Athletes Pay About $16/hour

Top amateur athletes including Olympic contenders make a little better than minimum wage and typically rely on government grants and family loans to get by, says federal research. Data show athletes’ average incomes have remained unchanged since 2013 while costs rose dramatically: “Athletes are operating in the red.”

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Equity Hires Find Cronyism

Federal staffers hired under the Employment Equity Act say their workplace is riddled with cronyism. The report by the Public Service Commission indicated Equity Act employees had a dimmer view of merit-based hiring than their coworkers: “I do want to talk about nepotism.”

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Admit Job Claim Guesswork

The Department of Industry acknowledges its federal job creation claims are based purely on assumptions and estimates. The admission came in an audit of a program intended to create jobs through defence spending: “This was deemed not feasible.”

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No Delay For Climate ‘Crisis’

Cabinet will press ahead with new green fuel regulations, Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said yesterday. The oil and gas industry had petitioned for a delay in the so-called Clean Fuel Standard due to recession job losses: “Canadians want their government to think about the future.”

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No Ancestry Test Here: Judge

First Nations people have no right to insist Indigenous judges hear their legal claims, says an Alberta court. The legal system would collapse if all judges were suspected of bias based on their ancestry, said a Provincial Court judge in Red Deer: “What would the result be?”

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Seven Cities On Quake List

The Department of Natural Resources yesterday said it will permanently install seismographs within a 200-kilometre radius of seven cities considered hot zones for a major earthquake. Hundreds of sensors will be deployed as part of an early warning system: “There could be up to several hundred extended network stations.”

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Vow Dollar For Dollar Tariffs

Cabinet will impose dollar for dollar retaliatory tariffs against American duties on aluminum, Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne said yesterday. U.S. President Donald Trump on August 6 served notice of ten percent charges on Canadian aluminum deemed to “impair the security of the United States”.

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New Internet Regs Are Secret

Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault has drafted legislation to regulate legal internet content but will not release it to the public. Guilbeault’s department said anyone wanting to read a confidential discussion paper detailing the regulations should file a $5 Access To Information request: “It has not been shared publicly.”

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Court To Decide Carbon Tax

The Supreme Court on September 22 and 23 will hear final arguments in a last legal stand for the federal carbon tax. Lower courts in three provinces issued contradictory rulings on whether the fuel charge is constitutional: “What is your Plan B if the Supreme Court rules against the government?”

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Bank Transfers Led To Probe

A police investigation of an ex-MP charged with fraud was triggered by suspicious bank transactions, say RCMP. Former Liberal MP Raj Grewal (Brampton East, Ont.) had publicly complained of banking regulations as a member of the Commons finance committee: “There is a privacy concern.”

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“Real Evidence” On Seatbelts

The Department of Transport says it seeks “real world evidence” on the effectiveness of school bus seatbelts after rejecting a mandatory measure as too costly. A pilot project will be carried out in two British Columbia school districts: “It’s mandatory for new coach buses to have seatbelts; why have school buses been left out?”

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A Poem: “Monty Python”

 

Pedestrian crossing

downtown Ottawa

marked by silhouette:

John Cleese performing Silly Walk.

 

Tribute to a humourist

and the beauty of bureaucrats

handling tax payers’ money.

 

I look around.

 

Parliament.

Prime Minister’s Office.

National Defence.

Bank of Canada.

CBC.

 

All within walking distance.

 

(Editor’s note: poet Shai Ben-Shalom, an Israeli-born biologist, examines current events in the Blacklock’s tradition each and every Sunday)

Review: The Days Of Ho Chi Minh

Michael Maclear was the only Western TV correspondent in North Vietnam the day Ho Chi Minh died in 1969. Half a million mourners clad in white queued for hours to see Ho laying in state, his head resting on a soft pillow. It was “a great river of people,” Maclear recalls. The temperature hit 107° and kept climbing: “Every few seconds in the intense heat, even among the ranks of soldiers, someone would faint.”

Reading Guerrilla Nation is like opening a drawer to find a lapsed passport or faded yearbook. In an instant you are in a time and place once very important and now utterly forgotten – “the strangest of journeys in the most divisive of times, when ‘Nam confounded us all,” writes Maclear.

Travel was expensive. Asia seemed distant. And a CBC-TV foreign correspondent like Maclear was assured fame and a mass audience. One of Maclear’s newsroom colleagues, Knowlton Nash, went into management and self-appointment as network anchor. Another, Roméo LeBlanc, became governor general. Maclear remained a working reporter, still writing in his 84th year.

Most indelible are Maclear’s vignettes: the memory of old men wheezing as they freighted 100kg loads on bicycles through the Vietnamese countryside. Or the 12-year old boys press-ganged into a road repair crew.  Or a Red propaganda officer who shook his fist at Maclear, “Capitalist swine – you are here to exploit us.”

And, there is controversy.

Maclear recounts a dubious scoop: a 1970 incident in which he was invited to take a camera into a North Vietnamese camp and “interview” two imprisoned Americans. Maclear agreed to submit four questions in advance: name and rank? How often can you write home? Can you describe your daily routine? And, what are your feelings on the war?

“The war is wrong,” one POW remarked as his guards stood nearby. “The answer is that the war must be ended.”

It was a propaganda shoot. The U.S. government called Maclear’s story a “carefully staged production.” U.S. Senator John McCain, himself a victim of torture in Vietnamese custody, later cursed Maclear’s interview subjects as “two camp rats” who collaborated with the enemy.

Maclear can nurse a grudge, too. He remembers an American who called his coverage “pinko crap”, and the CBC managers who ultimately suspended him on trumped up complaints over coverage “with my own network echoing, ‘Were you duped?’”

This all happened decades ago, yet Maclear writes: “Time has not erased the memories, nor should it, for the Network by its actions not least betrayed the public.” To read Guerrilla Nation is to recall in a flash this angry era, and then marvel at how it is so completely forgotten.

By Holly Doan

Guerrilla Nation: My Wars In and Out of Vietnam, by Michael Maclear; Dundurn; 216 pages; ISBN 9781-45970-9409; $19.99