It was the last day of Canada Reads 2013, the last chance for actor Jay Baruchel and comedian Trent McLellan to pitch their chosen books as the one all Canadians should have on their nightstands.
And at 10:53 am, after a lively and sometimes venomous debate, the winner was declared: February, by Lisa Moore.
“I feel way better than I thought I would ever in my life,” McLellan said about his victory.
A very excited Lisa Moore phoned in to thank McLellan and the other panelists, and to laud the other contending books.
Baruchel said he was “gutted” over his book’s loss but felt that if his being on Canada Reads got even one kid to pick up Two Solitudes he would be pleased.
Today’s rounds of debate had been the most hotly contested of the week. Ron MacLean compared this final matchup between Baruchel and McLellan to a contest between hockey legends Rocket Richard and Davey Keon. It was an apt metaphor: flash versus grit. Baruchel, as usual, was an impassioned and dramatic presence, whereas McLellan spoke softly but, when called upon, fought for February like he was penned into the corner.
In the day’s opening arguments, Baruchel had pounded the table while declaring, “For your country, for everyone that came before and after you, Two Solitudes is the book Canada should read.”
McLellan had said that “Canadians don’t want required reading, they want inspired reading, and that’s February.”
Both contenders garnered darts and laurels alike from the other panelists. MacLean invoked the link between Two Solitudes and Quebec’s Quiet Revolution, while Carol Huynh took issue with February’s isolationist approach to identity. MacLean, Huynh and Charlotte Gray all said they found aspects of Two Solitudes slow and uninspiring.
In the end it was a tight vote. Huynh voted against Two Solitudes and MacLean kept Baruchel’s hopes alive by voting against February. Gray cast her deciding vote against Two Solitudes.
A public poll turned out 65 per cent in favour of February.
You can tune in to Friday’s episode of Q on CBC for a Canada Reads recap.
For a background on the Canada Reads 2013 books and a blow-by-blow account of the action, check out our previous coverage of the debates.