Good news, bad news

Toronto hosts the 100th Grey Cup and lunar phases have no effect on incidences of psychological problems

Frank Micelotta/AP

A pale horse coming

It’s hard to imagine a better Grey Cup matchup: the surging Calgary Stampeders versus the hometown Toronto Argonauts, whose presence will turn the 100th-anniversary game at the Rogers Centre into the promotional extravaganza the CFL hoped for. Look for white-hatted Stamps fans to invade Hogtown (and for the Royal York Hotel to keep a shovel in its lobby), while we keep a keen eye on the mayor’s brother, Councillor Doug Ford, who marred the announcement that the Grey Cup would be held in Toronto by declaring his wish to bring the NFL to town. Hop on the CFL bandwagon, Doug. There’s plenty of room.

The proper prescription

Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq got it right this week when she refused to ban the generic version of OxyContin, resisting pressure from addiction groups and the Ontario government. Yes, the drug is a magnet for addicts, but when used properly, it’s a safe alternative to raw opiates like morphine. The cabinet of your local pharmacy has scores of drugs in the same class as oxycodone. Instead of banning them, provinces must do what they’re legally empowered to do: control them.

Maybe it’s just a bluff

There were signs this week that U.S. lawmakers might be able to negotiate their way back from the fiscal cliff of automatic budget cuts and tax increases, as congressional leaders on both sides heralded a “constructive” meeting at the White House. Key to hopes of an agreement were signs that some Republicans seem amenable to taxing the rich, suggesting acceptance of a platform on which President Barack Obama ran and won. The voters have spoken, then—and so have the markets, rising early this week on the optimism that a deal can be reached.

Moon myths

It turns out there’s no connection between lunar phases and the incidence of psychological problems. So says a team of researchers from Université Laval’s school of psychology, who tracked the number of people who show up at hospitals with psychological issues against phases of the moon. As for the effect of a full moon on downtown traffic, well, that remains a mystery.


Mauvais signes

You don’t have to support Quebec’s language laws to question a lawsuit filed by an alliance of big-box retailers against the province’s language watchdog. Best Buy, Costco, Gap, Wal-Mart and others complain the province is expanding its rules by stealth in insisting the chains add French to their brand names. But the modifications sought are modest (“Le Magasin Walmart”), while the spectre of mostly U.S.-backed giants combining forces against the provincial government will feed the Parti Québécois’s bogus narrative that French in Quebec is under siege. Whatever happened to knowing your customers?

Safety first

Separate plane crashes in Manitoba and Alberta claimed two lives over the weekend, reminding us of the dangers faced by a growing number of Canadians serving the resource sector and remote northern communities. As winter sets in, their relatively safe mode of travel—small aircraft—becomes considerably more hazardous. For pilots, ground crews, controllers and safety authorities, there is scant margin for error.

Pawning the lawn

Tower Hamlets, a cash-strapped borough of east London, says it has been forced to flog a famous Henry Moore sculpture that once graced the courtyard of a housing project. The Toronto District School Board, meanwhile, wants to sell off parts of playing fields to pay for renovations. Authorities in both countries call it austerity. But auctioning heirlooms is an easy out for decision-makers who refuse to rein in spending. (In Toronto, the cost of one school refit has spiralled more than 50 per cent over budget.) The bargains might be hard to resist, but no one should buy the rationale.

Cheap shots

Are NHL players a group of united professionals or a schoolyard gang? First, Detroit Red Wings defenceman Ian White called league commissioner Gary Bettman “an idiot.” Then Kris Versteeg of the Florida Panthers called him a “cancer”—on the same day Montreal’s Erik Cole tugged on a cap that read “Puck Gary.” Maybe this tough talk goes over well at home, in front of their wives and buddies. But name-calling is only going to make this dismal lockout worse.