Monday, November 5, 2012

Canadian shot in the butt, dies 11 days later in Guyana - Crime a growing factor in Caribbean

Sometimes it takes an incident that hits a bit closer to home, in order to draw attention to the everyday iniquities and injustice that go unnoticed in many countries around the world.

For example, a person identified in the Guyanese press as a Canadian, Jean Le Blanc, died in hospital just over a week ago, after being shot in the buttocks almost two weeks earlier.

The man was shot in a bar during the assassination of an alleged gangland figure. According to some reports, Le Blanc claimed he was "in the wrong place at the wrong time", although some of the speculation is that he may also have been targeted.

After several days in the hospital, Le Blanc was said to be recovering well and was scheduled to leave the country, but he died quite suddenly on Oct. 26 (2012).

Since then, an autopsy has been delayed, purportedly because "financial arrangements" for storage of the body post mortem were being made, in connection with the Canadian Embassy.

No mention of this situation has appeared in Canadian media that I have been able to find. One Guyanese report mentioned that Le Blanc was a Montreal resident.

There is a photo of a person identified as Le Blanc in the hospital in Georgetown on a few Guyanese websites.

Meanwhile, a UN report recently released has revealed that crime rates in the Caribbean have been rising dramatically, even while they've been dropping in most other parts of the world.

A quick scan of the news items for the past few days in the Guyanese press is enough to informally confirm this, as you get the impression that there are more violent crimes in this small country of only 750,000 people, than there are in most of our big cities in Canada. Crime is bad enough when it occurs in developed countries. In less developed countries, it can destabilize the delicate balance of economic viability and social development. 

As the The Caribbean Human Development Report 2012, prepared by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) says, the increasing crime rate is threatening economies and livelihoods in Caribbean countries.

“Violence limits people’s choices, threatens their physical integrity, and disrupts their daily lives,” said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark at the report’s launch.

Anyone think that more free trade deals and sweetheart corporate tax giveaways will improve this situation? 

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Romney-esque Day at the CHLPA

There has been a flurry of reports over the past two days concerning the CHL Players Association and the mystery surrounding the identities of some of the people purportedly connected with the group.

One of the better accounts is by Sunaya Sapurji at Yahoo Sports.

According to this and other reports, the union's executive director, Georges Laraque, has now announced he will be leaving the union, saying he would like to pass the work done to date on to a person or persons who would have the wherewithal to move the endeavour forward.

Also word that two law firms that were doing pro bono work for the group are bailing.

There is a whole series of clips and interviews that can be seen on TSN.

There is certainly no denying the sketchiness of any of this. On the other hand, I haven't seen much, if any concrete evidence to show that the CHLPA's activities have not been on the straight and narrow.

The sudden appearance of all this "noise", without identifying any concrete transgressions that you can actually put a finger on, all has a kind of "Romney-esque" feel to it. Considered along with other factors, such as the sabotaging of Laraque's car, just as players are starting to vote on union certification, one is left with the feeling that there remains much more to this story than we have yet seen.  

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Georges Laraque's Car Sabotaged - CHL Union Organizing Related?

NHL enforcer, Green Party of Canada Deputy Leader, animal rights activist, vegan entrepreneur, and now Executive Director of the new Canadian Hockey League Players Association, Georges Laraque has never been afraid to tread where the treading gets tough.

Two days ago, someone loosened the lug nuts on his hybrid vehicle, causing him to lose control on the highway. Thankfully, no injuries resulted.

This comes with news today that the players of the Sherbrooke Phoenix will become the first team to offically join the CHLPA, which seeks to represent junior hockey players.

Junior hockey players normally receive nominal, though variable, compensation, often considered to be below minimum wage. According to one report, a ridiculous $35 a week, plus some expenses, for the untold hours the players spend playing, traveling and training.

At least one other team will be voting soon and the union is using a range of strategies in attempts to line up the participation of players from other teams across the country.

Against this backdrop, a bizarre series of stories has appeared in the Toronto Sun and other media, where the identity of a CHLPA representative is questioned, although according to the CHLPA website and twitter feed, the person in question is to be interviewed on TSN today.