Hodge: Welcome to cameras being allowed in the courtroom

TV cameras were allowed into a Canadian courtroom for the first time Thursday to provide live coverage of a controversial murder trial.

In the spirit of a true ‘Hodge Podge,’ here are a plethora of thoughts on a splattering of topics.

I’m feeling mixed emotions in response to two crime-related breaking stories.

As I pen this column Thursday morning, TV cameras are warming up in an Edmonton courtroom to provide live coverage of a controversial murder trial.

Thousands of Canadians were expected to dial in this morning to witness a first in Canadian courtroom procedures, allowing television cameras into the courts to record a judge’s decision.

At the centre of the attention is Travis Vader, charged with the double murder of elderly couple Lyle and Marie McCann six years ago.

While the camera will only focus on the judge and his decision, the actual filming opens the door for true public access to criminal trials in Canada.

The scenario is taking place solely because of persistent demands by media that since court cases are ‘public,’ cameras should be allowed within the courtroom during trials.

This decision is long overdue and welcomed.

But while that legal move receives my thumbs up, I admit to being greatly disappointed in another decision announced this week.

Graham James has been granted full parole.

James, as many will recall, is the predatory junior hockey coach convicted of numerous sexual charges against young men while in the trust role of team coach or manager.

His manipulative and devious actions came to the public spotlight after a number of professional hockey players bravely revealed the sexual ordeals they suffered while playing junior hockey under the watch eye of James.

It boggles my mind that such a predator, who damaged so many lives, can be released back into society after serving such a short time.

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Speaking of hockey, my empathy goes out to hockey widows or widowers since your summer ends Saturday.

That’s when the puck drops for the World Cup of Hockey tournament.

You may as well kick into your regular winter routine now because conveniently enough (for hockey groupies) the tourney ends Oct. 1, less than two weeks before the NHL regular season begins start.

For hockey fanatics, the elite eight-team tournament is a dream come true hockey bonus.

The timing is a bit of a fascinating gamble for individual club owners, managers  and NHL executives.

Should the remainder of the roundrobin series prove as entertaining as the exhibition round, there is the real possibility that the NHL regular season will be viewed as a letdown afterwards.

In addition, such a highly competitive and emotional series will undoubtedly result in further injuries.

Since each of the clubs involved are filled with elite players, any wounds suffered in this series will involve stars or superstars, which naturally places NHL franchises and their season results in great peril.

Only time will tell if the entertainment and marketing gamble pays off in the long run.

So in keeping with my twisted tradition of embarrassing myself regularly by publicly posting hockey predictions, here is my stab at the World Cup’s final standings: Canada, North America, United States, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Europe, Czech Republic.

Watch for the youngsters on team North America to nearly upset Canada in the final (if the tournament structure allows for such a result).

At the end of the day, like often the case in hockey, it will be goaltending that will decide the ultimate winner, which is why Russia, Sweden and Finland will all falter because of suspect netminding.

***

And speaking of saves an overdue acknowledgment to the owners of Ricky’s restaurant, which opened last month at Harvey and Gordon.

James Vallido, general manager and son of Ricky’s manager (Arsenia Vallido), was thankfully in the right time at the right place in mid-August.

When one of his customers began to choke on a piece of steak,  James went into rescue mode and successfully performed the Heimlich manoeuvre, expelling the piece of lodged meat.

The incident shed a positive light on what had been a few negative months for the family.

Less than two weeks before, father and restaurant co-owner Esmeraldo Vallido died suddenly just days after he and wife Arsenia had opened the new restaurant. Esmeraldo was just 60 years of age.

James and brother Patrick are currently assisting their mom in operating this fine food facility.

Moving forward, watch for renovations at the restaurant planned to be done by mid-October.

***

And a fond farewell to long-time family friend Robert Bain, who  passed away peacefully surrounded by love on Aug. 10.

He was the beloved husband of Doreen, and adoring father to Rick, Shelley, and Bobbi-Ann.

I was fortunate enough to be a neighbour of the Bain clan for numerous years and Bob was as good a neighbour as one could have.

A friendly, community minded, outgoing character, he was a life member of the Kelowna Jaycees and a JC Senator along with being active as a past Regatta director and parade marshal for many years.

My heartfelt condolences to his family.