The rumblings have once again started over the availability and access to the most precious commodity in Jamaican sports: grandstand tickets for the final day of Boys and Girls’ Championships. The discourse has now reached ridiculous proportions with the recent proposal by the past student bodies of top high schools – Calabar, Kingston College, and Jamaica College – launching a formal lobby for a bigger portion of the premium, final-day grandstand tickets to be made available to them. This, to my mind, is a most obnoxious, contentious, and unprincipled proposal. Equity and fairness have been thrown into the garbage, as KC, Calabar, and JC typically seek to feather their own selfish nests. The so-called ‘three the hard way’ are trying to make the case that they spend a combined total of over $40 million in preparing their teams for the marquee event, which, invariably, is won by one of the big three, thus their claim of entitlement for preferential treatment. The arrogance went up a notch with the sly reminder by the ‘cartel’ that Champs would not be the same without Calabar, KC, and JC – with no regard for the fundamental fact that Champs is still a national amateur high-school event. The situation is what it is as it relates to the overwhelming demand for grandstand final-day Champs tickets, and that situation will not change anytime soon. The capacity of the grandstand is less than 5,000, with approximately half of those seats allocated to sponsors, special guests, media, etc. So, in reality, there will be tens of thousands of people chasing less than 3,000 premier grandstand Super Saturday tickets. Certainly, allocating more of those limited tickets to ‘select schools’ cannot be the way to go for the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA). Outside of allowing the overwhelming demand to dictate the price of the grandstand tickets, which would probably push the price up to an exorbitant level, ISSA must remain cognisant of the fact that Champs remains a mere high-school event. Under the less-than-perfect circumstances, the limited tickets should continue to be allocated on a first-come first-serve basis. That is simply the fairest method of allocation. WHAT NEXT? Following the principle of the ‘three the hard way’ proposal to its logical conclusion, it would not be long before the suggestion comes that only past or current students of the top contenders and the big spenders and recent Champs, winners KC, Calabar, and JC will be welcome inside the grandstand and eventually inside the entire stadium. I suspect that the erudite and principled leadership of ISSA will pay very scant regard to the proposal of what must now be more appropriately known as ‘three the snobbish and arrogant way’. The sending of the right messages of fairness, justice, equality, and transparency must be of utmost importance as it relates to a high-school event. The principle must remain where no students or past students of any particular school should be more entitled to a seat in the grandstand on the final day of Champs than the students or past students of any other school. I sincerely hope that after burning in the fields for so long in order to build Boys and Girls’ Champs into an international spectacle of the highest reputation, that on this particular issue of principle, ISSA will neither fall nor yield.
It was urgent that we pressed upon the opposition the need to pass this legislation in order to ensure that no sexual predators, including Karla Holmolka, are able to apply for a pardon over the summer months! I’ll be blunt. After enjoying last year, one of the most productive Parliamentary sessions in Canadian history in terms of legislation passed, and after serving with the longest-lasting minority Parliament in history, this “congested” session in the House of Commons has been VERY tough. But a lot can change in a week. MPs also passed Bill, C-24, legislation that will help First Nations move forward with commercial developments and Bill C-13, Fairness for Military Families, which will enhance access to Employment Insurance benefits for our soldiers and their families. And finally, we passed Bill C-40, legislation to enact October 1st as National Seniors Day. Compromise was also the order of the day when working closely with the opposition parties to secure passage of Bill C-11. Our Government introduced this legislation to preserve the integrity of Canada’s refugee and immigration system. It will enhance fairness to refugees genuinely seeking shelter from conflict and oppression, yet crack down on those who attempt to jump the queue and play the system with bogus refugee claims. And in yet a further compromise, all parties, with the exception of the New Democrats, signed a deal regarding the release of government documents related to the transfer of Afghan detainees, striking the balance between national security, the safety of our troops and Parliament’s right to examine information. Unfortunately, the NDP put partisanship before public interest and had organized to meet with the media to tell them they were rejecting the deal even before they had seen the final agreement. Another big win came with an agreement, following intense negotiations with the opposition parties, to pass certain aspects of Bill C-23, which our Conservative Government had introduced to eliminate pardons for those convicted of sex crimes. MP Report by Jay Hill, M.P.“A Productive Week in the House of Commons” In all, in the span of just one week, the House of Commons passed eight Government bills. This was a good week in Canada’s Parliament. – Advertisement – As Government House Leader, my job is to shepherd legislation through the House of Commons. It requires engaging the opposition parties in negotiation, cooperation, some compromise, and a huge dose of patience. Throughout this past week, it paid off. It also took cooperation with the Liberals to overcome NDP resistance to the passage of Bill C-2, the Canada-Columbia Free Trade Agreement. After extensive debate and examination the legislation is now before the Senate. The agreement will provide greater access to a market of 45 million people for Canadian exporters of wheat, pulses, barley, paper products and heavy equipment. Colombia is also a strategic destination for Canadian investment, especially in mining, oil exploration, printing and education. The biggest pay off came with the passage of Bill C-9, our Conservative Government’s Jobs and Economic Growth legislation. The 2010 Budget, critical to Canada’s fragile economic recovery, is now being debated in the Senate on track to becoming law.