Papal politics in Rome grab the attention of non-believers

Tease the day: Speculation continues about the odds of Marc Cardinal Oullet ascending to pope
Nick Taylor-Vaisey
Cardinal Marc Ouellet arrives at his farewell Mass in Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre Basilica, 45 minutes East of Quebec City on Sunday, August 15, 2010. Cardinal Ouellet leaves Quebec for the Vatican, as we was recently named Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Francis Vachon
Francis Vachon/CP

So much mystery surrounds the election of the next pope that it eventually captures the attention of even those among us who have absolutely no stake in papal politics. One quote, spoken by Cardinal Tom Collins, Toronto’s Archbishop, and reported by the Toronto Star near the bottom of its story this morning, sold it for me. “We were all very conscious looking around that the pope is here somewhere,” he said. “You look at all the papabile in the room and you say, ‘Oh, maybe it’s him.’ Whoever it is, he was in the room and he heard everything. And that’s a good thing.” The mystery of it all is so enrapturing.

The cardinals who elect the pope are, of course, silent about their intentions, save for secret, pre-conclave meetings with each other. Speculation is predictably rampant in Rome, where everyone has an opinion about the identity of the next pontif. And yet, as Postmedia‘s Matthew Fisher writes at the end of his story this morning, predicting the outcome of the conclave is a fool’s game. “It is almost pointless to speculate about who might be ahead and who might be trailing.”

It all sounds like the speculation that precedes a major cabinet shuffle. Except instead of a gaggle of political reporters speculating outside of Rideau Hall, over a billion people are watching. Who can tune that out? Not me.

What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with B.C. Premier Christy Clark’s confident prediction of a “fair fight” in the upcoming provincial election. The National Post fronts a prominent conservative conference’s “un-invitation” of former Stephen Harper adviser Tom Flanagan. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with Canadian Marc Cardinal Ouellet hosting a mass in Rome yesterday. The Ottawa Citizen leads with the army’s inability to pay for support workers at CFB Petawawa’s planned new infrastructure. iPolitics fronts the prospect of Liberal-NDP co-operation in coming years. leads with two former Shaw employees who say the telecommunications company compensated them improperly and broke employment law. National Newswatch showcases Tim Harper’s column in the Toronto Star that suggests political junkies keep an eye on two federal cabinet ministers: Jason Kenney and Tony Clement.

Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. Arctic climate. Victoria Island, one of Canada’s large northern islands, will have the same climate profile as modern-day Wyoming by the end of the century, according to research.2. University cuts. Canadian schools from coast to coast are facing necessary budget cuts as provincial governments clamp down and slash operating funding in most regions.
3. Graham Fraser. Canada’s official languages commissioner is likely to be reappointed for a three-year term, a stark contrast to the fate of Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page.4. Seafood exports. Canada exported over $4-billion worth of seafood in 2012, a $41-million increase over 2011. New Brunswick led the way with exports worth $967 million.