Xtra: Byelection! German Censorship! Whistler! And more!

It was a busy week at Xtra for me — I don’t think I’ve ever filed 5 stories in a single week as a freelancer, but all that cash sure comes in handy before Pride. And hey, all the stories are published on Xtra‘s sexy new web site, dailyxtra.com! It’s a vast improvement on the musty old design, innit? The current beta version seems to default to a “World” setting when I land on it, but you can find the usual Toronto/Ottawa/Vancouver pages at the top, along with a “Canada” page.

Biggest story of the week was the announcement that Bob Rae was retiring as the MP for Toronto Centre, a riding which includes the gay village. This touched off intense speculation about who would be seeking to replace him in a byelection that will likely take place in November, with a few prominent gays putting out feelers already.

Note: If one of those gays wins, that will be 7 out gay MPs — the gayest Parliament ever (at 6, we’re currently tied with the period between 2008-2009, after Rob Oliphant was elected, but before Réal Ménard quit). Of course, we all know there’s at least two closeted MPs, and I’ve heard rumours of a third, but I’m not counting them.

Oh and this may be the first time Xtra‘s closed comments on a story I’ve written, presumably in response to numerous anonymous commenters accusing me of being a Liberal and (I’m assuming) sarcastically encouraging me to run. New Democrats accuse me of being a Liberal, Liberals accuse me of being a New Democrat. The difference is the Liberals usually say this to my face, whereas New Democrats retreat to anonymous comments. (BTW, the comment claiming to be written by “Brendan Healy” wasn’t actually). [Oh wait, the comments don’t seem to have migrated from the old site, so….]

Meanwhile, Health Canada is cracking down on Poppers right before Pride. Never really got the appeal of poppers. Whenever I’ve seen guys use them, they smell disgusting.

In sadder news, Toronto Police are looking for three men accused of sexually assaulting a woman while making derogatory comments about her sexual orientation.

I picked up a pair of stories from Xtra Vancouver as well. WinterPride in Whistler claims it has a $9-million dollar impact on the BC economy based on a study commissioned by the resort town. I’m usually really skeptical about these economic impact studies, but the number doesn’t sound that unreasonable. Unfortunately, the town refuses to release the study citing competition concerns.

And finally, Germany’s largest bookseller — which happens to be owned by the Catholic Church, which, what? — has banned a gay book by a Vancouver publisher.

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