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Canada founded on 'relentless pursuit of beaver'

Determined pioneers pursued warm and furry prey

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A Canadian politician has rather deliciously insisted that vast tracts of his nation were opened by "the relentless pursuit of beaver", an agreeable concept that for some reason conjures an image of Silvio Berlusconi furiously paddling a kayak through white water rapids in pursuit of a fleeing supermodel.

The description of Canada's beaver-hunting past comes from New Democratic Party MP Pat Martin, who isn't too impressed with Ontario senator Nicole Eaton's proposal to replace the beaver with the polar bear as the country's national emblem.

Eaton reckons the polar bear, with its "strength, courage, resourcefulness and dignity" is a more appropriate emblem for the 21st century than the "dentally defective rat" that has symbolised the nation since 1975.

She said: "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."

Martin, however, is having none of it. He countered: "Polar bears are cool but the beaver played a pivotal role in the history of Canada. It was the relentless pursuit of beaver that opened the great Northwest."

He added: "You can't beat a beaver for stoic hard work and industry, a perfect metaphor for our pioneering Canadian spirit." ®

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