– 21 –

 

“Mackenzeeee!”

Applause, cheers and squeals broke out as she entered the banquet hall. Here they were, the elite of Canadian politics, activism, journalism, entertainment and the arts, those who proudly called themselves Toronto’s cream della cream. Yes, these were the people whose social consciousness, profundity, creativity, innovation and sheer verve, Mackenzie knew, would one day put Canada on the map.

“Mackenzeeee, I’m so happy for you.”

“I saw the tweets and I’m like ‘It’s a haiku heralding something awesome.’”

“Like the sun is shining through the glass ceiling.”

“Another great leap forward.”

“I just can’t wait to see your radiant face on TV.”

“Mackenzie, you’re an inspiration to all of us who struggle against injustice.” This, from the new Minister for Marginalized Women, was the most welcome compliment of all.

Hugs, kisses and congratulations continued as Mackenzie held the centre of attention. The crowd numbered about a hundred, some wearing golfing outfits, having just come in from a game. Others wore their work clothes, largely consisting of suits, punk outfits or, for the few men present, the lavender look. The Canadian novelists wore their usual long tweed skirts with or without baggy trousers. Some of the media women wore their black leather biker jackets. Just wait until they see me tonight, Mackenzie thought.

Banquet tables and chairs sat empty as the crowd stood up front, gradually turning their attention from Mackenzie to the upcoming proceedings. On the stage at the front of the hall sat the judge’s dais, the Crown prosecutor’s desk and the prisoner’s box. TV crews stretched along the walls for the entire length of the hall, CBC on one side and everyone else on the other. Mackenzie was just as glad the misters didn’t send her to the CBC. To function in this sexist society women do need lots and lots of self-esteem. But, she confided to herself, Quebecois women had a little too much. And Quebecois men were allowed to shout back at you.

The verdict would be filmed, not broadcast live, so that footage could be edited for maximum impact. With that in mind, The Trial’s final session would be held entirely in English, someone told Mackenzie. The normal procedure, of course, was that English was translated into French to meet the requirements of the Official Languages Act, then back into English for the sake of the people actually taking part, whose English-language response was translated into French and then back into English for the participants. Trials held in other languages, equal in status to English and second only to French, simply added another layer of translation to each exchange. Canada’s gift to the world just might be its language policy, a model of common sense.

The mood of conviviality shifted to expectation. Mackenzie just managed to grab a glass of champagne as Burmese servers threaded through the audience. Then chatter stopped dead as Smith’s daughter came in. The crowd stared. Two grim-looking court officers led her to a seat at stage-front. Some people shook their heads with pity. With a racist for a father she was no doubt a victim of child abuse.

Then another officer pushed in the wheelchair. At first no one in the audience realized what it was. But as the head-to-toe body cast was wheeled into the prisoner’s dock, Smith’s daughter started shrieking.

So that was Smith, evidently very badly injured now.

“He tried to escape,” someone whispered. “He must have tried to escape.”

“Maybe he said it,” suggested another voice. “Maybe he said it again.”

With excited whispers, audience members offered other possible explanations. Then a propane motor sounded and the crowd hushed as an oversize forklift drove up from stage right. Its reinforced steel prongs carried a large upholstered chair, more the size of a small couch, turned sideways. Seated on it, facing the audience and weighing 500 pounds was Right Honourable Madam Chief Justice Big Grrrrl.

Recently appointed to the bench as the Supreme Court’s first Women of Weight representative, she was best known for writing the previous year’s feminist bible, I Can Have As Many Desserts As I Want.

The heavy-duty forklift strained to lift Big Grrrrl to her place behind the dais. Cheers, even louder and longer than those greeting Mackenzie, rang out as the judge raised both fleshy fists in the air and the audience saw her, in all the majesty of justice, wearing a massive, jumbo-sized elephantine T-shirt emblazoned with that stirring slogan: Canadian Girls Kick Ass.

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