The Toronto Sun reports that CTV's Canadian Idol, the all-Canadian version of Pop Idol (and thus the first cousin to Fox's American Idol), is down to its final two contestants. Ryan Malcolm from Kingston, Ontario and Gary Beals from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia have reached the finals, after Billy Klippert from Calgary, Alberta was voted out in the final elimination. This week, Ryan and Billy will perform with American Idol 2 winner Ruben Studdard as part of their final showdown.

Most speculation about the winner had focused on Ryan or Billy, but Gary's ardent fans (who heckled Billy after his boot) have insured that there is some measure of doubt coming to the ending. However, many of the commentators have opined that either the already-booted Toya Alexis and Jenny Gear were the best singers -- a result far different from the U.S. show, where the final three (Clay Aiken, Ruben Studdard and Kimberly Locke) were also the consensus choice as the three most talented finalists.

Another interesting issue on Canadian Idol is the issue of regional bias. On American Idol, the final three were all Southerners (Ruben from Alabama, Clay from North Carolina and Kimberly from Tennessee), so there were no issues regarding regional voting patterns. However, on Canadian Idol, the final five were geographically dispersed, with each region having its own candidate: in addition to Ontario (Ryan), the Maritimes (Gary) and the West (Billy), the other two were from Newfoundland (Jenny) and Quebec (Audrey de Montigny). Many of the voting discussion have thus focused on patterns of bias among the voters, such as whether Jenny lost because she was from the smallest region or whether Billy lost because Western viewers were less aggressive voters than Maritime ones.

Although we're pleased to see that Canada, which has complained about its exclusion from CBS's Survivor for years, finally received its own version of a "hot" show, we find the presence of regional bias (as opposed to merit voting) troubling -- and inconsistent with the idea of Canada as a nation. Maybe the Parti Quebecois wasn't as completely off-the-wall as we thought.