Trudeau and Harper compete for manliest political leader

Tom Mulcair’s beard just can’t compete

Sean Kilpatrick/CP

Masculinity is all the rage in Canadian politics. Justin Trudeau had just finished showing off his handyman bona fides when Prime Minister Stephen Harper, immersing himself in Canada’s far north for a week, outgunned his Liberal foe. Literally.

The prime minister fired off a few rounds of a vintage Lee Enfield rifle—the same used by Canadians during the First World War—as part of a visit with Canadian Rangers, the military unit tasked with securing Canada’s sovereignty in the north. Let’s review everything Harper accomplished in a single photo-op: a nod to Canada’s military heritage? Check. Active support of sovereignty in the north? Check. Friendly reminder to gun owners that the prime minister looks comfortable with a firearm? Check. Manly man bravado captured for posterity? Check. Once again, Harper demonstrates his ability to control a news agenda without saying much of anything. He let the gun do the talking.

So now we have Trudeau, who likes fixing things, and Harper, who likes shooting things. It’s about time Tom Mulcair, the NDP leader, defined his manliest trait. The beard’s a good start, but hasn’t he ever built his own car, or fought a grizzly bear, or gone a week without a beard trim?

What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s image-making trip to Canada’s north. The National Post fronts the Syrian government’s apparent use of nerve gas to kill hundreds of civilians. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with the images out of Syria of dead children with no visible scars. The Ottawa Citizen leads with the alleged gas attack in Syria just as UN inspectors are in the country. iPolitics fronts Industry Minister James Moore’s skepticism that the government’s wireless spectrum auction requires rule changes. CBC.ca leads with the harsh criticism of a Quebec government plan to ban religious symbols in public workplaces. CTV News leads with the UN Security Council’s emergency meeting related to alleged chemical weapons attacks in Syria. National Newswatch showcases a Huffington Post story about Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau smoking marijuana while he was an MP.

Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. Hockey. Doctors from the Canadian Medical Association spoke out against National Hockey League owners for being too accepting of overt violence in the pro sport, which harms the game. 2. Pipeline. Ontario energy minister Bob Chiarelli says his government is concerned about safety concerns related to TransCanada’s new proposed pipeline from Alberta.
3. Donation. Australian actor Hugh Jackman, in Montreal to film the latest X-Men movie, donated $10,000 to the Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation on behalf of the cast and crew 4. Scuba diving. A Canadian man, decked out in full scuba gear, allegedly smuggled eight pounds of marijuana across the St. Clair River into Michigan. He was arraigned in court yesterday.
5. Israel. Polio has spread to northern Israel, a trend the government hopes to quell by urging parents to have their children inoculated. The disease is mostly eradicated around the world. 6. Pakistan. For the first time, the U.S. placed sanctions on an Islamic school in northwest Pakistan that the Department of the Treasury claims is training young al-Qaeda militants.

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