THE COUNTRY is a whopping $22 trillion in debt, so some wags have suggested a reasonable solution: Sell Montana to Canada. 

It isn't a total solution, as they expect Canada to pay just $1 trillion for the Treasure State. But it's a start.

The idea came from Ian Hammond, a petitioner at Change.org, who's hoping to get 7,500 signatures for his idea.

“We have too much debt and Montana is useless,” Hammond wrote, with tongue planted in cheek, in support of his plan. “Just tell them it has beavers or something.”

Even some Montanans endorsed the idea. “I'm Montanan and hoping to join Canada without the moving costs,” CJ Williams wrote in support. “Let's do this. Please adopt us.”

"I'm a Montanan and really hope that becoming Canadian makes me a nicer person," said Steve Hammond.

UPDATE: Some Montana legislators have decided to weigh in on the "lets-sell-Montana-to-Canada" petition with a "let's don't" resolution of their own. 

Rep. Forrest Mandeville, R-Columbus, proposed the resolution so lawmakers could have a little fun amidst all the serious issues they wrestle with. 

​Rep. Jessica Karjala, D-Billings, objected, with tongue in cheek, saying: " "What about those of us who would like more maple syrup, better tea and free healthcare?"

"It's still an option to move to Canada," Mandeville replied, according to a report in the Great Falls Tribune.

IN WHAT Montana city can you feel the most safe and secure? It's Kalispell, according to a new study by the National Council for Home Safety and Security.

Next on the list is Bozeman, followed by Helena, Great Falls, and Missoula.

The study was completed primarily to highlight the cities that have had the least amount of violent and non-violent crimes per population, while also bringing awareness to the cities that are more likely to have crime on a per-capita basis, the council said.

The council based its ratings on FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting statistics and combining those with its internal population research. The study indicated that Montana has some of the highest rates of property crime on a per-capita basis. The violent crime rate also is significantly above the national average.

MANY MONTANANS may have never heard of Huawei, the Chinese tech and telecommunications giant, until one of its top executives was arrested in Vancouver, British Columbia, recently, sending stock markets crashing. Huawei plays a key role in China's ambitions to become a worldwide tech leader, but many analysts warn that it is a major security risk around the world.

Some Montanans also may recall that a Flathead County couple -- and many others -- contend that Huawei was involved in the murder over six years ago of their son, an electronics engineer who worked in Singapore.

Shane Todd, 31, was working for the Institute for Micro Electronics, part of a Singapore state agency, and headed a team that developed advanced technologies. Shane told his parents, Richard and Mary of Marion, Montana, that he worried his work could jeopardize US national security -- shortly before he was found dead in his apartment.

Singapore police declared the death a suicide, but his parents said evidence suggested their son was murdered. They also found a small hard drive at their son's apartment, evidence inadvertently left behind by police who confiscated Shane’s computers, cellphone and diary. The hard drive detailed plans for a project that involved the institute and Huawei.

Though the Todds have been frustrated by their inability to get anyone to take responsibility for their son's death, they are happy that there have been a number of media reports about what happened. While they now believe there is little likelihood that Shane’s death will ever be ruled anything other than a suicide, they are pleased his story will be told again.

“What we most want to see happen is attention brought to the illegal transfer of technology to China through my son’s work,” Mary Todd told the Daily Inter Lake earlier this year.

WELL, now that Montana's election results are in, we know how everyone fared, including the pollsters. 

And the interesting thing is, out-of-state pollsters came a lot closer to getting it right than their Montana counterparts. In fact, polls done by the University of Montana and MSU-Billings deserve failing grades for how much they missed the mark in some contests.

For example, a UM Big Sky poll released in early October (and conducted in August) showed Sen. Jon Tester with a 24-point lead over GOP challenger Matt Rosendale. Tester ended up defeating Rosendale 50-47. Libertarian Rick Breckenridge got 3 percent.

A Big Sky poll that came out closer to the election did show the race tightening, with Tester leading by 10 points.

An MSU-Billings poll, also from October, had Tester with a 47 to 38 lead.

By contrast, a polling firm new to Montana politics, Gravis Marketing, consistently showed a close race between Tester and Rosendale. Their September poll had Tester with a 49-45 lead; October's poll put Tester at 48, Rosendale at 45. Gold star to Gravis.

CBS News issued a September poll that had similar results: Tester 47, Rosendale 45. Also of note: A MTN/MSU poll of voters in late September and early October that head Tester leading 46-43. (Kudos to these pollsters as well, who had a good record this election cycle.)

Montanans who follow politics also were surprised by the first UM Big Sky poll that showed Democrat Kathleen Williams with a 52-38 lead over incumbent GOP Congressman Greg Gianforte. UM's later poll essentially showed them in a dead heat. So did the last Gravis poll.

Gianforte won 51-46. 

In this race, the MSU-Billings poll did much better, showing Gianforte with a 44-41 lead. A MTN/MSU poll gave Gianforte the edge, 48-40 after surveying voters in late September and early October.

Some of the biggest discrepancies between poll results and election results appeared in the initiative contests. 

The MSU-Billings poll had Montana voters approving Initiative 185 (Medicaid expansion) by a 52-39 margin (8 percent undecided). The ballot measure was defeated 53-47.

The same poll showed Montanans overwhelmingly behind Initiative 186, which would have added restrictions on mining. (44 for, 30 against, 26 undecided). The actual vote: 56-44 against.

An MTN/MSU poll on Initiative 185 was somewhat closer to the mark, showing a virtual dead heat.

The verdict from all this: The UM and MSU-Billings polls seem to be over-sampling Democrats.


Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy, D-Box Elder, speaks at the state Capitol in this file photo. He was revealed Friday as the legislator who had sent harassing text messages to a fellow legislator in 2017. That led to his resignation from a committee chairmanship before the post could be stripped from him, the House speaker said. (Helena IR)

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​              A daily digest of Montana news

Feb. 23, 2019



Rep. Windy Boy revealed as lawmaker who sent harassing texts

State expected to get another big dump of snow, frigid temperatures

Massachusetts boy, 9, dies after hitting tree at Big Sky resort

Carroll College to eliminate 5 majors

Man gets 10 years for watching child porn on bus traveling thru MT

Bill would add gender identity, sexual orientation to discrimination law

Grand jury considers case against Zinke

Legislators give 50-cent an hour pay hike to state, university workers

Boy, 12, charged with attempted homicide for fire that sent 6 to hospital

Senate committee approves bill that aims to save Colstrip plants

Panel endorses rules on determining what's spent on infrastructure

Bills attempt to help rural schools lure teachers

River ice jams could cause flooding, state officials warn

House endorses 2 bills that would restrict local efforts to control guns

Chief deputy for attorney general announces he'll run for the office

Great Falls judge gives man life sentence for rape of 13-year-old girl

Billings teen to be tried on charges of raping 4 girls

Former Anaconda hoops players face rape charges

Congressional delegation wants to name ridge for plane crew

New details surface in sex-abuse case against former trainer

State orders Anaconda slag plant closed after elevated arsenic levels

Billings boy, 12, charged in connection with house fire that injured 6

Fort Benton student uses his steer to ask fellow student to prom

Flathead boy, 5, dies after he's run over by family member

Lawmakers piece health department budget back together after big cuts

Missouri River ice jam prompts road closure, flood advisory

Bills seek to extend statute of limitations in sex-crimes cases

Victims clash with lawmaker/former prosecutor over statute of limitations

Senate panel rejects ban on wolf hunting and trapping near Yellowstone

Bill would repeal law letting timber sale opponents bid on state sales

Plan calls for merging UM's journalism school with arts college

Man hospitalized after train rams, drags pickup west of Missoula

Legislators leave preschool funding out of proposed budget

GOP infighting triggers accusations over Miles City sex-assault case

After inmate mistakenly released from jail, he's back on assault charge

Groups ask judge to delay auction of Bozeman timber sale

Daines says public lands bill still needs work

Flathead Co officials say fatal shooting triggered by meth deal gone bad

UM's McGill Hall still being cleaned of asbestos

Old mines leave behind legacy of polluted waters

Legislators want to keep state worker settlement records longer


Bozeman mayor says state's lack of affordable housing is epidemic

Legislator hopes tiny homes can help address homelessness

Study: Bozeman ranks No. 5 in country on 'most dynamic' cities list

Bills that promote hemp growing in Montana move forward

MDU to close coal-fired plant in Sidney

MT internet providers seek tax break for expanding broadband

Owner of Montana, Wyoming coal mines cuts 15 workers



Backed by hometown and family, Rorie already among Grizzly greats

UM's Pridgett wins third Big Sky player of the week award

Only 5 Griz score but that's enough; they beat Idaho State 80-68

Cats fall to Weber State, 94-82

UM athletic program dipped into red last year, nearly ate up reserves

Lady Cats capture 72-59 victory over Weber State

Lady Griz nip Idaho State, 60-59

UM has won 8 straight, but many have come down to wire



Time to abolish the death penalty

State should make student-teacher sex relationships criminal offense

Gazette joins other papers that have fired profane comic-strip artist

Butte paper cutting comic strip that used vulgar anti-Trump message

State should pay the full cost of protecting firefighters

Daines did well in pushing vote on public lands package

Fox will emphasize his conservative credentials


The changing nature of being a grandparent in Montana

The ghost horse herd of the Sapphire Mountains

70 years ago, Montana received historic boxcar as a gift from France

Queens of cutlery: Butte knife shop notches 128 years in business

Missoula author recalls life as missionary kid and Japanese POW

Helena's 1989 train explosion remains one of its worst disasters

Group provides online guide to Montana's hidden historical treasures


Styx, Larry the Cable Guy performing in Billings March 23

Astronaut Scott Kelly to lecture April 4 at MSU

Beatles tribute band Bongwater to play at Bonner June 2

Whitefish festival will feature Dwight Yoakam, Band of Horses

Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson plan July 25 show in Billings

Grammy winner Norah Jones to play in Bozeman, Bonner in late July

Clint Black, LOCASH coming to Helena fair in late July

Steve Miller, Marty Stuart plan Missoula concert Aug. 17

'Weird Al' Yankovic plans Billings performance Aug. 25

Send tips to editor@montanabuzz.com