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Thursday, January 06, 2005 ISSUE #350

Hockey rules in Canada, not Queen Elizabeth

# 350, January 6, 2005

RIDGETOWN, Ontario:  All I know is what I read in the newspaper, and Wednesday morning the National Post was devoted pert near exclusively to the Canadian Junior Hockey team. They beat Russia 6-1 to earn the Gold medal in the World Championship. Must have been 8 or 9 pages on it. They held this two-week tournament in the famous American sports metropolis of Grand Forks, North Dakota, and in the whole Western Hemisphere, I rather doubt that anyone outside of North Dakota and Canada hardly knew they were playing.

But up here hockey rules, and with no "senior" hockey thanks to the NHL lockout, these folks flock to wherever there's ice with a goal at each end. It was great competition, and if the USA team had done better than fourth, it would have attracted more American fans, perhaps from as far away as western Minnesota.

A few hundred miles to the southeast on the same night, Southern Cal rocked the Oklahoma Sooners 55-19 in the college football championship. I got to see it on television piped in from Detroit. The National Post never even had room for the score. Best Trojan surprise attack since Helen hid with her soldiers in a wooden horse. But it wasn't really a surprise, except for the lopsided score.

I'm up here on the north shore of Lake Erie, speaking at Ridgetown College. The school's been here since 1922, educating Ontario's best farmers. You might think we would be in an auditorium, but no, we're in a livestock arena. It's a nice arena, concrete floor, with permanent bleachers on each side, and at one end hanging up near the rafters is a big photo of Queen Elizabeth. It's a younger Queen Elizabeth, and I am guessing that maybe thirty or forty years ago it was a gift to the College President for his office. It is an attractive picture, but after many years he grew weary of having the Queen looking over his shoulder,... along with alumni, parents and politicians..., and decided to look around for an alternative site to hang a queen.

Now I ain't complaining. These wonderful farmers are gathered for their yearly update on all that's new and important in the agricultural line, and I told them it was the first time I had presented in front of a photo of royalty. Everyone agreed it was a considerable step up from a picture of President Bush.

In closing today, I want it fully understood that I am receiving no money for airing my political views. Not that I couldn't use $240,000, which seems to be the going rate. But neither Bush nor Kerry could ever figure out if I was for him or agin him. To stave off poverty till the next election, I may be obliged to start my own educational support campaign, called "No columnist left behind". Somewhat fortunately for us columnists, Dave Barry is on a well-deserved sabbatical leave to rest up, as he states it, from the rigors of writing a page and a half a week. Dave is such an icon for columnists that Americans will immediately see the need to offer support, guidance and perhaps remedial psychological aid to writers struggling to meet their page and a half weekly quota, not to mention the pressure of, once again, trying to pass their  fourth grade profeciency exam.

Historic quote by Will Rogers: (on Annexing Canada)

"Canada is principally an Agricultural country and we raise more now than the farmers down home can sell for enough to put in the next year's crop. About the only thing I can think of we could use it for would be a skating rink in the winter and we got such a poor class of Skaters that we couldn't hardly afford to maintain it just for that. Unless we could trade in Wisconsin on it some way I can't see any reason for annexing it. So I have advised against it. I think my decision will suit President Coolidge for he has just about all he can handle down there now without annexing 8 million more farmers. What we need is some good country to annex us." WA #201, Oct. 17, 1926

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