And they're off! Kinda.
In a desperate attempt to suss some semblance of an engaging storyline from the dreary six-month slog that is the 2013 Liberal leadership race, the press has lately been making much fuss over the arbitrary milestone the contest apparently passed last Wednesday. Ah ha, they declare, the campaign's finally "kicked off," everyone's "out of the gates," they're really "metaphoring that metaphor," etc.
In reality, of course, Wednesday was a date like any other for a nation that's already been toiling under the weight of a Liberal leadership tournament ever since Bob Rae stepped down last June, or at latest since that crisp October evening when Justin Trudeau threw his shimmering locks into the ring. November 13, by contrast, was merely when the Grit leadership council announced they were ready to "accept nomination papers and the first instalment of the candidates' entry fees," in the stirring words of Liberal.ca.
Speaking of Liberal.ca, at the moment it only features a single wry smile under the header "Meet the Candidates," and I bet you can guess who it belongs to (hint: not Deborah Coyne). But avid news junkies know there's really five other folks "running" as well -- at least in some self-actualized, post-modern sense that evidently doesn't involve filing any paperwork.
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Here are the remaining candidates for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada.
Age: 40 Occupation: MP for Montreal-area riding of Papineau Website
Age: 58 Occupation: Liberal MP for Vancouver Quadra, former B.C. Liberal environment minister Website
Age: 53 Occupation: Former Liberal MP for Willowdale and 2006 leadership candidate Website
Age: 50 Occupation: Lawyer, former Montreal Liberal MP Website
Age: 57 Occupation: Lawyer, professor Website
Occupation: A retired Lieutenant-Colonel in the Canadian forces and mediator. Website
And that just ain't right, says noted Liberal bossypants Warren Kinsella in the Sun.
Look, he says, I'm sure you non-JT also-rans are all lovely folks and exactly "the kind of people the Liberal Party needs," but just "because you can run for something doesn't mean that you should." If anything, Warren thinks these attention-seekers should have really learned that particular lesson by now, considering how many of 'em are failed MP candidates in the first place. C'mon folks, this is the leadership of the Liberal Party you're running for, a job only the most eminently experienced children of dead prime ministers are qualified to fill.
Oh Warren, you loutish snob, retorts Keith Beardsley in the National Post, what about former MP and noted Big Milk scourge Martha Hall Findlay? Surely she's a "serious candidate" who could turn JT's coronation into a actual competition of "substance versus charisma"? After all, says Keith, MHF's very charming and brilliant and hard-working, and her campaign is run by a true "giant killer" of Canadian politics -- nothing for Justin to sneeze his pretty nose at. Not to mention that Martha totally recites "her talking points much better than Trudeau," which I think we can all agree basically makes her the Sidney Crosby of Liberal leadership races.
Woah, let's not go nuts Beardo, cautions fellow Postie Michael Den Tandt. Martha's a bright lady and all, but she's "not likely a giant killer." Instead, Mikey envisions her proper role as something closer to a tutor for the dauphin, a woman whose pushy insistance for a campaign filled with lots of brainy blah-blah about cheese management and whatnot will ensure that we hear lots of hard policy proposals "wonkish enough to satisfy the most avid policy geek" from "all camps" -- even Justin Trudeau's shapely lips.
Mike's column provides an interesting example of what could be called the Justin Trudeau Media Bias Paradox, where leading pundits can endlessly hype the man's inevitability -- simply because that's been their narrative for so very long -- while simultaneously denouncing his talents and qualifications -- because, well, look at him.
But it may not last. As the Toronto Star's Susan Delacourt notes, the press tends to get bored very quickly when one guy stays on top for too long and will often "cheer for underdogs" after a while simply to mix things up. "Preordained victories are neither interesting nor relevant," she observes, citing that week or two of fawning coverage Governor Romney got precisely when his presidential chances seemed bleakest.
So don't fret Martha! So long as you remain your feisty, interesting self, I'm sure you too can go the way of Mitt Romney.
Of course, the papers didn't waste all their space on Liberal Party pony-watching this weekend. Certainly not when there were haircuts to debate.
By now I'm sure we're all familiar with the sad tale of the plucky lady who tried to get her traditional Bieber 'do from a Toronto barbershop only to be turned down by the fiery Muslims running the joint. This being Canada, the monstrous crime is now safely before a human rights tribunal -- though one hopes the bereaved is not planning to summon any Toronto columnists in her defence.
"It's a frigging haircut, for the love of God" says an exasperated Rosie DiManno in the Toronto Star. If these barbers are too extremist for your taste, here's an idea, toots: just go somewhere else. Yeah, agrees the Star board, pretty sure there's "a welcoming barbershop down the block" that would be happy to take your dollars. "Toronto has, remember, more than one barber," deadpans Rex Murphy in the Post.
Obviously this is a fairly dumb story, but it's also a weirdly fascinating case study in what loveable nihilist Mark Steyn once predicted would be the great persecuted minority showdown of the 21st century -- Gays vs. Muslims.
And now, care of the tolerant minds of the Canadian press, we seem to have a preliminary answer.
To quote Uncle Ezra, when it comes to Muslim barbers battling uptight feminist gender-benders, "a lesbian's just not going to cut it."
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