. So his highly political stance made him a target. But a threat to the people of Australia? Please. (The cops escorting him to the airport was reminiscent of Judy Garland being shooed from the country in the 1960s for being too drunk to perform.)

The Australian PM Scott Morrison, with his eyes on re-election, greeted the expulsion, mumbling about needing to “keep our borders strong and keep Australians safe… It’s now time to get on with the Australian Open and get back to enjoying tennis over the summer.”

Djokovic’s argument is that the Australian government that initially granted him a visa is now using him as an easy target to whip the natives in line. The independent, unapologetic Djokovic has certainly served the Aussie politicians well as a convenient whipping boy for the petrified millions who put their faith in governments and health “experts” to save them from the dreaded virus.

(Sounds like France, which never misses an opportunity to enforce the status quo, will emulate Australia by banning an unvaxxed Djokovic if he ventures there in June for the French Open.)

The “burn the witch” frenzy feeds into the non-vaxxed insanity currently underway in Canada and the U.S. There are demands that those who declined the juice be denied healthcare or fined or have their taxes audited. Immunity is dismssed. Cobbled hospital numbers are conflated with truths. Instead, images of gap-toothed hillbillies saturate progressive media who find their allies have been unable to halt the virus as promised.

Inconveniently, polling by Abacus in Canada has shown that the typical anti-vaxxer is not a swaggering tennis player, a bow hunter or toothless yokel but is in fact a 42-year-old Ontario white woman who votes Liberal.

The bright side of this Kafkaesque farce is that Omicron is fading like old Xmas decorations. Many are predicting that it is peaking now and will be a spent force by February. The tinpot tyrants in Australia, having booted Djokovic, will need something else to reinforce their desperate grasp on power.

Ditto here in North America. Unless a follow-up variant can be swiftly produced (remember that subsequent viruses are always weaker) Skippy and Biden will be left to explain their enforced vaccines and virus solutions to a public disinterested in their ongoing need for power.

To use a tennis analogy they’ll be down two breaks and facing Djokovic’s best serve. Should be entertaining.

 

Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster (http://www.notthepublicbroadcaster.com). The best-selling author was nominated for the BBN Business Book award of 2020 for Personal Account with Tony Comper. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s also a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. His new book with his son Evan Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft Years In NHL History is now available on http://brucedowbigginbooks.ca/book-personalaccount.aspx

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