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Essential reading: your morning five

Canada will just have to get used to ice dance judging

(Paul Chiasson, The Canadian Press)

While you slept, we tracked the predictable uproar over ice dance judging, a public consultation on prostitution, violence in Bangkok, renewed violence in Kyiv, and the mayoral candidate who just won’t file the paperwork.

1. Canada doesn’t like Olympic judges. The beloved ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir won a silver medal, but of course that’s not this morning’s big story. The big story is that Virtue and Moir didn’t win gold, no one can explain the judges’ problems with the Canadian pair’s performances, and nothing about this is out of the ordinary. Carol Lane, a CBC commentator at Sochi’s Iceberg Skating Palace, explained yesterday that judges could look at Virtue and Moir’s performance, and that of their American rivals, Meryl Davis and Charlie White, and be comfortable awarding the gold to either pair. That fact is an anomaly at the Olympics, where even the other judged sports tend to favour objectivity over the alternative. Fingers crossed, hope the judges like what they see. That’s ice dance.

2. Should prostitution be legalized? The federal government wants to know what you think. Yesterday, as five provinces celebrated the wholesome Family Day, Justice Minister Peter MacKay announced a public consultation on the future of Canada’s prostitution laws. MacKay’s bias is no secret. He’s unhappy with the Supreme Court’s decision, late last year, to strike down laws that effectively criminalized prostitution. That in mind, a cynical government critic might expect the justice department to ask leading or loaded questions. But the six questions are all even-handed, each poking a different element of the court’s ruling. The feds only ask that, if you’re affiliated with an organization, to please disclose that information. Watch out for a new database near you.

3. Bangkok protests got violent. Thai protesters clashed with police in the streets of Bangkok in what became a deadly day of demonstrations. Three people died near Democracy Monument—an officer and two protesters, says the BBC—and dozens of others were wounded. Photographs show police firing weapons, open tear-gas canisters rolling in the street, and protesters overturning vans. The persistent anti-government uprising refused to support elections earlier this month, and want the government to resign in favour of a people’s council. The way these things go down, expect more violence before the people in power acquiesce.

4. Kyiv protests again. Anti-government demonstrations rocked the Ukrainian capital. Protesters attempted to enter the country’s parliament—itself a scene of chaos, as opposition parliamentarians attempted to force a vote on a constitutional proposal—and succeeded, for a time, at occupying an office of President Viktor Yanukovych. In Sochi, Ukrainian biathlete Vita Semerenko is the country’s lone medallist, earning a bronze in the 7.5-km sprint. Her country, facing its continued crisis, can be forgiven for noticing.

5. Olivia Chow is still not a mayoral candidate. Toronto will elect a mayor in October. Much of the city is looking for someone to vote for who isn’t Rob Ford. That someone is, for many, former city councillor and current parliamentarian Olivia Chow. They—pollsters and others who think they know—say she’s a contender. But, for reasons only Chow and the people closest to her understand, she won’t enter the race just yet. Family Day offered reporters another opportunity to ask about the MP’s possible future at Toronto city hall. Family Day also gave Chow another chance to defer her decision. Perhaps the time has come to stop asking. If Chow wants the free publicity that comes with a mayoral run, let her declare her candidacy.