This Week: Good news/ Bad news

Plus a week in the life of Gordon Campbell

J. Scott Applewhite/ AP

Face of the week
PUMPED UP: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden rallies female student athletes at George Washington University in Washington

J. Scott Applewhite/ AP

A week in the life of Gordon Campbell
His party lags badly in the polls, with almost half of B.C. voters leaning toward the NDP. Yet Campbell marches on. Friday he said he’d miss a Surrey Sikh parade with radical undertones. Sunday he learned he’d receive the Canadian Olympic Order for his support of the Vancouver Games. Monday—way up in northeast B.C.—he announced plans for a 900-megawatt dam project on the Peace River. Tuesday he opened a new Pixar studio in Gastown. Sounds like a last lap to us.


Rain or shine
Neither the soupy fog in St. John’s nor the ash from an Icelandic volcano could derail the Juno Awards. Despite early fears of transportation chaos, the awards show came off a success (and we can’t help but feel heartened that K’Naan, who performed his inspirational Wavin’ Flag, was a big winner). Fears the volcanic ash would shutter the airport did prompt several Tory MPs to jump on special, late-night flights after the show, leaving their Liberal counterparts fuming they missed leaving town early. But given the choice between a return to Ottawa and another night celebrating on George Street, we think we’d take the latter.

The rights stuff
The head of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission has a solution to concerns that human rights proceedings have become a kangaroo court. Let the real courts take over. Last week, David Arnot said he’d prefer to abolish the province’s human rights tribunal and give the job of hearing complaints to the Court of Queen’s Bench. Arnot argues human rights law has become so complex it requires the attention of real judges. Such a move would also provide a clearer separation of powers between the commission and the adjudication of cases. It’s a step in the right direction. Human rights tribunals were never supposed to be courts—just conciliators. Could common sense soon emerge as a basic human right in Canada?

A fearless leader
At a speech given in the Congo, attended by the country’s president and military leaders, Governor General Michaëlle Jean spoke out against wartime use of rape as a weapon must not go unpunished. Jean continues to be a fearless and passionate representative of this country, even as she nears the end of her term and fascination attends the question of her replacement. That interest is a credit to her work and populist appeal. The downside? Internet sites are suggesting candidates like Leonard Cohen and William Shatner. As the Queen’s representative? Please.

The kids are alright
Two Winnipeg teachers who performed a routine closely resembling a lap dance at a school pep rally are out of work. One resigned, the other’s contract won’t be renewed. “It was disturbing,” one teen student said of the dance, viewed by millions on YouTube. We long for the days when teachers were dignified—even intimidating—rather than trying to be hip. It’s gratifying the students knew inappropriate behaviour when they saw it. Maybe good taste is inborn and stays intact, no matter what they see at school.


Bawdy politic

Saskatchewan Party MLA Serge LeClerc, a former gangland criminal who found God in jail and became a motivational speaker, has come under increasing scrutiny. One NDP member said LeClerc gave him the finger and menaced him outside the legislature. On Friday, the CBC said it received a package containing a recording of a man who sounds like LeClerc discussing recent cocaine use and sex with a man. Though he’d secured his party’s riding nomination and had pursued the process into April, LeClerc—who denies everything—quit caucus, and says he’d planned to leave politics all along. The premier has sent the allegations to police. Whatever comes of this, it’s a regrettable spectacle.

Out of control
Toyota paid a US$16.4-million fine to U.S. safety regulators to settle complaints over sticky accelerator pedals. That should have marked the end of the recall nightmare for the world’s top automaker. Yet the problems keep coming. Toyota was forced to stop selling one of its Lexus SUVs over a report the truck can lose control in high-speed cornering. Worse, a simmering internal dispute between the Toyoda family and company executives went public as the two sides traded blame. It once looked like Toyota’s good name was being unfairly tarnished. Now, we’re not so sure.

Pew says: Pee-u!
Republicans and Democrats can’t play nice. On Saturday, President Barack Obama accused Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell of launching a “cynical and deceptive” attack against a measure designed to tame Wall Street. Not exactly bipartisan. For its part, the GOP is using the very real issue of America’s faulty financial system to score points. So goes U.S. politics these days, and Americans are understandably perturbed. A Pew Research Center survey says just 22 per cent believe they can trust Washington “almost always or most of the time”—a historic low; almost a third think the government is a threat to personal freedom.

Out of their tree
A British court fined a hotel $3,100 after health and safety investigators found the owners had failed to carry out a “risk assessment” on the dangers of sawing a tree branch with a ladder leaning against it. Peter Aspinall, the 63-year-old handyman, fell 14 feet after sawing through the branch. The hotel had pleaded guilty to the breaches, and Aspinall is now pursuing a civil suit. Still, the hotel’s solicitor expressed disappointment that “common sense did not prevail” in the ruling. “It is an unusual accident,” he said. “Laurel and Hardy do that sort of thing.”

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