Thursday, 23 October 2014
Yesterday, a lone gunman shot a 24 year-old military reservist, part of a two-man honour guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier at Ottawa's War Memorial, ironically in the shadow of the Peace Tower. He died later in hospital despite attempts by civilians and first responders to save his life. Then the gunman crossed the street ran across the lawn of Parliament Hill and entered the Centre Block, down the very corridor where the government and opposition parties were separately caucusing. The head of Parliamentary security, known as the Sergeant-at-Arms encountered the gunman and shot him dead, thus saving countless lives.
I was glued to my television for much of the day in total disbelief of what I was witnessing. This is Canada and an armed attack, let alone on our seat of government, just doesn't happen.
When I was in my early thirties I worked on Parliament Hill as a journalist. I had easy access to everywhere in the parliamentary precinct. The House of Commons, the Parliamentary Library, cafeterias, underground tunnels and the Parliamentary Dining Room. Hell, I even parked on Parliament Hill. Back then the public could drive their cars around the Hill. Tourists were given tours of the Centre Block. Of course access by the public was restricted after 9-11. But it wasn't forbidden. After the events of yesterday, I'm sure security will be significantly tightened.
These events are so very sad on several levels. The murder of the reservist is, of course, tragic. The gunman getting past Hill security is unfortunate. But on a larger scale it appears to bring the war against terror home to Canada. How did this happen?
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government recently outvoted the Opposition parties to join the war against ISIS. Now I'm a left-leaning liberal. Canada has a long-standing reputation as being a peace-keeping nation. I support that role. However that role has shifted considerably since the Conservatives took office. We don't know yet the intentions of the Ottawa gunman but our Prime Minister has called him a terrorist and the events yesterday coupled with the fatal hit-and-run of a military member in a Quebec parking lot by a known Jihadist supporter, who was later killed by police, makes one wonder if our declaration of war was the right move. Because now so-called ISIS associated terrorists appear to be coming out of the woodwork.
Harper's government also got rid of the long gun registry. Again I disagree with the move. Oddly enough the shooter yesterday used a long gun rifle to slay the unsuspecting and unarmed reservist.
The result of these events? Several things have changed irrevocably. On a local level Parliament Hill will likely become Fortress Ottawa. On a larger scale, Canadians, peaceful and polite as we are, have become targets.
For many Canadians, including myself, this is absolutely the end of the innocence.
Tuesday, 21 October 2014
Gorax peered out over the landscape. It was kind of like watching a Samsung flatscreen because Gorax was a pupil of the little known planet of Retina where all inhabitants sported 13 eyeballs held aloft from their head by two giant horns.
Gorax's pal and room mate Scrotum came from another planet known as Testicle. We won't go into what his physical features were. Save to say that Gorax, as Scrotum would often tell others, "he knew the truth".
The truth? I hear you say. Yes, Scrotum was very brave. Dare I say, not unlike a golfer, he had a lot of balls.
On this morning Gorax and Scrotum were a little hung over. Yes, Scrotum was naturally hung but this day was different. As Gorax rubbed the sleep from his eyes - for him a time consuming activity - Scrotum said "You know Gorax I think we got a little wasted last night. I could almost remember us seeing eye to eye, to eye, to eye, to eye - well you get the drift - in our discussion about acid reflux."
"Are you nuts" exclaimed Gorax, turning from the window to espy Scrotum. "Oh, sorry, I didn't mean to state the obvious. But apart from that I believe you're mistaken. I don't want to inflame things again but considering the optics you've got a lot of nerve."
Scrotum stiffened, and considering his physical attributes that we didn't go into earlier, it was not a pretty sight. "Since you can't see your way to agree with me, which shouldn't be a problem for somebody with 13 eyes, I think it best I go for a walk until we both cool down. The last thing I want to do is hang out here right now."
And with that Scrotum collected up his sack...of books and proceeded to make his way out the door.
"Have it your way, Scrotum", said Gorax. But just so you know I think you're being overly dramatic. Nevertheless I'll await your return."
"Sure" said Scrotum. "I suppose you'll keep an eye out for me."
"Oh, Scrotum, don't be so corny, ya?"
Tuesday, 14 October 2014
Albert was forgetful. While it didn't annoy Angus he nevertheless was always coming up with something to get Albert out of trouble.
Like the time Albert forgot the map he was supposed to use as Angus's co-pilot on a cross-country car trip. Using a paper clip, toothpicks and a beany cap propeller, somehow Angus was able to construct a compass to guide them on their western journey and get them safely to the "other" coast.
Then there was the time Angus was supposed to go grocery shopping with a list prepared by Albert. But Albert forgot to give the list to Angus. However, when Angus returned from the grocery store he had everything on the list. "How in the world did you do that?" asked Albert. "Carbon paper" replied Angus. "You think I could trust you to remember to give me the list? I made a copy."
Angus always came through. And he never belittled his good friend Albert, no matter how forgetful he got.
One day, Albert and Angus decided to go on a little trip to Vail Colorado and get in a little skiing. They packed all the necessities: winter clothes, sweaters, toiletries, a book or two, their smart phones and iPads.
As they unpacked in their room in the lodge on the mountainside, Albert realized he'd forgotten the charger for their iPads and phones. "Damn" said Albert. "Looks like I've screwed up again." "Don't worry" said Angus, smiling. "I think I have a remedy." And with that he went to the kitchen fetched two forks, tied them together and stuck one end into the iPad charging slot.
"What the heck are you going to do?" said Albert. "I'm going to plug the other end into that electrical outlet" replied Angus. "Oh that's supposed to be bad luck" exclaimed Albert. "In fact it could be fatal."
"Relax" said Angus. "Angus MacGyver has been gerrymandering thousands of things over seven seasons. What's one more? Now watch this" he said as he leaned down to the electrical outlet.
And that my friends is when MacGyver got cancelled...literally.
Sunday, 12 October 2014
Tuesday, 7 October 2014
Before he heard the report he felt the change in air pressure as the bullet streaked past his cheek. As he quickly ducked down he thought to himself "I'm a lot luckier than Peterson who yesterday caught a sniper's bullet between the eyes".
Lieutenant Brown turned to the men in his unit - the men left in his unit. Altogether five of them huddled behind the remaining wall in the rubble of what last week was a church. "Maybe that was it" thought Brown, "I either have a horse shoe up my ass or some higher being is looking over me."
But Peterson and four others had not been so lucky and now Brown's advance team was half the number it used to be.
A week in the rubble had taken it's toll. Five men were dead and the remaining five were very unsettled, nervous and jumpy. Especially at night. It was hard to see in the dark and there was little firing from the enemy. But any little noise would cause their hearts to beat faster and prompt sweat to run down their foreheads and across their cheeks. It was almost more nerve-wracking than the daylight and the men got very little sleep.
Brown was worried as he tossed and turned. The rest of the troop should have caught up to the advance team by now. But instead Brown and his men had to fight off the enemy alone and they were severely outnumbered in their efforts.
The sun slowly rose, brightening the sky and the men clutched their rifles in anticipation of the fire-fight to come.
Sam paused the Xbox and ran to the washroom. He returned and said "Ah, that's better". He turned to Jeff, stretched his hand out over the resume button and excitedly said to his playing partner "Here we go again".