Good news, bad news

A campaign for O Canada, while Edward Snowden is nominated for a human rights award

Canadian speed-skater Charles Hamelin wins the world championship. (Aly Song / Reuters)

Good News

An anthem, not an anthim

The lyrics to O Canada have been tinkered with a number of times since the song debuted as a paean to Quebecers in 1880. But a 1913 rewrite that made it gender-specific now seems awfully outdated. The line “thou dost in us command” was changed to “all thy sons command,” notes the newly launched Restore Our Anthem campaign. Backed by the likes of Margaret Atwood, Kim Campbell and the mother of Nichola Goddard, the first Canadian female soldier killed in combat, the group wants it altered to “in all of us command.” That sounds entirely reasonable to us.

Healing at home

Toronto-born teenagers Fardosa and Dheeman Abdi were lucky to survive the terrorist attack that killed at least 67 people at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi last month. But both were wounded by gunfire and grenades, and Kenyan doctors feared that Fardosa might never walk again. Now the sisters are back in the city they left three years ago, receiving medical treatment. Fardosa has already undergone one surgery at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital. More will follow. Some are questioning who is paying for all of this. They shouldn’t. Helping those in need is the Canadian way.

Sail on

For most of the summer, Larry Ellison’s defence of the America’s Cup seemed like one incredible folly. The giant, expensive catamarans he chose kept most countries at home. One competitor died in training, his own team was caught cheating and few spectators turned out. But then the software billionaire’s Team Oracle, just one loss away from elimination, rattled off eight wins to steal the trophy from Team New Zealand. The thrilling finish now ranks among the greatest comebacks in sport history—in more ways than one.

Joint venture

Health Canada’s decision to do away with grow-your-own permits for medical marijuana and create a national network of licensed corporate producers is a good one. Users worry about higher costs, but a regulated growing and distribution system will only build momentum toward full legalization. And maybe private-sector pot outlets will finally convince provincial governments to follow suit with the booze trade.

Bad News

Chamber of secrets

The damaging stories about Canada’s Senate continue. This week, a witness at Quebec’s Charbonneau corruption inquiry told the CBC that Sen. Leo Housakos collected dubious donations for the provincial ADQ party before heading to Ottawa in 2009. (The Conservative denies the report, saying it’s part of a media “witch hunt.”) And Carolyn Stewart-Olsen, a former Stephen Harper spokeswoman, admitted she improperly claimed an undisclosed amount in living expenses between her 2009 nod as a senator for New Brunswick, and the 2011 sale of her Ottawa home. The scant confidence Canadians have in the upper chamber is fading fast. It’s time to start cleaning up the mess.

No sympathy for the devil

Just days after the UN voted to strip Syria of its chemical weapons, after verifying they had been used against civilians, the regime of Bashar al-Assad made a bid to recast itself as the victim. In a speech, Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem portrayed the three-year conflict as a struggle against al-Qaeda-linked barbarians who dismember Syrian soldiers while they are still alive and eat their hearts. In 2011, the U.S. State Department labelled Moallem a “shameless tool and mouthpiece” for his boss. It still fits.

Higher, faster, scaredier

The International Olympic Committee has rarely been celebrated for its principles and ethics. So no surprise that it’s taking the easy way out when it comes to Russia’s reprehensible anti-gay laws. At the ceremony to light the official torch in Greece this week, new IOC head Thomas Bach said he has raised the issue with Sochi organizers and been assured that no athletes or participants will face discrimination. It’s yet another failure of the Olympic movement to live up to its stirring rhetoric about equality.

Leaky logic

Past winners of the Sakharov prize, Europe’s highest award for human rights, include Nobel peace laureates such as Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi. So it’s disappointing to see U.S. spy data leaker Edward Snowden on the short list. The merits of his disclosures are debatable, but in seeking asylum in Russia and embracing Vladimir Putin, it’s clear he’s no human rights hero.

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