Our 24/7 news cycle sometimes makes it seem like more is going on than what really is, but yesterday was one of those news days where it seemed like everything was happening at once. In case you missed anything, I decided to put together this helpful recap of the day's events because the news of the day on April 10, 2014 was breaking over itself to get broken....
The Death of Jim Flaherty
The facts pertaining to the passing of the former finance minister have been pretty well reported, but like all untimely deaths of important figures, the hyperbole tends to weigh more towards that positive than the negative. That's understandable, but what I would have liked from yesterday's outpouring in the media, at least in the hours after the news broke, was some context.
For instance, Flaherty was part of an Ontario government that for years gutted social services, and despite being in power during one of the biggest economic booms in history still left office with a $6 billion deficit. On the federal level, Flaherty had to practically be bullied into stimulus once the opposition started talking about forming a government of their own in the wake of the government's pitiful response to the 2008 financial collapse.
True, Flaherty stood boldly against Stephen Harper on the idea of income splitting, and as probably the second most familiar face of the government he certainly seemed one of the more pleasant in the front row of the Conservative side, but let's not forget that his was the party of ideology first. There's a certain kind of sadness to a man taken before he got a chance to enjoy his golden years, and we should certainly admire anyone who takes a leadership position in society (especially in today's media culture). Flaherty's death should also serve as a reminder of just show short a shift we can still get in this life and it's up to us to do all we can while we're here, but while all of that may be true, let's not turn the man into a martyr.
Brazeau Busted... Again
Patrick Brazeau just can't get a break. He was suspended from the senate, lost his job as a pundit when he couldn't get press credentials for Parliament Hill, forced to work at a bouncer at an Ottawa strip club and suffered the indignity of the press learning about it, and now he's back in police custody and his stuff is strewn in the backyard of the home he shared with his girlfriend. The only person capable of understanding just how much of fuster cluck Brazeau's made of his personal and political lives, it's Rob Ford, and he still has his job (for now).
On bail for assault and sexual assault charges press last year, the police arrived at the Gatineau home of Brazeau's girlfriend at 4 in the morning, arrested him, and charged him with five more counts including breaching his bail conditions, another count of assault and cocaine possession. If this keeps up, Brazeau will likely be in prison by the time his senate suspension is lifted in 2015. What will the senate do with him then?
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
There was a contentious battle brewing as it concerned The Late Show, but unlike late night wars of the past it had nothing to do with choosing a successor. The war this time concerned location, as the mayors of New York and Los Angeles made cases to CBS for The Late Show to stay or go respectively. But could this conundrum have been solved before it even really began? That's one of the reasons the choice of Stephen Colbert to succeed David Letterman is so compelling.
While it will be sad to lose a stinging satirist of the wit and skill of Colbert from his late night perch of faux-outrage and even faker punditry, his contributions the last 10 years are, nonetheless, appreciated. From telling truth to power at the White House correspondents dinner, to proving the con of big event marketing to thoroughly dissecting the Wild West financing and lack of restrictions on Super PACs, Colbert has proved that you can make 'em cry as you make 'em laugh.
Playing himself should be a unique new challenge on The Late Show, but Colbert's earned the opportunity and then some.
CBC Chopped Some More
Facing tough times without hockey, a senate panel handed down some harsh truth for CBC yesterday when it recommended slashing 657 jobs and $130 million in its budget. Oh, they've also got to do more for less by expanding services to under-represented areas. To recap, the NHL sold the broadcast rights to Rogers last fall for $5.7 billion, and while CBC will continue to broadcast Hockey Night in Canada (for now), all ad revenue will go to Rogers. That means all the money to be made from Canada, and CBC's, most watch series is going to Rogers, who basically just pocket the money without having to do anything.
The lost ad revenue comes to about $100 million, but that probably goes up during a really hot playoff round, and since the deal was announced the potential repercussions to the CBC were rumored to be steep. What slays you is people in government, specifically Conservative people, have been insisting that CBC find a way to pay more of its own way without government assistance, and one would think that keeping the channel's richest asset in house would help. And while CTV and Global et al get away with being pure money-making ventures, CBC does, and must, operate in areas that are under-serviced, and in both official languages. The CBC also doesn't get to fill its schedule by going shopping at the American network upfronts like Bell, Shaw, and yes, Rogers, do and then pat themselves on the back for the two or three hours of original programming they charitably put on the air (usually after the show's been a proven success in the States).
Of course, there's no sympathy for the CBC who, while losing people and spending-power, is still expected to hold up their end. "[Stephen] Harper's fingerprints can also been seen in a Senate Committee study of 'challenges facing the CBC' that has turned into a campaign to strip all public funding from the CBC and give that money to the private broadcasters," said Friends of the CBC's Ian Morrison in an e-mail. Unfortunately, it looks like Morrison may be on to something.
New Charges for Dellen Millard
As news of Flaherty's death was breaking yesterday came word of new charges involving the murder of Tim Bosma and his alleged killer, Dellen Millard. Millard has now been charged with the murder of his former girlfriend Laura Babcock and his father Wayne Millard, the latter having once been ruled a suicide by the medical examiner. In addition, Christina Noudga, Millard's girlfriend at the time of his arrest last year, was also charged in connection to the murder of Bosma, accessory after the fact. The Bosma case captured the attention of people across southern Ontario last summer as the married father of one went with two men on a test drive for a truck he was selling and never returned, his burned remains were discovered in Waterloo eight days later. These new details will surely add to the macabre mystique of Millard, the once promising aviation enthusiast who posted pictures of himself next to a dead man's truck on Facebook and seemed obsessed with the idea of tricking some poor person into stealing their car and killing them using the rouse of responding to a "car for sale" ad. This one looks to go down in the annals of Canadian crime history somewhere along with the Mad Trapper and Paul Bernardo.
Rob Ford Creates Bigger Circus Tent
Although it technically happened earlier in the week, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford cast an even wider (butterfly) net for the bizarre when disgraced Olympic sprinter Ben Johnson and Trailer Park Boys actor Sam "Caveman" Losco joined the disgraced magistrate's re-election campaign team. Johnson and Losco, along with Ford's brother Doug, are the only confirmed members of his campaign team so for. If having Johnson, a man known for losing his medals and world records for using body-enhancing substances, on your team wasn't bad enough, then the support of Losco, a man who hosts a webseries that features him getting high enough on pot to prompt vomiting, colours a unique picture of desperation. In the meantime, Ford can cont on the support of Jimmy Kimmel who will make an appearance on the next installment of the Ford Bros.' YouTube series Ford Nation. Either Ford is struggling for legitimate support, or he's putting together his pitch-package for the post-election reality show.