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Bruce Dowbiggin

Bruce Dowbiggin’s career is unmatched in Canada for its diversity and breadth of experience, with successful stints in television, radio, and print. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster

Mass shootings and the Cuckoo’s Nest

For many Boomers, Jack Nicholson’s performance as Randall McMurphy in the movie One Flew Over The Cukoo’s Nest was a seminal film moment of the 1970s. In the Milos Forman opus, Nicholson plays a free spirited drifter locked up in an asylum in the U.S. Pacific Northwest of the late 1950s. Expressing the human yearning for freedom, Nicholson leads his emotionally destroyed co-inmates in a bid for liberation from the regime of drugs and shock therapy applied by Nurse Ratched. Most of the patients embrace McMurphy’s defiance yet lack his courage to rebel. In the end, McMurphy’s encouragement frees only Chief, the mute Indian. But Nicholson’s character is lobotomized for his troubles. Last we see him. McMurphy is a drooling husk of his former self with lobotomy scars on his forehead. (In an act of mercy, Chief suffocates him with a pillow.) To liberal audiences in the ‘70s, Nicholson’s insouciant charm symbolized the fight against The Man in the era of Viet Nam and Richard Nixon. Channelling R.D Laing’s psychiatric work, the film preached that adapting to the world’s cruelties, not rejecting them, is the real insanity. Watching the hapless inhabitants of the ward, we were meant to believe that locking up mentally unstable people is cruel and unusual punishment. Certainly that was the take of the author of the 1962 book upon which the movie was based. Ken Kesey was an early hippy, an enthusiastic consumer of hallucinogenics and a precursor of the moral relativism about to sweep America culture in the 1970s. His influence was only amplified by the book and, 13 years later, the movie. (Kesey apparently wanted Gene Hackman, not Nicholson, for the McMurtry role). Audiences in the ‘70s loved the film and so did the Oscars. Nicholson won best actor, Louise Fletcher (Ratched) won best… Read More

The Climate brigade

You’d think they’d suffered enough in Paris in the past two weeks. But there could be a few more cases of post-traumatic stress in the City of Lights when the virtuous people of climate descend on the damaged city early in December. You see, the army of earnest folk descending on Paris are less about Paris’ pain and more about… er, the sea levels of the Maldives in 2100. Their concerns are not for surviving the next month in Paris, but surviving a very distant time when (assuming ISIS hasn’t prevailed) the greatest threat will be too many rain clouds. The lead voice in the “Change The Weather” choir will of course be the Empathetic One, Barack Obama, who when not altering the climate, has a part-time job as president of the United States. Climate change, not the J-V team at ISIS, is the greatest threat facing his world, he told us back in the spring. (He’s always been pals with Weathermen.) “Someday, our children, and our children’s children, will look at us in the eye and they’ll ask us, did we do all that we could when we had the chance to deal with this problem and leave them a cleaner, safe, more stable world?” Well, sign me up! You probably heard that even while Paris was burning, the deliberative Prez was still more concerned with the earth turning to ash from excessive carbon or CO2 or YooHoos. Like almost every Obama crusade, this climate express has left the station with very few passengers. The problem for Obama and his ally, the Prince of Wales (“96 months to oblivion”), is that their Doomsday clock wasn’t convincing the common folk to cast their savings upon the waters of climate rehab. So while they waited for the public to buy into… Read More

What to expect from a Trudeau government?

The people have spoken. You can agree or disagree with the decision to hand power to Justin Trudeau, but for the foreseeable future (2019), he’s your man.   There are reasons aplenty for the Liberals coming from off the pace to win a majority. The NDP’s total collapse was a crucial one. The Eastern elites were able to seize power once again from the renegade westerners. But, as HBO’s John Oliver made plain, Stephen Harper was the only issue that mattered.   By Monday’s vote, it was clear the StarKist Tuna factor held sway. What’s the StarKist Tuna Factor? Some may remember the commercials featuring hipster Charlie the Tuna who was always trying to make it into a StarKist tin. The punchline comes when another tuna tells the beret-clad Charlie that StarKist “wants tunas that taste good, not tunas with good taste.”   As Americans did in 2008, Canada went for the fish called Hope with good taste, not the fish that tasted good. The Liberals ads dressed Trudeau in the best Obama “free from fear” and “oceans will stop rising” guise, and it worked in splendid contrast to the dour Harper visage that Oliver savaged. For those people who want a motivational speaker not an economist (in most elections that voting bloc includes vast swaths of eastern Canada and B.C.) the message was political crack.   So now we have M. Trudeau in his daddy’s old chair. What can we expect till the next election from the Boy Wonder? That depends, of course, on just how much he can resist all the rent seekers who invested in his election. Is he strong enough to control them? Having been the welcoming face of the future, can he close the door on the uglier elements of the Liberals’ Quebec past?  … Read More

Canada Election 2015 – Usual Suspects

  The federal election is heading into its final days with the three major parties involved in a game of Twister, contorting themselves in an effort to gain a minority. Majorities are the talk of fantasists.     The latest spasm has the Tories clearly establishing a buffer between themselves and the… what? Oh. The Tory surge is, like, so last week. The current bump shows the Libs shoving past the NDP and hovering next to Stephen Harper’s Tories. We may see a three-way dead heat at this point. What led to this latest Liberal jump? No one is quite sure. It may be Justin Trudeau’s finger wagging about the prime minster stoking “fear” with his social policies and justice reforms. If so, Trudeau admonishing Harper for stoking fears would be one of the more risible jests of our time. Has he forgotten his sainted father, St. Pierre of the War Measure Act? As a refresher, here’s Justin’s Pa on the steps of Parliament shortly after invoking the War Measures Act in 1970.   There were soldiers in driveways and civil liberties suspended over the political kidnappings of Pierre Laporte and James Cross. Trudeau père had just used the police and army to haul a whole lot of Quebec nationalists from their beds and into custody (thereby ensuring the success of the Parti Québecois that decade). “There’s a lot of bleeding hearts around who don’t like to see people with helmets and guns,” Trudeau remarked jauntily. “All I can say is, go on and bleed…” The operative words in the discussion Trudeau had with CBC report Tim Ralfe comes when asked how far he’ll go to protect civil society. “Just watch me” said Trudeau with his Cheshire grin. For a vast portion of the population, Trudeau became a… Read More

Harper Derangement Syndrome hits the USA

At long last there is good news for the many victims of HDS (Harper Derangement Syndrome). The New York Times has noticed. HDS is the compelling urge to compare the current Canadian prime minister to Vladimir Putin, his Conservative supporters to Boko Haram, and his policies to those of Augusto Pinochet. For much of Harper’s tenure as prime minister, the panache police in the urban silos of Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver have been apoplectic about the apparent lack of charisma employed in keeping Canada’s economy ahead of the other G8 countries who crashed and burned after 2008. So, the Times enlisted Toronto scribbler and progressive prune Stephen Marche to unleash a storm of purple invective about how Harper has made Canada dumber during his tenure. Oh, does Marche bring the goods. There’s the war on science, the steadfast refusal to faint over global warming, er… climate change hysteria and his shocking end to the long-form census. According to Marche’s overheated prose, Harper’s praise of Toronto mayor Rob Ford is tantamount to treason. Thank God the Harp didn’t try to nationalize Timmy’s or Marche’s head might explode in indignation. “The Harper years have seen a subtle darkening of Canadian life,” thunders Marche. Ignoring virtually every other previous administration, he pronounces the Harper years as “one of the most scandal-plagued administrations in Canadian history.” If there is a dramatic uptick in Harper’s lifestyle or trappings it has yet to be divined by anyone with eyes to see. There have been no Chrétien-esque shenanigans on golf course real estate nor Mulroney taking a delivery of unmarked bills in envelopes at a hotel. No Munsinger call-girl capers under Mike Pearson. To say nothing of Sir John A.’s railroad scams. While Hillary Clinton has salted away millions in speaking fees and quid-pro-quo charitable scams, the… Read More
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