Canada Day on CBC

July 1, 2017

I have just watched 3 1/2 hours of TV during which a crowd got wet.  It was pretty good.  Some Irishman named Bono gave the best speech of the day before he sang, according to retiring CBC chief correspondent Peter Mansbridge.  Bono said he offered to do a song at the event because he likes Justin Trudeau’s stand on human rights.  Multiple Grammy winner Shania Twain introduced Canada’s two new astronauts, but didn’t sing.  The ageless Buffy St. Marie kicked the afternoon off with a rap during which she wandered off the stage to address Prince Charles and the P.M. directly.  She is a compelling performer.

Prince Charles spoke pretty good French for the first half of his speech, then segued without a trace of irony into English.  Royal.  What struck me was how much he seemed to enjoy himself in the rain, meeting everyone.  Justin Trudeau let go with a barn-burner of a speech, working the soggy crowd very well.  Then he forgot to mention Alberta when rhyming off the provinces and territories.  Mansbridge ruminated about that all afternoon.

The best act was the co-hosting job by Sandra O and Mitsu.  They timed their English/French comments so tightly that it appeared one was speaking over the other, but after a while I realized that they had to have rehearsed this difficult timing, for every syllable came out just right.  Mitsu’s radiant personality and O’s gravitas emphasized that this was a serious show about a serious, if joyous event.

The Trudeau family swept away any stuffiness in the performance with J.T. (and Sophie) popping out of their seats from time to time, most notably a drop-in on Peter Mansbridge during his broadcast.  Justin took the mike and interviewed Peter in a mildly amusing segment.  The two drew quite a crowd of friendly onlookers eager to wish Mansbridge well on his last show.  On their way out Peter offhandedly suggested they say hello to his wife and son.  The camera swung to frame a shocked Cynthia Dale and the younger Mansbridge, who looked rather like his father when shaking the P.M’s hand.

Comedian Mark Critch just did a funny standup routine in front of a crowd in Newfoundland, joking about Peter’s retirement and how he wants his job.

The interviews with people across Canada turned out to be more interesting than one might expect.  CBC Power and Politics host Rosie Barton interviewed one woman, her teenaged son and pre-teen daughter.  Rosie asked how long it had taken them to get to Parliament Hill from their home in Northern Ontario.  “A nine hour drive after a five hour train ride and a ten minute boat trip.  And then we waited four hours in line, and we arrived here just ten minutes ago.”

Rosie asked why they had come.  The woman identified her family as First Nations, “I wanted to bring my children here so that they can see what Canada is like.”  Nice lady, with great kids, to judge by their alertness and intelligence.

UPDATE 2 July, 2017

I quit watching t.v. at 12.15 a.m.  Still no fireworks.  Gordon Lightfoot was a treat, though.  He had performed on the same stage fifty years ago in 1967.  Most of the evening was shots of Rick Mercer on a roof tossing to indy rock bands performing in various locations around Canada.

Cirque de Soleil performed on a soggy Ottawa stage, though.  Courageous acrobats, those.  The poll dancer’s routine was flat-out amazing.  He could run up a 25′ stripper pole with less effort than it takes me to climb a flight of stairs.  The trampoline guys took some risks in the rain, but I saw only one slip in an otherwise flawless performance.

Today’s newspaper coverage has moved on from the Trudeau-forgot-Alberta bulletin ( a teleprompter misread) to chaos-at-the-gates stories of Canadians frustrated by overly tight and disorganized event security over the afternoon.  So the Canadian version of catastrophe at a public event involves standing in line for eight hours without food, only to find that this line doesn’t actually go anywhere.  The body count consisted of one man who fell off a three-story building while climbing it.  He’s in hospital with a head injury.

As a viewer I felt glad for those who made it onto the Hill, and sorry for those trapped in lineups, but that’s a lot better than reading grizzly details of a bomb blast.  I was especially glad that our granddaughter stayed at home with her parents and watched T.V. rather than facing that crowd.

I prefer bathos to tragedy.

I’ll miss you, Peter Mansbridge.


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