We read, absorb, criticize and forget about headlines every single day. Here, now, is an absolutely abstract attempt to undo some of that short-term memory loss and remember the stories that dominated newspaper front pages since the inaugural Tease the Day on Oct. 16. If you’re unfamiliar, the Tease is our daily look at what some of Canada’s biggest papers tell their readers—narrated by me, entirely subjectively. I couldn’t think of a nuanced, creative way to reflect on all those morning headlines, so I took a short cut. Below are the first sentences, or sometimes the first two sentences, at the top of each morning’s Tease. Together, they paint a sort-of picture of the last months of 2012, starting in the middle of October.
(This review is inspired mostly by Aaron Wherry’s 2012 edition of This is the year that was, which you should go read. It’s a coherent and complete reflection on the past year in Canadian politics.)
So, back to Oct. 16.
It’s a newspaper’s dream: late-breaking news that everyone—in this case, everyone in Canada’s most populous province—will care to read. The echoes of Dalton McGuinty’s resignation reverberate in today’s newspapers. Andrew Coyne’s column in the Postmedia papers is, above all else, worth your time this morning. If only the Liberals were still in power, the fun the Conservatives would have in Question Period today. Today’s one of those days when the Prime Minister’s Question Period prep team has its work cut out for itself. Whenever the opposition hammers away at the same issue a few days running, it gets boring quickly. Give the prime minister credit: His government’s fighting the opposition on a number of files that involve several cabinet ministers, including everything from food safety to a fight with a parliamentary watchdog about cuts across federal departments. Still, Stephen Harper manages to crash a wedding photo shoot and earn a bunch of happy press about it. Newspapers might be the first thing news junkies read every morning, but their impact on the day’s agenda can vanish in the blink of an eye. The auditor-general isn’t reporting anything today. If you’re not thinking about strong winds and heavy rain this morning, odds are you’re in the minority. Every so often, a data journalist comes up with a story that, without requiring anonymous sources or leaked documents, still manages to capture the attention of the national agenda. It might not be the kind of thing that’s mentioned in Parliament, but Quebec’s Charbonneau Commission, which has for months made big headlines in Quebec papers, finally cracked the front pages of The Globe and Mail, National Post and Toronto Star.
Not more than a few days after Prime Minister Stephen Harper lapped it up for cameras when he dropped in on a couple snapping wedding photos, he lapped it up again in predictable fashion on Hallowe’en night when he gave candy to local kids. If there’s one thing we can all learn from today’s newspapers, from coast to coast, it’s that we should bow down to the stoic confidence of Denzel Washington—or at least go see his movie, Flight. Why would Canada’s prime minister schedule a six-day trip to India just as the U.S. presidential election reaches a fever pitch? Well, he got another friendly photo op in all the papers. You probably won’t find this photo of jubilant Obama fans gracing the front page of many newspapers this morning. Expect to see a lot more of this man in your morning paper. His name’s John Boehner, and he’s the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Steven Blaney just can’t find good press these days. It’s not every day a newspaper asks its readers to help it write a story. Just when we thought we had our news back, and Americans would no longer dominate, along stumbles a formerly heroic military man named David Petraeus who decided to have an affair, ruin his career, and set off a series of unfortunate events that culminated in, well, his resignation—but who knows where this story ends? News of a BP settlement related to the Deepwater Horizon disaster, that enormous oil spill that dominated headlines for much of 2010, is slowly leaking this morning. Is $4.5 billion a lot of money? Read the first few words in any story about hostilities between Israeli forces and Hamas, and you learn a few things. Jocelyn Riendeau was up against some formidable competition in this morning’s newspapers, but the Quebec-based photographer more than held his own with a glorious photo of a—wait, a hydro pole? You won’t see NDP leader Tom Mulcair’s picture much in this morning’s papers. For some reason, I dismissed David McGuinty’s flippant remarks the other day as basically irrelevant. Justin Trudeau must be thanking a stallion named Marty for making such a fuss on the streets of Toronto. If you had to guess, what would you say is the “single largest economic engine” in Labrador? Elizabeth May’s had a pretty good week, and her Green Party may be nipping at the edges of sustained political success, but you’d hardly know it. Patience, it seems, is something the Green Party requires in bunches. It’s not every week that Palestinians, North Koreans and Iranians all lash out at Canada. John Baird is, whether he saw it coming or not, the face of Israeli solidarity in Canada.
It’s now clear, if it wasn’t before, that South Pacific nations will not lose quietly on the international stage. I have this theory that Justin Trudeau, who you definitely know by now has said all kinds of things, doesn’t care about bad press. It’s not every day that Aboriginal leaders attempt to force their way in to the House of Commons chamber. Andrew Scheer’s job is not one to envy. The country’s education in how to buy a fighter jet continues. A tiny ad in today’s Toronto Star really says it all. My bet is a lot of readers will notice it and either chuckle or grimace, depending on their sympathy or despair or indifference for the mental health of our elected officials. “I’m willing to die for my people.” Vic Toews, Canada’s public safety minister, to the rescue. Six years ago, as Rona Ambrose escaped Ottawa for that year’s Christmas break, she’d spent months defending the government’s plans to combat climate change. It didn’t go so well. Have you ever heard of Momin Khawaja, Piratheepan Nadarajah or Suresh Sriskandarajah? We’ve spent days hearing about the sheer number of guns in America, the ever-loosening gun laws that allow the weapons to proliferate, the unspeakable damage murderers can inflict with perfectly legal firearms, the reasonable justification for such weapons in the hunting world, and the lack of perceived care for the mentally ill. Brian Jean should crack a smile when he reads this morning’s papers. Chris Hadfield blasted off into space this morning from a launch pad in Kazakhstan. Mark Carney couldn’t look more confident. Larry Summers made everything sound so simple—not easy, but simple—when he spoke about the fiscal cliff at the Chateau Laurier last month. Theresa Spence’s hunger strike didn’t immediately capture Canada’s attention. I have an economist friend who, some weeks ago, scoffed at the notion of a fiscal cliff. “Fiscal cliffhanger” is too tempting a headline to discard.
Monday, December 31, 2012