We may live in an information age, but so much of what we read is one sided, poorly researched media crap that reinforces feelings of hatred, racism, and fear. Perilous mountains get built out of insignificant molehills. No where is this more true than stories about politicians.
One small example: a year and a half ago, Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper showed up in Calgary for the Calgary Stampede. He made the remark that Calgary is “the greatest city in the greatest country in the world!” His offhand comment raised a bit of a stink with the media who tried to stir the pot of regional jealousy. Really folks. Stephen Harper went to the University of Calgary. His home is in Calgary. He has been a Member of Parliament in Calgary since 1993. Is there some reason why he can’t declare he likes Calgary best?
Yes, he is the Prime Minister, but he has not let fame control his life. Over the Christmas holiday, my son-in-law spotted Mr. Harper in the local Pizza and Steakhouse. Our Prime Minister was sitting at a table by himself, waiting for food or friends to arrive. Yes, his security people were at the door, but that was it. The patrons of Matador Pizza and Steakhouse came and went as usual.
Of course, there are a few perks to being the Prime Minister. In October 2010, Harper was taped for a cameo appearance in an episode of the television show Murdoch Mysteries. (Murdoch Mysteries is a Canadian production set in Toronto in the late 1800’s.) Mr. Harper played the character of Desk Sergeant Armstrong, a seemingly imperceptive man who doesn’t recognize Canada’s seventh Prime Minister, Wilfrid Laurier when he walks into Station 4. The Desk Sergeant is then chastised by Constable Crabtree who says, “That’s called a newspaper, Armstong. Try reading one.” Here is the video of the Prime Minister’s visit to the Murdoch set:
Stephen Harper’s visit to Matadors doesn’t seem to have made the news, though the owner of the establishment did post the sighting on Facebook. To me, this is a good news story – the Prime Minister of Canada can stop at the local Pizza joint and it just isn’t a big deal. Yet, it is a big deal, because it is a story about what is right about Canada and how Canadians treat one another.
In a world darkened by ethnic conflicts that tear nations apart, Canada stands as a model of how people of different cultures can live and work together in peace, prosperity, and mutual respect.
– Bill Clinton
What is a Canadian? A Canadian is a fellow wearing English tweeds, a Hong Kong shirt and Spanish shoes, who sips Brazilian coffee sweetened with Philippine sugar from a Bavarian cup while nibbling Swiss cheese, sitting at a Danish desk over a Persian rug, after coming home in a German car from an Italian movie… and then writes his Member of Parliament with a Japanese ballpoint pen on French paper, demanding that he do something about foreigners taking away our Canadian jobs.
My other story about Calgary and politics: A Politician Who Kept his Promise