‘Finally!’ Third time’s the charm for Stampeders in Grey Cup victory

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Edmonton and Calgary football fans set aside their long-standing rivalries Sunday to celebrate bringing the Grey Cup back to Western Canada as the Calgary Stampeders beat the Ottawa Redblacks in the 106th Grey Cup.

“Finally,” said Wayne Anderson, dressed in his Calgary Stampeders jersey while watching the game at Hudson’s on 109 St. on Sunday, “after three years, finally.”

Calgary Stampeders coach Dave Dickenson a champion’s shower after his team defeated the Ottawa Redblacks in the 106th Grey Cup in Edmonton on Sunday.
Calgary Stampeders coach Dave Dickenson a champion’s shower after his team defeated the Ottawa Redblacks in the 106th Grey Cup in Edmonton on Sunday.  (Darryl Dyck / The Canadian Press)

For Calgary Stampeders fans watching their team make a third attempt at taking the Grey Cup home in three years, the third time proved to be the charm as they defeated the Redblacks 27-16.

“We deserve this,” said Estaban Sein, a Stampeders fan living in Edmonton while he studies business at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. “It’s our turn to win.”

Cold weather and frozen turf didn’t seem to dampen any spirits during the 106th Grey Cup, the pinnacle of the CFL season, as both teams delivered explosive plays and fans huddled in the stands, at bars and around televisions to catch the action.

Sunday’s win marks the Stampeders’ first Grey Cup victory since 2014. The Stampeders lost 39-33 in overtime to Ottawa in 2016 before dropping a 27-24 decision last year to the Toronto Argonauts.

Read more:

West is best as Calgary Stampeders capture Grey Cup

Key moments from the Grey Cup

Running back Terry Williams played a vital role in helping Calgary win the CFL title in its third straight appearance, ending their recent Grey Cup misery.

Williams had a record 97-yard punt-return touchdown on a slippery Commonwealth Stadium turf.

Calgary quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell — the CFL’s most outstanding player this season after tossing a league-best 35 touchdowns — was the game MVP with two TD passes but also two interceptions. Stampeders receiver Lemar Durant of Vancouver was named the outstanding Canadian with four catches for 30 yards and a TD and a 22-yard run.

Calgary Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell was named the most valuable player of the Grey Cup. He had two touchdown passes and was 14-of-21 passing for 182 yards.
Calgary Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell was named the most valuable player of the Grey Cup. He had two touchdown passes and was 14-of-21 passing for 182 yards.  (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Ottawa — in its third Grey Cup competition in four years — appeared to score on Greg Ellingson’s acrobatic one-handed grab in the fourth quarter but replays showed the ball hit the turf. The Redblacks ended up turning the ball over on downs at the Calgary 7-yard line with just over eight minutes remaining.

After Ottawa turned the ball over on downs again, Calgary’s Jamar Wall and Tre Roberson followed up with interceptions on consecutive Redblacks possessions. Roberson’s pick came with just 1:22 left in the game.

On top of bragging rights and accolades from fans, Calgary players will receive a $16,000 winner’s share while the Redblacks go home with $8,000 apiece.

Despite declarations of “ABC,” shorthand for the Edmonton sports fan’s mantra of cheering for anyone but Calgary, some Edmonton Eskimos fans who didn’t get the chance to see their home team in the championship adopted their rival team as their own, even just temporarily.

Calgary running back Terry Williams (38) celebrates a punt-return touchdown against Ottawa with defensive back Tunde Adeleke (27).
Calgary running back Terry Williams (38) celebrates a punt-return touchdown against Ottawa with defensive back Tunde Adeleke (27).  (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

One family of Edmonton Eskimos fans loyal enough to live in a house painted green and gold was just happy to see a Western Canadian team take back the Cup.

“Keep it in the West,” said 79-year-old Myrna Greene, who was cheering on the Stampeders from the comfort of her living room inside her Edmonton Eskimos themed house near 93 Ave. and 92 St.

Regardless of the result, most fans left happy just to have been a part of the Grey Cup experience.

“We love the spirit of an Edmonton party,” said Patricia South, cheering on the Redblacks from The Pint on 109 St.. “Edmonton is a great city. People are friendly. We love it. We love coming to Edmonton.”

In the lead up to the 106th Grey Cup championship, Edmonton shut down a section of Jasper Avenue downtown to host a Grey Cup Festival, featuring tube slides, a zip line, bungees inviting all to take part in Grey Cup revelry extending well into the night.

Hours before the game, the Edmonton Eskimos Football Club announced that the 106th Grey Cup had sold out all 55,819 tickets for the championship game.

“This is a situation where words cannot express how we feel,” said Len Rhodes, Edmonton Eskimos president and CEO and 2018 Grey Cup co-chair in the release.

“Edmonton and the entire nation have set a new standard of how to celebrate the Grey Cup together.”

Calgary Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell was the CFL's most outstanding player in the regular season, as well as the Grey Cup MVP.
Calgary Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell was the CFL’s most outstanding player in the regular season, as well as the Grey Cup MVP.  (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Organizers estimated 500,000 CFL fans from coast to coast arrived in Edmonton to take in the big game, festival, awards and other fantastic events. It is expected to bring an economic boom of approximately $80 million to the local economy by the end of the festivities.

Next year, Calgary will host the 107th Grey Cup at McMahon Stadium.

With files from Kashmala Fida, Nadine Yousif and The Canadian Press

Claire Theobald is an Edmonton-based reporter who covers crime and the courts. Follow her on Twitter: @clairetheobald

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Stampeders hoping 3rd time’s a charm after booking ticket to Grey Cup

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The Calgary Stampeders have been here before.

The last two seasons have gone according to plan for the mighty Stamps until the championship game.

They were the heavy favourites two years ago against Ottawa only to lose to Henry Burris and the Redblacks in overtime.

They were heavy favourites last year against Toronto only to lose to Ricky Ray and the Argos in a nail-biter — who can forget that goal line fumble by the Stamps?

To say it has been repeat disappointments for the Stampeders is an understatement as they were just a few plays away from being back-to-back Grey Cup champions. 

How is it, then, that a team could find the composure to get back to the Grey Cup, after devastation the last two years?

Perhaps the motivation to right the wrongs of the past was enough to spur these Stamps onto Edmonton for another shot at glory.

Now quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell and the Stamps are heading back to the Grey Cup in a rematch of the 2016 game Calgary lost to the Redblacks. It’s a chance at ultimate redemption.

Bo Levi Mitchell seals the victory

The 22-14 win on Sunday over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers was somewhat underwhelming. At times it slowed to a defensive halt.

But with about six minutes left in the game and Calgary leading 14-11, Mitchell orchestrated a drive to put the game out of reach.

Mitchell wasn’t spectacular throughout the game, going 17 for 31 passing for 214 yards and three touchdowns. But with the game on the line he marched Calgary down the field with a seven-play 74-yard touchdown drive capped by a brilliant pass and catch to Eric Rogers in the end zone.

Calgary Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell lifts the trophy after defeating the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the CFL West final on Sunday night. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

That put Calgary up by 10 points with just a little more than three minutes left in the game, a deficit the Bombers could never overcome.

Many have speculated this could be Mitchell’s last game at McMahon Stadium as he may head south with NFL aspirations. If it was, it was vintage Mitchell — finding a way to win.

This now marks the fourth time Mitchell will enter the Grey Cup game as a starter. He won his first start, only to lose the last two. Now he’ll hope to lead Calgary to another championship.

‘Tired of seeing the Stampeders’

This is now the fourth time in the last five years the Stampeders are heading to the Grey Cup.

They won it all against Hamilton in 2014. But their last two meltdowns in the title game have been well-documented.

The West trophy presentation celebrations in the south end zone of McMahon Stadium after the game Sunday couldn’t have been more subdued and reserved — it was as if the Stampeders wanted no part of what seems to have become somewhat routine to them all. They want the big prize.

Calgary’s head coach Dave Dickenson could barely look at the trophy.

He quickly shuffled it along to his players before being asked to share a few words over the loud speakers inside the stadium.

« A lot of Canada is tired of seeing the Stampeders in the Grey Cup but tough luck, we’re bringing our team to Edmonton, » Dickenson said. « We have great fans and a great city. The city is looking for something like this. »

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Ottawa urged to launch new charm offensive in U.S. to sell trade deal

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OTTAWA – Canada-U.S. trade observers say the Trudeau government should launch a whole new charm offensive to teach an incoming crop of rookie lawmakers about cross-border economic integration after American mid-term elections gave Democrats’ new powers to control the North American trade deal’s passage.

But Canada’s federal government is dismissing concerns about Canada’s ability to close the deal on a new NAFTA, known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

The Democratic party, which traditionally embraces trade protectionist sentiment, gained the upper hand in the House of Representatives and is set to take control of key committees in charge of deciding how quickly implementation legislation for the USMCA will advance, or stall, through Congress.

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The federal Liberal government says it doesn’t plan the kind of all-out full court press of new Democrat legislators that it carried on to woo American support throughout the NAFTA talks.

“They may not be the biggest free-traders in the world but I think they see this agreement is good for Canada, it’s good for the United States,” MacNaughton said on CBC’s Power and Politics.

MacNaughton and other Canadian officials said they saw President Donald Trump’s reaction Wednesday to midterm results as a positive signal too.

During an extraordinarily acrimonious news conference where Trump slammed the media for not giving him credit for the booming economy, the U.S. president brushed off his past verbal slams of Canada’s prime minister.

He declared his rift with Justin Trudeau is repaired — “We have a very good relationship” — and said he would be able to work with Democrats to advance their interests in infrastructure and health care, and his interests in areas like border security and immigration. And, he said pointedly, the USMCA “has gotten rave reviews. Not going to lose companies anymore to other countries.”

Trump credited his use of tariffs on imports for retaining companies in America by giving them “a tremendous economic incentive, meaning it’s prohibitive for them” to move into other jurisdictions, and for reaching better trade deals. He said as a result America’s steel and aluminum industries which “were dead” are recovering and “our miners are working again.”

The USMCA is completely different than NAFTA, he claimed. “It’s not going to be like NAFTA which is one of the worst deals I’ve ever seen,” and he extended an offer of bipartisan co-operation.

“Now is the time for members of both parties to join together, put partisanship aside and keep the American economic miracle going strong.”

However academic and business experts suggested the Canadian government cannot become complacent now.

Chris Sands, director of the Centre for Canadian Studies at Johns Hopkins University, said in an interview that trade was not a big issue for either party in most midterm races, but it is likely to become a bargaining chip between Democrats and Republicans in the Trump administration.

The Democrats may want to leverage it in order advance their policies on immigration, infrastructure and health care, he said.

“I give the Trudeau (government) — Canada generally, a lot of credit. They’ll go down in history for the amazing effort they had to reach out to the Americans with data to say look how much Canada contributes to your district in terms of jobs, investment and trade. And they had the numbers and they were persuasive. They were cross-country, it was Congress, it was governors, it was state legislators.

“Now we have a lot of new faces, we have to start over.”

Maryscott Greenwood, CEO of the Canadian-American Business Council, said: “The Trudeau government’s charm offensive is going to have to double down.”

“I have a feeling there’s a lot of education that’s going to have to be done.”

She said the ratification of the deal will become the subject of a lot of arm-twisting between the Democrat leadership in the House and the Trump administration.

“The question becomes what will the Democrats ask in return for their support for the deal. It’ll be a horse-trade and it’ll be a negotiation,” she said.

“And that could take some time, and it’s complicated by the fact that the environment will be particularly contentious because the Democrats will be investigating the bejeezus out of the Trump administration.”

“That being said, it’s in no one’s interest to run the economy into the ground,” said Greenwood.

A senior Canadian official, speaking on a background basis only, said the Canadian embassy in Washington already has plans to reach out to congressional newcomers in the coming weeks.

But he emphasized that the reality in Washington is that seniority equals power, and Trudeau, his foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland and MacNaughton among others, already know many of the key players, and have met with them on several occasions.

Those include Nancy Pelosi, expected to become Speaker, Massachusetts’ Richard Neal, the ranking Democrat on the powerful ways and means House committee likely to become its chair, and Bill Pascrell, a Democrat from New Jersey, likely to become the ways and means trade subcommittee chair.

The other key element, of course, is Trump himself. He has shown a willingness to use whatever executive powers he has, such as ordering tariffs levied in the name of national security.

The Trudeau government is coming under increasing pressure from steel and aluminum workers in Canada, not to ratify the USMCA deal while tariffs remain, and not to agree to to any caps or limits on Canadian metals exports in exchange for their removal.

Trudeau said earlier this week he is unlikely to withhold Canada’s ratification of the deal over the question of tariffs, but will continue to press for their lifting.

MacNaughton said Wednesday Trudeau is unlikely to appear at a signing ceremony to celebrate the USMCA as long as the tariffs stand. A Canadian official later said Trudeau would sign it, but would hold off on celebrations until tariffs lift.

Tonda MacCharles is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics. Follow her on Twitter: @tondamacc

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