Back in 2009, Canadian Prime Minister said the following:
“Canada is always willing to pursue negotiated resolution to these kinds of issues,” Harper said at the time. “But as you know, the government of Canada’s position is clear in these things: We do not pay ransom and we do not release prisoners.”
In light of today’s report from leaked documents by Wikileaks which contradicts just that. It turns out, Canada broke ranks with their traditional allies when it contributed to a ransom that freed hostages in West Africa, according to U.S. officials, who complained that the secret deal with terrorists had “a dramatic effect on regional security.”
It has been 2½ years since Canadian diplomats Robert Fowler and Louis Guay were released in mysterious circumstances. When reporters pressed Prime Minister Stephen Harper about what his government had done to free them, he stated that “the government of Canada does not pay ransom.”
You had to think something was some when hostages randomly get released without any news on what happened. Jack Layton was relentlessly mocked by the PM and his party when he suggested the “ridiculous” idea of negotiation with the Taliban to come to some sort of agreement.
Honestly, I don’t care if they negotiate or not because it helped saved the lives of two people. I care that it was publicly lied about and it came out like this.
Being a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, it doesn’t happen very often that you get to see two of the top teams in the league battle it out but that’s what happened when I saw the Bruins play host to the San Jose Sharks. After a minor ticketing fiasco, we ended up sitting in box seats for the game which was a much better result than the nose-bleed section. The game had a couple of fights, plenty of scoring opportunities to get the home crowd excited but the result was a disappointing 2-0 loss. Take away that shutout loss for Boston, and they have scored 19 goals in their last 4 games – it just happens they don’t score anything the night I am there. It was my first ever game at TD Gardens but the arena is definitely worth a visit with all the memorabilia inside of the legendary Celtics, the Great #77 for the Bruins and even jerseys of Brady and Manning during their rivalry years.
On the other end is Green Bay – By far the smallest city to have a professional sports team is once again the champion. This marks only the second time since I moved out here to North America that a professional team out of the four major sports that I root for has won the championship – it was also the Packers in 1997. As I mentioned in an earlier post, The Blue Jays have not made the playoffs since 1993 when they won it all for a second year in a row, while the Leafs and Raptors have struggled just to make the playoffs this past decade, never mind being a contender to win it all.
I think I moved maybe once or twice from my seat once the game began and even tortured myself through the god-awful half time show just so I wouldn’t miss the beginning of the 2nd half especially since Pittsburgh had just scored to the end the half and the momentum was definitely beginning to shift. Most definitely the worst quarter to watch all season was the 3rd quarter. Packers struggled to do anything, punted on every single drive while gaining only 17 yards in the entire period.
What arguably feels like the longest week in a very, very long time is about to end. Last Friday I flew into Boston for the weekend to visit a friend to watch a hockey game and then the Super Bowl to see my beloved Packers play the Steelers. I was initially scheduled to come back from Boston Sunday night which I fortunately got changed to Monday morning. After having gone to bed after midnight, waking up at 4:30am and taking an hour and a half commute to the airport followed by a 100 minute wait and a 90 minute flight from the greatest airlines in North America (maybe outside of Jet Blue) and I was at work in Toronto at 11 – a lovely 576 mile international commute.
I don’t know how people in the US make those long commutes in NYC and Boston on a regular basis but I could never pull that off on a regular basis. Having spent the rest of the week playing Left 4 Dead 2 much later during the night than I really should have has really compounded my lethargic week. At least tomorrow is Friday which hopefully means I can sleep in at least one of the two days but knowing how my weekends go here, I really doubt it.
[Edit:] Note: my brother says the first game we saw might have been an earlier Packers/49ers game from 1996. He could be right because the only thing I remember for certain was that it was those two teams playing each other. [/Edit]
Unfortunately, there aren’t too many success stories regarding the teams that I follow. The Toronto Blue Jays last made the won the World Series (or made the playoffs) since before I moved here in 1995. The Toronto Maple Leafs have not won a championship in 44 years and haven’t made the playoffs in 5 years. The Toronto Raptors had minor success making the playoffs 3 years in a row from 1999-2001 and twice in 2007 and ’08 but have struggled mightily the rest of the decade. The Green Bay Packers have won the division four times in the past nine years and made the playoffs seven times this decade but have not reached the championship game since 1997 (when they did back-to-back years). The last time the Green Bay Packers were in the Super Bowl, I was only 10 years old at the time and still had not started following football.
There is a funny story that goes with me and how I got introduced to the game of “football”. I moved here from Pakistan in the winter of 1995 and was just getting to know the western sports when I started school here in the 3rd grade. I went up to a new friend of mine and asked him if he wanted to play ‘futbol’ which I had known and meant as soccer as it is known here. The kid looked at me like I had three ears or two noses and probably thought why is this skinny, tooth pick of a kid wanting to play football? After spending all of recess trying to convince him that I knew and had played ‘futbol’ before, I gave up for the day. I did come to know the sport as soccer but I had forgotten about what the kid thought I meant when I said “football” – until 3 years later. I still chuckle to this day thinking what might have happened if I had played American football that day.
However, It wasn’t until the playoffs of 1998 when the Green Bay Packers were robbed of a playoff win against the San Francisco 49ers that I watched my first ever American Football game with my brother. That game had NFL legends like Brett Favre, Reggie White, Steve Young and Jerry Rice – not a bad time to catch your first game. Even though they lost, that was the defining moment where I became a Green and Gold fan for life and my brother took the 49ers. Neither of us has waivered since.
We have had a tradition going back many years of gathering up a whole bunch of family members and watching the big game together. I’m not certain how well that will be this year since I am north of the border but I’m guessing there’s got to be some pack of Cheeseheads here that want to watch the game. On a related note, I had scheduled a trip to Boston last year which happened to fall on this upcoming Super Bowl weekend. Initially I had no problem with it because my plane would land in downtown Toronto just in time for a “normal” kickoff time because I had thought it would be around 8:30PM but apparently they go with a much earlier kickoff time of 6:30 which I only noticed a couple of days ago. I will be making a friendly call to the wonderful people of Porter Airlines later today and hopefully get that switched up with the one that will get me here in time for the game.
Boy, do I wish I was back home – just for that weekend. I have got to schedule a trip home for the Super Bowl weekend if I am still here next year.
One more game, Green Bay. One more.
I definitely need to get back to writing more often and I have a list that has been growing that I want to write about but finding the time these days is proving to be far more difficult than I had originally expected.
Work has been fantastic so far even with the disappointment of my vacation being cut short this month. The nice trade off was increased exposure with many people in the organization and things like that are hard to come by for someone as new as me. We already do monthly charity donations but in December we had a raffle of tons of prizes with all proceeds going to the Sick Kids Hospital. People here already donate as it is but an added incentive always increases the turnout. Prizes included a flat screen TV, other electronics, tickets to sporting events as well as gift cards. I won a Sony MP3 Player
I just ordered material for my first CFA exam in the middle of next year which will probably cause me to go dormant for quite a while since I’ll be studying most if not every night for this starting the moment I get back from my mini-vacation.
I’m hoping to come home just for a few days hoping to do as much as I can and I have to remember to update my new home address in my GPS – it’s my first trip back since we completely moved in. I think it will be pretty much family-dedicated the first two days and then all friends-related business on the 27th, the day before I leave. That last day already includes lunch with a friend I’ve known for about a decade now and then up to Jersey City to see 222. If you’re free during the day or even the night before (maybe), give me a shout and let’s do something. It’ll probably be another couple of months before I make my next trip down south.
I went ice skating for the first time in several years and even though it took a couple of laps of going ridiculously slow around the boards, it turned out pretty well as the night progressed. I only hit the ice once which was definitely less than the number of times my ‘experienced’ buddies hit the deck. Next item up on the agenda is to get snowboarding gear and hit up the slopes. Still contemplating whether I should purchase or rent – a decision that probably hinges on how my first attempt goes.
One though on the baseball offseason so far though: The Phillies have compiled arguably the most dangerous pitching staff in the history of the game but what I fail to understand is, where is the outrage? Can you imagine if the Yankees had bought all this talent? Why is there no cry to look out for the smaller market teams now? That has been the most disappoint part throughout this entire off season of ridiculous contracts being given out with Boston and Washington included. Very disappointed in the silent fans so far and if that’s the route they take, they should sit idly as well the next time the Yankees decide to spend well and above everyone else.
I can’t believe it has been over a month since I last posted and it has even gotten several people to ask why. The primary reason I haven’t had a chance to post is since that post I have worked a 40 hour week (in 4 days), followed by a 50, 60 and another 50 hour week. I finally have some time this week as there is a slight downtime in between projects but I don’t expect that to last very long. I was excited for a week or so thinking I would getting a day off for Remembrance Day but apparently the entire of Canada gets that day off except for Ontario because we have some Family Day in February.
The weather here has become increasingly cold with lows often in the lower single digits and even hitting negative degrees a couple of times. It is such a pain now, having to wait to defrost the windshield before leaving for work in the morning and I can only imagine doing this daily once the snow starts falling down which isn’t too far away as reports come in weekly of flurries or overnight accumulation of snow in places about an hour away or so.
One thing I have noticed is that I need to keep better track of my change. Every time I go out at lunch or for a coffee break, I would come back and put the change in a pocket in my bag. I never really looked back into that pocket since I have started working here which was back in July. Over the weeks, that certainly started to take a toll on the weight of the ball and it finally tipped over in my car yesterday morning – fortunately it was there and not on the train or something. It turns out that I had nearly 200 coins in there including several Loonies and Toonies and there is more than enough money there to buy me a full tank of gas, although I don’t think they’d like it if I paid a $50 fill up with 200 coins.
As it gets closer to the end of the year, I am looking forward to heading home down south towards the end of the year and I wouldn’t even mind driving this time since I can probably take about 9 days in total with the three weekdays being off due to Christmas, Boxing Day and New Years. There are only 46 more days (33 not including weekends) but it’s not like I have a countdown calendar at work or anything. We have recently moved into a new house where we weren’t completely settled in last time I visited so that’s going to be a change for sure. I want to connect back with my old soccer coach and my high school but given the timing of my visit, that’s probably going to have to wait for another time.
As always, if any of you are going to be around in the area at the end of December (or in Toronto any other time of the year), give me a shout.