This week

For the week of June 18th, 2009

Sidney CrosbyFace of the week
Sidney Crosby after the Penguins’ Stanley Cup win; it seems touching the trophy after the semifinals isn’t bad luck after all.

A week in the life of Moammar Gadhafi
The Libyan leader visited Italy and went to Villa Pamphili, a large public garden in Rome, where he pitched the tent he stays in while travelling. On Friday, he failed to show for a meeting with deputies in the Italian parliament. Later, to avoid a diplomatic row, he met in his tent with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who explained that Gadhafi is “a bit unique”. That evening, he addressed more than 700 prominent businesswomen, claiming to be a defender of women’s rights.


Bench strength
A B.C. judge got it right this week when he rejected a motion to water down the findings of a seven-month inquiry into the death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski. Lawyers representing the four RCMP members who tasered the man at the Vancouver airport had argued the inquiry had no jurisdiction to rule on the conduct of the police, after inquiry head Thomas Braidwood warned he might find the tasering was unjustified and that the Mounties misled the inquiry. In another victory for common sense, the Supreme Court of Canada restored the conviction of Kelly Ellard in the murder 12 years ago of teenager Reena Virk. Ellard has had three trials: one hung jury, and two guilty verdicts overturned on appeal. A fourth trial would have been a logistical challenge, and a nightmare for the Virk family.

Comeback kids
After they lost the first two games of the Stanley Cup final, few thought the Pittsburgh Penguins had a chance against the Detroit Red Wings. When they came back and forced a game seven in Joe Louis Arena, where the Red Wings rarely lose, the odds were still against them. Yet the Penguins pulled it off, making Sidney Crosby, at 21, the youngest captain to lift the Cup. It was a thrilling end to the season, and about eight million Americans watched the final game—the biggest audience since the 1973 final between Montreal and Chicago. Thanks to the Pens and its young stars, hockey’s future is bright.

Moving forward
An outreach program by the University of Victoria has attracted more than 600 First Nations students, up from just 89 a decade ago. Their graduation at a nearby longhouse was held June 15, National Reconciliation Day. The day marks the first anniversary of the federal government’s apology for the abuses suffered at residential schools. And finally last week, the government named the three new members of the much-delayed commission aiming to give school survivors a chance to recount their experiences and draft a reconciliation plan. Turning education into a positive experience, as UVic has, is an essential first step.

Rat Island, pop. 0
It took 229 years, and a week of airdropping poison by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to end the plague of rats on Alaska’s Rat Island. Norway rats swarmed onto the remote island in 1780 from the wreckage of an infested Japanese ship. The rats had wiped out the island’s bird population. But just days after the last rat’s demise, the birds are returning. Now all the island needs is a new name.


Spare us the squibs
Federal politicians squandered yet another week chest-thumping when the country desperately needs effective leadership. First, Michael Ignatieff threatened to bring down the government unless Prime Minister Stephen Harper agreed to provide details on further EI reforms. The PM responded with equal (and equally empty) bravura, flatly refusing to enrich the EI scheme. What did this latest round of parliamentary farce yield? Nothing more than a meeting between the two leaders, and a promise to, ah, meet again. Thanks, guys. That should fix the economy.

Rescue the rescuers
Volunteer search and rescue organizations in B.C. have been thrown into chaos over a lawsuit by Gilles Blackburn, whose wife froze to death last winter after the Quebec couple went skiing out of bounds at the Kicking Horse Resort; the suit alleges members of a nearby rescue society were too slow to respond to their distress calls. While Blackburn deserves sympathy for his loss, his claim risks ruining an effective system the province can scarcely afford to replace. Volunteers spend thousands of hours each year plucking the lost and injured from B.C.’s backcountry, while local societies pay their insurance. If liability fears drive them out of business, skiers who wander into trouble in the future may find themselves with no rescuers at all.

Failing grades
It was a bad week for education. A country-wide survey by the Dominion Institute of Canada gave P.E.I., Newfoundland and Labrador, Saskatchewan, Alberta and the Northwest Territories each an F for failing to teach students about the country’s past. Meanwhile, an independent commission in New Brunswick recommended more standardized tests at francophone schools after finding that French students perform worse academically than those at English schools. Provinces are quick to talk up Canada’s well-educated, bilingual workforce when trying to lure investment. They should invest a little to keep it that way.

Grounds for refusal
A Nova Scotia man wants to take Tim Hortons to the province’s human rights commission for not letting him drive his mobility scooter up to the drive-through of a local franchise. Tim Hortons, which bans scooters at drive-throughs for safety reasons, should find a way to get this man his coffee—that’s just basic customer service. Still, it’s a measure of how absurd the human rights industry has become that someone would think a drive-through double-double is a human right and, worse, that the state must be enlisted to see he gets one in the manner he chooses.

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