2013 Year in Review: Canada

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      Our year-in-review special looks back at the wacky, weird, and wondrous stories of 2013.


      “We see less and less people now…digging in their wallets for nickels.”—Former Bank of Canada economist Jean-Pierre Aubry on the need to take the nickel coin out of circulation just as the federal government did with the penny earlier this year. Aubry said Canadians hoard the coins, forcing the Royal Canadian Mint to distribute 350 million of them every year to meet retail demand: “It’s a sign that the coin is not well-used,” he said


      In an attempt to make Prime Minister Stephen Harper appeal more to average Canadians, the PMO in January conducted a one-day Twitter diary, showing Harper eating breakfast next to his cat, Stanley, high-fiving a Tory MP, stroking a pet chinchilla at home, and working at his desk.


      “In the hands of its present and recent leadership it has atrophied, and is now like a decrepit Jurassic monster, with failing sight and palsied limb that yet comes snorting out of the undergrowth occasionally in pursuit of some misconceived or conjured cause.” —Former Canadian citizen and ex-con Conrad Black on the Toronto Star, which he took to task for its relentless pursuit of Toronto mayor Rob Ford, who is being sued for libel by a Star reporter for comments he made while being interviewed by Black on his weekly Vision TV talk show


      “You wonder why you commission reports if you’re not going to use them.”—McGill University psychiatry professor Anne Crocker, on data she turned over to the federal Justice Department that showed that violent offenders deemed not criminally responsible due to mental illness are among the least likely to reoffend. Nonetheless, the Harper government shortly thereafter introduced a bill that would toughen laws so that some such offenders would not be eligible for conditional or absolute discharge


      “The only thing that gets me mad is I have to sleep.”—Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield during his first news conference from orbit after assuming command of the International Space Station in March


      “Why is that so hard to grasp?”—Former B.C. Conservative senator Pat Carney, writing on her Facebook page in June about what she considered to be the Senate’s straightforward paperwork after hearing embattled Senator Pamela Wallin, during an interview by CBC’s Peter Mansbridge, blaming “more paperwork than is humanly possible to keep on top of” for her troubles with government auditors. Carney added: “If they don’t know where they live and what they spend they shouldn’t be appointed to the Senate!”


      After Quebec’s soccer federation imposed a ban on male head coverings (a ban supported by Premier Pauline Marois), a poll by the Montreal-based Association for Canadian Studies found that 47 percent of Quebec respondents agreed with the statement: “Wearing a turban is a safety risk when playing soccer” (in the rest of Canada, 30 percent agreed). For the statement: “I feel my identity is threatened when I see people wearing a turban, hijab, or kippa”, 46 percent of Quebecers agreed (outside Quebec, the most who agreed were in Alberta, 32 percent, and the least, 24 percent, were in B.C.).


      “I don’t think he owns the trademark to his face. He’s a public figure.”—Canadian Taxpayers Federation spokesman Scott Hennig, on any copyright issues that might arise from the use of the group’s 10-metre-tall inflatable figure of Sen. Mike Duffy, to be used as a mascot for the CTF’s call for a referendum on the future of the Senate. The portly vinyl balloon depicts a bald man in a blue suit, holding a briefcase bulging with money and with a hand out for more


      “I said, ‘Where’s the toe?’ And he said, ‘I swallowed it.’ ”—Terry Lee, Dawson City’s Downtown Hotel “toe captain”, on a customer who ordered the Yukon establishment’s infamous “sourtoe cocktail”—a shot of whisky with a preserved human toe in the glass—and downed the appendage along with the booze, despite the $500 fine for doing so. “He stands up, reaches in his pocket, and takes five $100 bills and slams it on the table and starts walking away,” Lee related