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Tag Archives: Justin Trudeau

Incident has landed the prime minister in hot water as his Liberal party fights to secure another term in a tightly contested election

Canadians have long been aware that Justin Trudeau likes to dress up.

His tendency to appropriate dress and customs from other cultures has prompted gentle mockery from rival politicians and the media: on a trip to India last year, he was photographed in a kurta on numerous occasions. He has Indigenous art tattooed his shoulder. He wears Ramadan socks and dances to bhangra music.

But the emergence of three damning images of the Canadian prime minister in blackface have shattered the prime ministers carefully curated image as a progressive leader.

The incident has landed the prime minister in hot water as his Liberal party fights to secure another four-year term in a tightly contested federal election.

Trudeau quickly apologized Im pissed off at myself. Im disappointed in myself, he told reporters but the damage may already have been done, said Amarnath Amarasingam, a professor of religion at Queens University.

I have a difficult time seeing him wiggle his way out of this one. Hes not an authentic kind of messenger on the race issue. Hes not an authentic messenger on the discrimination issue because hes never led that conversation in the country before, he said.

The timing for Trudeau is particularly bad: only weeks ago, the prime minister publicly castigated the Conservative leader, Andrew Scheer, over a recently unearthed video clip from 2005, in which Scheer expressed skepticism over the idea of gay marriage.

Scheer has seized on the blackface images, saying Trudeau has lost the moral authority to govern.

But the Conservative leader also has to grapple with that fact members of his own party have a history of racist or homophobic statements and social media posts. Scheer told reporters he would stand by candidates who showed genuine remorse for previous actions a standard he appeared unprepared to offer to Trudeau.

The more we get caught up in dichotomization of You said something racist and therefore youre bad, the more were likely to miss the real point, said Aditya Rao, an Ottawa-based human rights lawyer. I worry that people are looking to score political points off of this.

While Trudeau will likely sustain political damage in the coming days, hes unlikely to be facing an existential crisis, said Nelson Wiseman, a professor of political science at the University of Toronto.

The immediate winners may be the leftwing New Democratic party. The NDP leader, Jagmeet Singh, gave a powerful speech on Wednesday, in which he described the chilling impact the images had on him and on millions of other Canadians who faced racism growing up.

The kids that see this image, the people that see this image, are going to think about all the times in their life that they were made fun of, that they were hurt, that they were hit, that they were insulted, that they were made to feel less because of who they are, Singh said.

But that boost for the NDP may fade away as the election draws closer: progressive voters turned off by Trudeaus escapades are unlikely to transfer their support to Scheers party. A lot of those people will just fall back to the Liberals, because their primary objective will be to vote against the Conservatives Its going to be a rough few days for the Liberals, but I dont think its gonna move the needle in the polls much as the Conservatives might hope, said Wiseman.

Beyond the immediate political frenzy, the emergence of Trudeaus blackface images has also cast a spotlight on a deeper thread of systematic racism in Canada.

Canadas Indigenous population is disproportionately represented among murder victims, prison inmates and the child welfare system. First Nation communities struggle with enduring poverty and exclusion. Black residents of Toronto are 20 times more likely to be shot dead by the police than their white neighbours.

Canadians generally see racism through the lens of what we are not. We are not the United States. We are not Europe. Were not having tiki-torch marches, said Amarasingam. We always feel like were kind of above the rest when it comes to issues of race and racism and discrimination.

Balpreet Singh of the World Sikh Organization, describe Trudeaus use of blackface as mocking and hurtful but then pointed to Quebecs provincial government which recently introduced legislation banning public sector employees from wearing religious symbols a law that disproportionately targets visible minorities.

A picture of the prime minister in blackface is bad. But the fact that theres a province in Canada that is telling the members of certain religious groups that theyre second-class citizens and wont be employed thats really a thousand times worse, he said.

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If you believe Taylor Swift is a satanist, Ted Cruz is the Zodiac killer and Hillary Clinton died in September, this was your year

If 2016 was the year facts didnt matter, when Oxford Dictionaries declared we went post-truth, it makes sense that conspiracy theories flourished. These are some of the most outlandish (and, we feel fairly confident in saying, all untrue).

The Earth is flat

B.o.B (@bobatl)

The cities in the background are approx. 16miles apart… where is the curve ? please explain this

January 25, 2016

You might think that this one was put pretty conclusively to bed around 330BC, but it persists into 2016, championed by the radio-friendly rapper B.o.B.

The Atlanta musician resurrected the argument that the Earth may, in fact, be flat with a storm of tweets in January that seemed to lean heavily on the fact the horizon appears straight in photos (where is the curve? please explain this).

Neil deGrasse Tysons public putdown prompted B.o.B. to release a diss track, which was not very good, but did show how far the bar has fallen when it comes to prompting diss tracks these days.

That was about the last time anyone spoke of B.o.B. in 2016.

Taylor Swift is a satanist

Taylor Swifts similarity to the daughter of Anton Lavey, the founder of the Church of Satan, delighted social media this year, coinciding as it did with the pop stars downfall.

MAX IM A KOOPA (@meakoopa)

Taylor Swift is probably NOT the secret scion of America’s foremost Satanist family but like how can we be sure

January 5, 2016

Katy Perry is JonBent Ramsey

This theory dates back to 2014 but resurfaced this year alongside a CBS documentary about the girls murder.

In a video posted to YouTube, a truther refers persistently to the Katy Perry character (You can see that thats just an older JonBent Ramsey, right? You can see that) and puts forward the physical similarity between the two sets of parents as evidence (same people).

He then laboriously and not entirely successfully, on a technical level morphs Perrys face with Ramseys.

Embed endorsement.

Never mind that Perry, born in 1984, would have been 12 when Ramsey died aged six in 1996. Other YouTubers taking up the theory have pointed out that, in photos, their eyebrows look similar.

Perry has done nothing to address the rumours but did go paddle boarding with her new boyfriend, Orlando Bloom.

Ted Cruz is the Zodiac killer

Griffin (@NotGriffinNope)

Wake up America #ZodiacTed

February 2, 2016

The traction this got evokes a simpler time in the 2016 US election campaign.

Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn)

Remember when we would say Ted Cruz was the Zodiac killer and laugh and laugh? Remember laughing?

November 6, 2016

The theory meme, joke, whatever that the aspiring Republican presidential candidate was, in fact, the unknown killer operating in northern California in the late 1960s and early 1970s was inescapable on social media earlier this year, and eventually made its way into the real world.

Maureen Johnson (@maureenjohnson)


October 9, 2016

In February a poll of 1,012 registered voters found 38% of Florida voters thought it was possible Cruz was the Zodiac killer. From the press release:

10% say he for sure is, and another 28% say that they are just not sure. Cruz is exonerated from being a toddler serial killer by 62% of the Sunshine State populace.

Jim Young (@jimography)

@pattymo @tedcruz This is pretty damning

January 16, 2016

But not all of the evidence adds up, BuzzFeed noted astutely: Cruz was born in Canada in 1970. The earliest confirmed victims of the Zodiac killer were murdered in 1968.

Kylie Jenner is secretly fronting a pop band

The singer of the US pop trio Terror Jr is known only by the alias Lisa Terror, and hides her face behind her hair in promotional images. The only account the band follows on Twitter is that of Kylie Jenner: the teenage socialite/makeup mogul, a Kardashian by any other name.

Terror Jr (@terrorjrmusic)

So close

September 8, 2016

In March, Jenner featured a song by Terror Jr in a promotional video for her lip glosses; that same day, Terror Jr launched its social media presences. (As far as conspiracy theories go, this one is admittedly low stakes.)

Jenner has denied being Lisa Terror on Snapchat, but then came the smoking gun: a Twitter user apparently found her listed as a performer on the track 3 Strikes by a music licensing organisation.

The entry has since been amended, and when Teen Vogue put the theory to the band, it replied only with its trademark grape emoji. But lets be honest, its not like a Kardashian to shy from the spotlight.

Terror Jr (@terrorjrmusic)

u kno wat it iz

October 24, 2016

Fidel Castro is Justin Trudeaus dad

Josh Centers (@jcenters)

Forget pizzaghazi, the best conspiracy theory going is that Justin Trudeau is Fidel Castro’s biological son.

December 9, 2016

This theory emerged on Reddit after the Canadian prime minister raised eyebrows with his obituary for the remarkable leader on Twitter.

User George_Rockwell said Trudeaus parents had visited Cuba on several occasions, pointing to a photograph of Margaret Trudeau happily allowing the tyrant to hold her four-month-old baby as evidence. (The baby was, in fact, Justins late brother Michel. Details, details.)

Dionysos (@arlaqin)

HOW DID I NOT KNOW OF THIS EARLIER. This is my fav conspiracy theory atm, justin trudeau is fidel castro’s son.
Face swap:

December 8, 2016

The Redditer also remarked on the similar appearance between the Canadian prime minister and the now-deceased Cuban leader, with a photograph morphing their two faces presented as DAMNING EVIDENCE.

Trudeau subsequently defended his initial remarks on the passing of a former head of state but did not say whether or not he was his father.

Hillary Clinton is dead and was replaced by a surrogate

The theory that Hillary Clinton had died was the logical extension of rumours of her ill health, and beloved by her detractors during the US election campaign.

YouTube user Confederate Marshell presented 100% PROOF that Clinton had been dead since at least 11 September this year and replaced by CGI and multiple body doubles.

Again, the Guardian does not endorse the views expressed in this video.

Hillary Clinton is running a child abuse ring from a pizza restaurant

You might want to be sitting down for this one: the Democratic presidential candidate and her campaign chief John Podesta are running a child sex ring from the backroom of the Comet Ping Pong restaurant in Washington.

A dinner party or a possibly satanic ritual, depending on who you believe thrown by the performance artist Marina Abramovi and a napkin with a pizza-related map on it are also involved.

Homeboy Chris (@TheHomeboyChris)

@johnpodesta this Russia conspiracy ain’t gonna get you out of explaining your “map that seems pizza related” on a handkerchief. #PizzaGate

December 12, 2016

Given that the fact the restaurant has the same initials as child pornography is put forward as evidence by believers, the truly shocking detail of this completely baseless conspiracy theory is that even one person believed it.

Yet in early December, a 28-year-old man was driven to self-investigate the reports, wielding an assault rifle at a employee and firing it inside the restaurant. After his arrest Edgar Welch said he wanted to do some good and went about it the wrong way. I regret how I handled the situation, he added.

That outlandish allegations posted to the online message board 4Chan and Reddits The Donald thread for Trump supporters could translate into real-world aggression exacerbated anxiety over the impact of fake news.

DJ Pop A Titty Out (@PizzaPartyBen)

The medias reaction to #PizzaGate made me believe it 10x more

December 8, 2016

Certainly theres no subject its more vital that you self-investigate only on trusted news networks. Google Pizzagate and youll find websites such as Truthlibrary.Info that promise all the facts in one spot with the user-friendly advice: WARNING: Turn away now if you do not want to be incredibly disturbed. This is real. Pay attention to pizza and cheese references throughout, as these are highly likely to be code. (No, Im not linking to it.)

If you feel strong enough to venture further down this rabbit hole, the Reply All podcasts summary is excellent.

RAMZPAUL (@ramzpaul)

The same people that call #PizzaGate fake news sure seem to push the #RussianHackers conspiracy. The former actually has more evidence.

December 10, 2016

Climate change is a hoax engineered by China, or maybe the UN

The president-elect of the US seems to subscribe to this one.

In 2012 Donald Trump tweeted that global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)

The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.

November 6, 2012

He later said this was a joke. If so, China didnt seem to think it very funny.

In Australia Senator Malcolm Roberts has suggested that climate change is in fact the work of the United Nations and called for an Aus-exit.

Donald Trump is a Democratic party plant

This one, at least, we can safely disprove.

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From the endless scandals of Rob Ford to the endless hits of Drake, Stephen Marche reveals the secret of his hometowns transformation into the 21st centurys great post-industrial city

The definitive moment of the new Toronto took place, somewhat inevitably, in New York. On the TV variety show Saturday Night Live in May, Torontos hip-hop icon Drake played a gameshow contestant named Jared a cheerful goof with dreadlocks and a red check shirt with a slight Caribbean lilt.

The skit, called Black Jeopardy, was a take on the long-running game show Jeopardy, using a series of African American cliches: uncles who wear long suits to church, the cost of hair weaves, the popularity of Tyler Perry movies, and so on.

In this matrix of stereotype, however, Jared didnt quite fit. To the answer: This comedian was crazy in the 80s with his Raw and Delirious routines, (clearly indicating the question: Who is Eddie Murphy?) Jared instead asked, to the perplexity of all: Who is Rick Moranis?

When they also didnt know hockey legend Jaromir Jagr, Jared was stunned: The man won the Art Ross trophy four years in a row, fam.

Jared is black, but not a kind of black that the host or the other contestants recognised. Im from Toronto, he explained.

Wait, youre a black Canadian? the host asked.

Obviously, dog.

The miscomprehension built from there to a confrontation in which Jared angrily demanded: Why do I have to be your definition of black?

Was the hosts confusion understandable? To Americans, and outsiders in general, the new Toronto and its people can seem disconcertingly familiar and strange at the same time. Its a city in mid-puberty, growing so rapidly, changing so suddenly, that often it doesnt quite know how it feels about itself.


Last year, the increasing population of Toronto passed the declining population of Chicago. Comparisons come naturally. What Chicago was to the 20th century, Toronto will be to the 21st. Chicago was the great city of industry; Toronto will be the great city of post-industry. Chicago is grit, top-quality butchers, glorious modernist buildings and government blight; Toronto is clean jobs and artisanal ice-creameries, identical condos, excellent public schools and free healthcare for all. Chicago is a decaying factory where Americans used to make stuff. Toronto is a new bank where the tellers can speak two dozen languages. You feel a natural ease in time when you touch down from another city; you dont have to strain for hope here. The future matters infinitely more than the past.

Torontos growth has been extravagant. If you approach from the water, almost every building you see will have been constructed in the past two decades. The city has been booming for so long and so consistently that few can remember what Toronto was like when it wasnt booming. There were 13 skyscrapers in 2005; there are now close to 50, with 130 more under construction. The greater Toronto area is expected to swell by 2.6 million people to 7.5 million over the next decade and a half.

A line has been crossed. Toronto is now grown-up enough to be rife with contradictions and its contradictions are making it interesting. It is, for example, by far the safest city in North America an extraordinarily law-abiding place by any measure. It also produced Rob Ford, the worlds most famous crack-smoking mayor, a man whose criminality did little to affect his popularity.

Other contradictions reveal themselves only on closer examination. Torontos dullness is what makes it exciting a tricky point to grasp. Torontos lack of ambition is why the financial collapse of 2008 never happened here. The strong regulations of its banks preventing their over-leverage meant they were insulated from the worst of global shocks. In London and New York, the worst stereotype of a banker is somebody who enjoys cocaine, Claret and vast megalomaniac schemes. In Toronto, a banker handles teachers pension portfolios and spends weekends at the cottage.

The population of the greater Toronto area is expected to reach 7.45 million by 2031 and approaching from the water almost every building you see was built in the past two decades. Photograph: Mark Blinch/AP

The worship of safety and security applies across all fields and industries. A reliable person is infinitely more valued than a brilliant one. The steady hand is the Toronto ideal, and Torontos steadiness is why people flock here and all the people flocking here are making it exciting. Thats why Toronto is the most fascinating totally boring city in the world.

The fundamental contradiction of the new Toronto, however, is that it has come into its own by becoming a city of others. In the Canadian context, Toronto is no longer first among equals in a series of cities strung along the railroad between the Atlantic and Pacific. It has become the national metropolis, the city plugged into the global matrix. At the same time, Toronto is 51% foreign-born, with people from over 230 countries, making it by many assessments, the most diverse city in the world. But diversity is not what sets Toronto apart; the near-unanimous celebration of diversity does. Toronto may be the last city in the world that unabashedly desiresdifference.

This openness is unfortunately unique. In a world in which Australia runs You will not make Australia home advertisements, Donald Trump is the presidential nominee of a major American political party, and a British MP was killed by a man shouting Britain first, Canada has largely escaped this rising loathing for others. A 2012 study, by the chair of Canadian studies at Berkeley, found that compared to the citizens of other developed immigrant-receiving countries, Canadians are by far the most open to and optimistic about immigration. The lack of political xenophobia (which must be distinguished from the various crises of integration) has emerged for reasons that are peculiar to the Canadian experience, and not because were somehow better people.

Torontos success in 2016 began in the national near-catastrophe of 1995. The 1995 referendum on Quebec independence brought the country within a photo finish of not existing anymore. In an infamous drunken ramble of a concession speech, the then premier of Quebec, Jacques Parizeau, blamed the loss on money and the ethnic vote. I was 19 when he said that, and I knew even then that for the rest of my life, Canadas future would be built on money and immigrants. I wasnt wrong. Most Canadian business headquarters had already taken the five-hour drive west. After 95, the rest followed. Montreal decided to become a French-Canadian city. Toronto decided to become a global city.

The gaze into the abyss separated English-speaking Canadians from the rest of the Anglosphere. The most important finding from the Berkeley study was that in Canada, those who expressed more patriotism were also more likely to support immigration and multiculturalism. In the United States this correlation went in the opposite direction. Thats the key difference between Torontos relationship to immigration and the rest of the world. Canada can only survive as a cosmopolitan entity. Blood and soil rip it apart rather than bind it together.

With the US border to the south and three brutal oceans on the other sides, Canada is protected, as few places are, from uncontrolled immigration. There are no desperate huddled masses, yearning to breathe free here. Instead we cull the cream of the world and call it compassion.

Syrian refugees are greeted by Canadas prime minister Justin Trudeau. Photograph: Mark Blinch/Reuters

To take the case of the Syrians, the federal government took 25,000 refugees since the Trudeau government came to power last year, which sounds impressive when you compare it to the 2,800 that the US has allowed.

It isnt when you consider the specifics of the case. There are already plenty of Muslim families in Toronto and they are as boring as any other Canadians. In my own existence, the people of Muslim heritage I have known have served some of the following roles: they were my fathers business partners; they have prepared my taxes and my will; they gossiped constantly in the cubicle beside mine at a legal publishing house where I used to work until I had to buy noise-cancellation headphones; they gave me tips on how to pass my special fields examination while I was doing my PhD; they looked after my children at the local daycare centre. So when I heard that 25,000 Syrians were coming, I did not imagine 25,000 poor angry men. I imagined 25,000 accountants and dentists. Which is exactly who has come.

Torontos multiculturalism no doubt has its crises, and those crises are accelerating. When the province of Ontario (of which Toronto is the capital) announced a new sex education curriculum that included open discussions on homosexuality, recently arrived socially conservative Muslim and Chinese-Canadian Christian parents pulled their children from public school in protest. The premier, Kathleen Wynne, responded with a statement that basically amounted to: Tough. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, passed in 1982 the same document that established multiculturalism as national policy is very clear that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is un-Canadian. There is a strain of granite in Torontos much-vaunted tolerance.

More serious are the issues around race and policing, which have consumed the city for the past two years. The carding scandal, in which the police were revealed to be racially profiling the black community, exposed profound problems with our police force, which is in dire need of reform.

The crowd watches the speakers at the Black Lives Matter rally at Toronto police HQ. Photograph: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

This is a story that has been playing out in American cities as well. But Black Lives Matter here has been distinctly Torontonian. Activists protested outside the police headquarters for 14 days, received a meeting with the mayor and the premier, and then disbanded peacefully. There was no hint of a riot, nor even of bad behaviour. Torontos activists sought redress for poor government in an entirely orderly fashion, and their demands, which were utterly reasonable, belonged to the best traditions of polite Canadian politics. The activists were pursuing, just like Canadas motto, peace, order and good government.


On any given morning on the Sheppard subway line in the north of the city, you can sit down in perfect peace and order, although you will find little evidence of good government. As the latest addition to Torontos fraying infrastructure, the Sheppard subway is largely untroubled by urban bustle. The stations possess the discreet majesty of abandoned cathedrals, designed for vastly more people than currently use them, like ruins that have never been inhabited. Meanwhile, in the overcrowded downtown lines, passengers are stacked up the stairs. The streetcars along a single main street, Spadina, carry more people on a daily basis than the whole of the Sheppard line, whose expenses run to roughly $10 a passenger, according to one estimate. A critic has suggested that sending cabs for everybody would be cheaper.

This ludicrous state of affairs money wasted in one corner of the city while its desperately needed elsewhere is the typical result of Toronto City Halls idea of consensus. The council is a pack of hicks and rubes, a visionless amalgam of small-c conservatives and vaguely union-hall lefties, all of them living resolutely in the past. Both sides want to stop whats happening in the city.

The lefties want to slow gentrification, and the conservatives think weve all been taxed enough. Of course, when most people think of hicks and rubes in Toronto City Hall, they think of Rob Ford, who died of cancer earlier this year. But Giorgio Mammoliti, councillor for Ward Seven, has proposed a floating casino, a red-light district on the Toronto Islands, and an 11pm curfew for children under 14. He has blamed a few of his erratic comments on a brain fistula he had removed in 2013, but nobody has since been able to tell the difference in his behaviour. Add another contradiction to Torontos growing list: it must be the best-run city in the world run by idiots.

The current mayor, John Tory, is not an idiot, although he is hardly a figure of the new Toronto. He represents, more than any other conceivable human being, the antique white anglo-saxon protestant (Wasp) elite of Toronto, his father being one of the most important lawyers in the citys history. The old Wasps had their virtues, it has to be said it wasnt all inedible cucumber sandwiches and not crying at funerals.

Rob Ford served as mayor of Toronto from 2010 to 2014. Photograph: Mark Blinch/Reuters

After the Rob Ford years, the attractions of a steady hand have been stronger than ever. Last week, Tory finally took the step of acknowledging that Toronto needs new revenue-generating streams, which took immense political courage even though it is obvious to everyone. Then, almost immediately, he proposed a net-zero budget with no new revenue streams the steady thing to do, the gutless thing to do, the traditionally Toronto thing to do.

The cost of having narrow-minded representatives in power is to limit the city. The catastrophic state of transit has had a host of unintended consequences; the explosion of downtown construction is due largely to the fact that commuting from the suburbs has become more or less unendurable. The poor infrastructure is symptomatic of larger problems. Because somewhere deep in its heart Toronto has not planned for growth because Toronto hasnt expected to be a real grown-up city it keeps making the same mistakes.

Billions of dollars are being used to build more subways in suburban Scarborough where ridership will carry, at one stop, an astonishingly low 7,300 people at peak hours. Just last week, it was announced that another C$1.3bn will be spent on the project. It is very easy to blame the political class for this small-minded nonsense, but in their lack of ambition they represent a truth of the city. It is the most diverse city in the world and one of the richest, but it is unclear what its money and its diversity amount to. There is no Toronto sound. There is no Toronto flavour. There is no Toronto scene. There is no Toronto style. Rather there are sounds and flavours and scenes and styles borrowed from elsewhere.

At the corner of Spadina and Bloor Street, there is a small series of panels commemorating the activists who prevented the Spadina Expressway a megahighway into the urban core from being built in the 1970s. Those activists werent wrong. That proposed highway would have destroyed some decent neighbourhoods. But only Toronto would commemorate not building something. Its proud of what it hasnt done.


Go to the waterparks in this city on any hot summer day and you see the true potential of Toronto. The meaning of multiculturalism in Toronto is not theoretical; it is not found in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms or in the decisions of the refugee board. The meaning of multiculturalism is found in the waterparks, among the slides and fountains, and lazy rivers and wave pools: a collection of various people of various shades speaking various languages, lounging in the shade, drinking overpriced rum drinks, eating greasy food, staring at each others naked and tattooed flesh, and shouting at their kids to stop splashing.

History in Toronto does not bend toward justice. It bends towards the hot tub. There is something radical about these people leading their quiet lives out together, without much fuss. Are they one people? Does it matter if they arent? It is a city whose meaning is not found in shared history but in the shared desire to escape history. It is a light city, a city floating up and away from the old stories, the ancient struggles.

Again Chicago makes a good comparison. In Chicago, they once changed the course of the river one of historys greatest feats of will and engineering. In Toronto, for a hundred years, the authorities let the construction companies just dump their landfill into Lake Ontario, until it turned into a pile of rubble so large that it attracted deer and coyotes and warblers in migration. So, reluctantly, they turned it into a rather gorgeous little park, the Leslie Street Spit. Chicago has dreams, dreams that mostly fail but sometimes triumph. Toronto keeps any dreams it might have to itself, stumbling into much more reliable happiness.

Torontos place in the world is not fixed. That is what is so exciting about it. The question that Toronto faces, the question that its various crises and contradictions pose, is whether the city will rise into a glorious future of a mingled and complicated humanity, an avatar of a singular cosmopolitanism, or whether it will shrink back and be swallowed by the provincial miasma that inveigles it. This is a real question the city could legitimately go either way. How much longer can Toronto endure its terminal lightness? How much longer can a city so interesting insist on being so boring?

Guardian Cities is devoting a week to exploring all things Canada. Get involved on Twitter and Facebook and share your thoughts with #GuardianCanada

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We acknowledge that this is basically Trudeau fan fiction, says Chip Zdarsky, Canadian artist and writer of Marvels Civil War II: Choosing Sides #5

Sporting red boxing gloves and a sleeveless top emblazoned with a red maple leaf, a smiling Justin Trudeau, Canadas prime minister, appears relaxed as gears up for his latest role: comic book hero.

Trudeau will appear on the variant cover of Marvels Civil War II: Choosing Sides #5, slated for release at the end of August. The cover is an alternative to the main cover in circulation.

The prime ministers foray into Marvel Universe came after Canadian artist and writer Chip Zdarsky was approached by Marvel to write a story featuring Canadian superhero squad Alpha Flight. He immediately knew he wanted Trudeau to be part of the story.

He seems to be the popular culture association with Canada right now, right behind [Toronto rapper] Drake and I probably couldnt get Drake in the comic, Zdarsky told the Canadian Press. While it wouldnt endorse the comic, Trudeaus office said it was fine with the idea.

The storyline centers on Alpha Flight, who now work for Captain Marvels worldwide defence program. When faced with a moral quandary, the team decides to seek out Trudeau, their old boss, for advice.

I liked the idea of him actually engaging them in an ethical debate, said Zdarsky. I didnt want this to just be like a walk-on … rescued by superheroes and he thanks them and thats the end of the story.

The story required Zdarsky to put himself in Trudeaus shoes, envisioning how the politician would respond to certain situations. Hopefully, I did a good job. Maybe Ill get a call from him saying: How could you have me saying that to … Iron Man? Zdarsky said. Its a little tricky just because once you start to put words in the prime ministers mouth, we acknowledge that this is basically Trudeau fan fiction.

It was Toronto-based cartoonist Ramn Prez who decided to put Trudeau in the boxing ring for the cover. I didnt want to do a stuffy cover just like a suit and tie put his likeness on the cover and call it a day, he told Canadian Press. I wanted to kind of evoke a little bit of whats different about him than other people in power right now. You dont see [Barack] Obama strutting around in boxing gear, doing push-ups in commercials or whatnot.

Trudeau is the third politician to be added to the Marvel Universe. The first was his late father Pierre, spotlighted in Uncanny X-Men in 1979. In 2009, Obama made his comic book debut in Secret Invasion #8.

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