June 29, 2004

Grits: It's What's for Government

OUR ENTERTAINMENT this past evening was to watch the Canadian election returns via the only live feed we could get: the French-language arm of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. What follows are our observations from a night of watching election returns in a language we couldn't understand:

* There really is a rather European-like nation on our northern border. As Americans, we ought be cautious.

* We do not care if it makes perfect sense for the CBC to send its French feed onto cable systems here in New Hampshire. For election returns, please throw Peter Mansbridge on the set and have done with it.

* Where was Paul Martin watching the election footage? From roughly 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., we saw all of one clip featuring the Prime Minister. He didn't appear all that happy, but that's probably understandable given the results from last night. Also, it appeared as if he and his wife were watching from a badly-furnished condominium. In short, this was not what one expects from a head of Government.

* The CBC instead spent a lot of time focusing on someone called Gilles Duceppe, whom we understand is a former Communist in charge of the French separatist party. We guess he had a hell of a night -- 54 seats is rather a lot -- as the TV showed all sorts of happy Quebecers cheering for Mr Duceppe at some kind of election event.

* One of the CBC reporters in the field had a startling resemblance to Zonker Harris.

* It would prove helpful for American viewers if the CBC would put marquees up to identify their anchormen once in a while. Not once did we see the French broadcaster -- the guy with the receding brown hair -- identified for the audience. Nor was the analyst guy with the bright gold tie ever identified, as far as we could tell.

* We would ask that the CBC only count seat figures when an MP has actually won his riding. Americans watching might think that when a party's total goes down for a moment, it's the Canadian equivalent of having the networks take back Florida from Al Gore, and this is not so. In that vein, noting returns when only dozens of votes have been counted in a riding isn't all that helpful.

* Does this result mean the Canadian dollar will drop back to a reasonable level against the greenback? It's no fun going to Canada when the exchange rate is over 70 cents.

* We switched off the results and went to bed not long after an exchange between the unnamed French broadcaster and someone called Peter MacKay, who is an MP for the Conservative Party. This led to the only exchange of the night which made it clear to us how the election turned out, as the Tories were expected to do better than they did. The French broadcaster issued a variety of questions in Canadian French, and when Mr MacKay hesitated, the broadcaster helpfully followed up with the only English we heard the entire evening: "What happened?"

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at June 29, 2004 07:30 AM | TrackBack

Ben, I watched on the CBC live on-line feed and it was pretty good actually. I think they made a big deal about the BQ because they were pounding the Libs in Quebec. Never mind the fact that Cretin's old seat went BQ.

Posted by: Andrew Ian Dodge at July 1, 2004 12:35 PM


This is true! I was still surprised to see that Martin got such little coverage early on -- this WAS a referendum on his Government.

Also, the CBC has different English and French feeds, so perhaps the English feed devoted more time to Martin.

Posted by: Benjamin Kepple at July 1, 2004 05:26 PM