2 min

Please stop gushing

As you’ve no doubt seen by now, David Johnston has been named as the next Governor General, after a process that we are assured was a wide-ranging consultation that was not done by political staff. Which is all well and good. Sure a legal scholar might be well placed at a time of minority governments when tough calls need to be made. And while we’re assured he’s quite qualified, if a safe choice, there’s something else in Johnston’s biography that does bother me.

It’s the hockey thing, I’ll readily admit – because that’s exactly what a lot of people are immediately glomming onto. Hell, I watched Conservative MP Rick Dykstra gush about it on Power & Politics last night. This less than a week after we witnessed Stephen Harper make an embarrassment out of the lot of us by giving a speech to the Queen at a state dinner that was nothing but lame hockey metaphors, and talked about the special display for Her Majesty in the Hockey Hall of Fame. W.T.F.

I get that people like hockey. I really do. But I object to it somehow becoming our defining national characteristic. I object to politicians – but Harper in particular, as that seems to be some of his favoured shtick – who use hockey metaphors to try an appeal to the “Tim Horton’s Crowd™.” (The only MP who gets a pass on this objection is Ken Dryden, for obvious reasons). I also object to the Tim Horton’s branding of this country just as much, even if their English Toffee “flavoured cappuccinos” are like crack. We are so much more than that. We have a rich and unique history and culture that no other country in this world can claim, but instead of celebrating those things, we focus on hockey and cheap coffee. And this aspect of Johnston’s biography is playing into that same infantilising narrative. Sorry, but no. Let’s talk about his law credentials, or his scholarship, or his passion for learning and making Canada a connected society technologically. But enough with the gushing about his hockey past.

(Of course, Johnston’s role in drafting the very limited terms of reference for the Oliphant Inquiry – which kept the Airbus affair out of the mandate – could conceivably be an issue. He did the government’s bidding once – will he have the strength to do so when a real test of constitutional importance comes down?)

The Senate finance committee has amended Bill C-9, the omnibus budget bill, and deleted several of the controversial sections (such as the sections on selling off AECL, ending Canada Post’s monopoly on international mail, and the section on environmental assessments). It still has to go before the full Senate at Third Reading on Monday, but Conservative Senator (and campaign director) Doug Finley is already saying this could cause an election if the bill gets sent back to the Commons.

Tony Clement says he’s standing firm on his decision to make the census data basically useless, even though more business groups and municipalities are protesting the move. (And it’s too bad the CanWest article didn’t talk about some of the basic fundamental issues such as selection bias, and that the government’s position is untenable for anyone who knows basic stats).

Wrapping up his tour of China, Michael Ignatieff admits to toning down his message about human rights there, though he says he hasn’t abandoned it and is trying to be more constructive in his engagement, rather than just finger-wag like Harper did for the first three years of his government.

And no surprise here, but the government will oppose an inquiry into what happened with G20 security.
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