Archive for September, 2010

Sarah Thomson’s Big Mistake

September 29th, 2010

If Sarah Thomson really wants to stop the Rob Ford express, here’s what she should have done: stay in the race and after she loses complain to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario that people didn’t vote for her because she’s a woman.

Presto, Bingo, the HRT appoints Sarah Thomson mayor.

Freedom and democracy is for suckers, when you want real authority, just take it.

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On This Day

September 28th, 2010

On Sept 28, 1960 my family changed irrevocably. It would be almost three years before I was born, another six months or so before I could utter the phrase, “changed irrevocably,” never mind grasp it’s subtle implications. None the less, the family changed in a way that would affect me dramatically: my older brother was born. The first born, he was rambunctious almost from the get go. An active boy, he would later find sports in a big way. In fact, the way I am with music, he is with sports.

A story: When I got Led Zeppelin tickets in 2007 he was the one guy I figured could afford to go. He did, and more than once while we were in England he compared seeing Led Zeppelin to the Super Bowl he had a chance to see a few years earlier. I disagreed, on two points: 1) Football sucks, Led Zeppelin doesn’t. 2) 80,000 people get to go to the super bowl annually; 20,000 people got to see Led Zeppelin once since 1980.

He is, to make a long post somewhat shorter, a sports guy. So it is appropriate that he should share his day with two significant sporting events.

It was his twelfth birthday when Foster Hewitt made the most famous call in Canadian sports in 1972:

Henderson has scored for Canada.

He is aware of the date of that goal, and has mentioned before it was on his birthday. He even has a picture of that moment hanging in his basement.

The second event occurred the day he was born. While he was entering the world in Ireland, across the ocean in the Irish-American stronghold of Boston, Ted Williams was finishing his career. Fourty-two year old Williams played his last game 50 years ago today, hitting a home run in his final at bat in the major leagues.

Williams played 21 years in the major leagues, hit 521 home runs and had a career batting average of .344. A brilliant career, capped off 50 years ago today.

Jim Pagliaroni shakes Ted Williams' hand after his final at-bat in 1960

Jim Pagliaroni shakes Ted Williams' hand after his final at-bat in 1960

Baseball, Birthday Wishes, Hockey , ,

Toronto the Not in a Death Spiral

September 28th, 2010

Remember when Sarah Thomson entered the Toronto mayoral race? spiral torontoShe was a choice for conservatives, a business woman with good fiscal sense.

Today, she left the race, citing Rob Ford as the “voice of anger,” and threw her endorsement behind a Liberal with the nickname furious George, who was responsible when the Ministry of Health blew $1B on a program that created zero electronic health records.

Want to know why Toronto’s broken? “Sarah Thomson, conservative choice for mayor.”

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Saturday Fluffernutter: The Sex and Drugs and Chicks Who Lip Synch Edition

September 25th, 2010

All the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities

fluffincolorDear Lindsay:

The rules are simple. Here’s how it works. You do your treatment program, you pass two drug tests a week, you stay out of jail.

fluffTwo drug tests a week Lindsay Lohan is mandated to take. Two. You know they’re coming. So how does she do? She fails both of them. On two separate, mandatory samples she tests positive for two separate drugs: cocaine on one test, amphetamine on the second. Two tests, two fails, two different drugs.

It’s hard to muster much sympathy for the bail revoked/4 weeks in jail she got for her transgression.

fluffincolorParis Hilton had a better week. She dropper her silly, “it’s not my purse it’s not my – errr – gum,” defence and pleaded guilty to cocaine possession on Monday.

Hilton had been charged after being pulled over in Las Vegas on August 28th. The purse she was carrying had a small amount of cocaine. She was also charged with obstructing police after telling the officers on the scene that the purse wasn’t hers. That charge was dropped.

Hilton was fined $2,000 an ordered to complete 200 hours of community service. She was also given a suspended sentence and warned that any arrests in Nevada would result in jail time.


Update: The news turned bad by weeks end. It turns out some countries don’t like to allow cocaine users in. Japan, apparently, is particularly fussy on this point, and the lady so gay they named a city after her was refused entry to Japan on Tuesday.

fluffincolorSigh! Another week, another sex scandal on Sesame Street… wait… what did I just write?

Singer, fashionista and all round ingénue Katy Perry was to appear on Sesame Street this week, performing a song with Elmo (who’s nose feels so good &tc.). Perry, famous for the song I Kissed a Girl was set to perform her single Hot and Cold on the pre-school MTV. The producers of Sesame Street released the clip on YouTube and then pulled it from the show “based on feedback.”

This blog has never, ever been an advocate for the sexualizing of children, and abhors the practice. But frankly, other than some really bad lip synching, there’s nothing wrong with the segment. An argument can be made that Perry is not the kind of role model we want for pre-schoolers (an argument can be made she’s not the type of role model we want for pre-teens, her target audience, but I digress), but this particular clip is tame.

fluffincolorJudge Judy: legal-beagle of stunning intellectual stupor:

Lindsay Lohan, I think, has to be given a dose of reality. I don’t think she has been living in the real world for a long time.

Most people stop using drugs on jail. If you‘re in jail for three months, nobody is going to get Lindsay Lohan drugs in jail.

It is ignorant idiocy to suggest drugs are not available in jail – they are more prevalent in jail than out. Other than that, she kind of has a point though.

fluffincolorEddie Fisher (1928-2010) – It’s hard to imagine how big Eddie Fisher once was. Pre-Beatles pop star, host of two TV shows, father to actress Carrie (Princess Leah) Fisher, he was also what today would be major tabloid fodder.

Married to superstar Debbie Reynolds, who was Carrie’s mother, he left her for Elizabeth Taylor. Think Brad dumps Jen for Angie and your in the neighbourhood. By today’s standards, Eddie Fisher would be staring at you from the grocery store and gas station check out pretty much every week.

He was also married to Connie Stevens, a big star in her own right, as well as Terry Richard ( 21, beauty queen, he was 47) and business woman Betty Lin.

Fisher was 82, and died Wednesday from complications from a recent hip surgery.

While you were busy watching Elmo on YouTube, America lost a true icon.

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Saturday Fluffernutter:

September 18th, 2010
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All the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities

fluffincolorParis, Brittany, Lindsay and … George? He’s prettier and a better singer than Paris, Brittany and Lindsay. Now George Michael joins the first two in the going to jail for driving while stupid category.

The former Wham! singer was sentenced to eight weeks in prison after pleading guilty to possession of cannabis and driving under the influence of drugs. He was also fined $1,725.

What’s the betting line on Michael not getting out for good behaviour?

fluffincolorAs if karaoke night run through a pitch adjuster isn’t enough, as if the idea that paying your dues means listening to one judges mean-ish commentary for ten weeks, isn’t enough, there is now one more reason not to watch American Idol: Jennifer Lopez will be judging this years show.

To anyone who has taken the debate with me through the years that American Idol is about finding talented people and not about dispensing celebrity on those not talented enough to otherwise earn it: Jennifer Lopez is judging American Idol.

fluffincolorFormer Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant stepped in it this week, but came out unharmed.

While on the Today show, he referred to his pre-Zeppelin Band of Joy as playing blues and “spook music.” Spook is, of course, a derogatory term for African-Americans.

Such a comment, uttered on network television in the middle of the day will result in one of two things happening, regardless of the original intent of the comment. Either a large scale media kerfuffle, resulting in career suicide or nothing at all. The latter, which is what happens, is an indication of cultural obsolescence.

Not good news either if you’re the producers of The Today show, and nobody noticed a reference to spook music during your show.

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Cool For Cats Friday

September 17th, 2010

I went to Roger Waters The Wall tour last night. Showed up with a Pentax DSLR camera and 300mm lens, to take some shots from my seat, in the 300 level and at the opposite end of the rink from the stage. The geniuses wouldn’t let me use it. Made me check it at guest services as if I was going to take some pictures I could sell or some stupidity.  Talk about stuck in a pre-internet mind set.

So instead of shooting decent quality pictures from 300 feet away, I took shitty quality video on my iphone. How this is better if your Roger Waters, I’ll never know.

One more picture, because shitty pictures are better than half decent pictures.img_0194

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At Home in Hespeler: Right on Carbon Taxes

September 16th, 2010
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Who said what again?

Back in 2007 I asked, would you stop driving for 12c a litre?

Elizabeth May thinks you would. I wonder. Hasn’t the price of gas gone up more than 12c a litre this year? What has it stopped you from doing?

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Sixty cents a litre is the starting point for serious reduction. This is just a smooth trick to get carbon taxes in play, they’ll adjust accordingly later. And we all know how hard it is to get governments to adjust down.


That’s right, 60c a litre is the starting point. That’s based on Bill C-288, the report that the John Baird led Environment Ministry produced that was pooh-poohed by a Elizabeth May and Stephane Dion as being over the top. Fifty dollars a tonne would do it, shrieked May. Twenty dollar “deposit” mumbled Dion.
Back in 2008, BC went the $20/tonne route, upping a litre of gas 7c.  The tax would increase to $30/tonne by 2012. Then…
The Pembina Institute says British Columbia should increase its trendsetting carbon tax to $200 per tonne of CO2 emissions, equivalent to a 48-cent surcharge in the price of gasoline, if it’s serious about addressing climate change.
That’s $5 above the Environment Ministry price of $195/tonne, and  brings a litre of gas to 55c more. Still want that tax on on a basic element of life?

Carbon Tax, Economic Fundamentalism, Global Warming, Going... Going... Gone Nuts For The Environment , , , ,

Quelle Surprise: Smart Meters Aren’t Saving Money

September 15th, 2010

Did anyone believe him? Anyone…? Beuller…?  Dalton McGuinty told you a) Smart Meters will save you money on electricity & b) They would be revenue neutral. Always revenue neutral with these guys, always that means there is the same amount of revenue as before, but they’ll have more of it.imgp7620

Here’s what I said about Smart Meters, as it related to a rate increase a Toronto Hydro because of successful conservation efforts:

…once everybody is doing their dishes in the middle of the night demand will increase at that time, causing the rate to increase in the middle of the night.

Of course, I was off a bit: Premier Dad didn’t wait until everybody was doing their dishes in the middle of the night. Smart Meters raised everybody’s electricity bill automatically, regardless of when you use electricity.

I’ve been paying HST all over town. I can’t wait for the election to vote against this guy.

Dalton McGuinty doesn’t seem to quite get, he’s got a real problem.

The question is, does Tim Hudak get that he’s got a real opportunity. Smart Meters are just the tip of the iceburg.

Dalton, In Dalton McGuinty’s Ontario…, taxpayers , , ,

Black Country Communion Review

September 14th, 2010

All the work of blogging occasionally pays off, and in most unexpected coin. Through another blog I keep up, Ramble On, I was advanced a copy of the new “supergroup” Black Country Communion’s debut CD. I’ve been listening for four days now, and absolutely love this CD.

My review is in. Be sure to read it all, but here’s some highlights:

I woke up this morning with a part of a song stuck in my head… It is the latter song I can’t shake today. Specifically, it is the part of the song when the band comes out of the chorus: they have built up to a great crescendo, Glenn Hughes voice straining, Marshalls at 11 and they transition to guitarist Joe Bonamassa coming in with a tasty little guitar lick, bringing the band back down a notch. It is such a sweet, melodic little line: one of those moments when the music seems to sigh…

Joe Bonamassa on guitar, Glenn Hughes on bass and vocals, Jason Bonham on drums and Derek Sherinian on keyboards. Each has an impressive pedigree, each shines in their own way on the debut, self titled, album. The rhythm section carry song after song with pounding regularity. Derek Sherinian offers subtle touches of 70’s era keyboards, adding ambiance and feel, never taking over. And Joe Bonamassa is brilliant, his licks imaginative without overplaying…

At 73 minutes long, it would be my normal MO to complain that Black Country Communion is too long, anything over standard LP length of 45 minutes being an extravagance…

… this would be the first album where I would be tempted to give five stars…

As it is, Black Country Communion is the best post-Zeppelin work of anyone associated with Led Zeppelin.

Black Country Communion will be released Tuesday Sept 21

Black Country Communion

1. Black Country 3:15
2. One Last Soul 3:52
3. The Great Divide 4:45
4. Down Again 5:45
5. Beggarman 4:51
6. Song of Yesterday 8:33
7. No Time 4:18
8. Medusa 6:56
9. The Revolution in Me 4:59
10. Stand (At The Burning Tree) 7:01
11. Sista Jane 6:54
12. Too Late For the Sun 11:21

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The Freedom of Music: Review: Bachman & Turner

September 12th, 2010


One likes to believe in the freedom of music.
Rush – Spirit of Radio.

When Randy Bachman decided to record a solo album with guest singers, one of his first calls was to his old Bachman-Turner Overdrive (BTO) partner C.F. (call me Fred) Turner. The two got together and recorded Rock and Roll is the Only Way Out. sidebar-3The results so pleased them that Bachman shelved the solo album and BTO was reborn. Except, Robbie Bachman and – how was this allowed to happen? – Blair Thornton objected to the use of the name and sued (Thornton is often erroneously referred to in media reports of this as “an original member“). So Bachman & Turner was born.

“…people are saying this album sounds like it was supposed to be released in 1977,” Bachman has said of Bachman & Turner, the new album that was released Tuesday. “That’s what I was trying for. People… don’t want… Fred doing a rap/hip-hop kind of thing.”

There’s a lot in that statement, not the least is that the album sounds like 1977, when BTO was on the down side, instead of 1974, the middle year of their three best albums. In 1973 BTO released their very good, but rough debut album, followed the same year by their breakthrough Bachman-Turner Overdrive II. In that one year Blue Collar, Takin’ Care of Business and Let it Ride were written, recorded and released. The next year they replaced the third Bachman, Tim, with Thornton and released Not Fragile. Roll On Down the Highway, You Ain’t Seen Nothin Yet and Rock is My Life were on that album. In 1975, it was Four Wheel Drive, and Head On, adding the title track, Hey You, Take it Like a Man and Lookin’ Out for #1 to the canon. Other than the 1976 single, Down to the Line, that was pretty much BTO. Saying Bachman-Turner sounds like 1977, then, is a back-handed compliment.

Yet it’s also accurate. After Four Wheel Drive, something changed in the BTO sound. They approached melody different, the guitar took on a new tone. The difference was there, hard to define, but they weren’t the same band that recorded Takin’ Care of Business. So it is with the new album. It is loaded with good songs, bereft of great ones.

The album is often hard rocking as Can’t Go Back to Memphis, I’ve Seen The Light and the above mentioned Rock and Roll is the Only Way Out remind one of that old BTO adage, “you ask do we play heavy music, well are thunderheads just another cloud?”

Can’t Go Back to Memphis, however, suffers from vocals that are run through what sounds like an old blues harp microphone. I’ve Seen the Light as well as Moonlight Rider and Rollin’ Along all benefit from Turner dropping his Fred persona and singing like C.F. Turner of old. So much so that Moonlight Rider and Rollin’ Along are the albums best songs.

Rollin’ Aling, was in fact pre-released as a single. It is the albums signature piece and, as Fred Turner said of it, the continuation of Roll On Down the Highway. That’s a fair description and it is as enjoyable a song.

Moonlight Rider, on the other hand, is Turning Japanese meets The Letter. The opening is reminiscent of Turning Japanese‘s signature lick, but the song melodically is The Letter to a tee. The two combine to make a great rock and roll song.

According to a CTV report, “an early listener… told Bachman… Find Some Love, was ‘the greatest Led Zeppelin song since Led Zeppelin.’” It’s true too, it is eerily familiar to when Zeppelin covered Harlequin’s I Did it For Love… No, wait, that can’t be right. Find Some Love doesn’t bear superficial comparison to Led Zeppelin, but again, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad song. It is a hard rockin’ guitar song with the soul of a pop song, very reminiscent of fellow CanCon rockers Harlequin. Slave to the Rhythm is in a similar vein, a pop song dressed up as a rocker.

BTO wasn’t one for ballads, at least not in the traditional sense. When they slowed it down, Bachman’s jazz sensibilities emerged, and some real gems that combined a jazz feel and harmonic structure with a slow rock beat produced some of BTO’s best songs. On this disc the role falls to Traffic Jam. As nice harmonically as Blue Collar or Lookin’ Out for #1, melodically it is not as consistent, and because of this doesn’t work as well as the those earlier pieces.

While there is much good in the new Bachman-Turner album, it is not flawless. If you wrote a 70’s sitcom called That’s What It Is, then Bachman & Turner have a theme song for you. That’s What It Is is bad disco, done by guys who obviously don’t get disco. Try the Theme from Rocky (Gonna Fly Now) meets the barf bucket and your close. Repo Man is of another category of bad: boring and dumb. Waiting Game features a lousy vocal performance by Bachman, and Neutral Zone is just that, blasé and neutral. It’s not that it’s a bad song, but when was the last time you listened to “that song that didn’t bother you that much?”

Bachman-Turner is a good, not great album by a couple of guys well past their prime who have found a way to tap into that prime and come close. By 1977 standards, it’s an OK rock album. But today’s, it’s far above average.


1. Rollin’ Along
2. That’s What It Is
3.Moonlight Rider
4. Find Some Love
5. Slave To The Rhythm
6. Waiting Game
7. I’ve Seen The Light
8. Can’t Go Back To Memphis
9. Rock ‘N’ Roll Is The Only Way Out
10. Neutral Zone
11. Traffic Jam
12.Repo Man

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Remembering The Victims of 9/11: Susan Huie

September 11th, 2010


On Sept 11, 2001, Dr. Gordon Huie was stitching up victims of the 9/11 terrorist attack on a conference room table. Anxiously he wondered to himself, “Where are you?” When the phone call came, he collapsed in grief.

His sister, Susan Huie, 43, was on the 106th floor of World Trade Center Tower 1. Susan was at a meeting when the planes hit the 92-98th floor of Tower 1 at 8:46 that morning. Nobody above the 92nd floor survived. It would be almost four months, January 1, 2002, before Susan Huie was confirmed dead.

The devout Huie, from Fairlawn New Jersey, wound up at the Windows of the World on Sept 11 2001 by chance. She was a financial analyst for Compaq and a graduate of Pace University, class of ‘79.

Susan Huei was one of 184 victims on Sept 11 who were of Asian descent, 6.7% of the total.

I hope that your religious beliefs have taken you to the beautiful and peaceful place that you deserve.

Norm Choy


Project 2,996

9/11 Victims of Asian Descent


Saturday Fluffernutter: The You Had to Ask Edition

September 11th, 2010

All the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities

fluffincolorWas it really just two week s ago when I asked what I would write about if Lindsay Lohan got her act cleaned up? That day, the night before the post went up in fact, Paris Hilton got busted with someone else’s purse that contained gum that looked, smelled and tasted suspiciously like cocaine (good thing she didn’t step in it – haha). melissa-glick-warhol-fluff-for-web

This week, Brittany Spears comes to the rescue, or more specifically her former security guard does. He filed a sexual harassment lawsuit this week that claims :

– that he heard her loudly have “sexual relations while her two children where in the suite.”
– that he saw her “having vigorous sexual relations,” on two occasions
– Spears flashed him, intentionally dropping a lighter so she could bend over to pick it up in front of him, while wearing no underwear
– abused her children, hitting son Preston with his belt
– fed the children crab meat, although they are allergic.
– called herself white trash.

I’m not sure what the point of the last one is: if 1-5 is accurate, then #6 is just acknowledging a universal truth.

fluffincolorThe Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) began this week in Toronto. Here in Southern Ontario our news reports will now prominently feature the comings and goings of B actors, who have B roles in B movies that are premiering here in Toronto. As the 80’s came to a close, Toronto liked to talk about itself as a “World Class City.” Twenty years later, we fawn over Ryan Kwanten for having the good grace to honour us with his presence.

Or maybe I’m just cynical and wrong. Lets see what’s on:

Day 1… Festival Opening… Oh, an international premier…

Score: A Hockey Musical.

fluffincolorWhat’s the strangest celebrity death you can recall?

On Friday last, former ELO cellist Mike Edwards was driving on the highway when a 650lb bale of hay fell off a farm tractor, rolled down a large embankment and hit Edwards car, killing Edwards instantly.

This was all the stranger as I always thought that when a runaway hay bale ran over you it picked you up and continued on, arms and legs sticking out of the bale, and tossed you out at the end of it’s path, dazed but none the worse for wear. Of course, my mom always thought I watched too many cartoons.

Even odder than Edwards death, was the YouTube announcement of his death. It was positively Pytonesque, complete with news announcer who had a Michael Palin accent and could pronounce neither “Edwards,” or “Orchestra.”

ELO was a highly different band. Love them or hate them, ELO was the product of an era when anything went in rock and roll, and guys dragging double basses and cellos around the stage (literally) while band leader Jeff Lynne played a distorted Les Paul and sang was different and interesting. They were part standard rock band, part small orchestra and completely unusual.

Mike Edwards (1948-2010)

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Cool For Cats Friday’s

September 10th, 2010
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I am really liking what I have been hearing of the new “Supergroup” Black Country Communion, with Jason Bonham, Derek Sherinian, Glenn Hughes and Joe Bonamassa. Their first single, One Last Soul, is available for free download on their website (use the promo code OLS2010). It is excellent.

Then last week a video of them “recording,” The Great Divide, was released. Lets call it an easy 2 for 2:

In July 1966, myself, my brother and my mother jumped on a puddle hopper from Ireland to Scotland, and from Scotland came to Canada, where my father had arrived, found a job and set up a home three months earlier. The story is a family legend: mom almost didn’t come. Husband or no husband, Ireland was home. Standing at the airport,  surrounded by family, she was having doubts. Then my grandfather took me by the hand and led my brother and myself to the plane. Dazed, mom followed us kids. My energetic brother, and me, dragging a teddy bear almost as big as me. A good story, a yarn, even perhaps. I have told the teddy bear story for years, and always wondered how accurate it was.

Last Friday, I found out. Not the day, not the event, but the very moment of my grandfather taking me to the plane was caught on film.  For the first time in my life, 43 years later, I saw this picture last week.


In case your wondering, the Teddy Bear is still around: both of my kids played with it. He lives at my mother in laws place, along with all the grandkids favourite stuffed animals.

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Dress Like Mohammed Day?

September 10th, 2010
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I don’t believe in book burning, never have. Otherwise, I would have spent last weekend in the bookshops buying cheap copies of Handmaids Tale and The Edible Woman for our Saturday Night So Pastor Terry Jones and his Church of the Dove’s Qur’an burning don’t appeal to me. I think they are wrong, just as the people who want to build the New York City Mosque are wrong: just because it’s legal to do it, doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do.

Yesterday I was listening to the radio, and they were discussing this issue. Most people seemed to sympathize, but disagree with Pastor Terry. Then one guy phones in: “We should all wear traditional Muslim dress on that day to express our support for the Muslim community.” This lunatic wants you to dress like a desert Bedouin on Sept 11th, to show support for the guys who flew the plane?

Then there’s John Hawkes, who’s letter was published in the Toronto Sun on Thursday:

What does this idiot think he will accomplish by burning a Qur’an? Pastor Terry Jones has a belly-full of hate and little else. He’s as bad an example of a Christian as any Islamic terrorist is a bad example of a Muslim.

Put another way, since you have that fire going, you might as well throw a few Chechen school-children on. And he’s calling someone else an idiot.

The problem isn’t some nut Pastor, it’s these moral equivocators, who see no difference in burning down a building with a thousand people inside and burning a Qur’an.

There will be no Muslim dress for me tomorrow, but I will be commemorating Sept 11 by joining Project 2,996. If you have a blog and a bit of time,why not write a tribute for a victim of 911.

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Stephen Harper’s a Big Mean Bully…

September 9th, 2010


This brave new policy is sordidly familiar, akin to collaborating with the Nazis to stop the flight of Jews

Ron McKinnon, president of the Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam Federal Liberal Association

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