Friday, 10 July 2015

Dancey should be a non-story

Brent Dancey with the Huskies in 2002
    When you see the recent media buzz involving former Saskatchewan football star Brent Dancey out in Alberta, you can definitely see the political world can be a mean and tough one.
    For those that have long memories in the wheat province, they can recall that Dancey was a stellar defensive end for the Regina Rams, when they were still in the Canadian Junior Football League, from 1995 to 1997 and the University of Saskatchewan Huskies from 1998 to 2002. The quarterback sack specialist helped the Rams win the Canadian Bowl for CJFL supremacy in 1995 and 1997. 
    Following the run with the Rams, he was a key figure in helping the Huskies win the 1998 Vanier Cup and the Hardy Cup in 2002 for a Canada West title victory. The 2002 post-season run saw the Huskies fall in the Vanier Cup to the Saint Mary’s University Huskies.
    In Alberta, right-wing columnist Ezra Levant is trying to blind side Dancey with a Ray Lewis massive style hit in the political arena.
    Most that knew Dancey from his time with the Rams and Huskies wouldn’t have been aware that he became the chief of staff to Shannon Phillips, who is the minister of environment and parks and is also responsible for the status of women in Alberta’s NDP government, just before the middle June.
    Levant revealed in late June on his website that Dancey was sentenced to nine months in jail after he was convicted of assault causing bodily harm in 1994. On that same web post, Levant started a petition asking Rachel Notley, who is the Premier of Alberta, to fire Dancey.
    The CBC later reported that Dancey was pardoned for the crime in May of 2005, and the documents from the courts in Saskatchewan were released to Levant by mistake, because they were sealed.
    Dancey was 18 when he was involved in an assault at a party in 1993 in Regina.
    I knew Dancey when he was with the Rams and the Huskies. I last saw him in 2002, so at first, I wasn’t sure if the person Levant went after was the same person that was a standout on the gridiron. I received that confirmation from a couple of media sources including talk show host John Gormley.
Brent Dancey (#46) puts pressure on Rams QB Mark Anderson.
    I think it is safe to say that most of the people that played for and were involved with the Rams and Huskies during those years were unaware of Dancey’s conviction. There might have been one or two individuals from each program that might have known.
    The Dancey I remembered was far from a hardened and violent criminal Levant tried to portray. When I first met Dancey in 1997, I remember he had a reputation for being a wild man with regards to partying and riding motorcycles, but he had calmed down a lot during his time with the Rams. The party stories were all fun and happy type stories.
    He was an aggressive competitor and a wild man on the field. He took a few unnecessary roughness penalties, but he always apologized to the coaches for those mistakes.
    Off the field, he was really respectful, analytical and intelligent. I remember young women used to like hanging out with Dancey in social settings, because they viewed him as having a brain and not as a dumb jock.
    With the Huskies, Dancey, who stood 5-foot-11 and weighed about 210 pounds back then, was a model citizen, one of the team’s captains in 2002 and he graduated with his honours in English and history in 2003.
    Anyone who knew Dancey in his post-secondary football days has a whole host of good memories of him. If his conviction became widely known with either the Rams or the Huskies, I believe it wouldn’t have been a big deal. The best aspect of elite sports teams is they are forgiving, and the Rams and Huskies were full of players back then that were characters with character.
Brent Dancey (#46) is left in the dust of Rams RB Neal Hughes.
    The reaction would have been so what, you are productive and you are fine now. Let’s move on, because that is in the past.
    Unfortunately in the political world, your old sins are always brought to the forefront to work against you. Levant did his best to dump on Dancey and said Dancey shouldn’t have anything to do in connection with the status of women. Levant also had a problem with the fact Dancey was not a natural Albertan and was brought in after formerly working as a special advisor to cabinet on energy issues for Manitoba’s NDP government.
    What Levant is doing in all reality borders on being a witch hunt. If Dancey had a whole string of convictions since that 1994 conviction, then there might be reason for the public to be concerned. His record has been clean since that conviction, and he has long past the point of being allowed to go on with his life.
    I remember sitting in the newsroom of the Medicine Hat News and hearing police do checks on people who had a long list of violent convictions and upcoming court dates, and those people were still on the streets. I would be more worried about those people as opposed to a person that committed one crime and was pardoned for it.
Brent Dancey (#46) and the Huskies get the Hardy Cup in 2002.
    I also realize there are people out there that believe any person that is convicted of just one crime no matter what it is should be placed under punishment permanently or should almost be given a death penalty.
    If someone in a case like Dancey’s isn’t given the chance to get back into society and do good, it opens the door to do more harm.
    As it is, Dancey’s conviction is over two decades old, and it should have been left in the past. He has more than earned the right to no longer be haunted by this ghost.

The 9/11 interviews that gave me goosebumps

    During my career in the media, I can’t even count the number of interviews I have forgotten about, but two I recently did for the Saskatoon Express definitely rank at the top.
    The Canada Remembers Our Heroes Airshow, which runs all day Saturday and Sunday at the Auto Clearing Motor Speedway in Saskatoon, plays host to the 9/11 Never Forget mobile exhibit. The exhibit, which will be seen for the first time outside of the United States, is a 53-foot tractor-trailer, which unfolds into a 1,000 square foot memorial about the infamous terrorist attacks in New York that includes artifacts, documentary videos and recordings of first responder radio transmissions.
    Accompanying the exhibit to Saskatoon is retired New York City firefighter Herbert Penner, and his son and current New York City Fire Department member, Michael. The two will give tours of the exhibit.
    I interviewed the Penners about their experience that fateful day. Herbert worked the day of the tragedy, while Michael was a freshman student in college and saw his morning English class for that day get cancelled.
    It was unreal to hear both give their first-hand accounts from that day. You can check out that story right here.

NASCAR Canadian Tire Series race hits speedway

    The upcoming hump day will be a great day for the Auto Clearing Motor Speedway.
    This coming Wednesday the local track hosts its most anticipated event of the year as the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series stops in with the Bayer CropScience – Velocity Prairie Thunder 250.
    The Canadian Tire Series is a minor league circuit that prepares drivers to compete one day on NASCAR’s top level – the Sprint Cup circuit.
    The field for Wednesday’s race, which starts at 6 p.m., will included about 34 cars including a Ford driven by Edmonton product Erica Thiering, who is one of two regulars from Western Canada on the circuit. I caught up with Thiering for the Saskatoon Express that story can be found right here.
    The NASCAR stop is a two-day event. This coming Tuesday at 7 p.m., three local classes hit the track for the Street Stock Wes Skakun Memorial 50, the Super Late Model Bryce Mann Memorial 75 and the Family Pizza Pro Truck 100.

    If you have any comments about this blog post, feel free to email them to