Week in Review: October 25th – 31st

October 25 2015


The Blue Rigi, Sunrise J.M.W. Turner

The sinking of a whale-watching boat off the coast of Tofino, B.C. today leaves three men and one woman dead, and one man missing.

Riding in a small boat on a large ocean for the bliss of seeing one of creation’s greatest creatures is a thrill I’ve experienced on several occasions. Leaning over the rail with the wind in your face, salty spray on your lips and squinting at the ocean’s surface to spy any sign of a sea creature is a heady experience.

So it must have been for the 27 passengers and crew of the MV Leviathan II as they sailed off the roiling coastal waters of British Columbia in anticipation of spotting a whale or a a group of sea lions. I imagine them happy with anticipation. But then something on the cold choppy water went terribly wrong. And whether it was nature’s claim, some kind of mechanical failure or human error, five passengers were doomed and all aboard who survived had their lives forever changed.

Fisherman Ken Brown of the First Nations community of Ahousaht was the first to spot a flare from one of the ship’s life rafts and sent up the alarm. With all possible haste, people motored through rocky shoals and unpredictable waters as generations of dutiful rescuers have done for centuries. If it weren’t for Brown’s quick action and the help that come from Ahousaht and Tofino, the loss would have been much greater.

“The sea’s only gifts are harsh blows, and occasionally the chance to feel strong,” John Krakauer wrote in Into the Wild. So true. It is a vast force that’s unforgiving and takes what it wants, without warning or permission.

Butdespite its exacting nature, maybe because of it, many of us, including the passengers on the Leviathan were drawn to the sea and wanted to be closer to it. And it’s no wonder they did. “The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever,” said Jacques Cousteau. God rest the souls lost today.

October 26 2015


A model of Guy Fawkes is engulfed in flames and sparks during a Bonfire Night celebration.

The federal conservatives announced today they would pick an interim leader on November 5th. The date has traditionally been associated with Guy Fawkes and his failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605 to blow up the Parliament buildings and thwart King James I. In the following years, on November 5th, bonfires were stoked in England, and later the colonies, to celebrate the foiling of the plan, but, over time, they sometimes deteriorated into burning effigies. Today it is mostly commemorated in a pleasantly social way as Bonfire Night.

The naming of the interim leader will happen one day after Justin Trudeau is sworn in as prime minister and his or her job is to “exercise the powers and responsibilities of the leader until a new leader has been selected.”

Candidates for the position include former minister of public works and government services, Rona Ambrose, former minister of state for social development, Candice Bergen; former public works minister, Diane Finley; former parliamentary secretary to the minister of industry, Mike Lake; former foreign affairs minister, Rob Nicholson; and former veteran affairs minister, Erin O’Toole.

Candidates are campaigning on a platform of conservative values, respect and civility. To see civility in action, you can click here for video of Candace Bergen speaking about Justin Trudeau. To see conservative values in action, click here to see a CBC story about Diane Finley.

But all is not well at HQ. Chaos reigns among party brass as to who actually gets to cast a ballot. Conservative Party President, John Walsh, says only MPs can vote, while Conservative Senator, David Wells, says the party’s constitution clearly states the whole caucus (MPs and senators) will get a say. Stay tuned … I’m sure the answer is out there somewhere.

October 26 2015


Would you like pizza with your bacon?

Headlines fried across the world today as bacon was declared as big a cancer risk as cigarettes. In an article published in Lancet Oncology, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an agency of the World Health Organization’s (WHO), explained their evidence that process meats like bacon increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%, and how their conclusions puts bacon in the same classes of cancer causes agents like smoking and asbestos.

Health reporters and the IARC itself attempted to contextualize the issue. In additional briefing notes, the IARC added, “eating meat [also] has known health benefits.”

Andre Picard, a wise voice in all things health-related, wrote about the brouhaha in his Globe and Mail column Go head, have that BLT for lunch. “Based on these estimates,” writes Picard, “about 66 in every 1,000 people who eat a lot of red meat or processed meat will develop colorectal cancer in their lifetime; by comparison, 56 of every 1,000 who eat very little meat, processed or otherwise, will develop colorectal cancer … Saying that processed meat is as risky as tobacco or asbestos is highly misleading too.

“To understand why news stories would say so, you have to understand the byzantine way the IARC functions,” Picard adds.  To read Picard’s full column, click here.

October 29 2015



Alex Anthopoulos leaving Blue Jays after rejecting contract offer

Eyes narrowed on Rogers Media and incoming Blue Jays President and CEO, Mark Shapiro, today when an agreement with General Manager, Alex Anthopolous—a fan favourite and architect of the existing team—on his role in the 2016 season was not forthcoming.

The move left fans wondering what else the new President has up his sleeve. Mark Shapiro was hired by Rogers Media, the team’s owner, in August. Shapiro had been with the Cleveland Indians for 24 years.

My question is this. What sort of vision does a man who has had one employer his entire MLB career, and who has been surrounded by the most racist mascot in all of major league baseball for 24 years, have exactly? I can’t imagine it’s very pretty and I wrote about it more extensively Friday. Click here a refresher.

See you next week for the next week’s Week in Review, and before then for breaking news (opinion).

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Author Photo 01 Sandy Tam PhotographyGail Picco is a strategist who has worked in the nonprofit sector for 25 years. She is the author of What the Enemy Thinks, a recent novel set in the nonprofit sector, and is Chair of the Board of the Regent Park Film Festival. She also writes about baseball and F1 racing.

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