This Week: Good news/ Bad news

Plus a week in the life of P.K. Subban

Eugene Hoshiko/AP

Face of the week
Creepy baby: A giant, electronically animated infant greets visitors to the Spain Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo.

A week in the life of P.K. Subban
A skilled and swift defenceman who grew up in Toronto’s troubled Jane-Finch neighbourhood, 20-year-old Subban was called up Monday from Hamilton to play for the Montreal Canadiens, the team he grew up idolizing. He recorded an assist that night against Washington, then helped the Habs upset the favoured Capitals in Game 7 on Wednesday. In two quarter-final matches against Pittsburgh, Subban saw his ice time rise to 23 minutes per game.

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Channel changer
The slow-motion breakup of the Canwest Global Communications empire is drawing to a end, and not a moment too soon. Calgary-based Shaw Communications announced a $2-billion deal this week for the company’s television assets, including its valuable specialty channels, while there were at least three bids on the table for Canwest’s still-vital newspaper chain. These viable properties were unfortunate pawns in Canwest’s debt-leveraged convergence strategy of the early 2000s, which was masterminded by CEO Leonard Asper. When the two business units entered bankruptcy protection last winter, the plans of competent managers—not to mention the livelihoods of thousands of employees—were thrown into limbo. They all deserved better. Here’s hoping they will get it under Shaw.

Not a full deck
Justice James Ramsay, a Superior Court judge in Kitchener, Ont., must have shaken his head when he received a note from an elderly female juror in the midst of a recent attempted murder trial. The woman said she belonged to a national human rights group, and was upset that the Crown prosecutor had used the phrase “calling a spade a spade”—a term she claimed bore “historical racial overtones.” Noting that the expression has nothing to do with race (it is a reference to playing cards dating to the 16th century), the judge promptly dismissed her, leaving the rest of the jurors to return a guilty verdict without her. Good call. Any person whose judgment is that clouded by political correctness has no place deciding the fate of her fellow citizens.

Out and about
More than proof he is still ambulatory, Kim Jong-Il’s visit to China this week offers an opportunity for Beijing to talk sense into the aging dictator. The meeting comes as the rest of the world seeks to renew the international Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which North Korea has never signed. So the Chinese might start by explaining to Kim the technical meaning of “rogue state”: if you’re not part of the NPT, and you seek nuclear capability, you enjoy no assurance that others won’t use atomic weapons to stop you. It’s a kind of carrot and stick thing.

More Mr. Nice Guy
Just as researchers in Mexico confirmed long-standing suspicions that women aren’t as good as men at reading maps, German scientists announced they’d developed an “empathy” spray for males—an oxytocin-laced nasal mist that makes men more understanding toward the women in their lives. We suggest they start selling that stuff in travel-sized bottles.


No offence
From old England to New England, it’s been another tough week for free speech. In the British village of Workington, a Christian preacher was jailed for declaring homosexuality to be a sin, as police claimed the statement violated public order laws. Officers were apparently unfazed by the fact the laws were originally intended to curb drunkenness and hooliganism. In Massachusetts, state legislators passed an “antibullying” bill that civil libertarians warn will turn anodyne schoolyard remarks into potential grounds for suspension. So take note, lawmakers: no matter how well-intentioned your legislation, the hall monitors of public discourse will gladly misuse it to suit their purpose.

Sucking up
What was Michael Ignatieff thinking? The Liberal leader’s call to extend Governor General Michaëlle Jean’s appointment was not only a transparent attempt to piggyback on her popularity, it was improper. Jean may soon be ruling on the fate of Parliament, after all. And no matter how impartial her judgment, her decision could be called into question if it favoured a leader who’d been publicly licking her boots. Canada has made admirable strides in depoliticizing the viceregal office. This sort of rhetoric only sets us back.

Hold the radio collar
The discovery of a grizzly-polar bear hybrid last week was hardly the banner day for wildlife research some proclaimed. Not only does such cross-species breeding suggest climate change has badly distorted Canada’s northern ecosystems (harp and hooded seals are also said to be commingling), but it was hard to overlook the fact we managed to kill the only known specimen of the so-called “grolar bear” before we could learn much about it. No one expects Arctic residents to ignore bears who maraud through their unoccupied cabins, as this one was reportedly doing before an Inuit hunter shot it. But for the sake of research, it would be nice if we hit the next one with a tranquilizer dart.

Fried what?
Nearly two years after the Beijing Olympics and with Expo 2010 in the offing, China’s war on “Chinglish” isn’t going so well. The country is still plagued by malformations of common English on signs and advertisements, despite the deployment of nearly 600 English-speaking storm troopers to stamp out linguistic pratfalls. Toilets are “urinary districts.” A park to honour minorities was accidentally christened “Racist Park.” We can all laugh at a clothing chain called “Scat.” But who wants to order a sausage called “fried enema”?