Tag Archives: University of Saskatchewan

The Donald Trump Phenomenon isn’t New; It’s Always Been Around

Some of you have asked me if I was going to write about Donald Trump in The StarPhoenix.  The answer is no and I’ll get to the reason in a minute.

People are outraged that Donald Trump can get away with what he is saying unchallenged and that people still like him.  They want to know why this is happening.  My answer is that it has always been happening, we just expect more from a Presidential candidate.

Look closer to home.  Of course there was Rob Ford but in Saskatoon we had Jim Pankiw who gained a lot of support when he ran for Mayor and had late in the race, a realistic chance of winning and beating Donald Atchison.

After being elected in 1997,  Pankiw wrote a letter in 2000 to the president of the University of Saskatchewan, Peter MacKinnon, condemning the university’s affirmative action policies and comparing its supporters to those of the Ku Klux Klan.  After attacking the most respected institution in Saskatchewan and it’s President, he was re-elected by largely rural voters in the next election.

Jim Pankiw was kicked out of Reform Party caucus by Stockwell Day in 2011 and then when Stephen Harper won the leadership of the Canadian Alliance, was the only member of the caucus revolt that Harper didn’t allow back in as he was alleged to have assaulted a local aboriginal lawyer.   

His federal political career dashed, he decided to run for Mayor of Saskatoon, despite not living in Saskatoon and was going to sit as a MP and be mayor.  That too was against the rules.  The rules for being Mayor of Saskatoon are clear.  You have to live in Saskatoon.  He did not and there was the epic cover of the The StarPhoenix that showed him getting his paper outside of the city limits one morning.  The electoral officer said he didn’t meet the qualifications to be mayor and of course it is against the law to be a MP and part of another elected body at the same time.  Pankiw thought it would be a swell idea.

His main issue was a stance against aboriginal rights and that attracted a lot of supporters.  In the end he finished in third place,behind the incumbent Jim Maddin.

In 2010, he decided to run again.  Here is how CBC covered it.

Pankiw is known for his controversial comments about aboriginal people, some which have resulted in human rights complaints.

He didn’t back away from those comments Thursday, saying he would be campaigning against "race-based" government spending policies. He also called Saskatchewan First Nations chiefs "racists."

"I don’t think Indians should have special race-based privileges," Pankiw said. "I think we should all be equal. Do Italians have special race-based privileges? Chinese people? Ukrainians? Germans? Not that I know of, but Indians do."

After all of that and almost no campaign, he finished with over 7,000 votes.

So explain that too me.  For years people summed it up as some people in Saskatoon are stupid but we saw it again in Toronto with Rob Ford getting elected and even after all of the scandals, Doug Ford doing reasonably well in the election.  So what gives?

One word.  Resentment.

Jim Pankiw, Rob Ford, Donald Trump and to a degree Sarah Palin and other Tea Party candidates represent those that are resentful and frustrated where they are in life and their desire to blame someone.  They supporters are almost all white, lower middle class, and struggling.  They are thrilled that someone is speaking their language and frustrations at being left behind.  More importantly they are giving them someone else to blame.

In Saskatoon, it is aboriginals.  With Rob Ford, it was City Hall and bureaucrats, and with Donald Trump, it is “illegal immigrants” and now women.

Why does it work?  It unlocks this deep down racism and biases in many voters, especially when times are tough.  I heard it all through the Pankiw mayoral campaign about all of the advantages that aboriginals have.  Free housing on the reserves, lots of money from the federal government, free education, free dental.  It’s almost as if Caucasian males are the ones that are disadvantaged. 

This is why it works when times are tough and things like unemployment is high or there is income disparity in a region or country.  People see someone of a different race and immediately blame race for why they have that job they want.  It ignores the fact that the person is probably better qualified than they are.

I used to think it was education based but I have even heard University of Regina social work graduates complain that all of the jobs in their field “are reserved for aboriginals”.  Breaking it down, that isn’t true and often the situation is that we have too many graduates for the amount of jobs in Saskatoon and they are frustrated and angry but the racism comes out.

So instead of owning up reality, people act like treaty rights or hiring practices like affirmative action are are unfair advantages.  For those that are never going to look past that what Pankiw or Trump is spewing, sounds great.  It isn’t their fault that things are tough, it is aboriginals or illegal immigrants that are making it bad.    By cracking down on them, then the problems of a bad economy, lack of training, or an unwillingness to adapt will go away. 

Of course the fact in Pankiw’s case, none of the aboriginal issues were municipal jurisdiction and he couldn’t do anything about it if he was elected or in Trump’s case, cracking down on illegal immigrants and villanizing Mexican workers would hurt the U.S. economy is irrelevant.  What matters to so many voters is that it isn’t their fault and someone else can be blamed.

It came out that Fox News backed down because they thought that the feud with Trump was hurting the network.  Almost overwhelmingly people who wrote and tweeted were supportive of Trump’s remarks rather than Megyn Kelly.  I am no Kelly fan but those were incredibly crude remarks to say or even think about a women and yet Trump doubled down on them.

Why doesn’t this hurt Trump?  Well because the people that support him, believe that stuff.

Wendy reminded me of people we know that brag that he kept track of menstrual cycles of women employees because he thought they were unstable.  Sexism and misogyny is alive and well in parts of this country as well.  Look at the response to the Bill Cosby or Jian Ghomeshi allegations where the women were initially blamed, the FHITP clips online and live television, and just some of the vile comments that women experience on their weblogs.   Last week I saw a guy with a FHITP hat on while in the mall.  What kind of lack of self awareness does that?

There are many men out there who are afraid of strong women leadership.  It may not show up on polling because someone doesn’t always want to come across as sexist on the phone but it does come out in the polling booths and it will hurt Hilary Clinton on election day.

So what do you do about it?  I have been thinking of Atchison’s comments a couple months ago to the report of racism in Winnipeg.  His answer to CBC was Atchison like but he mentioned the economy is dealing with racism.  Atch wasn’t right but he wasn’t wrong either.  When does racism or things like anti-Semitism get worse?  Periods of recession and depression when people are losing their job or their place in life.  As long as insecure people feel threatened, crazy politicians will try to exploit it with some success.

The other thing about this phenomenon is during those times, the media is ignored.  The StarPhoenix kept reporting on Pankiw and even Fox News is critical of Trump but when someone has biases towards a race or for a candidate they think is speaking the truth, it doesn’t matter what the paper or a television network says.  That is where guys like Pankiw or Trump find their appeal, the voice the thoughts that racist people with common sense know not to say and then Trump, Ford or Pankiw go and make it sound legitimate.  That is why it is so disheartening to not hear the rest of the GOP stand of up to Trump.  His campaign will hurt a lot of minorities for a lot of years because they are giving credibility to racists and misogynists everywhere.


I don’t think Donald Trump is that serious about running for President.  He has a skeleton staff, isn’t running any TV ads, and isn’t even trying to get his name on the ballot in some areas.  It seems like he is using the GOP bully pulpit to make a name for himself and make his own brand worth more more than trying to become President of the United States.  In the last debate when he said that he wouldn’t rule out running as an independent which means that Hillary (or as I hope for, Larry Lessig) would become President.

This seems much more about the massive Trump ego than public service.  As long as the fans keep showing up, he’ll keep running.


So apparently TransformUS was a cost cutting measure designed to take money out of the university and place it in the hands of lawyers

Former University of Saskatchewan president Ilene Busch-Vishniac has filed a lawsuit in which she claims Premier Brad Wall, former advanced education minister Rob Norris and university board members all played roles in her termination last year.

In a statement of claim filed Wednesday at Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench, Busch-Vishniac’s lawyer alleges Wall and Norris unlawfully interfered with the decisions of the U of S board and that the board did not follow protocol when it called an emergency meeting last May during which members decided to fire her without cause.

Statements of claim contain allegations which have not been proven in court.

The claim further alleges that “Silence of the Deans,” a document criticizing the university’s controversial TransformUS cost-cutting plan that was publicly authored by ex-public health dean Robert Buckingham, was in fact orchestrated by former university president Peter MacKinnon and his wife, Janice MacKinnon, who is a professor at the university.

The claim says the couple instructed Buckingham on what to write, when to disseminate the document, and to whom he should send it.

When reached by phone Wednesday, both MacKinnons denied the allegations.

“I’m not a party to this lawsuit and I can simply say that the allegation that you refer to is not true,” Peter MacKinnon said.

“It is simply untrue, simply not factually accurate, untrue,” Janice MacKinnon said. “It’s before the courts and the documents will show that it’s simply untrue … it’s in the court, so I don’t really want to say more.”

Busch-Vishniac is seeking $8 million in damages, plus $250,000 for defamation and $250,000 for aggravated, punitive and exemplary damages.

The claim says the former president was “arbitrarily and unlawfully terminated from her position as president,” which has caused “irreparable damage” to her reputation.

Busch-Vishniac has made “extensive efforts” to find work similar to that of university president, but she has been unsuccessful, the claim states.

“She has become effectively unemployable as a senior executive in a university or other setting,” it reads.

Busch-Vishniac was fired by the U of S board of governors without cause on May 21, 2014, after a tumultuous week at the university.

I feel bad for Brad Wall, Rob Norris, the MacKinnons and the University of Saskatchewan.  It can’t be fun to have this brought up again after seemingly moving past a disaster a year ago.

The mess that is the University of Saskatchewan

This sums up the spring so far at the University of Saskatchewan

Cheesman and Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) executive director Jim Turk said the university’s reputation is being damaged more with each passing week as it disputes the decision.

“This is very harmful to academic freedom. The decision should be respected,” Cheesman said.

The U of S was enveloped in controversy after the head of its School of Public Health, Robert Buckingham, was fired and escorted off campus for speaking out against various reforms. The events led to the ouster of provost Brett Fairbairn and president Ilene Busch-Vishniac.

Other staff and faculty also said Buckingham himself terminated those who spoke out.

Amid these controversies, the USFA expressed alarm that the U of S board of governors may have granted the president veto power over tenure during a closed 2012 meeting.

Advanced Education Minister Rob Norris expressed concern about the veto issue and said his ministry is investigating.

“Is it of concern? The answer is yes, it is. We’re doing our own internal review at the ministry and certainly this will be part of an ongoing dialogue with the board,” Norris told reporters last month.

The damage that has been done to the University of Saskatchewan is going to take years to fix.  For a school that has its College of Medicine on probation, it’s easy to see why there is a loss of confidence in the board of the University by almost everyone right now.

TransformUS Rebranding

This segment by Dave Kirton on CKOM’s Saskatoon Afternoon Show is hilarious.  Make sure you listen.


I love the shot at PotashCorp.  Poor Potash.  Poor Products.  Poor Results. 

Nice job by the Rawlco creative folks and Saskatoon Afternoon. It made me laugh and made some great points about the lack of leadership at the University of Saskatchewan.

100 Ideas to Improve Saskatoon: 5. Give up on Gordie Howe Bowl

Gordie Howe Bowl is a terrible stadium and it will be even after the renovations.  I know its home to the Saskatoon Hilltops, the 834 time Canadian Junior Football champions but that doesn’t mean it’s a decent stadium.

Gordie Howe Bowl

The stands are a long ways away from the playing field and the seats are sloped well back.  It’s more a saucer than it is a bowl which means that the stadium is quiet, even with a crowd full of cow bells and air horns.

The concessions are terrible which makes a bad game day experience worse., even if watching the Saskatoon Hilltops is always worth your time and money.  For high school football, the size is too large even for frosh week or rivalry games.  Even when attendance is goodl, half of the stadium is empty.

Proponents of Howe Bowl point out that the improvements (larger dressing rooms that no one uses), concessions, and field turf will make the game better.  Field turf has shredded (63%) more knees (players hate it) and caused more concussions than decent grass ever has.  The medical evidence for keeping players on natural grass is significant, especially since most high school seasons are done before the extreme cold hits (I know there are exceptions, I have played in them).  By upgrading Howe Bowl and making it cheaper to maintain (our city’s m.o.) we are making it less safe for high school athletes.

The solution is to stop the fundraising for the stadium and move the Hilltops to Griffiths Stadium.  As for high school football, construct metal stands on each high school field like they do in almost every other city in North America and have them play there.  Most high school fields are in good shape and the addition of some bleachers means that home field would really mean something.

As for the Hilltops, it isn’t as if this is a big move as the Hilltops play late season games at Griffiths each season after the high school teams have destroyed the turf at the Bowl.  Canadian championships have been won at Griffiths Stadium.  It has history for both the Huskies and Hilltops not to mention city high school games and even the Charity Bowl.

Gordie Howe Bowl has a lot of tradition but there is no need to have a separate field for both the Huskies and Hilltops.  The field is out of date and the upgrades will make it dangerous for players.  It was a poorly conceived idea from the start.

Plus, this commercial makes a lot more sense when a high school actually has a “home field”.


Wendy posted her New Year’s Resolutions so I thought I would post mine.

  1. Take the stairs to the top of The Lighthouse at least daily.  This seems like a really good idea now that building is only four stories but when the new tower is nine stories this summer, it could be a really bad idea.
  2. Carry less crap.  There are days when I go to work with my DSLR, a video camera, my notebook, a Moleskine, an iPod, and my cell phone.  Do I really need that much stuff?  Well considering that I have never used all of it in a single day, probably not.
  3. Ride my bike more.  Wendy has a Dave King inspired goal of riding 750 kms this year.  I think I will join her although none of those miles will be done at Ice Cycle which I still think is insane, no matter how many people enjoy cycling in –40 weather.
  4. books and more booksRead more books in 2012Darryl Dash has a post on how he wants his reading to more focused which I tend to go the other way.  I want to read and explore topics that I haven’t explored before, understand new things, and then figure out how they fit together later.  In the spirit of Thomas Homer-Dixon’s book The Ingenuity Gap, I want to be a deep generalist.  Part of it is the column I write but part of it is cultivating a spirit of curiosity.  It may be because I am at a point of life when I have a lot to learn and I don’t have the need to be a specialist.
  5. Contribute more to the matrix of agencies that I am a part of as a staff member at The Lighthouse.  Some of those actions are proprietary but I can’t handle agencies that don’t play that well with others.  It comes from an atmosphere of fear and competition that doesn’t need to exist.  Hopefully we can model a different way.
  6. Spend more money locallySaskatoon Farmer’s Market, Souleio, Broadway Roastery, The Two Twenty, Collective Coffee… you know businesses that are Saskatoon born and bred.  Less Starbucks, Tim Horton’s, and fast food joints.
  7. Attend more University of Saskatchewan Huskies and Saskatoon Hilltops games.  The Huskies may have the best game day experience of any football team in Canada and the Hilltops because of what they did for Mark’s understanding of football in 2011.  That and all they do is win national championships.
  8. Post more photos.  Despite having a decent camera phone camera, a DSLR, and a pretty good compact camera, I took far too photos in 2011.  That needs to change in 2012.
  9. Keep losing weight in 2012.  I lost 40 pounds since my heart event this summer and I want to lose another 120.  I should have it lost by next Christmas.
  10. Listen to more music.  I love music but I rarely take time to listen to it.  It’s always a background activity and never a foreground one.

Those are my resolutions.  Good luck with yours.

The Weekend In Sports

First the positives:

The negatives

  • Sure it is good to see the Houston Texans get an offense but boy do the Pittsburgh Steelers look old.  It’s early and you don’t want to count the Steelers out but I can’t help but wonder if there won’t be a drastically different looking Steelers roster for next season.
  • Let’s not talk about what happened in Green Bay.  Denver is not a very talented team yet.  Shanahan’s last couple of drafts were horrible and the only decent player that McDaniel’s brought in was Eric Decker.  It’s going to be a while until they are back on top.
  • What can you say about the Saskatchewan Roughriders other than they are not a very good team.  Grandpa coming back gave them a spark but I have been saying since last season that just because Ken Miller was a good assistant coach, it doesn’t make him a good personnel man.  That and I have been terrified of Brendan Taman running the team ever since they brought him in.  Look at what he did to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and how long it took them to recover.
  • Dear Buffalo Bills.  You lost to the Cincinnati Bengals.  Really?  Rookie QB, lame duck coach, apathetic fans and you still lost to them.  You should be ashamed.

Opening up Saskatoon’s Archives

I wasn’t sure what I was looking for last night but I ended up at the Saskatoon Public Library’s database of archival images.  I checked out some old historic collections from Saskatoon’s past but I have to admit that it wasn’t the easiest to use, it was slow, you can’t save any images, and it is obsolete technology when you compare it to many of the collections in Flickr’s Commons.

For those of you who have been out of the loop for a while, The Commons are a series of institutions that upload photos that they own the copyright to or are in the public domain to Flickr where users can take, describe, and fill out the history regarding.  Since the photos are in the public domain (or licensed with some restrictions under Creative Commons), they can be easily viewed (or used by the masses).  Many of the participating organizations upload 50-200 photos at a time and then allow people to tag, leave comments, and fill out historical details on all of them.

As Flickr says, the goals are to:

  1. To increase access to publicly-held photography collections, and
  2. To provide a way for the general public to contribute information and knowledge. (Then watch what happens when they do!)

I am picking on the Saskatoon Public Library but the same could be said for the City of Saskatoon archives,  University of Saskatchewan’s archives, the The StarPhoenix photo archives (they could also take down the paywall on their archives while they are at it), the Diefenbaker Centre photographic collection or even the Western Development Museum’s archives.  They are all owners of vast amount of archival photos that would be best served being served up electronically, even if small increments. 

I was noticing on the Saskatoon Public Library database that they own the copyright to quite a few images historical I was checking out.  I am assuming that they took over the copyright when the original owner donated the originals to the archives but that can be released and licensed and released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License for non-profit or private use.  There are some images that are still held by families or companies and of course those copyrights will need to be respected but for those images that are in the public domain, release them and make them easily available to the public.  All of Saskatoon would benefit.

Maybe we are in the top 500

The bad news is that the University of Saskatchewan is not listed in the top 400 universities from around the world.  Here are the Canadian universities that are well respected.

  • #18 McGill University
  • #29 University of Toronto
  • #44 University of British Columbia (UBC)
  • #78 University of Alberta
  • #131 Queen’s University
  • #136 Université de Montréal
  • #145 University of Waterloo
  • #163 McMaster University
  • #164 University of Western Ontario
  • #165 University of Calgary
  • #212 Dalhousie University
  • #215 Simon Fraser University
  • #231 University of Ottawa
  • #241 University of Victoria
  • #271 Laval University
  • #333 York University
  • #358 University of Manitoba

The good news is that if you live in almost any other region of the country, you can go to a great university. via

Busy right now

I haven’t posted much here lately for the obvious reasons that life has been quite busy.

  • Edwards School of Business at the University of Saskatchewan I am trying to decide whether or not I want to take enrol in Commerce‘s Edward’s School of Business business certificate program.  Of course my other option is to do the Chapters self-directed MBA but the business certificate is a little more useful later on in life.  Some co-workers have taken the course and have found it useful.  My biggest weakness is numbers and business projections.  While I have a good gut feel for it, I have relied pretty heavily on some co-workers in this area in the past and they are no longer here.  While their replacements are great at their jobs, they don’t have the same experience we lost.
  • We have spent little time at the cabin this summer.  Party it has been the weather.  Partly it has been Wendy‘s work schedule and the other part of it has been that Mark has been in a lot of trouble.  It’s hard to ground him in his room and then leave for the lake so we have been chilling out at home for the last couple of weekends.
  • With the record amount of rain has come a record amount of mosquitoes.  Last night while painting our Adirondack chairs (a pleasant cranberry color), Wendy swatted mosquitoes several times.  The only problem was that she was holding her paint brush while doing it.  She had more paint on her than she got on the chair.  We are using a fade and peel resistant door paint on the chairs.   Time will tell how they do but I plan to tarp them for the miserable Saskatchewan winter.  On a related note: Lee, I have taken over the lawn chairs you left at our place but feel free to use them at the cabin.  I’ll let you and Wendy fight over who gets to sit there.