Read me: The week in commentary for Nov. 19

A national bird, a Tory debate and a LGBTQ2 advisor — all in Canada this week.

A national bird, a Tory debate and a LGBTQ2 advisor — all in Canada this week

The grey jay — arguably Canada's most controversial figure this week. (Dan Strickland)

Yet another controversial election has the nation divided. Despite losing the popular vote, the grey jay is here to stay as Canada's national bird — whether we like it or not. Many were rooting for the loon, which got the most votes, but now we endure as disoriented writers try to make sense of what happened.

There's an opportunity to have more birds to choose from, however, if Canada takes some American states under its wing. "Strangely, sadly, aptly, it's Leonard Cohen who provides the perfect Canadian geo-strategic response to president-elect Donald Trump: 'First we take Manhattan,'" writes William Watson in Fort McMurray Today. "Actually, first we should take Vermont." Besides, B.C. and California have always been birds of a feather.

Make Politics Imaginative Again

Asking America for the states Trump doesn't want is a radical idea, but at least it's creative. At iPolitics, Mark Dance and Claire Kane Boychuk argue that democracy is starved for imagination. "Our national political conversation has become so flattened and canned that the wider Canadian polity cannot recall what genuine, substantive and respectful disagreement looks like," they write.

The candidates for Conservative leadership should listen closely. While covering the second debate for Maclean's, Scott Gilmore had a hard time telling them apart: "There were clearly two types of candidates on stage," he writes. "The first and largest was composed of men who were, frankly, interchangeable. You could squint your eyes and not be able to tell one from the other."

Indistinguishable candidates debate the future of the Conservative Party. (Liam Richards/Canadian Press)

Vicky Mochama at Metro had a similar problem. "There are so many contenders that I came up with a mnemonic: BLASTS COOL R&B (Bernier, Lindsay, Alexander, Saxton, Trost, Scheer, Chong, Obhrai, O'Toole, Leitch, Raitt & Blaney)." Maybe this will inspire Leitch to stop "reading from a script she found on the floor of a suburban Boston Pizza," as CBC's own Robyn Urback suggests.

Since Leitch refuses to specify how her plan will work and what she means by "Canadian values," the nation's columnists are doing the heavy lifting for her. Writing for the Winnipeg Free Press, Kyle Mirecki says, "I feel compelled to say xenophobia is not a conservative value. It is an incredibly poisonous, pervasive and recurring societal problem." Hear that, Kellie?

Madeline Ashby at the Ottawa Citizen says if we want to talk values, we should focus on projects like universal basic income. "Bold experimentation, securing the social fabric, investing in the dignity and viability of individual Canadians regardless of their race or gender or creed: this is the Canadian project."

For LGBTQ2 Canadians, Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

This week Trudeau appointed an LGBTQ2 advisor and repealed the section of the Criminal Code that restricted anal sex to those over 18 or married. It was an important decision for the LGBTQ2 community, but there is still work to be done.

As Bruce Hicks writes in the Ottawa Citizen, "In the Canadian military, the Judge Advocate General's Office was instructed by the brass to find ways to forcibly remove homosexuals from the military. In response, the annotated Queen's Regulations and Orders made a number of suggestions on how to bypass Parliament's, and the country's, newfound tolerance of homosexuality."

In Toronto, we just learned of a large-scale police operation "reminiscent of the bathhouse raids" that shook the gay community, says Marcus McCann in the Daily Xtra. Undercover officers charged 72 people for soliciting sex in a park. "This kind of undercover sting operation has the potential to ruin the lives of these men and their families, all over something that, in most cases, is as serious as a traffic ticket."

A subhead about checking in with provinces

In PEI, there are issues with voters voting on voting. Gary MacDougall in The Guardian, writes that everyone seemed confused about the province's electoral reform plebiscite. "The results after the first three rounds of preferential voting saw FPTP in the lead. So it was hardly a resounding win for any option. Especially when the voter turnout is factored in." Just wait for the sequel: electoral reform goes federal.

In Saskatchewan, there are issues with land ownership and conflicts of interest. Six years ago, the government forced a group of nuns to sell their land for $11,000, but just a few years later it paid $103,000 to businessmen with ties to the Sask. Party for similar patches of land. "For two consecutive days last week, Wall (the man who never met a microphone he didn't like) turned on his heels and walked away from reporters at the first mention [of the land deal]," says Murray Mandryk in the Regina Leader-Post.

With a sentence that can be applied to any government, anywhere, Mandryk concludes: "The most transparent and accountable government in Saskatchewan history? Nope."

This column is part of CBC's new Opinion section. For more information about this section, please read this editor's blog and our FAQ.

About the Author

Jane Lytvynenko is a freelance reporter and editor. Her work has appeared in BuzzFeed, Maclean's, CANADALAND and other publications.


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