Don Martin's Last Word: Flight of fancy on a bird-brained national symbol
Published Thursday, November 17, 2016 5:55PM EST
At a time of Canada’s apprehensive proximity to a muscle-flexing incoming U.S. president, we’re being asked to take flight of fancy on a bird-brained national symbol.
Meet the gray jay – a bird you’ve probably seen a thousand times and yet have no memory of the encounter, what it being a sleepy puff of light grey feathers as it flitters around the feeder.
Yet this is the choice for our national bird by the Royal Canadian Geographic Society after a two-year consultation, subject to approval by the federal government.
It didn’t actually win the popular vote by 50,000 Canadians. It finished a mediocre third of five options.
But bird experts know best and they decreed that because the gray jay lives here year-round – unlike the southern migration of Canadians to the Caribbean every winter – the vote result should be trumped by a rigged decision of the elites.
IF we need a high-flying national symbol, may it at least inspire something beyond an affinity for northern geography.
The pesky beaver might’ve been a poor choice as our animal, particularly as Argentina targeted it for extermination this week on the same day as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrived for the Asia Pacific summit, but at least it represents a hearty industrious builder.
The Maple Leaf as our beloved national symbol bursts into crimson glory to red flag the approaching winter.
The gray jay? It’s boredom on wings.
If attacked by the mighty bald eagle, the aerial symbol of American power, the only threat the gray jay would pose is getting stuck in the eagle’s throat as a one-bite snack.
While some might argue that mismatch reflects Canadian reality, do we really have to proudly declare a small, skittish, nondescript bird to be our national symbol in the air?
Other countries get the concept - the peacock for India, the condor for Chile, the swan for Denmark, the crane for China and various eagles for Spain, Germany, Egypt and Mexico.
So bring on the majestic snowy owl, the blue jay, the Canada goose or even the loon, the latter which might better represent the United States these days.
But the gray jay? No way.
That’s hopefully the Last Word on this story.