Tag Archives: Rant

From Russia With Gay Love

A while back there was some news coming out of the Supreme Court of the United States regarding a ruling on marriage equality. I shared my thoughts on the topic in a very well received blog post. Well it seems that our cold war adversaries on the other side of the Bering Strait have a few thoughts on this as well.

Unless you’ve been severely news deprived over the last month you will know that Russia has passed anti-gay laws that could land a person in jail if they are caught promoting a “non-traditional” lifestyle. There have been protests, there have been riots, and more than a couple countries (Canada and the U.S. included) have waggled a mean finger in their general direction. Now, there’s a movement (albeit a small, and from what I can tell, largely ineffective one) to have nations boycott the Olympics taking place in Sochi Russia in February 2014.

While I think that it’s a nice notion, I don’t happen to think it would have any real impact on the situation. If every nation failed to show up then we’d have a story, but we all know that that’s more fantasy than the idea of a Beatles reunion. At least one reporter has an opinion on this and goes into great detail about past boycotts and their utter ineffectiveness. So, given that a boycott won’t happen, and  even if it did it wouldn’t make a lick of difference, what can we do?

Well, I suggested in the comments on that article that the Canadian (and American) governments make a slight change to our respective flags – temporarily, of course – such that whenever a medal was won the Russians would have to hoist something like this to the rafters:

Oh, Canada!

As unlikely a scenario as this is, I thought that this would produce the absolute best results. It would mean that the Russian Olympic Committee would have to willingly display gay propaganda – to the entire world no less – and it would not put any one athlete at risk.

For a brief moment I thought that I was a genius. Until it occurred to me that there was about as much chance of that happening as that aforementioned Beatles reunion. In mentioning it to a co-worker he had an even better idea: change the equipment! Can you imagine the entire men’s and women’s hockey teams staking around with laces on their skates and tape on their sticks that look like this?


Regardless of what form of protest would be considered the best, one thing I know is that if everyone stays silent on the issue then we fail. Individual athletes will step up, I’m sure of it, but they will be a very small voice in a raging sea of white noise and Russian propaganda – and they will be putting themselves at great personal risk. As much as those small voices matter, this needs to be tackled on a much larger scale.

In his inauguration address in 1961 John F. Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” My fellow humanitarians, I’m turning that quote around and asking my country to show a little courage and do something for us. If they won’t, then I’ll turn and ask the Olympic Committee to step up. If they won’t then we’ll just have to see how many of those small voices we can get together so they can show the leaders of the world how to actually make a difference.

~ Andrew


Every once and a while a TV show comes along that you really enjoy watching. You know the one I’m talking about. The one where, week after week, you can’t wait for the next episode. The one where your anxiety levels climb in the weeks leading up the final episode of the season because you know that it will be the last of the show for months. The one that you faithfully record so you can watch it uninterrupted, free from commercials or other distractions, and just enjoy as everything unfolds in front of you for the first time.

And then there are the inconsiderate jerkwads on the Internet – specifically Facebook and especially Twitter – who see fit to watch the show in real time, crappy commercials and all, and live-stream every plot twist and “oh my gosh” moment that happens. They will claim it’s all part of the new media experience and this allows them to enjoy the show at a whole new level with other inconsiderate jerkwads. Networks will encourage this with various “follow us on Facebook” and “follow this #hashtag” gimmicks in an effort to entice more people to watch as they try to pump more advertising at the audience.

For me, there have been a few shows where the former has been true. Sopranos was one, as was The West Wing. Lately, it’s a show called The Newsroom – which fortunately for me not a lot of people watch, so there’s not a tonne of chatter around it – yet. As for the latter, there’s only one show I took to this level and it was Survivor (please, don’t judge), and even then I was very careful about not revealing key moments or twists in my Internet commentary. You see, if you want to follow a show in real time and experience the complete new media experience there are rules to follow so you don’t end up being a jerkwad. Actually, there’s really just one:

Let the people who aren’t watching at that very second know that you’re about to ruin something for them.

It’s affectionately known as a spoiler alert, and it’s an easy rule to follow. It really is. The problem is that some people either can’t figure it out or don’t give a damn. Granted, it’s harder for someone on Twitter to comply than it is for someone on Facebook. Twitter is set up in such an instant gratification kind of way that if you want to express an emotion about what just happened on your favourite show you’re much more inclined to type “OMG I can’t believe they just killed What’s-His-Name! #FaveShow” than you are “OMG, I can’t believe what just happened! #FaveShow“. Even if you are more likely to lean toward the second statement I can guarantee that someone somewhere will reply within seconds “@YourUserName I know! What’s-His-Name was my favourite character! #FaveShow“.

Unfollowing someone on Twitter is a bit of a pain just so their spoiler tweets don’t show up in your timeline. Setting up lists and filters is also quite a cumbersome exercise. Fortunately, a teenage girl in the U.S. came up with a way to redact your Twitter feed to avoid those unsightly plot twists – and she’s going to release the app for free.

Things are a little easier on Facebook and as such I have less patience for those who refuse to show a little courtesy. You see, Facebook won’t show a whole post if it’s more than 420 characters long. Anything more than that and you read a “read more” link at the bottom. So, just prefix your post with


Tell your spoiler-prone friends to do this. Tell them they can just cut and paste the example above and then proceed to type whatever the hell they want.

[Editor’s Note: 2015-12-22 – this app is no longer available]
Naturally, someone has taken the idea from our teenage hero from above and made it just a bit better. This is what happens with technology, especially apps, and the consumer is the ultimate winner. In this case, you can take matters into your own hands with Silencer. A Chrome extension that lets you “Take back the internet, on your terms”. Even better you can tell your friends to not be jerkwads in the first place and if they’re true friends you won’t need the link to Silencer. But just in case, here it is:


~ Andrew

When Make Believe Is All That Remains

“Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.”
– Richard Feynman

I’ve mentioned in a previous post the one of the benefits of being a writer is you get to make stuff up. There is a serious problem, however, when wordsmiths of a different kind resort to making stuff up a tad more often than they should. I’m speaking of the scientists, the government, and the media – the ones who synthesize, distill, and report findings; who direct funding for research and make policies; and who relay information to the masses.

When Canada voted against science I was right there standing up and crying foul. Like many others my initial impulses had me all a Twitter (and a G+ and a Facebook). This is an outrage! Will no one come to the defence of science? At the very root of my anger is my belief that objectivity and truth still exist and not enough people are fighting for them.

I turned almost immediately to Gordon Bonnet, who, along with being a science teacher down in the States, also writes a great blog called Skeptophilia. In a matter of hours he turned around a much less knee-jerk response with the message that data, in of itself, cannot have an agenda. The problem is politicians and media outlets do, and I would assert that out of self-preservation (and the fact that they are human) scientists have one as well. However, the scientific agenda is normally kept in check through critique and review by one’s peers. When that process gets handcuffed, well, all bets are off.
“The only thing worse than a blind believer is a seeing denier.”
– Neil deGrasse Tyson
A friend with whom I like to debate such matters pointed out that “the human soul is corruptible.” Indeed it is, but that’s a sociopolitical discussion for another day. He also pointed me to this Maclean’s article which happens to be a a very level-headed take on things. The author, Julia Belluz, sums it up by suggesting that scientists raising a stink in the form of 60’s style protest aren’t doing themselves any favours, and on this I have to agree. 
Everybody involved appears to be approaching it all wrong. I am left to wonder though, if that’s the wrong way, what the hell is the right one? As the maxim goes, if insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, then what happens when you’ve tried every approach you can think of and still nothing changes?

It seems that people on both sides of any argument go though this eclectic transition of approaches. The precise order and length of each one is impossible to determine, but the following popped into my head as a plausible chain of events: 
  • Start with the presentation of pure facts. 
  • If that doesn’t work, involve your peers to provide supporting information and try to open a dialog. 
  • If that doesn’t work, then compare and contrast opposing ideas in the form of debate. 
  • If that doesn’t work, then start removing facts and bring in “expert opinion” and hype. 
  • Finally, if that doesn’t work, resort to pure, unadulterated propaganda and rhetoric. 
  • If all else fails simply resort to sarcasm and ridicule (enter social media).  

This is pretty much where we’re at right now, and quite frankly I think this tailspin makes a complete mockery of it all and just ends up dragging everyone down to the same subhuman level, leaving slander and lies as the only pieces left on the board.

“The great thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.”
– Neil deGrasse Tyson
Maybe I’m naive to expect more out of professional conveyors of information, but when it’s all reduced down to a contest over who can out crazy who it makes you wonder if the people who make stuff up for a living aren’t the sanest group in the whole lot.
Next election I’m voting for a writer.
~ Andrew

Hockey’s Back. Who Cares?

After the last NHL season lost due to a lockout of the players by the league, I, like just about every other crazy hockey fan, was so happy just to have it back that I scooped up tickets like nobody’s business. Hell, all of the fans rewarded the league and its players with record crowds (and revenues) for the next several years. This past June, when hockey ended and the Stanley Cup was hoisted, and everyone in the world knew the collective bargaining agreement was coming to an end, what do you think the NHL and NHLPA did about it?


Both the league and its players just sat on their butts like a 4th line goon benched for picking one too many fights. In fact, it was well into the fall before any negotiations worth mentioning took place. Hell, half the season, the All Star Game, and the Winter Classic had to be cancelled before any real talking happened at all – and even then only the threat of billions of dollars in anti-trust lawsuits and the cancellation of an entire season got a deal done. In January. Almost 7 months AFTER both sides should have done something about it.

I know that hockey is big business and there are several hundred elite athletes and 30 ownership groups that invest a lot of time, energy, and money into the fastest team sport on ice. I get it. It’s not simple, and when that many people are involved and that much is at stake, you can’t just snap your fingers and make something happen. I don’t expect that and neither did any other hockey fan. What we did expect is that both sides would to SOMETHING. Instead, both sides did nothing for a painstaking long time, and after that all we got was posturing and mud slinging.

So how will we the fans reward the NHL and NHLPA for their antics? Probably with sellout crowds for the shortened season and record sales in merchandise. That seems to be how these things go. Now the “experts” are saying that this time around things will be different but I’m not so sure. I for one don’t plan on giving the NHL or NHLPA a dime for many years if I can help it and I have a few friends who are of the same opinion. But the problem is that for every one of us there is another ten people with more money than brains and another hundred corporations with deep pockets scooping up the tickets and filling the rinks simply because they can. So, the corporate machine that is professional hockey in North America will continue to spin, albeit with a little less enthusiasm than a year ago. All it will take is an exciting Cup Final and an active off season with respect to trades and momentum will build back up – you just watch.

Mark my words. Bookmark this post and revisit it 18 months from now.

I predict that the NHL will be back into record revenues and crowds before the end of the 2013-2014 season. A few of us will have no part of it, but it’s of little consolation. At least I’ll have a few more dollars in my pocket at the end of the year.

A wise person once said, “As soon as money leaves your hand it stops being yours” and that’s a great quote. The best thing I can think of to do is find a few more ways to ensure that it stays in my hand a bit longer.


After the last lockout I was so frustrated with the Toronto Maple Leafs that I declared myself a “free agent fan” and the Ottawa Senators won that free agent battle and along with it my fan support for as long as I gave it to the Leafs – 31 years. Well, unfortunately once the CBA expired and we lost games in the season that “contract” is now null and void. I’m a “free agent fan” once again, only this time I’m not looking for a team… I’m looking for an entire league.

The early leader is the Ontario Hockey League. There are several teams within an hour’s drive of my house and you can get two tickets for $35 plus free parking. It’s great to take the kids, and we get to see some pretty damn good hockey (the Kitchener Rangers goalie just won a gold medal for the USA in the most recent World Junior Championships).

If you want to see the original “free agent fan” story and letter I wrote to all 30 NHL teams you can click the links below to expand the sections (please ignore the fact that my writing back then was terrible).

Original Free Agent Fan Story

The Original Letter

NHL Who?

I’m a big hockey fan and I have been for as long as I can remember. Yes, I cried when my parents told me I was playing hockey that one fateful September day back in 1982, but I loved the game – I just didn’t want to play it. Now, almost exactly 30 years later I can honestly say that I still really love hockey – its the people that run the teams and don the uniforms that bring tears to my eyes. Okay, it’s not so much tears as it is pure unadulterated rage and loathing… but enough about me. If there’s one thing this latest NHL work stoppage has shown me is that it’s not about me. Or you. Or anyone else that makes NHL hockey possible for that matter.

It’s about players who think they’re bigger than the game – entitled to more than half the daily take simply because they worked up a sweat, and it’s about owners who think that they can mismanage their lemonade stand and still be entitled to profit. Make no mistake though, it’s definitely not about the paying customer. They’ll get their watered down, over priced, sour beverage – and they’ll love every drop and come back for more. 

We only have ourselves to blame.

NHL hockey is the only professional league in the world to have lost an entire season due to a work stoppage, and do you know what happened when they came back? Seven years of record record revenues. Now we’re on the verge of another collapse, for pretty much the exact same reasons that caused the last stoppage and fans are taking sides. Seriously? We are actually divided on who is to blame? Even Bob McKenzie, who has probably the greatest hockey mind the business has ever seen, won’t pick a side on this one.

Fool me once, shame on you…

There should only be one side that matters in all of this: the one that pays the bills. In case you didn’t catch on, it’s our side. Us. The fans. The only way the spoiled elite and the out-of-touch beyond wealthy will ever understand is if we hit them where it hurts he most:

  • For the players you go after their ego, and the tactic is simple:
    You stop watching!
    Adore and revere someone else. Pay no attention to the spoiled brat in the corner, he’ll find someone else to carry his books to class.

  • For the owners you go after their pocketbooks, and the tactic is simple:
    You stop paying!
    You give someone else your hard earned dollar. Pay no dividends to the greedy, fiscally irresponsible jerks in the ivory tower, they’ll move on and try to find another sucker to con.

A very reasonable and wise man by the name of Neil Hedley wrote an article a couple days ago in a less scathing and vitriolic tone, but the message was essentially the same. Unless enough people say it, and enough people commit to it, we’ll just be right back here again eight years from now and another eight years from then. 

Fool me twice, shame on me.

So it’s time for hockey fans to step up and do something worthwhile. Sell out the junior rink around the corner, up the road, or in the next town over. Simply because you can, head out to a high school or college game – and buy a giant foam finger. Read a damn book (I recommend Neil’s) or get behind another sport (Lyndon Johnson has one that seems to be catching on).

Just do something, anything, that keeps the NHL and its players from fooling you again.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rp6-wG5LLqE?rel=0]


Update: Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Dear Diary, the quarterback is taking the head cheerleader to the prom – again. What’s worse, I didn’t get that job because someone’s daddy called a friend from The Club and got him the job instead.

Update: Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Well it looks like the cool kids are taking applications to sit with them at the lunch table again. It goes without saying that I will not be applying. Forget the fact that the price went up ten bucks. They’re still forcing an application process on prospective attendees; and I still think it’s crap.

I can understand not wanting a bunch of shameless self-promoters clogging up the event. I can also understand excluding people that just want to use the TEDx audience to make some sort of statement or protest. But here’s the thing: even with the application process, several people reported to me that last year’s audience wasn’t all that and a bag of chips, and weren’t terribly engaged either; with a great number of faces buried in their smart phones the whole time (FYI,  there’s a lot of Blackberry in this town).

So apply if you must. Heck, I’ll even share the application link for your convenience. If you’re lucky maybe the cool kids will let you play with them at recess too. 

Original Post From: Monday, March 19, 2012

So TEDxWaterloo is happening this week. I won’t be going. Why not, you ask? Good question. I won’t be going because I didn’t apply for the privilege of buying a ticket. Why not, you ask? Another good question. I think having an interest in what the event is all about, being willing to take a day off work, and dropping 45 bucks on the ticket makes me worthy enough. The people at TEDxWaterloo disagree.

To be eligible to purchase a ticket to the event you are required to fill out an application. I didn’t check every single TEDx event, but I randomly selected half a dozen with “availability” as per the event listing from the main TED site and all had some form of application process. Apparently this is a popular trend with the TEDx events. The main TED site simply has the disclaimer “This event is open to the public. Tickets are available. Ticketing policies vary by event.” 

For TEDxWaterloo the application asks you the following questions:

  1. How do you spend your day?
  2. Tell us how you are involved in your community.
  3. What do you hope to get from 2012 TEDxWaterloo DIS CONNECTED event?
  4. What else would you like to share with us?
  5. List at least one website that will help us understand you better (such as your blog, your company’s website, LinkedIn profile, Tumblr, your Flickr account, writing, research papers, C.V., films and book) 

If you read the whole page those questions were taken from, you’ll see a whole bunch of words about wanting people with a “spark” and “energy” and “passion”, and they try to be quite clear that your economic situation or standing within the community or any other “accomplishments” are not relevant.

Really? Then why recommend the applicant share their blog, CV, and other potentially non-relevant information and leave a question wide open like #4? How about a single question:

  1. What are you passionate about, and how would attending TEDxWaterloo make a difference?

Even still, this would just turn the “process” into a different form of essay contest. 

I am passionate about a ton of things, and I can likely articulate this in such a way that my application would be accepted. Of this I am confident. However, just because I wrote it down a little more eloquently than the person beside me I get in and they don’t? 

Where’s the line? Why does there even have to be a line?

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against the event, or any of the speakers, or any of the attendees, or any of the volunteers. All of these people are top notch in my book, and I can really get on board with spirit of TED. I’ve drank the Kool-Aid and I like it.

All I want is for the person on the right of that red line to have the same chance at getting a ticket as the person on the left side of it. Submit your personal information and if your name is drawn you get to buy a single, non-transferable ticket. Want the best of both worlds? What about a lottery for 90% of the tickets and an application process for the remaining 10%, with some perk offered for those who took the time to jump through the hoops?

From where I sit, I just can’t see the event being undervalued in any way by accepting a random selection of interested people. Assuming the people who are even remotely interested are no less diverse than the current body of applicants all your demographic distributions will be met as well. Simple statistics has that one covered. 

Wouldn’t it be something if that person just to the right of where the red line would have been drawn gets a ticket, attends the event, and has an experience that changes their life? 

Better yet, what if you meet them there and they change yours?

Nothing to Hide?

I’m finding it very hard to write this post and not come off as some sort of nut job who is all anti-government, anti-legislation, and anti-this-that-and-the-other-thing who is just sour because the election didn’t turn out the way I wanted.

I have perfectly valid reasons for my disenchantment with the state of the Canadian government right now and nothing sums it up better than the tabling of Bill C-30 (formerly Bill C-51). Leading up to the last election this was just the sort of thing I was afraid of, and now it’s happening, and if we don’t do something about it it’s only going to get worse.

Bill C-5130 is usually summed up with the words “lawful access”, which is exactly what it is. It’s a bill that will grant authorities lawful access to your internet history, your email, and countless amounts of personal information – without a warrant. The cherry on top of this is that in order to be in a position to collect and store this information in case the Feds demand it, Internet providers will need to spend dollars – lots of them – upgrading their systems. Now what are the chances those costs won’t get passed along to the the consumer? I’m guessing slim to none, and slim just left town.

In summary: Bill C-5130 will allow for unfettered access to your internet and email without a warrant and you will get to pay for it.

A while back this government tried to make our Internet more expensive and as a country we went absolutely bat shit crazy by the hundreds of thousands. How there aren’t millions of Canadians going bat shit crazy over Bill C- 5130 is beyond me.

Sign the petition. Demand your MP put a stop to this, and let the Canadian government know that this bill is not OK. Not one bit.

Here’s a CBC news report:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLlY4n-17uc]

Some very well done videos to put things into perspective (and a sample for your viewing pleasure here):

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwqIYHwRcxY]

…and if you have 15 minutes, a mini-documentary:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyHnOCDewuQ]

Am I the only one who thinks this is wrong?

Well unless something outrageous happens in the next 4 years there will not be many more political posts. Thanks to everyone who stopped by before, during, and after the election.

This post is not political (though some might categorize it as such). It deals with what I think are completely insane people, some of whom happen to turn a bill into law in the United States of America.

I was born and raised a stone’s throw from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and I can honestly say that I know of very few people with an unhealthy obsession for firearms. I know plenty of folks with long guns suitable for hunting (deer, moose, etc…). But a hand gun? Not so much. Part of this reason – and I’m going out on a limb to say it’s probably an extremely large part – is that they are ILLEGAL. There are cases where you can get one legally (for example, collecting) but chances are if you see someone (that’s not in law enforcement) in Canada with a hand gun, then you’re probably best to get your butt somewhere else – quickly.

Now for our neighbours to the south there is the infamous second amendment to the constitution. In a nutshell it gives Americans the right to bear arms. There is considerable debate that occurs between the advocates of this constitutional right and those opposed to it, but I don’t want to get into that here. What I do want to get is a sense for whether or not anyone else out there thinks the following is completely wrong:

Utah and Arizona have state firearms.

That’s right, along with a state motto (“Industry”), bird (California gull), flower (sego lily), nickname (“the beehive state”), tree (blue spruce), gem (topaz), and a whole host of other things, Utah has a state firearm (M1911 pistol).

Source: Wikipedia

Immediately to the south of Utah, in Arizona, they have a motto (“God Enriches”), bird (cactus wren), flower (saguaro cactus blossom), nickname (“the grand canyon state”), tree (palo verde), gem (turquoise), a whole host of other things, and a state firearm (Colt Single Action Army, a.k.a Colt 45).

Source: Wikipedia

In fact, there was a race between the two states to see who would get the “honor” of becoming the first state to pass into law the naming of a state firearm. Utah won, but Arizona still pressed on. Even after 13 people were wounded (including a congresswoman), and 6 people were killed (including a child) in January they passed into law the name of a state firearm with the nickname “peacemaker” – in April. I wonder if the congresswoman thinks about rescinding that law as she rehabilitates.

The whole thing just has me at a loss for words (present post excepted I suppose). I read about the tragedy in Arizona and then I read about a toddler getting his hands on a loaded gun and accidentally killing his brother and then I think about the tens of thousands of people murdered every year (including the 12,632 in 2007 alone) and I can’t help but wonder what having a state firearm is saying to the families of all those victims. “God bless America?”

Canada Votes 2011 #2

Einstein is often attributed with coming up with the following definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

I had a post all queued up on Canada’s first-past-the-post voting system, and some of the options available for Canadians who don’t think the current system provides a proportional representative result.  I intended on drawing a parallel between Einstein’s definition and Canadian political history.

Then this happened: May not welcome in leaders’ debates: networks

Elizabeth May is the leader of the Green Party. Ms. May is a card carrying member of a federal party that received almost 10% of the popular vote in the last election. Further to that, the Greens run candidates in EVERY single riding. Further to further to that, the Greens actually promote what they think are in the best interests of the entire country, not just a subset or niche element of it, all the while considering the fragile ecosystem Canadians are known for and call home.

Now I’m not saying that every party running needs to be represented at the leadership debates, there has to be some reasonable criteria. The networks have decided that their criteria is that the party must be represented in the house of commons. In the last election, the Greens had a candidate in the house – by way of a defection from another party (they weren’t elected as a Green). This time, not so much, so out they go.

Doesn’t that just seem, I don’t know, WRONG? Getting almost 10% of the vote across the nation and running candidates in every single riding is a big deal. I think that cutting them off at the knees by imposing such a restriction is not in the interests of Canadians. In fact, I would argue that it’s incredibly UNdemocratic.

So instead of Elizabeth May it would seem that we will have a leadership debate in which one of the featured candidates represents only a single province in the confederation and whose party’s main purpose is to separate from the country.

I think we might just have a new definition of insanity.

If You Ignore Them Will They Just Go Away?

A short but important rant concerning Canadian politics.  You have been warned.
With another election undoubtedly in the works at some point (it has been almost 2 whole years since our last one, you know), and with the Rick Mercer show back on the air for a new season, my thoughts are with the poor people of Quebec and how 51% of them at election time are barraged by propaganda attacking Canada and promoting sovereignty under the guise of “Quebec interests”.  Well, last time I checked the whole purpose of a federal election was to put together the best government for the whole country and not just one part of it, no matter how “distinct” that part happens to be.  In fact, some would argue (myself included) that allowing a party with separatist intentions to participate in a nationally held election is nothing short of treason. 
So this brings me to the following….
Is there any way to keep the Bloc from participating in the next federal election (outside of actually running candidates)?
For starters, I was thinking that the network(s) carrying the next debate could impose a restriction which would look something like this:
“Participation in the debate limited to only recognised Canadian political parties running candidates in 185 of the 308 ridings AND in 7 of the 13 provinces and territories AND who received at least 5% of the vote in the last federal election.”

The numbers above were not picked out of thin air; they were well thought through.  185 of the 308 seats represents the percentage of eligible Canadians who actually voted (around 60% – terribly low) and more than 50% of the provinces and territories.  The 5% of the popular vote keeps fringe groups from getting in simply by running a Marxist Christian Communist Marijuana Party member in each riding.  
Based on the last election the next national debate would then have the Conservatives, the Liberals, the NDP, and the Greens.  Still do the debates in French and English – those are both our official languages – but only discuss issues important nationally, without the noise and clutter of Gilles Douch-eppe barking in the wings the whole time.
In addition, the media could just ignore the Bloc completely.  No questions.  No press coverage.  Nothing.  Like the petulant, whiny, good-for-nothing, little brat ruining a perfectly good recess; when ignored for long enough they have a tendency to just go away.
This could work, no?