Toronto Raptors are NBA Champions

Congratulations to the Toronto Raptors for besting the Warriors 114-110 last night in game six to take the professional championship title for the first time for a Canadian team – 127 years after James Naismith invented the game.

The run was an incredible one to watch, bringing Canadians together throughout the playoffs to cheer on Canada’s team. TSN reported that 59 ‘Jurassic Parks’ – public watch parties – were in full roar when the final buzzer sounded – kicking off a nationwide street party until the early hours of the morning.

That revelry didn’t see any major incidents as Canadians – and those in Toronto – are often unstated and perhaps still stunned that their team not only earned a place on the world stage, but then put on the best showing earning Toronto the title.

Before last night, Toronto had been in a bit of a drought when it comes to national/world titles. Just the night before, the St. Louis Blues left Toronto as the only team with 50+ years without a Stanley Cup. And the Toronto Blue Jays? Well, the ‘bat flip’ apparently was the most momentous moment in the last decade of sport until the Raptors win.

Does this speak to the character of the city? Do we have lowered expectations? Toronto is Canada’s largest city, but does it have undervalued sense of itself in the broader context? Do we stack up internationally? Will the cool kids of the world ever know our name?

While this small-ball pre-occupation has dominated our thinking over the past 24 years, Toronto has grown dramatically, welcoming the world to us. And in watching the Raptors run, you couldn’t help but reflect upon the unified character of this evolving city. Canada used to be quite provincial in measuring its anxieties. It will now do itself some good to instead worry about cementing its status among world players.

Andrew Ference heads to the Edmonton Oilers

The former unrestricted free agent and former Boston Bruin Andrew Ference has signed with the Edmonton Oilers.

Ference has been a prominent celebrity voice that has spoken out against the Alberta oilsands located north of Edmonton.

On the eve of President Obama’s first foreign visit to Canada, a group of over 50 prominent Canadians have signed an open letter telling Obama that the tar sands don’t fit in the new energy economy.
“In your discussions with the Canadian government, we encourage you to raise concerns over the environmental and social problems associated with tar sands production and make no exemption for the tar sands in any binational agreement addressing climate change” says the open letter.
Actress Neve Campbell, authors Ann-Marie MacDonald and Farley Mowat, musicians Anton Kuerti and Jim Creeggan of the Barenaked Ladies, athletes Adam Kreek (Olympic Gold Medalist) and Andrew Ference (Boston Bruins defenceman), and political leaders Jack Layton of the NDP and Elizabeth May of the Green Party, are just a few of the many prominent Canadians to sign the letter.

It is unclear if Mr. Ference’s views on Alberta’s resource sector will change now that Oiler ticket holders — many who work in oil and gas — will be paying his salary.

Or will Ference insist he plays for the Edmonton Tarsanders?