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The Polar Bear

Honourable senators, to borrow a phrase from a popular 1980s TV show, "Picture It": 19th century Europe — the streets of every major European capital are bustling with fashionistas. And what they are wearing? Well, what fashion conscious trendsetter would be seen in public without their fur hat?

Fur hats were the fashion statement of the day. Canadian beavers bore the consequences. At the start of the craze, there were an estimated six million beavers in Canada. By the mid-1900s, when fickle fashion trendsetters abandoned fur for silk, the Canadian beaver was close to extinction.

Since then, the rodent has slowly recovered and today the population is well into the millions. Not everyone is happy. Many accuse the dentally defective rat of being a nuisance that wreaks havoc on farmlands, roads, lakes, streams and tree plantations, including my dock every summer. Nevertheless, the toothy tyrant received the highest honour ever bestowed on a rodent.

On March 24, 1975, the beaver became an official emblem of Canada. While I would never speak ill of our furry friend, I stand here today suggesting that perhaps it is time for a change. Yes, honourable senators, I believe that it is high time that the beaver step aside as a Canadian emblem or at least share the honour with the stately polar bear.

The polar bear is the world's largest terrestrial carnivore and Canada's most majestic and splendid mammal, holding reign over the Arctic for thousands of years. The polar bear has been and continues to be a powerful figure in the material, spiritual and cultural life of the indigenous people of the Arctic.

Contrary to unsubstantiated accusations, Canada is a world leader in its exemplary system of polar bear management. Our approach features co-management involving Aboriginal groups and government, and a strict system of quotas and tags.

The polar bear survives in the harshest climate and terrain in the world. Our polar bear has to find food in a remote, barren, frozen land and water; find shelter in the harshest of weather; and live alone in an inhospitable setting. The giant panda, on the other hand, spends its days blissfully munching on bamboo and dozing in the afternoon sun.

While I am somewhat exaggerating and being a bit irreverent to the panda, you have to agree with me on one thing: The panda has an enviable image consultant who has turned the derelict diva into the heartstrings-tugging darling of the world. It is time for our polar bear to give the panda and our glorified rodent some serious competition.

A country's symbols are not constant and can change over time, as long as they reflect the ethos of the people and the spirit of the nation. The polar bear, with its strength, courage, resourcefulness and dignity is perfect for the part. Please join me in promoting the polar bear as Canada's symbol for the 21st century.

Honourable senators, to borrow a phrase from a popular 1980s TV show, "Picture It": 19th century Europe — the streets of every major European capital are bustling with fashionistas. And what they are wearing? Well, what fashion conscious trendsetter would be seen in public without their fur hat?

Fur hats were the fashion statement of the day. Canadian beavers bore the consequences. At the start of the craze, there were an estimated six million beavers in Canada. By the mid-1900s, when fickle fashion trendsetters abandoned fur for silk, the Canadian beaver was close to extinction.

Since then, the rodent has slowly recovered and today the population is well into the millions. Not everyone is happy. Many accuse the dentally defective rat of being a nuisance that wreaks havoc on farmlands, roads, lakes, streams and tree plantations, including my dock every summer. Nevertheless, the toothy tyrant received the highest honour ever bestowed on a rodent.

On March 24, 1975, the beaver became an official emblem of Canada. While I would never speak ill of our furry friend, I stand here today suggesting that perhaps it is time for a change. Yes, honourable senators, I believe that it is high time that the beaver step aside as a Canadian emblem or at least share the honour with the stately polar bear.

The polar bear is the world's largest terrestrial carnivore and Canada's most majestic and splendid mammal, holding reign over the Arctic for thousands of years. The polar bear has been and continues to be a powerful figure in the material, spiritual and cultural life of the indigenous people of the Arctic.

Contrary to unsubstantiated accusations, Canada is a world leader in its exemplary system of polar bear management. Our approach features co-management involving Aboriginal groups and government, and a strict system of quotas and tags.

The polar bear survives in the harshest climate and terrain in the world. Our polar bear has to find food in a remote, barren, frozen land and water; find shelter in the harshest of weather; and live alone in an inhospitable setting. The giant panda, on the other hand, spends its days blissfully munching on bamboo and dozing in the afternoon sun.

While I am somewhat exaggerating and being a bit irreverent to the panda, you have to agree with me on one thing: The panda has an enviable image consultant who has turned the derelict diva into the heartstrings-tugging darling of the world. It is time for our polar bear to give the panda and our glorified rodent some serious competition.

A country's symbols are not constant and can change over time, as long as they reflect the ethos of the people and the spirit of the nation. The polar bear, with its strength, courage, resourcefulness and dignity is perfect for the part. Please join me in promoting the polar bear as Canada's symbol for the 21st century.