– 2 –

 

Not so amusing, though, was the fact that her country faced a crisis. A crisis of hate. Hate, hate, hate. It was all around her.

Hate was as Canadian as, well, Mackenzie knew this was no time for clichés about hockey and maple syrup. Hate was as Canadian as rape. As Canadian as sexism. As Canadian as racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, anti-Semitism, white guy-induced global warming and everything else that’s awful. And hate was personified in Smith.

Smith. The very name sounded loathsome. It somehow sounded like a name that’s been around for a while, evoking tradition and therefore oppression. Just one simple syllable and from that language that almost all Canadians used to speak, the name sounded dangerous.

So maybe it wasn’t surprising that Smith committed that vile act — the most offensive hate crime known for a long, long time in Canada, even with the country’s unrelieved legacy of shame — an atrocity that must surely go down in history as proof of everything the old Canada stood for.

Mackenzie would never forget the day of Smith’s outrage. She was sitting at her desk, drafting an editorial about the glass ceiling when suddenly all the phones started ringing at once. Then a weird, eerie noise came from one of the newsroom women, quickly taken up by the others.

First they were sort of wailing, then some of them started crying while others began shrieking. Some of them just glared, faces contorted with anger, at the white guys who suddenly looked even more frightened than usual.

Mackenzie grabbed one of the phones and listened in stunned silence as a reporter told her what happened. Mackenzie hung up without saying a word. Then she suddenly found herself shouting at the white guys: “HOW COULD YOU? HOW COULD YOU?” Other women were shouting too and someone threw a flowerpot. The white guys were now huddled together in a corner, some of them shaking as the women’s chaotic uproar transformed into a unified chant:

“SHAME! SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!”

The loud, outraged refrain continued for a few minutes. Then, one by one, voices dropped out as the women succumbed to their grief, hugging each other and sobbing. Occasionally a woman would suddenly break away and attack the nearest white guy, punching, kicking, scratching and screaming as he crouched down, covered his head and curled up in a fetal ball.

As anger shifted to despair, the women led each other, still sobbing, from the newsroom. Mackenzie barely gained enough composure to order the terrified white guys to re-do the front page. Then she joined the others in some badly needed stress leave.

That was Canada’s darkest day, the day Smith committed his atrocity, the hate crime of all hate crimes. And against His Magnificence, of all people.

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