EMAIL mj.morris@live.ca


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Olympic Torch Relay "trumps" Dave McMillan hat trick, while Tara recalls 1988 event

It took 34 years for David McMillan to tell me that another athletic event "trumped" the first game he played for the Chapleau Intermediate "A" Huskies in the old Chapleau Memorial Community Arena in October, 1975.

Among all the hockey stories I have ever told, the hat trick that Dave notched in the Intermediate Huskies first home game in the Northland Intermediate Hockey League against Iroquois Falls has to be among my top favourites. Arguably, if Dave, who had travelled to Chapleau from Oakville where he was attending college to join the team, had not come through, the team may have folded before it really got started.

We had opened our first season in Timmins the previous Friday night against the Northstars who became our archrivals, and quite frankly they slaughtered us. At the end of the game I stood on the bench by myself wondering how in the world did I ever get myself into this one. Pat Swanson, who had joined the team but was also at college, came up, and I said, "We need some players." The rest is history. Pat told me about Dave and Paul McDonald, adding they would be willing to travel from southern Ontario to play with the Huskies. I trusted Pat's hockey judgment and Dave and Paul flew to Chapleau for their first game with us. Thus the "Morris airlift" was also born and that's a story for another day.

The old arena was packed and at the end of the second period we were behind 5-2. I could hear the rumblings of discontent among the fans. We went into the third period and the comeback began. I don't recall our other three scorers that night (and I am sure someone will now remind me) but we tied the game, and with only minutes left, McMillan picked up the puck, swooped to the left past the defenders, and from his wrong side fired a shot that beat the Iroquois Falls goaltender in the top right corner for his third and winning goal.. The arena went wild, and we lived to play another day.

On December 31, 2009, Dave travelled to Rouyn-Noranda from his home in North Bay to carry the 2010 Olympic torch after having been selected to participate in the event. Later he said that he was "blown away" by it all as something he will remember for the rest of his life. Family and friends were on hand to celebrate with him.

In a message to me, Dave said, "MJ, this trumps my first game with the Huskies."

Indeed Dave, and that's great. Congratulations!

In 1988 four Chapleau youth participated in the Olympic Torch relay and Tara (O'Hearn) St. Amand took the time to share some memories. Here is Tara's story:

"The selection process in 1988 was much different then it was this time around as we were not able to apply “on line”. We had to fill out ballots that were available at Petro Canada. I spent hours filling out the ballots and bringing them to Art Raymond to mail for me. It was very emotional when I received the notice indicating that I was selected to run. It was even better to be sharing the moment with Pamela (Morin), Paula (Pilon) Taylor) and Alain (Morin).

"Pamela, Alain and I were on a caravan out of Wawa and Paula was on a caravan out of White River. We rode on snowmachines that year riding in the motorhome behind the machine until it was our turn. Our caravan went from Wawa to Dubrueilleville and the caravan from White River came to meet us there taking over from that point on.

"It was such a great experience and a thrill to represent our town in the relay. We were able to light lanterns from the official torch and brought the flame back to Chapleau. We did presentations at all the schools and the public school relit their pilot light to the furnace with the flame. We also has a float in the carnival that year and Mr. Nyman had made replicas of the torch for us to carry.

"I remember it all as if it happened yesterday... and of course the rest of the torch bearers will never let me forget that I was the one sitting on the snowmachine when the flame went out. My helmet had twisted and I was not able to see the flame. They had to stop the relay and relight it."

Tara took family members this year to Wawa and White River to relive the occasion:

"This year was a little different since they were only spidering the flame (runners did not cover areas in between towns). We went to Wawa but unfortunately my son missed seeing the flame and there was limited time to take pictures with the runners, so we decided to drive to White River. It was the best decision we made. Tanya Kim, the host of etalk, was the torch bearer running with the flame. Once she passed it on to the next runner, she stayed around and took pictures with everyone. I was so happy to share this moment with my kids, Ceilidh and Patrick, my mother and my aunt Terri.

"Although I didn't run in this Olympic Relay, it was still a moment that I will never forget."

My email is mj.morris@live.ca. This appeared as my Chapleau Moments column in the Chapleau Express of January 9, 2010.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament facebook over 100,000 members as polls show opposition to Harper decision

The Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament facebook group had reached 100,561 members shortly before three a.m. ET  Friday while two polls released Thursday showed that a majority of Canadians were opposed to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's decision to prorogue Parliament.

Also on Thursday, The Economist, a very respected magazine slammed Harper's decision asserting that he was counting on Canadians' complacency as he rewrites the rules of his country's politics to weaken legislative scrutiny.

I asked political actvist Colin Le Fevre to give his views on the Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament group reaching more than 100,000 members.  He cautions that simply joining a group is not enough to briing ablout change.

Here are his comments:

"I think the group has been absolutely successful in the fact that it has gained a huge number of members in such a short time, but we as a movement need to be weary of the numbers in terms of assuming we have a committed movement.

"It is very likely many people have visited the group once, joined, and feel their voice has been heard. They are unfortunately wrong. We have to be honest with ourselves here, no change is going to come from a large number of people in a Facebook group.

"We need to use the medium to mobilize people. If every person in that group writes their MP, or donates money or time to a political party, or attends a rally there will be significantly more influence from this group then from the group standing alone. But without people doing this, the Facebook group will be utterly useless.

"To summarize, we need people to act, not just join the group, if we want to make any successful change."
Here is link to Colin Le Fevre's web site: http://www.colinlefevre.ca/

Olli Matikainen explains why he joined the group and became involved. Olli is a former student of mine.

Here are Olli's comments.
"I heard about the Proroguing by Harper on CBC radio when it happened, and I was left wondering "why is the Canadian Parliament being again put out of commission?". When it happened a year ago, I was able to understand the logic used by Harper "to some degree"... I mean he was fighting for his political life, and was desperate to save his government... so while I don't agree with Harper's policies, I could understand the logic of proroguing a year ago.

:This time, the reason provided for proroguing strikes me as extremely lame (the government needs time to figure out the economic plan given that the economy seems to be improving???). This reinforces my impression that Harper is simply arrogant, and is not really interested in the voice of the people... he's got an agenda, and we're going to get it whether we like it or not.

"So when I saw your notes and comments on Facebook re. proroguing, it touched a nerve (in a good way!) and so I joined. While I don't consider myself a political junkie, I do pay attention to the "goings on" of the national government, and I'm quite fascinated in how the internet and Facebook provide a forum for the "average joe" to learn and contribute to Canada's politics."

Here is link to a poll taken by the Angus Reid group taken for the Toronto Star.

Here is link to a poll taken by Ekos for CBC News.

Here is link to article in The Economist.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Projects improve quality of life in Cranbrook in last decade

While the Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook Society, led by its president Sharon Cross, is my pick for the most significant news story of the past decade here, there are others that have helped define the community in a positive way.

Here is link to my earlier story on the success of the CLCS: http://michaeljmorrisreports.blogspot.com/2010/01/making-difference-in-cranbrook.html

And here are my picks for the others that made  a difference in the community in the past decade. To me at least, the following reflect efforts to make Cranbrook a better place to live and improve the quality of life for all citizens.

The new Cranbrook Public Library ranks high as the quality of a community's library says a lot about the place . It replaced a building that had long outlived itself and only the high quality of the library staff made it a place I enjoyed visiting. Approved in a referendum by both city and  Area C voters, the new library is a wonderful reource centre for all ages.

The volunteer Communities in Bloom Committee, headed by Patricia Adams, almost singlehandedly moved Cranbrook towards becoming a "blooming" place to live, rather than the "ugliest city in Canada" as it was referred to some years ago by a travel writer.

The "Refuge", a shelter for homeless men in the winter months, founded by the Kootenay Christian Fellowship, demonstrated positive action towards the less fortunate in the city. The KCF deserves great credit as they just shiowed  with an awful lot of faith that it could be done. Since then a shelter for women has been established by the Salvation Army.

The expansion of the East Kootenay Regional Hospital, and as result attracting more doctors, especially specialists here, despite criticism from other communities in the region that  lost or saw reduction in their hospital services, was a step in the right direction. It needs to be continued.

The Kootenay Ice winning the Memorial Cup had to be the biggest sports story of the past decade here. The late Ed Chynoweth moved the Western Hockey League team here from Edmonton just over a decade ago.

The expansion of the airport and renaming it the Kootenay Rockies International Airport was a significant booster to the regional economy as it comes to rely more on tourism related activities.

The reconstruction of Cranbrook Street (Highway 3) commonly referred to as "the Strip"  really enhanced the main road through the centre of the city, and resulted in a much needed facelift to many buildings along the street. The Communities in Bloom committee also played a very major role in beautifying the street.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament facebook group passes 70,000 members as grassroots anger with Harper continues

UPDATE AT 10:45 P.M. ET  The Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament group has passed 76,000 members.

The facebook group Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament reached 70,000 members at about 5:40 p.m. ET today as Canadians continue to express their anger with Prime Minister Stephen Harper's decision to prorogue Parliament.

The total number of members on five groups I have been monitoring stood at 98,084 at 5:40 p.m. ET today,  well within reach of 100.000 shortly as each continues to grow but at a slower rate than Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament. This group had 26,460 members at 9:45 a.m. Monday.

Posts on all the groups continue to express their anger with the prime minister's decision to prorogue Parliament until March 3, instead of having MPs and Senators return on January 25.

In related news, last night the Liberal Party announced that its MPs and Senators will return to work on January 25.

An indication of the interest in the grassroots protest movement centred on facebook groups my blog, Michael J  Morris reports, has seen its highest daily traffic since I started it just over a year ago with my posts on the issue of prorogation. My stats show that visitors are coming from all regions of Canada, including the territories as well as from the United States and other countries.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Liberals will be back to work on January 25 as opposition mounts across Canada to Harper's proroguing of Parliament

The Canadian Press news agency is reporting tonight that Liberal MPs and Senators will return to Parliament Hill on January 25, the date they were  to resume work until Prime Minister Stephen Harper prorogued Parliament.

Apparently Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff told his caucus Tuesday that he expects them to be back to work on January 25 even though Parliament is not to resume now until March, according to the Canadian Press.

Ignatieff may well be reacting to a grassroots movement sweeping the country on facebook where more than 75000 people have joined groups attacking the Harper government.

Facebook groups opposing Stephen Harper decision to prorogue Parliament gaining numbers

UPDATE AT 11:50 p.m. ET: The total numbers now on five facebook groups has reached 81,152 with 53,484 of the Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament group.

UPDATE AT 8 p.m ET: The total members now on five facebook groups has reached 73,177, with 45,747 on the Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament group alone, an increase of 19,287 since 9:45 a.m. ET today.

UPDATE AT 2:30 p.m. ET: The total members now on five facebook groups has reached 62,695.

Facebook groups opposing Prime Minister Stephen Harper's decision to prorogue the Parliament of Canada until March  are growing in numbers calling  for protest rallies across the country on January 23, two days before the parliamentary session was to resume, and sending letters to MPs urging them to return to Ottawa for a "mock: session starting January 25.

As of 9:45 a.m. Eastern Time today, I counted a total of 53,718 members on five groups. Here is the breakdown: Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament, 26,460; Canadians United Against Stephen Harper, 21,616; Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament - Rally for the Cause, 3.223; Tell the Governor General No to Proroguing Parliament, 1,994 and Canada is a democracy not a dictatorship, 425.  The numbers change minute by minute so I will provide an update later today.

On December 30th, 2009, for the second time in as many years, Stephen Harper asked the Governor General to prorogue parliament. About a year ago, faced with the distinct possibility of a defeat on a non-confidence motion in the House of Commons, Harper asked the Governor General to prorogue Parliament, which Michaelle Jean granted.

Now he has done it again for different reasons, and it appears that Canadians are starting to express their anger with the decision using the popular social networking site to get the message out.

For me as person who established a graduate college program in new media communications at College of the Rockies fifteen years ago, and fearlessly predicted at an annual meeting of the Canadian Association of Journalists that the internet would play a huge role in politics, this is one I will follow with great interest.

U.S. President Barack Obama is the best example so far of a politician using the internet effectively to get elected.  It will be interesting to see if the grassroots faecbook groups in Canada can effect political change.

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I am on facebook as michaeljmorris and twitter as michaeljmo

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Making a difference in Cranbrook, grassroots democracy group most significant local news story of 21st Century

The Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook Society (CLCS), a grassroots democracy group which took on Scott Manjak, a first term mayor, and a majority of councillors, over their attempt to expand the city's boundaries, and defeated the council, not once but twice has to be the most significant news story here in the past decade.

The success of the CLCS made a huge difference in the way local politics has been practised in this city of about 18000 in the southeastern corner of  British Columbia, and the local mayor and council should take heed in the final two years of its term, but that remains to be seen. The council of the day did not get its way.

Led by Sharon Cross, the president, the group gave Manjak and the council majority its first defeat when  council tried an alternative approval process which if approved would have doubled the geographic size of the city. The group needed 1475 voters (10 per cent) to sign a form objecting to the plan--- more than 3000 signed on. After this defeat I wrote here that Manjak and council majority had received a lesson in grassroots democracy.


Council met and passed a motion to proceed with a referendum on November 14, the next step in the process permitted to a council  by provincial legislation.

Although facing a huge advertising campaign by a Yes to boundary expansion group estimated at more than $100,000, advertising by the city and the very vocal support of Manjak and councillors Denise Pallesen, Angus Davis, Liz Schatschneider, Jim Wavrecan and Diana Scott, the open support of three former mayors and several councillors and the local chamber of commerce, the referendum was lost.  The CLCS spent less than $5000 on advertising.

Councillor Bob Whetham opposed the alternative approval process and the referendum.

I have been a political junkie for about 50 years now and never have I seen a muncipal council - the mayor and majority of the councillors who have so actively supported a project - go down to defeat because the people rose up from the grassroots and rejected the plan -- not once but twice, all in the first year of  a three-year term on the same issue.

The success of the CLCS sent a clear warning to the mayor and council that it is not necessarily local politics as usual in this city. To paraphrase Robert Frost, the CLCS chose to take a road less travelled by in opposing the council majority, and that has made all the difference. It was the biggest local political happening of the 21st century.

And it sends a signal to citizens everywhere that it is possible to bring about change when our elected politicians introduce projects with which we the people do not agree. Grassroots democracy is alive and well in Cranbrook!

Here is link to article I did after the referendum and the real challenge now facing Manjak and council.


Michael J Morris

Michael J Morris
MJ with Buckwheat (1989-2009) Photo by Leo Ouimet


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Following the American Dream from Chapleau. CLICK ON IMAGE