I am writing this while gazing out upon a farmer's field that has just had 1,500 baby red pines planted upon it. There's no doubt they look rather fetal at the moment. You have to squint to notice that the rows of little green tufts are anything other than early weeds taking advantage of the spring sun.
They were planted this weekend as part of an Ontario provincial program that is returning farmland to forest. We have five acres of fields adjoining our family's lakeside cottage -- and over the years, we've let a local farmer use the land, and who has planted it mostly with crops of clover. But the problem with this particular type of farmland is that it probably shouldn't have been farmed in the first place. The soil is thin, over a base of limestone. At one time there was a canning factory on our property -- and while we could probably create a good vegetable patch out there (there's still room for that), over the years the fields have essentially been over-farmed and leached of nutrients. The province would prefer we let it resort to forest -- eventually a hardwood forest -- restoring lost habitats for birds and wildlife.
We will not live to see the hardwood forest, and nor will our children. To get hardwoods you need shade. To get shade, you need to grow trees that like sun -- in this case, red pines. These pines in time will yield to maples and oaks that will be able to grow in their shadows. The whole process should take about 150 years. It's a few millennia short of the ancient stories of rebirth so many of us are celebrating today: for Christians, the resurrection of Christ; for Jews, the transformation from slaves to a free people. Still, I think the tiny trees are a fitting symbol for our mutual holidays, celebrating -- indeed embodying -- the renewal of God's earth. You can see a photo of our infant trees here.
Rebirth and resurrection seemed to be the theme of this past week as well. We launched the second of our popular debate series "Change My Mind" -- this one arguing when life begins from a legal perspective. Currently our laws do not recognize a child as "human" -- and all the rights that entails -- until he or she has fully emerged from the womb. Meaning, theoretically, if a baby were to be killed or murdered before the last of its toes had left the mother ship, it would not yet be considered human, according to current law. This 400-year-old definition bothered Supreme Court Justice Bertha Wilson when she ruled on R v. Morgentaler in 1988 -- she suggested Parliament review the law, and conclude at what point a fetus should be considered human. Tory MP Stephen Woodworth (Kitchener Centre) has revived the question by proposing a parliamentary motion to form a special committee, one that would use modern medical information to determine such a definition. He debated the issue with Joyce Arthur, founder of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, who argued there was no reason to revisit the law. Who do you agree with? You can still vote. Last check-in showed Joyce winning the debate by six per cent.
Meanwhile, a resurrection of another kind was taking place in Ottawa -- Trudeaumania 2.0. With Justin Trudeau's definitive smackdown of Senator Patrick Brazeau in last Saturday's charity boxing match, media blogger J.J. McCullough wondered if the national media wasn't reading too much into the three-round win. As in, were they thinking now that the young Trudeau -- and the Liberal party -- might rise on the third day also?
At the Toronto Star, Thomas Walkom comes out swinging with not one, not two, but three savage metaphors about how Justin's T.K.O. manifests the young politician's abundance of qualifications for higher office. Like Papa Trudeau, Walkom says Justin clearly has "caught the public's imagination by taking physical risks" (Brazeau being the closest available equivalent to the FLQ), shown his commitment to democratic accountability by beating up "a Conservative patronage senator handpicked by Prime Minister Stephen Harper," and demonstrated "a knack of making the front page" -- which is obviously an end unto itself in politics these days.
Lawrence Martin at the Globe and Mail is no less awed, unironically describing Trudeau's victory as a "defining career moment," with Brazeau's sweaty corpse providing further grease for Justin's steady slide towards the PMO. If the Liberal Party is to "rise again," Larry says, "it needs someone of daunting name and spirit to remind the country of its daunting days." You know, like that time Lester Pearson punched out a speedo-clad John Diefenbaker.
Some of this oohing and awwing was drowned out by the sonic boom of the F-35 controversy. While Bob Rae demanded the resignation of Stephen Harper over an AG report suggesting the government overpaid for these $148 million jets -- veteran correspondent and military expert Peter Worthington pointed out that these cool rides might never be used:
The irony in the whole F-35 aircraft controversy is that no matter how good the strike aircraft may be, its full capacity will probably never be used by Canada ...The air force loves complex strike aircrafts with state of the art technology, just as navy guys love the idea of submarines (even though no Canadian submarine has ever fired a torpedo in anger). The four second-hand subs the British persuaded us to buy in 1998, have had considerable difficulty going under water without leaking.... Often cited is that the F-35 is needed to shadow Russian aircraft that intrude into our northern air space. There is no suggestion that the F-35s would ever shoot down a Russian plane, just watch and report to headquarters.
And while the Tories were boosting the F-35s, they were killing the scandal-plagued International Centre for Human Rights and Democracy Development, a story first broken by our own Althia Raj in Ottawa. While the government ended that, contributor and MP Charlie Angus announced he was going to end his association with Twitter -- a blog that went viral, but maybe because we were all taking bets as to how long this boycott would last. Charlie, take it from someone who is eating matzoh for the next week: You'll be back to bread ASAP.
Meanwhile on intra-HuffPost news, we scored a major nomination for the Canadian Journalism Foundation's Excellence in Journalism Award. The award, which will be handed out in June, highlights independence, accuracy, accountability, courage and originality. We are nominated along with the Toronto Star, Canadian Press, CBC's "The Current" and the Winnipeg Free Press. Our music dude, Josh Ostroff rocked the Juno Awards coverage this past weekend, and was interviewed on CBC and MTV News. Star business reporter Rachel Mendleson suggested there might be a "lost generation" of civil servants thanks to the budget cuts, while soaring gas prices, the fallout from the federal budget and the ongoing RIM saga kept business editor Dan Tencer hopping (and not to mention, kept him away from Timmy's drive-thrus...).
In Blog Town, we saw Douglas Anthony Cooper post the second part of his extraordinary expose on the animal rights group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) -- which his blog post proved the group is devoted to anything but. This latest installment analysed the creepy death-soaked philosophy of PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk. Stay tuned next week for part three, in which Doug interviews "no-kill" animal rights advocate Nathan Winograd. We also welcomed aboard songstress Sarah Harmer, who took up the cause of the salamander and other species (including humans) who face devastating harm from the proposed "mega-quarry" to be built in the Niagara escarpment.
As always we will have great new content in the coming week. But for now, enjoy whatever rebirth you are experiencing. Have a lovely holiday from all of us at HuffPost.