‘Dentally Defective Rat’: Canadian Lawmaker Rails Against Beaver as National Symbol

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A Canadian senator has called for the beaver to lose its status as the country’s national emblem – branding the semi-aquatic dam builders “a dentally defective rat,” reports Reuters.

Instead, conservative politician Nicole Eaton wants the polar bear to become the official mascot. And for Eaton, it seems personal. Offering her damning critique of ever-busy beavers in the Canadian Senate Oct. 27, she lambasted them for wreaking havoc on the dock at her waterfront cottage each summer.

“A country’s symbols are not constant and can change over time,” she said. “The polar bear, with its strength, courage, resourcefulness and dignity is perfect for the part.”

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Not everybody welcomed the senator’s stance. Keith Stewart, a climate change campaigner with Greenpeace Canada, said the debate was a distraction – and ironic given that Canada’s environmentally damaging mining expansion encouraged by the Conservative government is increasingly threatening polar bears.

“You have a Conservative senator proposing to replace the beaver with the polar bear as the symbol of Canada, yet her government’s climate policy would appear to do everything possible to wipe out polar bears by the end of the century,” he said.

Eaton did not seem bothered by another problem with beavers; namely that the word has become modern-day slang for something not quite family-friendly. The Beaver, one of Canada’s oldest magazines, last year renamed itself Canada’s History, after market research showed younger Canadians and women were less likely to buy the publication due to the former title’s connotations.

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Joe Jackson is a contributor at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @joejackson. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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