The Ontario provincial Liberal government appears to have taken disingenuousness to an entirely new level by axing the Ministry of Health Promotion and Sport after securing re-election last month.
There is obviously a budget crunch in the province but not only is the removal of the Ministry bad from the perspective of the provincial government lacking a true sporting representative with the Pan-American Games coming to Toronto in a few years, but it sends the wrong signals about the priority this government wants to place on Health Promotion and Sport. This should not be viewed as an appendage to a truly cohesive public health strategy but rather an integral part of it.
The worst part about the move -- and one that I hinted might be worrisome on September 13th given this government's history of playing fast and loose with campaign promises -- is that there was there no mention of this anywhere in the Liberal Party platform. In fact they go so far as to promise new investment in a Childhood Activity Tax Credit. Whether or not that credit gets implemented (I'm not holding my breath), the provincial government has once again pulled a fast one on the people that voted for them just over a month ago. Sport and the role it can play in health promotion is taking a major blow as a result.
Congratulations are in order for Felix-Antoine Lapointe and the entire Laval athletics department for hosting the CIS Cross Country Championships at the Plains of Abraham and a terrific season on the trails that saw Laval's mens and womens cross country teams make a bigger collective improvement than anyone else in the country to finish 5th and 8th respectively.
In a season when every poll and educated observor of the sport saw little suspense as to the national title team race, Laval was the big story and deserves praise for the massive step forward they have taken this fall.
With the NCAA Championships around the corner on Monday afternoon, there are as usual a plethora of Canadians competing for various universities, including last year's winner, Sheila Reid, of Villanova. One subplot that has gone relatively unnoticed however is the fact that for perhaps the first time in Canadian history a Canadian head coach, Karen Harvey, may lead her number-one ranked Florida State Seminoles womens cross country team to a national championship.
It won't be easy -- especially with two-time defending champions from Villanova, as well as Georgetown, Colorado and Washington -- but the shoe may decidedly be on the other foot as her husband and 1500m Canadian record holder Kevin Sullivan now gets to watch her attempt to accomplish something for the first time in Canadian history.
If it happens, the win will represent the culmination of a long climb to the top for Harvey. When she took over the Illinois womens cross country team in 2002 they were dreadful -- having finished 9th in the Big Ten. Within three seasons she led the Illini to 5th at the NCAAs (and five years after she left for Florida State the Illinois women's cross country team is back to finishing last place in the Big Ten). Similarly, Florida State's women made a jump from 25th at NCAAs to the top-five during her first season in Tallahassee and they have remained there ever since. Monday should be interesting.