Monday, May 15, 2006

Meet the Premier

Last week saw Ontario Lieutenant-Governor James K. Bartleman and the Premier of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty, co-host a reception for Ontario's national team athletes from no less than three 2006 Games: the Olympics, Paralympics and Commonwealth Games. McGuinty (and other politicos) welcomed his guests, worked the room and eventually met up with Paralympic gold medal wheelchair curling skip Chris Daw (photo).

When Daw queried the Prem on his curling history, McGuinty acknowledged having curled before... but said he threw the rock “overhand.”

Mr. Premier: there are quite a few GTA clubs awaiting your next on-ice effort – perhaps through a staff outing or community team-building exercise? – not to mention more opportunities in your Ottawa hometown. This fall, perhaps?

Later, some of the athletes attended the legislative assembly where Minister Jim Watson made the reception, and the accomplishments of his guests, a matter of government record.

Some media outlets focussed their day-after copy on Ontario's long-suffering sport funding and infrastructure woes. While the province's amateur sport support network is indeed in poor shape – like Canada's military, it has suffered from multiple years of neglect – the current Liberal government has taken steps to address this sporting “fiscal imbalance.” Witness the creation of a new ministry – with a new minister and a dynamic Olympian MP on board – and even a grassroots plan (and fund) aimed at addressing child obesity and inactivity through sport participation.

True, much of the government's “sport” focus is geared around participation issues, and aims to improve quality of life and relieve Ontario's stressed-out healthcare system. But there was also a new lottery launched prior to Torino 2006 which delivered cash proceeds directly to athletes. And the Ontario chapter of stalwart agency KidSport – a longtime favourite of The Curling News – has been revitalized with new funding from Queen's Park.

Onward and upward.


Team changes continue to hit the news, and Olympic teams are not immune. The back end of Japan's impressive women's team have both called it a day, which must be concerting to the host city of the next world women's championships – also the hometown of the departing athletes. Closer to Canada, the Olympic bronze men's team needs a new lead, as the USA's John Shuster has left the Pete Fenson squad, intent on skipping his own team...

• It's another year and another honour for the amazing Anne Dunn squad, from Cambridge/Galt, Ontario, winners of yet another Canadian Senior women's championship...

• The fledgling SoCal Curling Club got some press for their recent open house, in which Yanks are invited to “Blame Canada... and Scotland” for this “curling disease”...

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