Up in smoke, perhaps?

I LOOKED AT MY good friend Bruce Bowie for some counsel.

“It’s $44.95,” I said nervously. “Do you think Mrs. Tait would go for that?” Bruce gave me that look he has given me countless times over our four-decade friendship. He didn’t have to say a word. I knew the answer was no.

vintage-smoking-pipe-tobacco-classic-7077c“It might be a tough sell,”  Bruce said with a frown telling me, very quietly, I was once again crazy.

Let me set the scene for you: Bruce and I had some extra time the other day at West Edmonton Mall. At my suggestion we went into Two Guys With Pipes looking for  … well, a pipe.

MY FIRST RECOLLECTION of a pipe comes from my dad when I was a young boy. I loved the smell of Dad’s pipe whenever he fired it up. And, he liked the encouragement: Dad said he started smoking a pipe because, he convincingly said, a pipe was better for him than cigarettes. Made sense to me. I also think it’s important to carry on such distinguished family traditions. So I wanted to buy a pipe — but, you have to understand, not to smoke it. Goodness, no. I mean, since I have cerebral palsy and not the best hand co-ordination, stuffing a pipe with tobacco could be an all-day event. Messy, too. And can you imagine me trying to light it? It’s a fire hazard.

...Glen Sather

…Glen Sather

I JUST WANTED TO have it in my mouth, and chew on it a bit. Look at New York Ranger GM Glen Sather. We always see him with a cigar, right? Do we ever see it lit? Uh, nope. Same thing with my friend Curtis Stock over there at the Edmonton Journal. He has a cigar, too — but never lights it. So I thought when I write a pipe might be a nice, you know .. accessory?

BRUCE ALSO HAS FOND memories of a pipe from the late Jerry Forbes who eloquently smoked a pipe — because, that’s the only way to puff on a pipe. So we went into the shop armed with enthusiasm. The nice young man behind the counter politely opened the glass door and carefully

...Jerry Forbes

…Jerry Forbes

handed me the pipe I wanted. We looked at it and then turned the small price tag over. “It’s $44.95,”  I said in a quiet voice. I swallowed hard and saw my idea, frankly, go up in smoke. Mrs. Tait would not be happy, indeed. Oh well. Guess I’ll have money to but a good cigar. Right, honey?

(Cam Tait is the special projects advisor for  Challenge Insurance)


Tait’s 8 — Nov. 25: Honoring vets, Stuff-A-Bus, and remembering my first crush

Lendrum Eyecare is hosting a recognition and celebration day for veterans and first responders from until 8 p.m. Tuesday in support of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  If you’re a dog-lover, special canines will be in attendance, starting at 5 p.m. The idea came from Dr. Lesley Ford, owner of Lendrum EyeCare, who had a sister serving in Afghanistan for six and a half months.  “Supporting those who serve or served this country is so important in building a stronger community”, Dr. Ford said in a press release. “This is just a small way that we can give back and recognize those efforts”.  Lendrum Eyecare:  5822-111 St.

• And speaking of Ledrum … I still miss Jack’s Grill, which was in a Lendrum strip mall.

G-53 (5).plt *• This is Day No. 2 of Accessible Parking Awareness Week in Edmonton. So a question: where are you parking today?

• Went to the Doc Monday. Said I need to loose weight. He suggested an app for my iPhone to count my daily intake of calories. Perfect! And it doesn’t even talk back to me.

• Happy 20th anniversary to the Stuff A Bus campaign, who gathered some 348,000 kilograms of food and $357,000 for food banks in Edmonton, Strathcona County and Parkland County. So look for 15 40-foot long busses around town. Most needed items:  fruit juice for children, granola bars, fruit cups and bars, beans with and without pork, canned meat and fish, pasta and pasta sauce, peanut butter, canned fruit and vegetables, and infant formula. Look for buses at all Save on Food locations this Saturday

• Just a reminder: if you have any great news, or anything you would like to share in Tait’s Eight, email cam.tait@sunmedia.ca. Be glad to hear from you!

• If you’ve missed the piece written Sun sports columnist Terry Jones about Pat Quinn, the former Oiler coach and consummate gentleman, it’s well worth the read in Tuesday’s Edmonton Sun.

• I want to say happy birthday to Katherine Beech, out there in Squamish, B.C. I knew her as Cathy Frigon, my very first crush — in Grade 7, 1972. In fact, she gave me my first kiss, one Thursday afternoon, in the school library, at 1:14 p.m. Happy birthday, Cathy; I mean, Katherine.

Tait’s 8 — Nov. 24 – Goalies, Don Metz, dream homes and Mrs. Tait’s biscuits

Tea_biscuits02 (Large)•The Alberta Junior Hockey League connection with the Edmonton Oilers got stronger Monday morning with Dustin Schwartz being named goalie coach. Dustin was the goalie coach for the Spruce Grove Saints, the same club Oiler netminder Ben Scrivens. Dustin replaces Frederic Chabot.

• There will never be an obituary for Gordie Howe. Never. Because his kindness, sense of humour and incredible memory will be an example for us forever. With word of Mr. Howe’s declining health, some media outlets are preparing stories for his imminent death. And that’s fine. They won’t be obituaries. They will be tributes to a man who lived his life with incredible class and integrity, besides of being one of the best hockey players ever.

• Great news for Don Metz of Aquila Productions who left the University of Alberta Hospital with a clean bill of health. He’s at home, recovering, but knowing Don, he’ll be mapping out multiple projects at once.

• So, you know all those big dream homes you can win a lottery? You know the ones with 34 bedrooms, 18 bathrooms and eight garages? Well, not really. But they’re big. And tall. With lots of stairs. So here’s our question: what if you win one of these homes and you have a mobility impairment? Perhaps, more to the point: why aren’t dreams homes bungalows?

• Mrs. Tait made T-biscuits  Saturday afternoon. Funny thing — by Saturday night they were almost all gone.

• Just wondering. Bob Green had tremendous success with the expansion Edmonton Oil Kings and was the architect behind them winning a Memorial Cup. Given that success, should Green be part of the Edmonton Oiler brain thrust?

• And since we’re talking hockey … how many turnovers were there in a recent Oiler hockey game? Coming out of a commercial break Sportsnet Jim Hughson opened with: “Welcome back to the bakery?”

•Congratulations to EmployAbilities, who celebrated their 40th anniversary Friday at their Jasper Ave. offices. EmployAbilities has helped people with disabilities over the decades find employment in the Edmonton area. Well done!

Wednesday, Nov. 19 — Tait’s 8





Theoren_Fleury_Vipers•Retired NHLer Theoren Fluery is in Edmonton today promoting his new book Conversations with a Rattlesnake. Theo teams up with therapist Kim Bathel to create more awareness about sexual abuse of young people. Tough subject, absolutely. But we have to talk about it, absoutely.






• It’s a big day for Norquest College who is launching their Maximizing Opportunities – The NorQuest Campaign. Goal: $20 million. And a major announcement will be made about the naming of the college’s new academic building.

• The Eskimos are having a closed practice today. Closed, you understand — which makes us wonder if that means it’s haircut day for Bryan Hall.

• Sun photo editor Tom Braid is always doing something interesting. For the last couple of years he has carried a small to medium amount of empty bottles in the trunk of his car. When Tom’s covering a story he usually comes across a bottle picker a couple of times a month. “I will stop and give them to the guy,” says Tom, adding they are always thankful.

• Which do you think is more challenging for referees to control in minor hockey: a tied game in the last minute, or a 5-0 game in the final minute?

• Congratulations to Marjorie Bencz who celebrated a significant anniversary as executive director of Edmonton’s Food Bank Oct. 10. In fact, mayor Don proclaimed it Marjorie Bencz Day in Edmonton.

• Big game tonight with the Oilers and Canucks at Rexall. Vancouver Canuck coach Will Desjardines always carries a clipboard with him when he’s on the bench. Always. Which begs the question: are his favourite take-out restaurants on the clipboard so he can place a quick order for after the game?

• Be part of Tait’s 8!

Share any good news, thoughts, secret grape jelly recipes, milestones or anything great. Connect by email cam.tait@sunmedia.ca

Tuesday, Nov. 18 — Tait’s 8


•What’s the first sign the Christmas Bureau of Edmonton is getting fired up? Why, it’s the media gingerbread house competition and it was held Monday. A total of 29 teams cut, pasted and, best of all, tasted. The real winners are the people, 65,000 this year, who will get a Christmas meal who otherwise wouldn’t. And also tied for first place are Edmontonians who, once again, will make this happen.

•Good morning to you, Iris Evans. The former MLA and cabinet minister is the keynote speaker to the Alberta School Board Association’s meeting Tuesday at 9 a.m. at the Westin.

•It’s National Addictions Awareness Week. It could be a new beginning for someone you know, or, even — more exciting — for you. All the best to everyone part of this week.

•Bruce Bowie is perhaps known the most in the morning where he navigates the 630 CHED Morning News.  But tonight he’ll be front and centre — Bruce will be leading a Christian worship this evening at Hope Mission. He volunteers to speak one night a month at Hope Mission.

•It could be a bitter sweet Tuesday for Shawn Ewasiuk  over there at the Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities. Sean is leaving his position as the council’s director for a new role with Alberta Energy.

•Way to go, Edmonton Little Aces! The group that shares the game of tennis with young kids has teamed up with Canadian Tire Jumpstart, the Edmonton Public School Board and  Kids in Motion to give a tennis program to more than  300 Grade 4 and 5 students. A total of eight schools from low income neighbourhoods have been will be taught tennis skills — and, there was a friendly competition Monday at the Kinsmen Sports Centre.

•The Edmonton Sun’s Annual Auction is on now until Friday with close to $1 million worth of merchandise. Sun advertisers put some of their products on the block so there will be some great deals. For more info visit edmontonsun.com

•And just wondering about the current Edmonton Oiler current situation: has the team learn how to hate — really hate — losing?

Nov. 17 – Tait’s 8: Eight things overheard in the Edmonton Eskimo dressing room after Sunday’s win

The Edmonton Eskimos beat the Saskatchewan Roughriders 18-10 Sunday to advance to the CFL Western Final next Sunday in Calgary against the Stampeders.

Eight things overheard after the game in the Eskimo locker room …

“First guy to score a touchdown in Calgary gets to ride the horse around McMahon Stadium bareback.”

“We’re in the dressing room now, coach. Can we do the Gatorade bucket thing now?”

“ I heard the real Battle of Alberta of Alberta was in the Wild Rose Party.”

“Can Fleetwood Mac play in Calgary this Saturday night? It worked pretty well last week,”

“Anyone else want to try playing quarterback?”

“Sing it again, Bryan Hall!”

“Who needs to score touchdowns when you have a field goal kicker who hasn’t shaved in eight years?”

“Last guy off the bus in Calgary buys burgers at Peter’s Drive-In.”Peters'Drive-In

Tait’s 8 for Nov. 14

Eight things that might help you through this Friday …

•Sending good thoughts to the Salvation Army who kicked off their Christmas Kettle Campaign with the Hope in the City Breakfast on Friday at the Delta City Centre Hotel. This year’s $545,000 fundraising targe twill help almost 47,000 Edmonton with food hampers,  Christmas assistance, counselling, senior programs, and summer camps in 2015. 

•It’s a big night Friday  for  385 high school students at the Fantasyland Hotel. They who received a Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP) or Career and Technology Studies (CTS) Scholarship this year from Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training.  A total of 90 students from across Alberta also will receive their certificates. 

• Congratulations to the Lo-Se-Ca Foundation in raising $30,000 at their annual (sssshhh!) silent and live auction at the Italian Cultural Centre last week. Lo-Se-Ca does great work for people with disabilities from their St. Albert office. And, speaking of St. Albert, mayor Nolan Crouse was the MC for the evening as well as auctioneer. Way to go, Lo-See-Ca and Nolan!

•Really nice to see how the Edmonton Oilers honored military personnel at Thursday’s game against the Ottawa Senators. And for coach Dallas Eakins to address the team in the afternoon — on a game day — shows how valued soldiers are.

•Christmas lights up  yet? This weekend? Which brings us to a good discussion point: when should folks put up their Christmas lights?

•So very sorry to hear the passing of Scott Jackson after battling cancer. Scott worked camera for CBC and Aquila Productions in Edmonton. He was one of the best  and will be greatly missed. 

•Great to see retired Edmonton Oiler Jason Strudwick heading up a new hockey program at the Royal Glenora Club. Jason loves Edmonton, and keeps adding to the community.

•Most thoughtful tweet from Eric Alper: “Respect your elders because they studied without Google and Wikipedia.”

Have a good weekend, folks!

Tait’s 8 — Eight tid bits to help get you through the day

• Curtis Lazar will play his first professional hockey game Thursday night for the Ottawa Senators against the Edmonton Oilers. Curtis spent four years in Edmonton playing junior for the Oil Kings and is a great young man. He told Sun Media Wednesday he was planning to visit his billet family during his stay. Edmonton Sun hockey writer Brian Swane summed things up best: “Curtis might be thee nicest kid EVER,” says Brian.

Curtis hasn’t scored his first NHL goal. Wouldn’t it be … ?

• There’s a special recognition event Thursday at the DoubleTree by Hilton West Edmonton to honor Silvio Dobri who is retiring as a board member of the GoodHearts Transplant Foundation.  The group helps transplant patients in need of financial help. Silvio has done wonderful work for the group since becoming a transplant survivor several years ago.

• The big roast for 630 CHED’s Bryan Hall was last night at River  Cree.  So if he sounds a little fuzzy on the big 630 Morning News Thursday he has good reason. We’re not saying Bryan’s old, but we hear he was a waiter at the Last Supper.

• Wayne Lee and friends are hosting their annual Empowering Edmonton event Monday with all funds going to the Cerebral Palsy Association of Alberta. It’s a day of great stories shared by incredible people. Visit.empoweringalberta.com for more details.

• We’re sending best wishes to Oiler president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe and Don Metz of Aquila Productions. Both men recently had brief hospital stays. Both men, however, are fighters and will be back on their roads real soon.

• Mrs. Tait and I reflected earlier this week on celebrating 19 years of marriage. There are many things which have contributed to our happiness, including, of course, having two remote controls of the television.

• There’s a great — absolutely terrific — picture Mark Scholz shared on his Facebook page. Mark’s father Fred is visiting from Newfoundland and Mark snapped a shot of Fred having his nose squeezed by young Henry Scholz, Mark’s nine-month-old son.

• Canadians responded like never before on Remembrance Day in Ottawa in record numbers. We showed out appreciation and gratitude. And, I think, we’ll continue to do so in future years.











Details on an Oiler game with Tait for the ATCO Edmonton Sun Christmas Charity Auction

When it comes to attending Edmonton Oiler home games, I’m a very lucky guy. That’s what I want to share with someone  … and that could be you.

But, here’s the best part of it all: you will be contributing to the ATCO Edmonton Sun Christmas Charity Auction. Funds raised will be divided four ways between the Christmas Bureau, United Way, the Sign of Hope and the Stollery Children’s Hospital.

So here’s how it works: I have cerebral palsy and use a wheelchair. When I applied for my press pass for the 1979-1980 season — the Oilers’ first NHL campaign — the team’s public relations department asked if I needed another pass for someone to give me a little help at the game. I thanked them very much and now, 35 years later, I still have two passes.

In the late 1990’s, my friend Scott McKeeen came to an Oiler game with me. Scott must have enjoyed himself: the next morning he asked if we could auction my assistant’s pass away for, ironically, United Way. We did. Over the next 15 years, I’ve shared my assistant’s pass with many charity auctions.

Let me give you a run through of the evening.

We’ll meet two hours before game time at the Game Day Office on the north side of Rexall Place. Then we go downstairs and I will show you around the media facilities.

Back on the elevator we go to the fourth floor and head to the media dinning room for a buffet dinner. We’ll run into guys like John, Jason, Tommy and Randy who will tell you outrageous stories about me.

But  don’t believe them.

Well, not all of them.

We’ll eat and enjoy — and I sincerely mean this — butterscotch or chocolate pudding for desert.

We’ll head back downstairs to watch warm-up. On the way, guys like Dan, Al, Steve and Farmer will tell you more stories about me.

Again, please use discretion.

After warm-up we’ll go to our seats in a wheelchair section behind one of the nets, right in row 19. Very good seats.

Following the game, we make a visit to the Oiler dressing room and listen to player interviews. I often get ideas for a column or blog from listening and observing after games.

Our final stop of the evening is around a corner, and down a long hallway into the press conference room where Dallas Eakins addresses the media.

It’s something I never get tired of, and I love sharing it with hockey fans.

If you’re a die-hard hockey fan or enjoy seeing  how things unfold behind the scenes, this could be for you. 


You can bid on it right up until Thursday until 7 p.m 

I would like to clarify a few things.

• this is for ONE person only

• minimum age is 16 years old

• since we are members of the working media we must remain as objective as we can so, respectfully, I ask you do not wear an Oiler jersey or cap.

If you have any further questions, fire me an email to cam.tait@sunmedia.ca.

I am so blessed to be able to have a great working relationship with the Oilers.

And in the spirit of Christmas, I’d like to share it with you.

Ron MacLean returns home this weekend

Memo to Saratoga Restaurant staff: you might want to stock up on hot turkey sandwiches this weekend. One of your biggest fans could very well be stopping by for one of his favourite meals.

Last name: MacLean. First name: Ron.

Ron MacLean in Edmonton, hosting the 1984 Edmonton Oiler Re-union

Ron MacLean in Edmonton, hosting the 1984 Edmonton Oiler Re-union

He will be passing the Saratoga several times this weekend, on his trips between Edmonton and Red Deer, where Ron began his broadcasting career.

His role was play-by-play man of the Red Deer Rustlers of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. He tells the story of traveling on the team bus for a road game against the Fort Saskatchewan Traders.

The best part of the trip? Stopping at the Saratoga, on the south outskirts of Edmonton, for hot turkey sandwiches.

Ron joined Rogers Sportsnet over the summer after they scooped the NHL television rights from CBC. In his new role, Ron will be visiting arenas throughout Canada on weekends, telling grass root hockey stories. This weekend, Hometown Hockey rolls into Red Deer, very familiar to Ron.

“It’s hard to tell stories when you’re in the television studio,” Ron says over the telephone from his Oakville Home. “I love meeting the people in communities and telling their stories about the game.”

The gig isn’t all new to Ron: he hosted Hockey Day in Canada for CBC on a Saturday throughout the country. It was a long day, providing cut-ins between three NHL games.

“I like the fact our new show is on Sunday. Over the years of Hockey Day we heard many people missed it because they were busy with their own hockey activities on Saturday,” says Ron.

His weekends are busy. Ron is on television live from Toronto with Don Cherry on Coaches Corner. He either catches a red-eye from Toronto to his destination late Saturday or catches an 8 a.m. flight Sunday.

This weekend, though, is different. Ron and Don will be in Edmonton and will broadcast Coaches Corner early Saturday evening from a Rexall Place television studio before the Edmonton Oilers host the Vancouver Canucks.

Ron will be in Red Deer Sunday for Hometown Hockey beginning at 3:30 p.m. from the Red Deer Arena.

It’s a sweet homecoming for Ron, who was inspired to become a broadcaster by listening to 630 CHED in the early 1970’s. He credits current 630 CHED morning man Bruce Bowie, who was in on the air in the mid-day slot, for helping form his career.

In fact, Ron was on the 630 CHED Morning News with Bruce Thursday and thanked Bruce who critiqued a tape  critiquing a tape — and then sent it back to Ron in Red Deer.

Another connection involves Sportsnet’s Alison Redmond who writes the Hometown Hockey script. Alison is married to Sportsnet’s Jamie Campbell, who worked for CBC television sports in Edmonton in the 1990’s.

And then there’s the re-union with the Sutter brothers, who traveled south from their Viking home to play for the Rustler’s in Red Deer.

Ron notes Red Deer had prints on several championships last season: Darryl Sutter, won his second Stanley Cup championship with the Los Angeles Kings; Mike Babock coached Canada to Olympic gold in Russia and coached the Red Deer College Kings; and Derek Laxdal, who coached the Edmonton Oil Kings to a Memorial Cup championship last May had a brief stint as a player with the Red Deer Rebels.

“It will be great to go back,” says Ron.

(Cam  Tait is the special projects advisor at Challenge Insurance)

Guest blogger: Dr. Heidi Janz on assisted suicide

What’s Missing in All the Able-ist Rhetoric

Around “Death with Dignity”



by Dr. Heidi Janz

Like many Canadians with disabilities, I have been following the renewed national debate on legalizing assisted suicide and euthanasia with growing fear and trepidation. I am at the point where, to put it bluntly, I am sick and tired of hearing about how TABS (temporarily able-bodied people) and former TABS (hello Stephen Fletcher) want the “right” to die, lest they have to live with some of the limitations that I do. The (not so) implicit message is: People with disabilities have crappy lives, therefore, THEY *SHOULD* WANT TO DIE.

Dr. Heidi Janz

Dr. Heidi Janz

It’s true that I have some significant advantages that many disabled people don’t: I have a PhD; I live in my own home, and I direct my own care. It’s also true that I live with some limitations that many TABS would deem intolerable because of cerebral palsy — I’m bladder incontinent and eat via a g-tube. But my dignity/worth as a human being is neither defined by my advantages, nor diminished by my limitations. Rather, as a human being, my life has intrinsic dignity and worth. It is when my life is devalued by society as a “fate worse than death” that I am robbed of my rightful human dignity.


Then, there is the issue of suffering. No human being wants to suffer; yet, suffering is demonstrably an intrinsic part of human life from beginning to end. The question thus becomes: At what point does suffering become legitimate grounds for ending someone’s life? Should society be obligated to honour a request to die made by a newly-paralyzed 18-year-old who can’t yet conceive of the fact that it is possible for someone with a disability to have a life? Or, what about a request to die made by a Canadian soldier who returns from the battlefield with disabilities? Or, a request to die made by a middle-aged person with disabilities whose extensive care needs and lack of assisted-living options force them to go into a long-term care facility?


These are not merely hypothetical scenarios; rather, each of these situations are cases in which assisted suicide and euthanasia would be permissible under the Private Member’s Bill that MP Stephen Fletcher has put before Parliament, as the bill cites both physical and psychological suffering as legitimate grounds for assisted suicide and euthanasia. Mr. Fletcher and those who support the legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia argue that safeguards would be put in place to ensure that legalized assisted suicide and euthanasia are not misused and abused, resulting in people with disabilities being ‘assisted to die’ without their consent. But data from jurisdictions where euthanasia and assisted suicide have already been legalized, such as Belgium and the Netherlands, clearly indicate that such supposed safeguards simply do not work.


Like many Canadians with disabilities, I strongly feel that our energies as a nation would be much better spent creating increased access to assisted living and palliative care. To Mr. Fletcher, I respectfully ask: Why don’t you use your privileged position as a member of Parliament to seek to help your fellow Canadians with disabilities live better lives, from beginning to end, rather than seeking to enact legislation which will inevitably further devalue and endanger our lives?


Heidi Janz, PhD

Adjunct Professor

John Dossetor Health Ethics Centre, University of Alberta


Canada has a rich tradition of producing heroes

Defining a hero is a very individual and personal task.

For Canadians, fortunately, we have been exposed to many people who have fall into such an esteemed and prestigious category. Heroes not only are publicly anointed for their bravery, courage and selfless acts; they provide a beacon of hope to people who need it the most.

In my lifetime, just a touch over the half-century mark, there have been some significant Canadians.

It goes back to my early teens, in late September of 1972, when Paul Henderson scored that epic goal for Team Canada in Moscow. Henderson’s goal gave Canada an overall victory in an eight-game series against Russia and he quickly became a Canadian hero.

Canada needed something to bring us together. Only two years earlier the country was rocked by the well-documented October Crisis when the realization of Quebec separating from Canada heavily loomed.

Henderson’s heroic goal, in my mind, help bring us together again.

Fast forward eight years: 1980. That’s when a brown curly-haired kid with one leg started running across Canada. Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope raised money for cancer research and care — the very disease which claimed his right leg, and, then his life.

Today, the Terry Fox Run still raises runs and awareness in the vigilant fight against cancer.

Five years later, a good friend of Fox’s wheeled out of a Vancouver shopping centre on a two-and-a-half year journey around the world. Name is Hansen; Rick Hansen.

The paraplegic heightened public awareness for people with disabilities and has raised millions of dollars for spinal cord research. Hansen has been the catalyst of change on a global, national and personal level: giving people, not only those with disabilities, the power to believe in themselves … and in their dreams.

Fox and Hansen weren’t forced to do what they did. They acted because they were compelled to make a difference.

Just like what Kevin Vickers did earlier this week.

Kevin Vickers

Kevin Vickers

Reports now confirm Mr. Vickers is solely responsible for gunning down an armed terrorist who stormed Parliament Hill Wednesday and made his way into the Centre Block.

Mr. Vickers, who has been Sargent at Arms since 2006, drew on his vast 28 years of experience with the RCMP and took charge of a highly dangerous situation.

Thursday, the day after the attack, Mr. Vickers received a thunderous — yet compassionate — standing ovation in the House of Commons for his act.

He was clearly uncomfortable with the praise, but was gratified: a common characteristic of heroes.

Moverover, in a statement Thursday, Mr. Vickers thanked Canadians for their kind words. But then quickly deflected the accolades to the rest of the security team.

Like Mr. Fox and Mr. Hansen, Kevin Vickers will be part of Canadian history and rightly  take his place as a national hero.

Our national fabric is unique: we have people who rise to the occasion in so many different levels … in so many situations.

Seeing Mr. Vickers back at work Thursday must have resonated through thousands of Canadians as we took a deep breath after an extraordinary week — and realized we can, indeed, soldier on.



(Cam  Tait is the special projects advisor at Challenge Insurance)

We must keep paying tribute to the National War Memorial

National War Memorial01On a warm morning in late May of 2008, my assistant Rhonda Ferguson and I traveled north from Cornwall, Ont. to Ottawa for a flight to Edmonton.

We had several hours before we had to be at the airport.

“Could we drive by the National War Memorial in front of the Parliament buildings?” Rhonda asked. “I’ve never seen it and would like to.”

We did. And we were both struck by the profound meaning of the memorial — honoring all Canadian veterans — right in front of the Parliament buildings where elected officials govern our country because of  the freedom we have.

Those memories scurried through my mind Wednesday morning as news came in about the shooting in Ottawa, right at the base of war memorial.

The story took a tragic turn just around 12 noon when police said the man, a soldier who was shot standing in front of the memorial, died in hospital.

Things are still developing in the story and this is not the time, nor the place, to start theories on what happened.

More importantly, though, our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the fallen soldier.

He was killed in the line of duty, protecting a most precious symbol of our country’s deep, rich heritage.

The National War Memorial. It doesn’t get anymore Canadian than that.

To disrespect this the such an iconic cornerstone is disgraceful.

To be part of a horrific crime in front of the National War Memorial is unthinkable and disturbing beyond words.

Sadly, our country changed Wednesday.

Whenever such heinous attacks happen, changes take place, almost immediately.

We need to be thankful we have people and resources in place to make decisions to keep us secure. There will no doubt a review of security — not only at the National War Memorial, but also the Parliament buildings where, the gunman entered with a  gun.

All of this is, too much to comprehend.

It also comes mere weeks before Canadians converge at the war memorial to pay respect to our veterans.

Nov. 11 is a solemn day in Canada, and especially Ottawa, where a ceremony is held and broadcast throughout the country.

Wednesday’s events will make this year’s Rememberance Day ceremonies in Ottawa especially poignant.

Our hearts will be heavy as we look at the storied monument, now a riveting crime scene.

But we can’t stop visiting it.

We must keep paying homage to it and remember what it so richly respresents and how it’s a very important part of our national fabric.

It will be difficult, though. Because the National War Memorial could become a point of interest for the wrong reason because of Wednesday’s events.

If it indeed becomes a spectacle rather than a sanctuary, Canada will change much more than it already has.

(Cam  Tait is the special projects advisor at Challenge Insurance)

Out of a daughter’s love to raise funds for parents’ burnt home

Burnt house4

For Chelsea Owerko, there is only one option: to help her parents.

What was supposed to be a lovely, romantic night turned into a disaster Sept. 18 for Chelsea’s mother and step dad, Dave and Denise Dyck.

Burnt house

Inside the trailer

Candles were burning, rose pedals were scattered and dinner was about to be served in the couple’s home — a 30-foot travel trailer in an RV park just outside of Gibbons.

Somehow, one of the candles tipped. It caught one of the trailer’s curtains and engulfed the trailer in flames.

Dave has a few health challenges, including  diabetes, heart problems, chronic pancreatitis and  high blood pressure. His condition has prevented him from being employed and he  hasn’t worked for the last four months.

When the fire broke out Dave was having trouble moving.

“My mom got step dad off the couch and basically dragged him out of the house,” says Chelsea.

The only things they escaped with were the clothes on their backs and the shoes on their feet.

Gone are family heirlooms and pictures. Dave’s guitars are gone. Family pictures.

Pretty much everything.

Dave and Denise are having insurance issues, and Chelsea says the outlook doesn’t look promising.

The couple has been staying in a hotel since the incident and bills are piling up.

Denise has also been on able to work because of health issues.

So Chelsea is trying to help.

She had established a Facebook page in hopes of raising funds for her parents.

“My parents took great care of me,” says Chelsea.

“So naturally being the daughter that I am, I do everything I can to help them whenever it is they need it.”

Chelsea’s site is http://gofundme.com/fd7zb4.


•Congratulations to Goodwill Industries for their brand new store in Sherwood Park —— 130 Athabascan Ave. at Cornerpoint Centre.

It was opened Saturday morning with Strathcona County mayor Roxanne Carr and other dignitaries on hand.

“Since July 2004, we have had a donation centre located in Sherwood Park and now we’re excited to expand our operation to a full retail store, as we partner with our generous donors to support area residents with disabilities to receive employment training and job placement,” said Dale Monaghan, President and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Alberta said in a press release.


•From the great moments department: Former Edmonton Eskimo quarterback Tom Wilkinson and current Esk QB Mike Reilly had a lengthy chat last week week at the 50th Eskimo fundraising dinner.

No doubt wisdom and some humorous stories were told when Mike pulled up a chair at Tom’s table..

For those of us who have been attending the green and gold dinner for a few decades we fondly remember the brilliant MC work of the late, great Wes Montgomery.

Organizers shared a some video of Wes in his hey day as the dinner’s MC.

“We have a new idea for people the dearly departed Eskimo fan — surround tapes of Bryan Hall in their coffin,” Wes said.

Bryan, of course is the long-time Eskimo play-by-play radio announcer who still works on the 630 CHED morning show with Bruce Bowie.

(Cam  Tait is the special projects advisor at Challenge Insurance)​

Genuine concerns for Canadians with disabilities

Until now, I have never felt pity for someone with a disability. But that’s what is conjuring up inside of me when I hear MP Steven Fletcher. In fact, I feel sorry for him because he appears to be so unhappy with his lot in life — a quadriplegic, using a wheelchair following a motor vehicle crash in Manitoba.

I am more disappointed Mr. Fletcher has taken his overall view of life and spun it into a national debate over assisted suicide. Being so unhappy is one thing.

But for Mr. Fletcher to roll his personal feelings on to the floor of the House in Commons is fundamentally wrong and could be a murky and confusing cloud lurking over Canadians with disabilities in the future.

Mr. Fletcher introduced not one, but two private members’ bills, supporting physician-assisted suicide for all competent adults over the age of 18.

I cannot speak to what it’s like to be in such a state of despair of I have wanted to end my life. I will never pass judgement on those circumstances.

But I have real concerns about Canadians who may be perceived as not having a very good quality of life.

I have a disability — cerebral palsy caused by lack of oxygen at birth — and use a wheelchair. And I think my life is wonderful. I have a family, a job that gives me meaning and so much more.

I am a little dumfounded by Mr. Fletcher’s thinking.

It sends a most disconcering message from the government of Canada. If Mr. Fletcher’s bill passes, Canada will be seen as a country that does not value the potential of citizens with disabilities. Better off dead?

Absolutely not.

If Mr. Fletcher was truly engaged with people with disabilities, he would be lobbying for employment equality, income supports, accessibily, transportation, housing and so many other issues that need political massaging, and understanding.

Instead, he is waving a white towel saying “Take me, and everyone else like me because life with a disability in Canada ain’t worth living.”

What does this mean for future debate on issues for Canadians with disabilities?

Will MP’s view those debates as tedious, even mindless, because one of their fellow parlamenterians says life with a disability, frankly, sucks? He should know, they will conclude, because he has a disability.

To which I say: so?

One man’s view. That’s it. It should not be taken as gospel.

I am personally concerned aboout the message Mr. Fletcher is sending and most wonder, with respect, if making assited suicide a convenient way out — rather than encouraging all Canadians, despite limitations, to be the best they can.

Sometimes, we do the easy thing because it’s simply … easy. But the federal government has a responsibility to empower Canadians in all circumstances.

And, I fear, if Mr. Fletcher’s bills are passed, it will be abused — and the way of life in Canada will never be the same.

(Cam Tait is the special projects advisor for Challenge Insurance.)

Did you hear the one about a bunch of Edmonton reporters walking into a bar?

Unknown-1Deep down inside, most of us probably want to do it. But we never admit it in public.

Because getting up on stage, a bright glaring spotlight only on you, trying to be funny, with the only sound being the dull hum of the sound system, in front of strangers is like going for a root canal work: slow and painful.

So why would anyone want to try stand-up comedy?

Because. It’s just there … something inside that tells us

a) we are funny

b) we can make other people laugh

c) it’s only four or five minutes, so why not?

I know: in November of 2004 — can’t believe it’s been 20 years ago — I followed a lifelong dream when I went on stage at Yuk Yuk’s in West Edmonton Mall. It was a Wednesday and they called it Amateur Night.

I’m going back to the future.

09Andrew-GroseTHE 2014 EDMONTON COMEDY FESTIVAL begins Wednesday and runs through til Saturday. As part of the fun the Edmonton Comedy Festival Media Challenge takes place at The Ranch Road House at 8 p.m. A dozen of  us — including Edmonton Sun video editor Nathan Martin and reporter Trent Wilkie from the Edmonton Examiner along with myself — will be trying to tell jokes.

“I’m expecting a few surprises. I’ve seen almost everyone’s set and at least a couple of them are pretty raunchy,” says comedy festival executive producer and veteran comedian Andrew Grose. It’s always a shock to see someone who must never swear or cross the line in one job go way over the line in this. There’s also a wide range of topics and styles… everyone has put a lot of work into getting ready for this.

“I suspect they’ll be some outstanding sets and some car crashes.”


ANDREW STARTED THE  friendly competition two years ago when he found purchasing advertising for the Comedy Festival was expensive. Really expensive.

“So I came up with a media competition. By inviting a dozen media personalities from TV, radio and print I suddenly had all these news agencies talking about the Festival, and it didn’t cost me a thing,” says Andrew.

Besides, he says, most people working as reporters and radio an television hosts like talking about themselves. (No, really?)

Andrew has seen countless amateur competitions. He says the media contest is different because the audience knows all of the contestants.

He also says there wasn’t a media challenge last year because there isn’t enough media members interested in making it an annual event.

“It took me two years to get people to say yes for this year’s show,” says Andrew.


SPEAKING FROM EXPERIENCE the first time on stage was an unforgettable memory.

Veteran funny man Ken Valgardson ran the show and told me I had five minutes.

Never have been very good telling time. I was up there for 14 minutes and things went reasonably well.

I was so pumped from the experience I couldn’t sleep at all that night.

It’s an incredible rush. It could return.

So what will Thursday night be like?

I really don’t know.

There are some characters who will be on stage and all of them can tell stories.

Who knows? Some lifelong dreams might come true.

And if there’s some laughter generated along the way it could certainly be a night to remember.


(Cam Tait is the special projects advisor for Challenge Insurance.)

July 9: Chapter II: Nobody asked me but …


wash7.jpg  Every day on the way to work I drive down Whyte Ave. and see the northeast corner on Gateway Blvd.
And there’s a building the. A red brick building, in fact.

And it’s a washroom. Good idea, for a variety of reasons.

But let’s give the folks who need to pause for the cause a little privacy.

Because when you’re driving by there’s a big window, if I’m not mistaken — and, you can see right inside.

So let’s put it out there on a first poll. (We have another a little later.)




The Happy Couple....10 years, already!

The Happy Couple….10 years, already!

•Back on the Mother’s Day weekend, Nicole Turenne shared a question with me, and I haven’t told anyone. But today I will. Nicole, the communications and marketing manager for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, said she and Corey Graham had been dating for 10 years. Nichole wondered if, maybe, one day Corey might propose marriage. A Tuesday Facebook post was pure joy: Corey Nichole are engaged! It’s been quite a few months for Corey, play-by-play man on TSN 1260 who calls Edmonton Oil King games, including the big Memorial Cup win. See, Nicole: patience is a virtue.


•And speaking of patience — did you see the line-up on the Whitemud Freeway about 4:45 p.m. Tuesday, all the backed up all the way from the Rainbow Valley bridge, all the way 91 St. eastbound? That’s what a four-car pile-up will do during rush hour. If you were one of those folks, in a hot vehicle, and no air conditioning, send us a tweet or email and let us know how you survived.


Truc drivin' Norton

Truc drivin’ Norton

•My old buddy Ross Norton popped by for a visit Tuesday to talk Canadian Paraplegic Association, wheelchair basketball and all kinds of stuff. Ross saved the best for last, though. On his way out he asked if I would like to see his truck. Sure glad I did.

It was a green 1957 Chevy. Nice!





•The Angels Anonymous Connection is having a big fundraiser Saturday night at the Fantasyland Hotel. But, that’s all I’m going to tell you. All the details about the wonderful work Angels Anonymous does will be in the Tait on 8 column in Thursday’s Edmonton Sun.




•Big new six-year deal between the Edmonton Oilers and the Corus Entertainment. Sounds like another  good poll question so let’s fire that up.




1297519698495_ORIGINAL•City councilor Scott McKeen is sharing his time with Meals on Wheels Thursday and is challenging other citizens to do the same. Great cause. And Scott knows a few things about food: he wrote restaurant reviews a few years back in the Edmonton Journal. He’ll do a great job. If you want to get involved with Meals on Wheels, call 780-429-2020.



Share your good news, good works, celebrations — heck, even Uncle Elmer’s birthday party — with the Tait on 8 blog.












Nobody asked me, but …. Chapter 1 – July 7

hammy•Maybe Steve knew something: We fully expected the Edmonton Oil Kings to a new coach Steve Hamilton Monday morning. Good for him, being an assistant coach for the last four seasons to Derek Laxdal. And we all know Laxdal is off to a head coaching gig in Cedar Park, Tex. With the Texas Stars. The interesting thing here is the Oil Kings could have been scrambling for a head coach. Because there was great talk about Hamilton taking the Calgary Hitmen job. He didn’t. And there was more talk about him going to the Vancouver Giants. No thank you, he said. But just imagine if Hamilton and Laxdal both left the Oil Kings. Would that mean Bob Stauffer, the color man on the Oilers Radio Network, would have been in the mix as Oil King coach? We should call Bob on Oilers’ Now on 630 CHED and ask him.
And one more thing on Steve Hamilton’s new job: does he hire Jason McKee as an assistant? The two had great success when Hamilton was head coach of the Spruce Grove Saint and McKee was assistant in the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

Coach Stauffer??

Coach Stauffer??







A team effort: Nice touch by the Edmonton Prospects Saturday night with the 50/50 draw. Proceeds went to another local amateur sports organization, the Edmonton Wildcats.

•News or sports? You tell me. CTV Edmonton ran a story in their 6 o’clock news package on the Special Olympics athletes from Alberta going to a national competition in Vancouver. I always thought the Special Olympics is about athletes in sporting events. So it should be a sports story. And until that happens, I think, athletes with developmental disabilities will continue to be seen as a novelty — rather than legitimate athleltes with individual skills.

•We’re a lot … older: On this day, way back in 1987, Statistics Canada released a report in Ottawa Ottawa Ontario showing more than half of Canada’s population was over 30. And that was 27 years ago. You know where this is going …


June Kerrison and her daughter Tamara

Remember that name: It’s been a few years since someone with the last name Kerrison hasn’t been in the retail game in Edmonton. But now we don’t have one. A few weeks back Tamara Baltzan closed her successful TK Clothing on the east side of 124 St. Now here’s the blow-me-away part: Tamara has been in the clothing business for 30 years — and, she’s only 45! She began with her mom and dad, Bob and June, who ran June’s House of Fashion when she was 15. Tamara decided to close up shop and share more time with her young family. We’re going to try to connect with her in the near future and see how she likes her new chapter in life.


•Please share with us: If you know of any events, good works, neat stuff, or if you have your own celebration today we want to share it to.




Click here to share.


The Great Debate with Tait: The Brick tourney, coach Hamilton, a poll on the Commonwealth Games, and Klinger’s 80th

Bill Comrie

Bill Comrie

When you think about it, it’s just so … Canadian.

Having the best nine and 10-year-olds drop their bicycles and skateboards in the first week of July to play hockey is one of the truest and meaningful celebrations of Canada there is.

The Brick Invitational Super Novice Hockey Tournament is once again taking part this week at the Ice Palace in West Edmonton Mall.

The hockey is stellar and entertaining.

But perhaps one of the greatest things about the tournament is the atmosphere the kids are in. It’s just like the pros: the music between stoppages of plays, the player introductions, and for the championship team, celebrating on the ice with the trophy in front of countless cheering fans.

For every player is on the championship team this year, they will work perhaps even harder to get another championship.

Because, we all know, winning is addictive, and it never, ever gets old.

For other players who don’t get to be crowned champions, there’s another appetite that’s created.

They will also work harder so they, too, can become champions.

Andy Wigston

Andy Wigston

There’s so many reasons why The Brick Tournament is special.

And you really have to wonder if, back in 1989 when Brick owner Bill Comrie and employees Craig Styles and Andy Wigston started the tournament, they had any idea what it would turn into.

Well done, gentlemen. Well done.

(Look for Tait on 8 in the Sunday Sun for a touching story about one of the players in last year’s Brick tournament)


Derek Laxdal

Derek Laxdal

Good for Derek Laxdal for getting an American Hockey League head coaching job with the Texas Stars.

So that leaves the big question:  who will replace Derek as Edmonton Oil King head coach?

It has to be Oil King assistant Steve Hamilton.

Has to be.

And here’s why — Oil King GM Randy Hansch told Bob Stauffer on 630 CHED’s Oilers Now Thursday a new coach will be named next week.

And do you thing Randy will be interviewing candidates on a sunny weekend when he could be sipping a few cool

Steve Hamilton

Steve Hamilton

ones at the lake?

Didn’t think so.

Steve Hamilton, head coach, Edmonton Oil Kings.

Get used to it.


September 2, 2015 is a few days away. 

07-01-commonwealthBut it could be a great day for our city.

That’s when the world finds out which city will host the 2022 Commonwealth Games, and Edmonton is putting a bid package together.

Those who were around town in 1978 will remember how magical it was when we held them for the first time.

And that brings us to today’s poll. Please have a look.


Jamie FarrActor Jamie Farr celebrated his 80th birthday a day early — June 30 — at Violino Ristorante with some of his long-time Edmonton friends.

And a few other special guests from the United States. Jamie’s wife of 51 years, Joy, flew in from southern California and two of his good friends from Kansas City.

Jenny Kachcar and her brother Richard, who met Jamie when he first came to Stage West in 1976, help organize the party.

Artist Rhonda Galper and others enjoyed great Italian food. And Jamie had some of his favorite Lebanese food brought in.

A highlight of the evening was when Jamie did an impromptu narration of a slide show, starting with his days growing up, being a soldier in the U.S. Army, one of his first movies with Sidney Portier, his time with Red Skelton, and, of course, MASH.

Jamie is currently in The Last Romance at the Mayfield Dinner Theatre.

Join the Great Debate

The Great Debate with Tait … and the sweetness of grandkids (June 30)


…our grandson Nicholas

 My grandson Nicholas politely excused himself from our table at the Mayfield Dinner Theatre Friday night.

“Be right back, Papa,” Nicholas said. “I’m going to get you one of everything.”

This was Nick’s first trip to the dinner theatre, where we saw actor Jamie Farr in The Last Romance — and Nic was intrigued with the buffet.

For those of you who have  experienced that buffet you could use one of those big trucks with a refrigeration unit to get “one of everything.”

Not Nic. He just made several trips from our table to the buffet to carry out his offer.

But he didn’t go for salad. Or pasta. Or vegetables. Or, even meat.

Nic knows his grandfather’s sweet tooth too well: he got me every dessert there was.

By the end of his delivery duties — which, by the way, I need to make absolute certain was not my request — our table had four plates and two bowls on it.

...Nic had lots to choose from

…Nic had lots to choose from

The Food Channel had nothing on what Nic brought me.

He brought six cookies, three little glasses full of creamy jello, a bowl of coconut cake, a brownie, a piece of chocolate cake, cheese cake, a butter square, and another nut square.

Then, just as the announcement came across telling the audience the buffet was closing in five minutes, Nick asked me another question.

“Do you want anything else, Papa?”

I politely said no thank you. But I almost asked him if there was a wheel barrow in the back to get me out of there.

Ah yes: the sweetness of grandchildren.


•Making my way out of the DoubleTree by Hilton where the Mayfield Dinner Theatre is joined at the hip, I could’t help but notice Brian and Chris Wilkes having a serious discussion at the bar.

The brothers grew up in the west end. In fact, Chris got married at the Mayfield Inn (remember that name?) in the 1980’s, and, if memory serves me correctly, I think we used those carts they use for housekeeping for races up and down hallways at the end of the evening.

....well, it was fun!

….well, it was fun!

But there was none of that Friday night. Just deep, deep discussions about the plight of the Cleveland Browns, Chris’ favorite NFL team.

My, how times have changed.


•Big win for the Edmonton Eskimo’s Saturday in Vancouver to start the  CFL season.

Very fine.

But does that mean, now,  the media can go in the dressing room on non-game days, like they have for the last 800 years?

The Eskimos introduced a new policy last week saying reporters can only enter the dressing room on game days.

...what would Wes think?

…what would Wes think?

I can just hear former Eskimo coach Jackie Parker and radio personality Wes Montgomery debate this one in heaven.


•Edmonton Sun columnist Graham Hicks and Rob Christie and Audie Lynds from Capital FM are hosting an edition of the Art of Conversation tonight — June 30 — at Telus Field, starting at 4:30 p.m. In the Home Plate Lounge.

Then, guests are invited to stay for the Edmonton Prospect game when the  Regina Red Sox square off.


…Rob and Audie

Rumours are circulating like knuckleballs that one R. Christie is chucking out the first pitch before the game.


•Congratulations to Liz O’Neill, Maureen Collins and Susan Green for being named Distinguished Citizens by MacEwan University.

All three women have made tremendous contributions to the local charitable sector.

Liz is executive director for Big Sisters and Big Brothers for the Edmonton Area; Maureen is executive director of the John Howard Society, and Susan was the first University of Alberta vice-president of external relations.

Congratulations, ladies!

Join the Great Debate by emailing Tait

The Great Debate With Tait … and Jamie Farr

promo_JamieFarr03It was the summer of 1981 — I had full head of hair — when I was sitting in the lobby of the Mayfield Inn, and frankly, quite nervous.

Two years into my reporting career, I was about to do my first interview with an accomplished actor from Hollywood. I made sure, darn sure, I was at the Mayfield 15 minutes early.

Then, from almost nowhere, I heard: “You must be Cam. I’m Jamie.”

Guess who, M*A*S*H fans?

Jamie Farr was in town at the dinner theatre at the Mayfield, called Stage West.

I was writing for a small monthly newspaper, The Spokesman, which featured stories and issues for people with disabilities. And, 1981 was declared International Year of Disabled Persons by the United Nations.

I thought, maybe, since M*A*S*H was set in a Korean war in an U.S. Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, there might be some actors with physical disabilities — which would echo full participation, the theme of the International Year.

We got settled in a small office in the hotel. Thirty minutes: that was how much time I had with Jamie.

My first question was about actors with disabilities on M*A*S*H.

Jamie thoughtfully paused for five seconds.

“No, I don’t think there are,” he said.

My mind raced. Major panic set in. 

I had over 29 minutes left with Jamie and … nothing to talk about.

Or, so I thought.

Although he never admitted it, he could have sensed I was scrambling.

Because he started asking questions about me.

After a few minutes I devised a new plan and started asking about his career, and about himself.

At one point of the interview I asked him how he handled the notoriety of being on one of the biggest television shows of all-time.

“How do you deal with people coming up to you all the time to say hello?” I asked.

His words still ring clear as a bell with me today. “It depends how I’m feeling,” he said. “If I’m well-rested, I really enjoy it. But I always try to treat people with respect.”

Jamie and I kept in touch over the years when he made visits to Edmonton. Jamie is an avid golfer and was at the Edmonton Country Club in 1987 to play in the Wayne Gretzky Golf Classic.

...Jamie and Cam at the Edmonton Country Club, 1987

…Jamie and Cam at the Edmonton Country Club, 1987

We last had an in person visit in 2010 when he was at the Mayfield Dinner Theatre and was absolutely brilliant in the two-man play Tuesday’s With Moire. He played  Morrie Schwartz, who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

“I don’t want to retire,” he told me as we had a visit one mid-morning.

He’s back in town for his seventh show. Jamie is in The Last Romance at the Mayfield that runs until early August.

Jamie is also celebrating his 80th birthday next week.

I’m going to see the show tonight and am really looking forward to seeing him again.

If I’m lucky enough to see him after the show I will try to think of a good opening question for him so I don’t bomb — like I did 33 summers ago.





Bobby McFerrin: the sounds of a masterful entertainer

CarolFriedman5If you were at the Winspear Centre last night, and,  just after the show ended at 9:30 p.m.,  you were making up silly songs on the way home, you can rest assured one thing.

Bobby McFerrin was happy.

Because that’s the one thing he hopes his audience does on their way home. Not talk about him, or what he wore.

Make up songs. And if you were really creative, you made up musical instruments with your voice.

But Bobby wouldn’t be walking the streets looking in vehicles listening for songs. In an e-mail interview last week, he said he sticks pretty much to himself when he’s on the road.

“I do the show, I go home and get to sleep as early as I can,” he says. “I don’t hang out with people or see the sights. My first priority is doing my job, and it takes a lot of focus and inner quiet.”

On the day of a show Bobby spends the morning reading the Bible and then going for a sound check.

2011 Bobby McFerrin Grammy Prediction Classical Crossover Album - CassoneThen, like Tuesday night, the 64-year-old from Manhattan,  Put on a non-stop two-hour show as a marquee event as part of the Edmonton International Jazz Festival.

His interaction with the crowd was priceless, bringing up three audience members to sing. He asked their names, and then calmly said: “I’m Bobby.”

 After the show, before the encore, he asked for the house lights and conducted a Q and A.

Not only can the man make funny and methodical sounds with his voice Bobby can sing: absolutely. He’s voice soared as he sung Frank Sinatra’s Fly Me To The Moon, and then added some gospel tunes, including a slow, slow Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.

His band was stellar, including Bobby’s daughter Madison on vocals. Clearly, the pitch doesn’t fall from the microphone. And there was Jeff Carney who has been playing bass with Bobby for 34 years.

Bobby received international recognition in 1988 for Don’t Worry Be Happy, a smash hit that won a Grammy. While it wasn’t on the Tuesday’s set list he shared how the song came about that was written, in fact, tounge-in-cheek.
Bobby saw a poster with the  slogan “Don’t Worry Be Happy” of spiritual leader Meyer Baba.

Meyer Baba.

Meyer Baba.

“I saw the poster and I was joking around, pretending to be the guru, acknowledging the fact that the slogan is totally ridiculous (of course we’d all worry if we couldn’t pay the rent) and profoundly true at the same time,” says Bobby. “My producer thought it was catchy and funny and said we should take a lunch break so I could finish the lyrics.
“We recorded it that afternoon. I can’t believe it’s been so successful, and it still amazes me that it means so much to so many people. I respect that. But writing that song doesn’t qualify me to pretend I’m an intellectual who can make pronouncements about society and the human condition!”
Still, it has become an iconic anthem — and, a catchy uplifting tune that still challenges us to look at the good side of things, even when the world seems to be caving in on us.

One couldn’t help but leave the show happy, which hopefully inspired some to sing “silly songs” on the way home. If so, Bobby McFerrin left Edmonton on a  happy note.


bobby-mcferrinTAIT LINKS

Bobby’s website

The Wednesday blog: Let’s support Fort Edmonton Park

0001train C’mon, Edmonton. Let’s do the right thing.

Let’s take care of the existing issues at Fort Edmonton Park  — and then take it to a new level.

Edmonton Sun reporter Allison Saltz has been writing about Fort Edmonton for the last few days.

The news story revolves around a $150 million renovation project for the Fort. It’s in need of repairs to the existing site. And there’s also a great opportunity to expand the park for the grand re-opening when Canadians celebrate our 150th birthday in 2017.

We have to seize the chance.

Because Fort Edmonton Park is one of the real jewels of the city on a summer day. If you’ve ever been there you’ll know how special it is.

Nestled under the Quesnell Bridge on the north side of the North Saskatchewan River, Fort Edmonton Park takes us back in time in so many entertaining ways:  the 1920’s midway, the Hotel Selkirk, staff members dressed in costume and telling stories, street cars, and of course, the steam train.

When the train’s steel wheels clittity-clank over the tracks you can close your eyes and just imagine …00011ft

Those attractions are good enough for the price of admission. But perhaps the Fort’s celebration of how life was lived in the early 1900’s is the biggest ticket.

We can learn so much from that.

The key — and a crucial key  — is to never, ever let that be forgotten.

It could be easy to do. We live in a world of fast everything, with information a mouse click or swipe away.

We could sit back and look at websites filled with videos of how our pioneers persevered.

But that takes away the precious experience of seeing how things were done first-hand.

If Fort Edmonton Park doesn’t get the upgrades it needs and a chance to grow, it could very well end up as an on-line attraction.

That would be a very sad statement, indeed.

Certainly, monetary concessions come into play. Federal and provincial money will make up a good majority of the $150 million price tag.

But not all of it.

One suggestion in Alison’s story says Edmonton taxpayers could be responsible for $42 million of the entire cost, plus another $10 million for new facilities.

From where I sit this would be money well spent.

City council tabled a report earlier this week which will go into budget planning this fall.

The city should support this, absolutely.

Fort Edmonton is one of our city’s greatest attributes. It’s a huge success.

We need to further celebrate Fort Edmonton Park for our children and grandchildren.

C’mon Edmonton.  Let’s do this.0001fortkids



Email Tait 


Why does elder abuse happen? (The Monday blog)

 The number is staggering when you look at it. And then when you realize what it represents, you well could shake your head and ask the age-old question: why?

Why were there 23,000 reported cases of abuse of elderly people in Alberta?

Twenty-three thousand people.  That’s almost the population of Leduc.

Why is this happening?

lady_senior_sad_opt1The story surfaced in Saturday’s Edmonton Sun from reporter Dave Lazzarino on Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

There should never be such a day, really. But, perhaps — and hopefully — it might encourage others who could very well be suffering in silence the chance to come forward and tell their story.

Elder abuse. Why does it happen?

Senior citizens were the doctors, nurses, teachers, engineers, planners, school bus drivers and people who did every other job to help build the communities we live in. They have paved the way for future generations in our city, province and country.

They have earned the fundamental right to enjoy their golden years. They should not have to worry about their well-being.

Yet the number of senior citizens being abused in Alberta is both alarming and disturbing.

What does that say about how we respect people who were also pioneers?

Does it say they can be trampled on at will?

Does it say, given their age, they no longer matter?

Does it say they no longer have any voice of reason?

And here’s the one that really concerns me: are they being taken advantage of?

Absolutely not. 

Many of these cases — like the one Dave wrote in his story — are from family members. An Alberta Health website suggests 25 per cent of abusers are family members.

And while we must respect other people’s business, we cannot — and should not — turn a blind eye.

We need to collectively look out for our neighbor’s safety. That’s one of the privileges we have and share as community members.

When it comes to senior citizens being abused, though, we need to start asking some serious questions.

Please take part in the poll at the bottom of this blog to give your feedback.

We have to start addressing the issues now. As Dave’s story also points out, we have an aging population growing.

A genuine fear is there could be more cases reported in the future.

We cannot let that happen.

But first things first.

If you are a victim of elder abuse, please contact someone for help. You are not alone, and you do not, under any circumstances, deserve this.

In Edmonton call 780-454-8888.

Not everyone can speak for himself or herself. You can help them.Or, if you know of someone who is being abused, but you don’t know if you should do something I encourage you to speak.

We can’t answer why elder abuse has touched 23,000 people. Moreover, we can’t quickly remedy the issue with a band-aid.

We need to make elder abuse a part of our every day conversation to understand and comprehend it, rather than hoping, somehow, it will go away.

Then, and only then, can we try to answer why.








E-mail Tait


If you had to predict a headline Friday, what would it be?

...Taylor Hall

…Taylor Hall

A little after 5 p.m. Thursday, the Katz Group issued a press release announcing a press conference Friday morning at the Westin Hotel.

A major announcement is expected.

...Bob Nicholson

…Bob Nicholson

So imagine this: you write headlines for The  Edmonton Sun and edmontonsun.com.  You’re waiting for the story to come in, and you want to get it on the page as soon as you can.

If you guess what the story is, you can write the headline and have it already to go.719px-WC-2014-Brasil.svg (1)

So peer into your crystal ball and take a stab at what Friday’s headline will be.

A personal Kin-ection to a stellar Edmonton service group


When  Shelley Gosse’s e-mail crossed my screen a few weeks ago inviting me to a Kinette banquet, I asked a special request: “Can I sit with your dad?”

Shelley contacted me about the Kinette Club of Edmonton’s 75th anniversary dinner June 7. And she said her dad, was in fact, Marv Sather.

It was shortly before 11 p.m. one early spring night, back in 1978, when my telephone rang in my west end apartment. Given the late hour I anticipated bad news. Marv introduced himself from the Kinsmen Club of Edmonton and asked if I could be at the Edmonton Plaza Hotel — now the Westin — for 7:30 a.m. the following morning.

“It’s kind of important you be there,” Marv said in his soft voice.

Turned out I had been nominated for a Kinsmen Salute to Youth award with 500 Edmonton high school students. I was very humbled and proud to be included in the top five finalists.

Breakfast the next morning was just the start to an unforgettable day. Edmonton used to have a sportsmen’s dinner put on by the Kinsmen and the five winners of the  Salute to Youth award were introduced at the dinner that evening.

I’ve been a big hockey fan all my life. Dick Irvin of Hockey Night in Canada was guest speaker and I had the honor of meeting him.

Salute to Youth gave me a boost when, perhaps, I needed  one. When I received it I was a month away from finishing the Radio and Television Arts program at NAIT. I was uncertain of my future and was a little scared.

But after I got the award I had this underlying new confidence that I would be OK.  In fact, just a little over a year after, I began my career in the newspaper business and am blessed to be still in it.

salute to youth

…getting my award in 1978 from former Alberta provincial minister Al Adair

Marv and I talked about that — and many more things — as we sat at the same table Saturday. He’s now 72 and still has a real estate company he runs out of his house.

Marv is a proud Kinsmen at heart. Over the many decades he has been in Kinsmen activities and has leant a hand in fundraising efforts. The Kinsmen and Kinettes have impacted so many people in Edmonton. His wife Sandi is a lifetime member of the Kinette Club of Edmonton — the same distinction their Shelley received Saturday night.

“Salute to Youth is still going strong today,” he said.

I was very pleased to hear that. Because it means more young  Edmontonians are going to given so much than the award itself.

They’re going be given so much more … and subtly reminded that the best is yet to come. 


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Peter Mansbridge’s comforting voice on a dark day

Maybe it’s his voice — rich and caring, but reassuring.

Perhaps it’s the way he looks at us straight in the eye— steadfast, sincere and not shedding a tear, while knowing we’re all weeping and feeling our grief.

Perhaps it’s that he has been with us, several times before, during the darkest hours of Canada to inform, to describe — but also to comfort.

Tuesday, Peter Mansbridge was there for us again.

...Peter Mansbridge

…Peter Mansbridge

The chief correspondent for CBC News anchored the network’s coverage of the funerals for three RCMP officers who were shot and killed last week:   Const Dave Ross, Const. Douglas Larche and Const. Fabrice Gevaudan.

He did so, eerily familiar of March 2005 when he traveled to Edmonton to  provide live coverage of a memorial service for four RCMP officers. Ten days earlier that terrible afternoon in a farmyard near Mayerthrope — the worst day in RCMP history — unfolded. Four were shot and killed Const. Peter Schiemann,  Const. Anthony Gordon, Const. Lionide Johnston  and Const. Brock Myrol .

It was new territory for Canadians, a dominion anguish we felt like never before.

Peter’s demeanour — grace and compassion — gently guided us through the  service from Moncton. Never, we told ourselves, would we experience that sorrow and sense of helpless feeling again.

Today, just over nine years later, we are.

I watched the service from Moncton on-line on cbc.ca. I am touched by the loss as I am sure hundreds of thousands of Canadians are.

The images were of insurmountable grief: there are no words.

But Peter’s voice — sometimes just a few words in between several minutes of silence — gave me comfort. Personally, I felt my sorrow was shared by others.

Funerals and memorial services are never easy to attend — or, watch. But when we’re met by a familiar voice we perhaps  don’t feel so wretched.

I felt the same way in April of 2008 when my mother died and called Murray Baron at Westlawn Funeral Home. Murray arranged my father’s funeral in April of 2007, and, once I heard his voice, I felt a sense of comfort.

I thanked him for that.

And, now today when Canadians mourn, I’m compelled to thank Peter Mansbridge for doing the same.


Bruce Hogle’s words of wisdom

University of Alberta Convocation Address June 4, 2014 by Dr. Bruce William Hogle


Eminent Chancellor, Madame President, Representatives on the Board of Governors, Graduands, Friends & Family.  

Thank you Dr. Lesley Cormack for that lovely introduction.  May I offer my sincerest thanks and gratitude for this prestigious Honourary Doctor of Laws  degree from the University of Alberta – an educational institution held in the highest esteem throughout this global village.  

May I also extend congratulations to other honourary degree recipients, as well as the 420 graduands receiving their University of Alberta degrees today.   bruceout

I think Christian Larson was truly thinking of you when he said: “Have Pride in How Far You Have Come, and Have Faith in How Far You Can Go. !”  

I’m delighted Lt. Gov. Donald Ethell is with us as I enjoy working with him  on  behalf of the Lifesaving Society in honouring courageous Albertans. I also enjoyed working with Chancellor Ralph Young  in the past.  

Also Dr. Herb Belcourt, subject of  Hogle editorials years ago, that eliminated discriminatory Alberta legislation . . .  which prevented him and other Albertans from adopting children because he and they were deemed too old at 45.  

I’m  pleased to have my nominators here, along with former and current directors of the Good Neighbour Fund, past and present CFRN/CTV  colleagues;  fellow Shriners and longtime treasured friends.  001bh1

May I humbly add that any success I may have had as a journalist and community activist . . can be attributable to the incredible people I’ve worked with over the years – some here today.  

I think you can appreciate with the zany hours of journalism and numerous missed family functions, I have to thank my beloved wife Gail with whom I celebrate 60 years of marriage tomorrow . . . as well as equally understanding sons and their wives Bill and Ky, Randy and Sharon, Steve and Cathy plus grandchildren and their mates Kirsten and Dustin, Zac and Ava, Bruce Jr. and Sinuon.  Bruce Hogle

They’ve all inspired me such as  middle son Randy attending schools for the blind in Brantford and Vancouver and then taking law in 1979 at the U of A when Frank Jones was Dean.  

We had 17 tremendous volunteer readers tape all  his books, along with his two brothers – with Bob Green of the faculty taping the exams – and Dean Jones providing a room within the faculty for Randy and all his equipment.  

I think Randy’s achievements inspired brother Bill to also take law at the U of A as a mature married student, with Bill and Ky taking care of  mentally challenged adults at the same time.   Younger brother Steve and his wife Cathy were equally inspired to take a one year leave from CFRN TV to both teach in Japan while also home schooling their two small children.

Others in your lives have provided similar inspiration. They’ve assisted you in determining what works for you and what doesn’t.  What are you good at and not so good at.  Where do your passions lie and what leaves you cold ? Only you alone can provide those answers . . . which is also true of the major issues you’ll face.  

Such as Canadians in 1976 deciding to end Capital Punishment, with the Canadian military following in 1998.  Capital punishment is still prevalent  though in 34 countries including Lebanon, China, Japan and the U.S.

You graduands come from all walks of life be it Alberta, Canada or elsewhere. Stats Canada says by 2031, almost half of our population over the age of 15 will be internationally born or have at least one international-born parent.  Canada is  the richer for that and while we are a bilingual nation, we are fast becoming a multicultural one.  That certainly emphasizes the words of former Quebec-born Governor General Georges Vanier who said:  “I Am Not French, I Am Not English, I Am Canadian !”  

Words by another Governor General  — Vincent Massey — are  equally appropriate.  Governor General Massey said this:  

Four Things in a Land Shall Dwell

If it Succeed and Prosper

Well One is Manhood True and Good

One is Noble Womanhood

One is Child Life Pure and Bright

One an Altar Kept Alight.   I’m not talking about Lights on your Altars fueled by Alberta oil or natural gas.  I’m talking about Lights on your individual Altars  being fed with fuels that only you can ignite, namely: Compassion, Honesty, Truth, Commitment, Empathy, Understanding, Courage, Dependability and Humanitarianism.  

These are the  same Lights on the Altars that our leaders of yesteryear used to build this magnificent University of Alberta; this outstanding Province of Alberta; and this phenomenal Dominion of Canada.  Those are also the same Lights on the Altar for which 100,000 young Canadian men and women  – many the same ages as you – gave their lives in time of war and peace keeping missions . . . with another 200,000 wounded.  

I would compare these Lights on your Altar to the Lights of Knowledge which you have acquired over the last number of years from superb dedicated professors  — thus enabling you to be well prepared to become our Leaders of Tomorrow.  







Leaders or prospective leaders raise the standards by which they judge themselves — and by which they are willing to be judged. Leaders also make a firm commitment to those communities in which they live and work . . . be it any province within this glorious land . . . or any other nation which attracts you and what you have to offer.  

Thus surround yourself with people who see no obstacle or challenge that can’t be met. Involve yourselves with those who have positive outlooks on life. Dismiss those who solely deal with doom and gloom.  

And remember: To The World You May Be Just One Person – But to That  One Person You May Be The World !  

In closing, I want to commend the University of Alberta for starting this convocation with the singing of  O Canada. Because that enables me to leave you 420 forthcoming degree recipients with a challenge regarding Canada’s 150th Birthday in 2017 – just three years from now.  

The challenge, in my case, will  be writing Governor General David Johnston, the Prime Minister, every Lieutenant Governor, every Premier and our three Territorial Commissioners.  I seek their support and endorsement to have students collectively sing our national anthem once a week  in every Canadian elementary school– be they  Public, Catholic, Private, Religious or Multicultural. In your case – should you accept the challenge – I envisage your support  and endorsement wherever you live in Canada . That being to contact your school boards and elementary schools – and advocate the identical objective —  namely the collective singing of O Canada once a week in all Canadian elementary schools – be they Public, Catholic, Private, Religious or Multicultural.  I’m not asking you to do this for Bruce Hogle. 

I’m asking you to do it for those previously mentioned who paid the supreme sacrifice on our  behalf —  plus those Canadians  totally incapable of doing this.  

Thus you and you alone must make that decision !  In closing, a reiteration of my warmest and sincerest thanks to the University of Alberta for receiving this prestigious Honourary Doctor of Laws Degree.  

One last word to our 420 forthcoming  degree recipients:  As you depart the University of Alberta distinguished halls of learning  with your degrees. . . please remember  these ten  simple words of Gandhi:  

“Be The Change You Wish to See in The World.”

 Thank You, Good Luck and God Bless !                                                                                                TAIT’S LINKS



My friend, Dr. Bruce – (June 5, 2014)


Bruce Hogle was the perfect man to give the address to University of Alberta  graduates on Wednesday. Absolutely perfect.


…Bruce Hogle Wednesday

Graduating day is a time of looking to the future, and that’s exactly what Bruce has done all his career. He was honored by receiving an honorary doctoriate from the U of A for his vision and compassion with CFRN TV.

And with that comes the noble task of giving the commencement address.

It’s safe to say very few — if any — of the grads sitting in their gowns and hats in the Jubilee Auditorium had ever heard Bruce’s editorials on CFRN-TV,  now CTV Edmonton. Those of us mature enough to recall those editorials can recall how Bruce challenged his audience — the citizens of Edmonton — to think about different issues.

Bruce had a common thread, back in the 1960’s. He wanted to make things better.

And while he hasn’t been behind a news desk and microphone for decades,  Bruce, now 85, still challenges people to ask questions of themselves — and  then act.

On Wednesday he used words like “engage”, challenging his audience to interact with one another. And, he said, it was also important to do so with people around you who are positive thinkers.Bruce Hogle

Bruce said he thins it’s important for all schools to sing O’Canada at least once a week to remember Canadian soldiers who defended Canada years ago, and those who are in the military today.

Bruce always makes people think.

What a wonderful gift on graduation day.

He was surrounded by his family — in fact, today is a big day for the Hogle household: Bruce and his wife Gail celebrate 60 years of marriage. They  have three sons — Randy and Bill, who are both lawyers, and Steve who is the president of the Saskatoon Blades junior hockey club.

I’ve known the Hogles all my life. As a reporter I look back on what Bruce on the many things Bruce has done for the news business. He was the driving force to get television cameras in the Alberta legislature in the 1970’s, among other things.

But family came first. He often told me you can work the long hours, but the most important part of the day is sharing time with people who mean the most to you: your family.

Bruce Hogle has always been a mentor and a role model to me. I am thrilled on several levels: he got to share his message to tomorrow’s leaders — U of A grads — and that he has such a deserving degree as honorary doctoriate.

Which raises an interesting question for me. He has never let me call him Mr. Hogle.

“It’s Bruce,”  he always said.

I guess now it’s Dr. Bruce, perhaps?

Congratulations, my friend.bruceout

Words mean so much in conveying perceptions (June 3)

I was a little upset on the weekend.

I just arrived at a sporting event when someone asked: “Where’s your handler?

My reaction: “I am not a dog.”

I have cerebral palsy and use a wheelchair. I have personal care assistants, professionals in their own right, who assist me with daily activities. Sometimes, they accompany me at events I attend.

The person who asked where my “handler” knows I that I have people who help me.

And why I was so upset was the word they chose.


Makes me cringe.caregiver

Yet, I should know better, I suppose. Because words can often magnify a disability rather than accepting it.

“Handler” is in the same vain as “wheelchair  bound” or “confined to a wheelchair.” In my view “wheelchair user” is the right terminology because there aren’t any negative images conjured up.

People with disabilities are part of society. Moreover, with our aging population, the personal care assistant industry is going to increase.

Personal care attendants need to be respected and viewed as professionals. The word “handler” has no place in a conversation around personal care assistants.

I find it an incredible insult to people with disabilities. I was extremely upset Saturday night.

But that’s only me. I want to know what you think.




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How happy are you? (June 2)


It might be a pie-in-the-sky question as we begin this, the first week of June, but it could make us think.

How happy are you?

Nothing personal,  you understand. Just thought I’d ask.

...Andrew Grose

…Andrew Grose

The issue came up last week minutes before I left the house, when Mrs. Tait was listening to Tencer and Gross on 630 CHED. Co-host Andrew Grose talked about when his kids were smaller and he talked to them minutes before they fell asleep.

Andrew asked what they wanted to be when they were older.

Doctors, firefighters, police officers or astronauts, perhaps.

“I would only accept one answer,” Andrew said over the airwaves “I wanted them to tell me they would be happy.”

Interesting, isn’t it?

It certainly made me stop in my tracks and think. We program ourselves in choosing a life path — namely a career — but it doesn’t always guarantee that we will be happy. And since I am posting this on Monday when most of us are returning to work perhaps the point of being happy today  is a lame question.

Another point could be that we are supposed to spend one-third of our day working — I know, we’re working longer hours in today’s world than our forefathers — but does that mean we suck it up for eight hours and return to our happy lives once we’re on our way home?

Andrew’s challenge to his kids is one of reverence. It also asks the question: are we doing enough for future generations to encourage them to be happy?

That’s a question for another day.

But I’m going to ask this one today…



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Friendly Friday – May 30 – Chapter 1

I was so excited about Friendly Friday on Thursday afternoon I wished my good friend Barth Bradley a happy birthday. “You’re three months early,” Barth said. Exactly. Because that’s what Friendly Friday is all about: paying it forward.

...my buddy Barth

…my buddy Barth

Starting today, and every Friday, we’re going to be sharing the Friendly Friday concept on the Tait on 8 blog.

 The idea was started in 2011 by a women I call Faith. That isn’t her real name, you understand.

And I’m not going to tell her name. Because the truest form of giving, of philanthropy, is when it’s done anonymously.

I invite you to be part of Faith’s vision of Friendly Friday: be good to one another because, simply, it’s the right thing to do.

So … ask yourself:

•is there someone you see at your favorite breakfast spot/coffee shop/pizza joint/burger bar/gym/gas station/newspaper box/bus stop/(you fill in the blank) that you would like to do something for, just because of the way the smile at you?

•is there someone you know who is in the hospital, and you’ve been meaning to go visit, but there use hasn’t been enough hours in your day?

•is there someone who has been on your mind — someone who you haven’t seen or heard  from in a while?

•is there someone who, maybe, you think, you owe an apology?

It’s Friendly Friday. What a perfect time to take action!FFback If you do any of the above, please share it with me.

Send me a tweet, or email (links below.)

If you want to leave your  name, great. If not, that’s great, too.

Or, if you see a great act of kindness, please share that, too.

As the day progresses I’ll update the blog. So check back often and see Friendly Friday in action.

What a great way to start the weekend.

And, of yes: I’m having lunch with my buddy Barth today. I’m buying. Consider it an early birthday present.be-inspired


Email: camtait@telus.net      Twitter @camtait

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Mock funerals do not further causes — poll(May 29, 2014)

A developing news story at Artspace Co-op began May 7 when personal care workers went on strike. That meant replacement workers were brought in to work with 29 people with physical disabilities with bathing, dressing, meal preparation and other fundamental needs.

Last Sunday Artspace residents had a mock funeral, complete with a coffin and flowers, in hoping to attract empathy for their situation. The idea was their dreams of independent living were gone and buried.

That’s a real, jarring fear. Residents are worried if the issue isn’t settled; they might lose their independence and be forced into extended care facilities.

Was Sunday’s mock funeral effective?

This blog ran a poll asking that question Tuesday and Wednesday.

Seventy-seven per cent voters said the funeral did not tell the Artspace story and did not help further the resolution of the issues.

Sixteen per cent of voters said the event was an effective way to bring attention to the story and help settle things.

Six per cent of voters had other comments.

I am surprised at the overwhelming majority and think it makes a bold statement: such events do not engage people today’s society.

Maybe 40 years ago when people with disabilities had to create such events for basic acceptance.

Things, and attitudes, are different now.

More significantly, though, is social media. It provides several avenues to tell stories: Facebook, Twitter and bogs, to name a few.

We can now provide up-to-date information on what we’re doing, where we are going and how we’re feeling.

Compelling stories can create a following, which can create public pressure, which can create policy change.

Artspace has started a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Friends-of-SAIL-INC/564867590300524?ref=profile)  to tell their story. I hope they update it often with latest updates. I think it will engage people more.

We live in a much more sophisticated society that is more accepting of people with disabilities than, say, 20 years ago.

With acceptance comes respect. And when you respect someone you listen with concern when they have challenges.

You don’t need staged events. You just need conversation.

We’re listen and reading, Artspace.

And we deeply want to keep your dreams alive.


(Cam Tait has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair.)

What’s the best way to make a point in 2014? (May 27, 2014)

This is all about you.

How do you a recent event staged by Artspace Co-Op Sunday: a mock funeral, with a coffin and flowers.

But before you make an informed decision you need some information.

The funeral was held to garner support and awareness for an on-going labour issue at Artspace involving people with disabilities.

Since May 7 personal care attendants have been on strike, demanding higher wages. Replacement workers have been brought to carry out the work.

Since 1990, residents with disabilties have pooled their home care funding to hire personal support services. Supports for Artspace Independent Living Inc. has administered funding from Alberta Health Services to run the program.

It’s a grass roots program. Artspace residents direct their own care.

And here is my question I have for you.They are worried they could lose their program, and, ultimately, their independent living because of the strike.

Their fear is a large for profit home care provider will be hired and their independence will be taken away.

Understandably, they want to tell their story and garner support from the public.

Please click here for an Edmonton Sun story.

And here is my question I have for you.



May 26, 2014: The smile of Curtis Lazar

CurtisLazar5122In January of 2010 at the Ramada Inn on Kingsway Ave. in Edmonton, one thing stood when I first saw Curtis Lazar: his smile. It was bright and wide, that night, when he was called up to the stage at the John Reid Memorial bantam AAA hockey tournament.

Curtis was 14 years old. But he was already making an impression. Whispers circulated around the banquet room as Curtis accepted his award with the same three words: “Watch that guy.”

The Edmonton Oil Kings did, and they selected him second overall in the 2010 bantam draft. Curtis began his five-year tenure with the Oil Kings in the 2010-11 campaign and, very quickly, became the face of the franchise.

His smile kept getting wider and more meaningful.

And in the last week, there was plenty for him to smile about starting Friday night. That’s when Curtis ended the longest game in Memorial Cup history in the third overtime period when he scored to give the Oil Kings a 4-3 win over the Val-d’Or Foreurs.

But his biggest hockey smiles came Sunday when he hoisted the hardware — the Memorial Cup — after the Oil Kings beat the Guelph Storm 6-3 in London, Ont.

And just when you thought it couldn’t get any bigger, it did. That’s when his family joined him on the ice.112CURTIS2

Curtis was part of a core group of Oil Kings — Griffin Reinhart, Henrik Samuelsson Mitch Moroz, Cody Corbett and Tristian Jarry — who made it to the Mastercard Memorial Cup two years ago in Quebec. They weren’t pleased with their  1-3 record, but they got something that would, perhaps, be invaluable: experience.

So when they had another shot — just two seasons later — they knew what it would take to get the job done.

In the end, it paid off. And when the Oil Kings arrive home at the Edmonton International Airport shortly before 12 noon Monday, they will have the Memorial Cup — just seven years after they were award a Western Hockey League expansion franchise.

Remarkable. Absolutely remarkable.

From their first GM Bob Green, their first coach Steve Pleau, to the current coaching staff of Derek Laxdal and Steve Hamilton; from equipment manager Rogan Dean and trainer Brian Cheesman, and so many others who have a hand in the Oil King success, it’s been wonderful to watch.

The smile of Curtis has been a trademark of the Oil King success. He will take it now to the Ottawa Senators where he’ll turn professional.CUTIS3

But whenever he’s in Edmonton he’ll flash that million dollar Curtis Lazar smile.

Because he has many special memories here.




2014-05-26 11.48.51

Curtis chatting with my grandson Nicholas and myself after arriving at Edmonton International Airport May 26, 2014


Edmonton Sun columnist Terry Jones on the big game

May 24, 2014 — Two Canadian passions come together

The hum from refrigeration system at the east end of Clare Drake Arena was almost deafening Saturday afternoon seconds after public address announcer Garry Meyer asked for two minutes of silence.

Paul Franklin sat in his wheelchair at centre ice. His head was down. A million thoughts must have scampered through his head.

It was January, 2006. Paul was a Canadian medic in Afghanistan when he survived a roadside bomb, but both legs were amputated.

Paul Franklin

Paul Franklin

Sitting at centre ice Saturday he could have thought about how his life has changed. Paul also had memories of friends — damn good friends who shared so much — who were among the 158 soldiers who didn’t return to Canada alive.

So many thoughts. So many unanswered questions.

When the silence ended, Paul had friends wherever he support. On his left were his brothers: Edmonton-based soldiers in one players’ box, ready to hit the ice as a team the as the Warriors.

On his right, several of the Edmonton Oiler greats of yesteryear — Dave Lumley, Kelly Buchberger, Jason Strudwick, Chris Joseph and Fernando Pisani, and coaches Al Hamilton and Ted Green: heroes and champions in their own right.

If Paul looked up, he saw the crowd of 300 in the stands who were there because they wanted to express their gratitude to him, and thousands more like him.

Then — after one official had to return to the referee’s room because,  they forgot the, um, game  puck — the fun began.

Welcome to the 2014 Heroes Hockey Challenge.

Every year a city surrounding a Canadian Forces Base hosts the Heroes Hockey Challenge. When Edmonton was chosen, retired radio executive and Edmonton Sun columnist Marty Forbes put his hand up and said “Let me help.”

Mary said funds are raised for the Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry and a local military-based entity: this year it was the Military Family Resource Centre in Edmonton.

It all started Friday at River Cree Resort with a gala dinner with 500 in attendance and former governor general Adrienne Clarkson delivering the keynote address. J’Lyne Nye from the 630 CHED Afternoon News — who has a special place in her heart for the military — was the evening’s MC.

The fun was Saturday. Recently retired Oiler Ryan Smyth played his first alumni game and opened the scoring in a 9-5 win over the Warriors.

...Ryan Smyth introdced on ice // PHOTO PERRY MAH, Edmonton Sun

…Ryan Smyth introdced on ice // PHOTO PERRY MAH, Edmonton Sun

Some of the best hockey came between the two 30-minute periods. That’s when the Oilers alumni played minor hockey players ranging in age six to nine.

It was priceless to see; the Oilers alumni even scored on themselves to help the kids to victory.

Funny how a friendly rivalry can often make us remember the real important things.

On a warm sunny Saturday afternoon two of Canada’s passions — hockey and military — came together to celebrate one another.

We play the game because of the freedom we enjoy as Canadians.

We can never forget those who fought for that freedom decades ago — and those who preserve it today.


Paul Franklin’s Blog

Hockey Heroes Challenge

Sun photographer Perry Mah’s pictures of the event

Thursday, May 22 — A song for Andy

Andy Polanski

Andy Polanski

Children laughing.

That’s the sound I was hearing over and over again in my mind’s ear when I was writing my column for Thurday’s Edmonton Sun.

I heard the laughter get louder and louder. I heard children challenge each other, in a fun way, to try the monkey bars, the slide, the …

Andy Polanski is smiling.

Andy grew up in Fort Saskatchewan and had a soft spot for kids playing.

A little over a year ago, Andy met with City of Fort Saskatchewan officials to get the ball rolling for a new playground.

... young Andy

… young Andy

Andy’s meeting was in the morning. That afternoon, Andy was involved in a crash on the Manning Freeway when he was driving home. A few days later he passed away from his injuries at age 23.

But the Polanski family is keeping Andy’s dream alive to build a playground.

And, on Saturday, there’s a fundraiser — 11 hours, in fact — to raise money for the playground. It will coincide with a slo-pitch tournament Andy started three years ago.

I think it’s a great testament to Andy and his family for carrying out Andy’s dream.

I keep hearing the sound of children’s laughter when I think of Andy’s story.

And I also hear a song from the Cooper Brothers.









Wednesday, May 21: A great day for baseball

... Ray Brown

… Ray Brown

The sun was shining in Edmonton Tuesday — one of the many reasons why it was a great day for baseball.

The Edmonton Prospects held a morning press conference at the Chateau Lacombe with the Who’s Who Edmonton baseball sitting at the head table.

Orv Franchuk. Ray Brown, Even broadcaster Al Coates.

Franchuk and Brown have decades of major league baseball experience. But here’s the quote that jumped out at me.

“We’re teachers,” said Brown, who will enter his first year as Prospect manager starting May 31 at Telus Field.

That’s exactly what the Prospects need. After all, they are a summer baseball league made up of U.S. college players trying to hone their skills before returning to college in the fall.

Prospect players are going to learn from two dignified gentlemen. Brown was a pitcher with the Kansas City Royals and tossed two no-hitters. Franchuk has been a sought after hitting  coach in the big leagues and has a 2004 World Series ring as a member of the Boston Red Sox. He’s the team’s special advisor.

...Orv Franchuk

…Orv Franchuk

Sure, they will learn the fundamentals of the game — throwing, hitting, catching and running. But will also hear, first-hand, what it takes to become a competitor in the big leagues.

Those lessons won’t be taught on the field. They will come on long bus rides throughout the Western Major Baseball League — a circuit throughout Alberta and Saskatchewan; they will come in hotel lobbies; they will come in dugouts, during rain delays, where players will be able to hear Brown and Franchuk tell stories.

That may be more educational — and motivating — than learning the technique of a batting stance.

And that gives huge credibility to the Prospects, an organization who has struggled for the past several summers. They won six games last season and — surely — that had something to do with the small crowds at Telus Field.

Brown and Franchuk are committed to make the Prospects one of the best programs in Canada. They even talked about their dream of having more local players on the team.

That’s very positive.

It’s been 10 years since Edmonton baseball was dealt a blow when the Edmonton Trappers of the Pacific Coast League zipped their equipment bags shut and moved to Texas. Their have been several attempts of independent baseball leagues in Edmonton.

But it wasn’t Triple A baseball. You could see it on and off the field.

Will Triple A ever return to Edmonton? Hard to say.

But perhaps that shouldn’t be the concern. Maybe, we have to realize we have a jewel of a ball park in Telus Field.

The Prospects play there. And having a baseball team there is better than no team there.

With the new direction Brown and Franchuk are charting for young players, a new era is started Tuesday.

And that makes a great day in baseball.





Friendly Friday — Chapter One — May 30, 2013

I was so excited about Friendly Friday on Thursday afternoon I wished my good friend Barth Bradley a happy birthday.

....my buddy Bart

….my buddy Bart

“You’re three months early,” Barth said. Exactly.

Because that’s what Friendly Friday is all about: paying it forward.

Starting today, and every Friday, we’re going to be sharing the  Friendly Friday concept on the Tait on 8 blog.

The idea was started in 2011 by a women I call Faith.

That isn’t her real name, you understand. And I’m not going to tell her name.

Because the truest form of giving, of philanthropy, is when it’s done anonymously.

I invite you to be part of Faith’s vision of Friendly Friday: be good to one another because, simply, it’s the right thing to do.FFback

So … ask yourself:

•is there someone you see at your favorite breakfast spot/coffee shop/pizza joint/burger bar/gym/gas station/newspaper box/bus stop/(you fill in the blank) that you would like to do something for, just because of the way the smile at you?

•is there someone you know who is in the hospital, and you’ve been meaning to go visit, but there use hasn’t been enough hours in your day?

•is there someone who has been on your mind — someone who you haven’t seen or heard  from in a while?

•is there someone who, maybe, you think, you owe an apology?

It’s Friendly Friday.

What a perfect time to take action!

If you do any of the above, please share it with me. Send me a tweet, or email (links below.)

If you want to leave your  name, great. If not, that’s great, too.

Or, if you see a great act of kindness during your travels today, please share that, too.

As the day progresses I’ll update the blog.

So check back often and see Friendly Friday in action.

What a great way to start the weekend.

And, of yes: I’m having lunch with my buddy Barth today. I’m buying.

Consider it an early birthday present.be-inspired




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A personal lesson from a war hero

Kevin Nanson  Photo: Tom Braid

Kevin Nanson
Photo: Tom Braid

As a Canadian I thought I understood when our government sent troops to Afghanistan.

Then, I met Kevin Nanson. And, for the first time, I felt sincere heartfelt pride of what Canadians did in Afghanistan.

Kevin’s story is compelling.  Kevin heard, repeatedly, he wasn’t going to make it. He was very badly injured, but remembers giving orders to his troops even when his very survival was in the balance.

Now, six years later, Kevin has an incomplete spinal cord injury. He uses a wheelchair and doesn’t have feeing in his hands.

“My wife says I can’t cook anymore,” he says before breaking into a grin. “I was cooking several times and looked down at my fingers and they were red, but I couldn’t feel anything.”

Kevin under went 15 surgeries to re-construct his skull, which was broken in nine places.

As a result he has constant headaches.

Kevin is 41. He’s married to wife Kim and has four children.

It could be very easy for Kevin to be bitter. He was part of the Canadian mission to Afghanistan to help the country become better.

Kevin talked about working with the Afghan police force to assist them in becoming more effective.

Canadians weren’t attacking anyone. And in the end, Kevin got attacked.

So it only makes sense Kevin could be bitter. He has every right to be. The Niagra Falls, Ont. native could also be very angry.

Not this man.

When Kevin signed up for the Canadian army he accepted the risks of being a soldier.

One risk was his life. And while he didn’t lose it, he came back home with lifelong challenges.

He says he isn’t bitter. Or angry. He was, simply, doing his job as a Canadian soldier.

I was introduced to Kevin to write a piece about the Wounded Warriors Weekend scheduled for the first weekend in August. The four-day weekend honors war veterans who have been injured, but also provides them with some fun — fishing and golfing — as a chance to say thank you … and, we are thinking of you.

A May 28 golf tournament at the Petroleum Golf and Country Club is raising funds for the August weekend which has a $800,000 budget.

Kevin will be at the golf tournament. He will also be at the Wounded Warrior Weekend, an event he greatly appreciates.

As a reporter I think I got the facts I needed to write my column.

But I got something more: a personal look at what Canadian troops stood for in Afghanistan.

Kevin Nanson made me proud to be Canadian.

In my May 18 Edmonton Sun column, he candidly shares his story of being injured in a roadside bombing.