A Conservative senator says it's time Canada was symbolized by something more majestic than a buck-toothed rodent.

Senator Nicole Eaton wants the polar bear to replace the beaver as an official emblem of Canada.


Senator Nicole Eaton calls the beaver a 'dentally defective rat.' ((Parliament of Canada))

She says the polar bear is Canada's "most majestic and splendid mammal," and a powerful symbol in the lives of aboriginal peoples in the North. She believes the furry white carnivore's "strength, courage, resourcefulness and dignity" add up to an appropriate symbol for modern-day Canada.

By contrast, she derides the lowly beaver as a "19th century has-been," a "dentally defective rat," a "toothy tyrant" and a nuisance that wreaks havoc on its environment.

Eaton acknowledges the beaver's involuntary role in founding Canada — providing the fashionable pelts that fuelled the fur trade — but she says it's now time for a change.


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"A country's symbols are not constant and can change over time as long as they reflect the ethos of the people and the spirit of the nation," Eaton told her Senate colleagues Thursday. "The polar bear, with its strength, courage, resourcefulness and dignity is perfect for the part."

Eaton said the beaver should "step aside as a Canadian emblem, or, at the least, share the honour with the stately polar bear."

The government responded that it has no plans to change the beaver as a national symbol.