Johnny Bower

          I’ve lived in Toronto for over sixty years, during which time there has never been a more popular Maple Leaf player than Johnny Bower, who passed away this week at age 93. As popular as Keon, Mahovlich, Gilmour, Kelly, Sittler, Armstrong, or any other Leaf you can name may be, their popularity has never approached that of the venerable goalie.

          The reasons for Bower’s popularity have been well-chronicled, but the main reason he held the distinction of being the most popular Leaf ever is that he had no detractors. I have never heard a bad word about Johnny Bower; not even from Leaf haters.

          It was also well-chronicled that at the outbreak of World War II, when Bower was fifteen years old, he lied about his age in order to join the army. What isn’t so well known is that his birth name wasn’t Bower, it was Kiszkan. The story goes that when he turned pro he changed it out of frustration over its constant mispronunciation. Bower had eight sisters and no brothers, which may account for his legendary calmness and patience.  

          I never met Johnny Bower, but we had many mutual friends, some of whom I’ve talked to over the past few days. All agreed that they had never heard a disparaging word about him.

          Hockey in general, and the city of Toronto in particular, has lost a great one.

Mispronouncing Names

           Writing about Bower’s frustration over his birth name being mispronounced reminded me of an experience I had when playing Junior hockey in the mid-50s for the Lakeshore Bruins here in Toronto. We were playing an exhibition game in St. Mary’s, Ontario, and the PA announcer intoned, “Playing goal and wearing number one for the Toronto Bruins, Limmon Innus.”

An Impressive Trump Appointee

          US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, is proving to be a rarity; an exceptionally impressive Trump appointee. I’ve watched her speak at the UN a few times and find her to be articulate, always well prepared, and formidably compelling; never more so than during the tongue lashing she delivered to the general assembly for allowing the introduction (and subsequent passing) of a resolution condemning the US for its decision to move its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem.  

          Not only are her UN performances impressive, so is her resume. She was a member of the South Carolina house of representatives and then ran for, and became, governor of the state. In 2012 she was considered a potential running mate for Mitt Romney, and in 2016 was named one of Time magazine’s “100 most influential women.” When Trump nominated her for the UN post she was overwhelmingly endorsed by a Senate vote of 96-4.

          If (when?) Rex Tillerson gets dumped by the perpetually petulant Trump, my guess is Nikki Haley will succeed him as secretary of state. And I don’t think her ascendancy will end there. At not quite forty-six years old she’s just entering the prime of her career. It would not surprise me if she becomes the first woman to be president of the United States,

Then There’s Our Prime Minister

          In contrast to Nikki Haley’s courageous performance at the UN on the US embassy issue, there’s the Canadian government’s cowardly abstention from voting on the odious anti-American resolution. The US had every right to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The Israeli government was in favour of the move and all important Israeli government offices are in Jerusalem.

          That Trudeau’s UN appointee sat on his hands while Guatemala, Honduras, The Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, and Togo all took a principled stand by voting with their American ally may well be the most shameful foreign policy act ever by a Canadian government.

          In an earlier Musings I characterized Justin Trudeau as being naive, narcissistic, and inept. I said that when his actions or inactions supported this view I would write about it. Well, his decision not to stand up for Canada’s closest and most important ally is both naive and inept.

          And as for narcissistic (remember that “vain” and “egotistical” are synonyms), his attempt to convince Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson that the Aga Khan, whom he’d seen only once in over thirty years, and then just briefly at his father’s funeral almost twenty years ago, was a “close family friend” certainly qualifies. Come to think of it, it also qualifies as naive and inept.