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MAKICHUK: A lesson from the Three Stooges in giving back

But getting back to the Stooges — let’s face it folks, life is not fair. Some of us have had some good breaks and we’ve parlayed that into rewarding careers and all that that comes with it.

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A wise man once told me you can learn everything about life by watching one Three Stooges episode.

The injustice, the pain and suffering, the disasters that await us and test our sanity — as Shakespeare would say, the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

In the comedic sense, of course. Most of us don’t have to worry about bowling balls falling on our heads, or a compatriot dragging a saw over our forehead. (With cool special effect sounds!)

I once made a pilgrimage to Curly Howard’s grave in L.A., my favourite Stooge of all time, just to feel close to the man who would entertain me after school, before I had dinner and before I did any homework.

It’s was an appropriate escape from the horrific Ontario school system which sought to break me and turn me into a well-behaved, but robotic citizen.

They failed — big-time.

But getting back to the Stooges — let’s face it folks, life is not fair. Some of us have had some good breaks and we’ve parlayed that into rewarding careers and all that that comes with it.

I’m lucky in that sense, I’ve had it good since I arrived in Alberta in 1979 and, of course, I had to work damn hard for it.

But not everyone is so lucky. Sh-t happens, as they say, and all it takes is a few of those bad breaks in life,to put us behind the 8 ball.

It’s also cool to think about the fate of our four-legged friends, be they in the wild or trying to survive on the streets of our city. This too is an important part of our Alberta heritage.

I don’t want to get all cliched on you, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

The Christmas season is approaching, fast, and there is no better time than now to think of giving back.

So here’s my story. All true, so help me God.

A few days ago, I got a message on Facebook messenger from a good friend of mine who lives in another part of Canada.

He’s a retired oilpatch millionaire, many times over. He did well, but yeah, he too worked hard to get there. And he likes to help others.

He said, “Dave, I need you to do me a favour — I want to give you $1,000, and I want you to donate it, to as many good causes, as you can, as you see fit.”

I said, “As I see fit? RU sure?” (That’s Messenger lingo)

He said “Yes, and I already eTransferred you the money.”

Well, right, I thought … I can do this. But who should I donate to and why? There are tons of good causes, so how do I go about this.

I knew that the benefactor — who wanted to remain anonymous — was an animal lover, and would like to see some of it go to animal rescue and conservation, but he did say “as I saw fit.”

At the top of my list, was Drop In The Bucket, which drills water wells for villages in Africa. 

That was followed by Ernest’s cat sanctuary in Aleppo, Syria (a man who has no fear), and then good old CKUA radio.

What the heck would we do without CKUA?

I then thought, why not help out the animal rescue agencies, so I did.

My daughter had visited the Yamnuska Wolf Dog sanctuary and said it was an amazing place with amazing people, so I donated.

My focus then turned to AARCS Animal Rescue, the Calgary Wildlife Rehabilitation Society the Grizzly Bear Foundation and the Wolf Conservation Centre.

The one group I also wanted to help out — and this is an important one — was the Calgary Women’s Shelter, a fabulous organization that does amazing work.

I was fortunate to work with a wonderful lady named Kate Robinson in Special Sections at the Calgary Sun, and together we (I was just a helper) would deliver tons of new review toys to this group before Christmas.

I don’t think I ever worked with a person with a bigger heart, to be honest.

I also wanted to help out the Calgary Flight Museum, which has done such an excellent job of preserving Western Canada’s aviation history, as well as our Second World War history.

For years and years, I used to see that old Lancaster, sitting on a pedestal, while it got destroyed by weather and birds.

I cursed the city fathers for this terrible outrage, until my friends didn’t want to hear my rants anymore. I thought it was despicable why no one in the oilpatch stepped forward to help preserve this amazing piece of history.

Eventually, that Lanc would be brought inside, and restored — finally.

I personally think every school child in Calgary should see that aircraft,or walk through it to know what the greatest generation did to preserve our freedom.

Sorry, but that’s a big one for me.

This was followed by donations to the Calgary Food Bank, the MEOW Foundation, the Calgary Humane Society, and Rocky Mountain Animal Rescue — all super great causes.

Keep in mind, this took me several days to do — I had to do my due diligence, as they say, and research some of these groups.

I then targeted the Children’s Make A Wish Foundation, one of my favourite organizations.

Back when I worked at National Trust, I took up a collection for this group and sought a donation (via a memo) to the top boss, a good man named Bill Rhind.

He called me into his office, and said, “Dave, what is this?”

I said, “It’s a damn good cause” and I explained what they do. He paused, looked over my memo, smiled and said, “OK sure.”

It was a generous act and I never forgot it.

So now, most of the money was spent. I only had a few dollars left.

I then remembered attending a get-together at CUPS Calgary, a group that “builds resilient lives for Calgarians facing the challenges of poverty and trauma” with programs and services.

I immediately pointed some funds to CUPS.

I then went across the world to donate to the Dian Fossey International Gorilla fund — a cause I knew about and wanted to help.

God help us if the world loses the majestic mountain gorillas. I’ve never been to Africa proper, but some of my friends have and they all have said it was amazing.

I had one more donation left, just one. I thought why not check out GoFundMe, lots of great causes there.

And man, did I ever find one.

A Saskatchewan family, had lost the dad in a farming accident near Saskatoon. The bio had me in tears and I knew then I had to donate.

I took the last $50, plus some of my money too, and threw it down — happy to help.

And in case you’re wondering, yes, I too donate, and I have my special causes. I set up a yearly budget for donations and stick to it.

Another thing I want to say is, I don’t understand people who don’t give back, I really don’t. We should be so damn grateful we live in a city as great as Calgary with so much opportunity.

You don’t need to spend a $1,000, it might even be two little kids by a grocery story exit, trying to hit you up to support their soccer team. Don’t ignore them — stop, listen to their story — throw them something, anything. 

And then feel damn good about it.

Dave Makichuk is a Western Standard contributor
He has worked in the media for decades, including as an editor for the Calgary Herald. He is also the Calgary correspondent for ChinaFactor.news
makichukd@gmail.com

Dave Makichuck is a Columnist for the Western Standard. He is a 35-year veteran journalist who has served at both the Calgary Sun and Calgary Herald.

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Massive, loud support displayed as BC’s truckers roll east

The convoy is approaching Alberta and will spend the night in Calgary before departing east on January 24 in conjunction with Alberta’s truckers.

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The eastbound “freedom convoy” rolling towards Ottawa in protest of vaccine mandates is well underway with hundreds coming out to support the truckers’ departure from BC’s Lower Mainland early Sunday morning.

The recent mandate — instituted by the federal Liberal government on January 15 — is forcing truckers crossing the border into Canada to provide proof of vaccination upon arrival using the ArriveCan app if they want to avoid testing and quarantine requirements.

American truckers will be denied entry.

Prior to the the January 15 mandate truckers were deemed an essential service.

Despite widespread concern of further economic devastation amid an already hurting supply chain, Liberal Health Minister Jean Yves-Duclos maintains his position that restricting cross-border movement of unvaccinated truckers is the “right thing to do.”

The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) anticipates the loss of 12,000-16,000 (10-15%) cross-border commercial drivers as a result.

In border areas, drivers will often cross over five or six times a day.

“That’s a lot of loads in a year that no longer have a way of coming up,” Colin Valentim told the Western Standard.

Valentim — who has been a trucker for more than 20 years — spearheaded the group out of BC, which steadily grew in size throughout the day as truckers across the province joined the Ottawa-bound convoy.

The convoy is approaching Alberta and will spend the night in Calgary before departing east on January 24 in conjunction with Alberta’s truckers.

When the convoy arrives in Ottawa, it will rendezvous with four convoys from various points of Ontario, convoys from Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, other Atlantic areas, and Quebec — forming a mass coalescence of rolling steel within the nation’s capital.

“We need to show this government what they’re doing is wrong and we won’t take it anymore,” said Valentim.

While the national demonstration is organized by big-riggers, those involved say it represents other professions that have been effected by mandatory injections such as healthcare workers, municipal workers and more. All professions and vehicles are welcome in the convoy.

The official GoFundMe page has received more than 37,400 separate donations adding up to more than $2.8 million with donations steadily flowing in by the minute.

The fund’s page — organized by Tamara Lich — says money raised will be dispersed to truckers for the cost of the journey and “any leftover donations will be donated to a credible veteran’s organization which will be chosen by the donors.”

The page says GoFundMe will be sending donations directly to “our bulk fuel supplier.”

“Your hard-earned money is going straight to who it was meant for without having to flow through anyone else,” reads the page.

The Western Standard reached out to Lich for further details regarding the allocation of donor’s funds, but has not heard back.

“Time to stop these mandates destroying people’s lives and businesses,” writes one donor.

“This tyranny must stop, and I believe the truckers are uniquely positioned to make this point,” writes another.

Maps, routes, times, and contact information for the respective organizers can be found here.

Reid Small is a BC-based reporter for the Western Standard
rsmall@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/reidsmall

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Judge slashes large defamation award to only $50,000

The judge ruled prairie courts are much more modest in awarding liberal damages.

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A Manitoba judge has slashed the $500,000 awarded to a defamation victim to $50,000, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

The judge ruled prairie courts are much more modest in awarding liberal damages.

“Civil jury trials in Manitoba are rare,” wrote Justice William Burnett of the Manitoba Court of Appeal.

“Awards for defamation in that amount are virtually non-existent.”

“The jury’s award of $500,000 is wholly disproportionate and shockingly unreasonable,” wrote Burnett, who worked 32 years as a civil litigator.

“This was not a case of widespread or repeated publication of defamatory statements in print media, radio, television or on the Internet.”

Millionaire developer Marcel Chartier in 2021 won his defamation claim against a former business partner who badmouthed him at a lunch meeting. The court was told Chartier’s ex-partner had called him a thief.

“There was no further publication of the defamatory comments,” wrote Burnett.

The slander was uttered to two people over a lunch table, “a small audience by any measure,” and “the impact of the comments was negligible,” the court added.

“The jury’s award of $500,000 is replaced with an award of $50,000,” ordered the court, noting there “is no mathematical formula” to placing value on damages for defamation.

Burnett said he reviewed dozens of rulings in Western courts, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia over the past six years in concluding the half-million award was excessive.

“Having considered more than 50 recent decisions where damages were awarded for reputational harm it is readily apparent the present award is well beyond the maximum limit of a reasonable range,” wrote Burnett.

Large libel awards are uncommon in Canada. The Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench last December 15 ordered the CBC to pay $1,659,403 for defaming a local investment adviser in a 2012 television broadcast.

The case is under appeal.

The largest award to date, $3 million, was paid in 2008 to an Ottawa pilot falsely accused of impairment.

The Supreme Court in 1995 upheld a $1.6 million award to a Toronto Crown prosecutor defamed by the Church of Scientology.

In 2016, the British Columbia Supreme Court awarded $1.1 million in damages to a Vancouver businessman falsely accused of being a drug trafficker.

The Supreme Court in 2002 refused to hear an appeal from the CBC over a $950,000 award to an Ottawa physician falsely accused of improper conduct by the news program The Fifth Estate.

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Sask residents say vaccine choices dividing families

“It’s putting these parents in a really horrible situation,” said Ness. “It’s not selfishness. They truly believe to their core that it’s not the right decision for them. It’s not that they don’t want their children.”

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For personal and legal reasons, vaccine choices are dividing families, say two Saskatchewan residents.

Michael Jackson, a divorced father from the rural community of Carievale in southeastern Saskatchewan, was opposed to his seven-year-old daughter Sarah receiving the COVID-19 vaccination.

When his ex-wife said Sarah would get the vaccine, he refused to return her. Jackson’s ex-wife applied for a court order for police to retrieve Sarah and a judge heard the case in court.

Jackson lost his case and failed in a subsequent appeal. He went into hiding with his daughter before police could enforce the court order.

Two cases in Quebec suggest judges in other provinces take a similar view. Last fall, a 13-year-old boy wanted the vaccine so he could be in school sports and go to movies and restaurants, but his father was opposed. Then his wife, the mother of the boy, went to court and had the father’s objections overruled.

A similar ruling was made by a Lethbridge judge.

Nadine Ness, founder of Unified Grassroots, says a Lloydminster father who got their under-12 child vaccinated for COVID-19 showed her that proper checks aren’t always made. 

“He messaged me, ‘Look, I’m pro-vaccine. But I think you should know this,’” Ness recalled in an interview.

“He was never asked any documentation as to who he was, how connected he was to that child, nothing. He was just asked for the kids’ health card, and that was it, nothing else. So if that’s happening, then parents who have full decision authority over their children’s health, like the other parent can go and do whatever they want because they’re not asking for ID either. That was a story that I found really odd and concerning.

At other times, parents are at odds. Shortly before Christmas, a Quebec judge denied an unvaccinated father visitation rights to his double-vaccinated 12-year-old child. Ness said knows of instances where parents are using the threat of vaccinating children for COVID-19 as a bargaining chip to extract more from the parent who is opposed.

“I grew up in a divorced family with an absent mother. She was a drug addict, so I know what it’s like to grow without a parent there. And I know how important it is for both parents to be involved in children’s lives. I’m divorced myself, so I share custody of my kids,” Ness said.

“I could never imagine anyone trying to keep their kids away from the other parent, but it’s just you see that too often in custody issues…If you’re using your child to go after the other parent, you’re not doing what’s in your child’s best interest.”

Ness said former allowances for the unvaccinated to cross the U.S. border to see their non-adult children have been taken away.

“At this point, policies like that just show more that this is not about health. And this is about punishing the people who oppose government, punishing political opposition,” Ness said.

“Omicron is so mild. We had it all in our house and I was sick for a day and a half…It was the mildest cold I’ve ever had. My son was sick and had fever for six hours. That was it, nothing else. He’s seven. My 12-year-old never got symptoms, and my two-year-old had a bit of a runny nose.”

Ness believes COVID-19 is an inadequate reason for politicians, judges, and families to separate unvaccinated family members from their children or other relatives.

“It’s putting these parents in a really horrible situation…Some of these parents, it’s not selfishness. They truly believe to their core that it’s not the right decision for them. It’s not that they don’t want their children or don’t want to see their children,” Ness said.

“These are real people, real lives affected. They’re not just robots. It’s dehumanizing them and not recognizing them. These are children who go to bed at night crying because they don’t have their other parent there, their family member there. 

“They don’t deserve this; they deserve better from us. And we deserve better from our government as well.”

Lee Harding is a contributor to the Western Standard living in Saskatchewan.

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