No ‘Father’ for sex assaulters
Last week's front page story on Father Denis Vaillancourt being found guilty of sexual abuse was creepy for a number of reasons. The first, obviously, is that a former trusted member of our community committed such a depraved act, destroying the innocence of children and doing irreparable harm to their families. It's awful stuff.
Another reason why it's creepy is that this dude is still being referred to as “Father.” Yes, I understand that's simply the honorific the Catholic church bestows upon its ordained clergy members - like rabbi for Judaisim or pastor for evangelical protestants - but doesn't the very word “Father” conjure up images of goodness and protection?
The dictionary tells us that the word father simply means “male parent of a child.” But we know that it means so much more. Further on in the definition, we see that it also means “a man who gives care and protection to someone or something.” This is surely what the Catholic church envisions when a priest is ordained. After all, what could be more comforting than knowing someone cares about you and is willing to protect you?
It's appropriate that in our story, Vaillancourt was referred to as Mister rather than Father. This should be standard practice for the media after a priest is convicted. Our justice system demands that we presume innocence until guilt is proven, after all, but once the judgment is rendered, any holy titles should be immediately dropped.
She’s not in It
Recently, this newspaper published the ex- citing news that Apple Hill actress Kelly Vander Burg had a small role in the new Stephen King movie, It.
I went to that movie on the evening of Sept. 8 and I kept my eyes peeled for Kelly but was unable to spot her. I even stuck around for the end credits. No mention of her there either. Apparently, her part wound up on the proverbial cutting room floor.
The good news is that a sequel is likely in the works; perhaps her scene will be included then.
I've often used this space to champion the Canadian Football League as superior to its American counterpart - the NFL. I claim that the games are more exciting, its players relatively free from scandal, and, most importantly, that with only nine teams, you can be reasonably assured that you'll see your team win the championship at least once in your lifetime. Try telling that to the long-suffering fans of the Cleveland Browns. Perish the thought.
But now, my NFL apologist friends are showing me the error of my ways. Namely, the Canadian Football League's playoff format, which - this year at least - will reward some truly dismal squads while punishing the teams that have better records.
The league's current playoff format allows the top three teams from each division to advance to the postseason, although there is also a crossover provision where, if the fourth-place team from one division has a better record than the third-place team in the other division, they claim that spot.
As we roll into the 13th week of the CFL season, every single team in the East Division has a losing record. The best team in the east, the Ottawa Redblacks, has a record of 4-7-1, or nine points. In the west, the very worst team is the Saskatchewan Roughriders, whose record of 5-5 for 10 points. Yet because of the playoff format, the Riders won't advance but the Redblacks and the equally underperforming Toronto Argonauts will.
This doesn't make sense and it undermines what professional sports is supposed to be about. Advancing to the postseason is not a right, it is something you earn during the regular season. It's good to see that the league's commissioner, Randy Ambrosie, recognizes this and is willing to “have the conversation” to look into it.
To be sure, he says he doesn't want to totally eliminate the east vs west mentality which, he correctly notes, is part of our Canadian identity.
Personally, I think the CFL needs at least one more team in the east (either in Quebec City or the Maritimes) and to simply allow the top team in each division to advance regardless of record. That will go a long way in ensuring that our league rewards the top performers and that we are no longer a laughing stock for fans of the National Football League.