The astronaut and the chief

Tease the day: Hadfield blasts into space as Spence continues hunger strike

AP/Dmitry Lovetsky

Chris Hadfield blasted off into space this morning from a launch pad in Kazakhstan. Before long, Hadfield will dock with the International Space Station and command its operations for five months. This kind of thing is old hat for Hadfield, who’s spent time in orbit twice before, walked in space for almost 15 hours, and even operated the beloved Canadarm. He is the picture of Canadian achievement. (He’s probably even been courted by a few senior federal Liberal insiders. Move over, Mark Carney.)

Meanwhile, on a teepee sitting on an island in the middle of the Ottawa River, Theresa Spence sits. She’s no doubt hungry. Spence, the chief of the Attawapiskat First Nation, has been on a hunger strike since Dec. 11, a protest that she says will only end when she meets with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Governor General David Johnston. Spence wants the federal government to treat Aboriginal Canadians with more respect, and several other Aboriginal leaders have followed her lead. Others are taking action in other ways, including roadblocks and demonstrations. No matter your opinion of Spence’s demands, there’s no denying the stark contrasts in today’s papers.

Hadfield launches into space. Spence refuses to eat. Together, they represent the breadth of the Canadian experience.

What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with continued movement toward gun reform in America. The National Post fronts Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s support for surveillance satellite funding. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with Ontario Education Minister Laurel Broten’s refusal to back down to teachers’ unions in the face of strikes. The Ottawa Citizen leads with delayed delivery of helicopters meant to replace Canada’s crumbling Sea Kings. iPolitics fronts last night’s Ontario Liberal leadership debate in Ottawa. leads with astronaut Chris Hadfield’s launch into spaceNational Newswatch showcases Harper taking personal responsibility for naming an anglophone as auditor general during an interview with TVA.

Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. Pensions. The Supreme Court will hear federal unions’ and retiree associations’ case that the former Liberal government had no right to pay down the national debt with pension surpluses. 2. Deportation. A Canadian-born man who once held a passport will likely be deported to India upon release from prison. The feds say he was issued the passport in error.
3. Language tests. Even though more Anglophone public servants fail French tests than vice versa, the official languages commissioner received a complaint that the English test is harder. 4. Hunger strike. NDP leader Tom Mulcair is urging PM Stephen Harper to meet with Theresa Spence, the chief of the Attawapiskat First Nation, who’s been on hunger strike since Dec. 11.

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