Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Wouldn't we all like to be let off the hook?

Myriam Bedard is requesting an unconditional discharge from a charge of abduction so that she can continue as a member of the International Biathlon Committee without the conviction impeding her travel. While she is described by CBC as a volunteer, her stated reason is that so she can "continue to earn a living".

She also wants to continue travelling with her daughter. Personally I hope this request is refused - it would be unconscionable to give Bedard a free pass and permit to take her kid abroad when she has proven she will not adhere to her conditions of custody.

UPDATE: The judge imposed a conditional discharge, which does involve a criminal record.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Sinead Kissane vs. Comical Eddie (and Matt Williams)

Only just came across this - TV3 reporter Sinead Kissane's touchline post-match interview with Eddie O'Sullivan after the Argentina game. The youtube clip includes Jim Glennon's attempt at humour slapped down by Matt Cooper. [Hat-tip Waffler]

Unfortunately I can't find a clip of the reaction by "sacked Scotland coach" (as Matt Cooper's column in "de Paper" described him) Matt Williams on Setanta, describing Kissane as a "work experience girl" and not "showing respect". At least she has a decent job Mr. Williams. A good reporter asks reasonable questions the public would ask if they got the chance, and she did just that - and it's not like he hadn't time to consider the possibility.

The IRFU's decision to award a 4-year extension prior to the World Cup (a mistake the FAI made with Mick McCarthy, let's not forget) was shown up big time here - not least because of the warning signs during the pre-Cup camp. If they do sack him, Eddie leaves with a ton of cash but they shouldn't - I'm not sure there's a good replacement on deck yet. Perhaps looking the alternates in the eye will be punishment enough.

Tom English asks some very pertinent questions in his Limerick Leader column, like
  • "Does he remember saying that his predecessor Warren Gatland had got distracted by contractual negotiations in his final days as Irish coach?",
  • "Does he remember criticising Matt Williams for (his obsession with his first XV)"
  • "Four years ago, after beating Argentina in the 2003 World Cup, he said that every international coach loses their nerve sooner or later. Through his reluctance to change his starting line-up when it was obvious many players were struggling and his apparent aversion to making early switches while games were underway is it not possible to interpret that as a loss of nerve?"

Keith Wood's column in the Torygraph had an interesting tale of the aftermath of another campaign sunk by the Argies - Lens, 1999. [Hat-tip Fear of God]
After that game in Lens, we stopped off in a pub in Roscrea, Tipperary, on the way back home to Limerick. It was almost as if the guilt of the loss was too much for us to travel any further. It was the middle of the afternoon and the few guys in the pub hushed as we entered. I knew that they had been talking about us and asked if there was anything they wanted to say.

One finally got up the courage to speak and when he started he couldn't stop. He couldn't contain his anger and, in many ways, forced us to face the heartache we had caused up and down the country. I apologised for our performance, for how we had let down ourselves and the country, and I didn't make any excuses. Their reaction to this absence of spin and honest admission of failure broke the ice and pints were immediately issued. It was a lesson learned about the impact we had on our supporters; facing up to them became the start of the recovery as it will have to be for this squad.

I'll finish here with an excerpt from Cooper's column linked above:
There remains considerable affection for the players among the rugby public, based on their past performances for Ireland and for their provinces when they showed they are better than they played in the World Cup. O’Sullivan would do well to remember that they remain much more popular than he does.

And that's all of them - not just Eddie's 15 Untouchables and the Ulster Token.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

English instruction in Quebec schools so poor parents send their kids to U.S.

St. Mary's Academy, a Catholic school in Champlain, NY, is currently teaching 33 Quebec schoolchildren out of 102 total enrolment because their parents, many of them francophones, are unhappy with the amount of English taught in Quebec schools. The US school, with fees one-third of Quebec private schools, is even cheaper these days with the strong dollar.

Much like the Mennonites recently forced to leave Quebec or have their schools closed, these parents might have legal action taken against them by the Quebec authorities who regulate education for more strictly than the Ontario system which permits private schools and home schooling to operate with less regulation.

The upside for the American school?
the cross-border students from Quebec have also brought advantages to St. Mary's, the principal said. With so many young francophones, some of the American schoolchildren are learning French.

This is what happens when your budget depends on land transfer tax

One of the reasons I have been sceptical about the land transfer tax (or "moving tax") is that it's hard to budget revenues for a sector that is prone to booms - and serious busts. David Miller should heed the following warning, based on the latest reports from the Irish Department of Finance who call LTT "stamp duty":
"The bottom line is that this will be the most difficult budget Brian Cowen has had to preside over," said Alan McQuaid in Bloxham Stockbrokers.

The problem is slumping revenues from the reduction in house building and stalled house sales.

Stamp duties brought in €400m less than expected and taxes on profits from property sales are more than €100m below estimates.

It makes one wonder how much of the current Ontario surplus is built on the Toronto property boom and the land transfer tax take that went with it, and what happens if that boom levels off, or worse still slows down.