Tuesday, October 19

"Canada and Canadians in a Changing World"

Today I heard famed CBC News anchor Peter Mansbridge who appeared at the U of L to share with students and southern Albertans his thoughts on a changing Canadian culture, politics, and society. He was presented by the U of L Students' Union (ULSU) with all proceeds from the event benefiting the ULSU food bank.

Mr. Mansbridge used three simple stories that demonstrate how readily outsiders know who Canadians are. For Liberal update check Liberal.ca.

Mr. Mansbridge who has interviewed many important people including President Obama started with reference to the elections of last evening in Calgary and Lethbridge. He noted the increased voter turn out as good for democracy and emphasized the importance of local politics which as he said affect our daily lives the most.

He also shared the warmth he experienced with Mr. Obama who despite an exacting schedule took the time to return and introduce him to a Canadian working for the Whitehouse making them both feel so important and appreciated. He also discussed his experience with a couple of famous people one of whom made him feel anything but appreciated.

He even discussed a little of his own career journey as well as the responsibility of any media, particularly the CBC to inform the public even their responsibility to present the not so nice issues humanity need to face.

The capacity audience was captivated with his examples depicting how outsiders readily recognize Canadians and the good associated with them. His simple yet graphic stories touched emotional buttons were as follows:
• The young Haitian girl who on meeting him and noticing his Canadian pin, pointed and said “Canadians good”. On his questioning as to why, she led him a little distance away to 3 Canadian Nurses from Vancouver who no one knew were there. They had taken time off from their jobs at their own expense to get there with supplies to help the injured.
• Next was his experience last year in the Netherlands where at celebrations recognizing that Canadians liberated them he asked a young lady with a 4 year old in her arms “why she would bring such a small child”. She told him she wanted him to know and remember that Canadians liberated them. And finally;
• Is the young Canadian CIDA worker in Kabul who he ascertained had been born in and escaped from Afghanistan and who was accepted by Canada and took out Canadian citizenship. After completing her education she “wanted to return to her motherland to share her experience about the benefits of living in a free democracy using Canada as the example”.
What I learned: A recurring theme is that Canadians are compassionate and caring locally, nationally and abroad. Questions and answers suggested “we don’t rule the world” and “we just explore … bad politics does not represent the majority … we need an informed electorate but it must want to be informed”. Another consideration is that “it is important for us to know … to present the news/info responsibly and his major concerns are “ignorance and apathy” and … we need to “teach and encourage caring, listening and engagement”. If presented with opportunity to hear him I recommend you take it to “get to know the man behind the scenes”. I was impressed. Michael

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