I salute the best people of the year although, to be honest, everyone behaved so badly that all you had to do to get on a best-of-2018 list was eat all your carrots. Look, my dinner plate is empty.
The City of Toronto. We competed for the new Amazon headquarters, but unlike the other 237 bidders, we didn’t offer billions in tax breaks to one of the planet’s richest and harshest corporations. Corporations are not people, my friend, and we needn’t grovel. Amazon asked for crime stats, so Chicago offered thousands of murders, Austin several serial killers as yet uncaught, and Tucson sent Jeff Bezos a giant cactus because Arizona is dying of drought and that’s the only thing containing water.
Christine Blasey Ford. “I was … wondering whether I would just be jumping in front of a train that was headed to where it was headed anyway and that I would just be personally annihilated.” She was. I donated to the GoFundMe campaign set up by Blasey’s friends after her testimony against the monstrous now-U. S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. (After covering the cost of repeated moves and hiring security guards to keep her safe, she will donate the rest for trauma support groups.) There was nothing else I could do to help and that hounded my heart.
Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland. You don’t have to like or even agree with someone to sit down and have a talk with them, Freeland believes, and she means it. She will talk to anyone, treat them with respect and, after pausing to think, will respond with courtesy even when your ideas are daft and your intentions foul. It’s disarming. It is the opposite of Trumpishness and exemplifies the best of Canada.
@Nicole_Cliffe. This Canadian writer and journalist tweets fast and funny, drawing people out to tell, speculate, snitch, and be their most candid, entertaining selves. Co-founder of The Toast and now living in Utah, she is truth serum in human form, she is that rare thing — generous to strangers both emotionally and financially — and I am hooked.
Jennifer Keesmaat. Bright, wise and full of fire, she could have been the mayor who faced down Premier Doug Ford. She lost the election to a decent-enough guy, John Tory, but if Torontonians had had the courage of, say, Quebecers, we would have taken to the streets and defended our city council hacked in half by an angry Ford stuffed with social anxiety and hot for revenge.
John Oliver. After Jon Stewart quit The Daily Show and Stephen Colbert abandoned comedy for the cheesy CBS mainstream, there’s only Oliver doing U.S. cable comedy for smart people. On HBO’s Last Week Tonight, information shoots out of his Cambridge-trained brain along with a level of sarcasm and disgust that obedient, election-losing Democrats are still uncomfortable with. From “crisis pregnancy centres” to felony voting rights to Facebook in Myanmar, Oliver is one of the best investigative journalists at work today.
Prof. Donna Strickland. What heaven it is to see a smart associate professor put her head down and do the work as full professorial males strut upon the stage, only to see her win the Nobel Prize for Physics and give a great Canadian speech in Stockholm. The University of Waterloo has given her a small promotion and a reserved parking space.
@TrumpDraws, @TrumpsTies and @realDonaldTrump are the best of Twitter art. The first shows an idiot at his desk displaying a leather folder with bills he just signed, with kindergarten drawings of a Dachshund labelled “HORSE,” “tapes-DUCK, SKOTCH, MASKY” and “ihod-internashnel House Of Donald!” The second is a stream of portrait Donalds with ties extruding from his orifices, ties being sucked by Ted Cruz and bitten by Rudy Giuliani, ties snapping around Trump’s head like bullwhips, and ties cleaning Trump’s clogged, waxy earholes. And then there is the real thing, @realDonaldTrump tweeting things that will send him to prison. It’s coming, just like Santa Claus.
Good gear: Sugru. Every year I write about a mouldable glue called Sugru. Invented by Ireland’s Jane Ní Dhulchaointigh, it will fix your shoes, house, car and everything in the maddening world of recalcitrant objects. When you repair your child or your toaster, think of me.
More good gear: Conair Spin Air Rotating Styler. For everyone who can’t see the back of their head but knows there’s something going on over there, I have found haircare gold. Obviously I’d prefer the Babyliss Sheer Volume Rotating Hot Brush but it’s French and isn’t sold here yet. I wake every morning the same way, staring goggle-eyed into the mirror with my hair standing straight up, as if my cherries jubilee had exploded in my face last night and set my hair on fire — the look is alarming and very au courant — and then get to work with a blower and this rotating barrel catapult creature.
Dear readers, you will sail into 2019 with your moral sense, a Calvinist capacity for suffering and glossy hair. Do it.
Heather Mallick is a columnist based in Toronto covering current affairs. Follow her on Twitter: @HeatherMallick