Sunday, August 22, 2010

Stop the Presses

Former Prime Minister of Canada Jean Chr├ętien is quoted as having said, “Canada is like a big canoe…”.
Canadian Voyageurs, Walking a Canoe Up a Rapid - Currier & Ives, c1860 
Canadian Voyageurs, Walking a Canoe Up a Rapid - Currier & Ives, c1860
I have come to realize that in fact Canada is like a small town.
Canadians make fun of Americans who say things like, “You’re from Canada!  Do you know my friend George?  He’s from Canada!”  Yet more than once I’ve sat in the curling club and heard someone discover that the guy she lived next door to in some tiny town in northern Ontario 35 years ago has a son who is married to her best friend’s niece in Vancouver.

It takes some getting used to.

Canada is really like a small town when it comes to the CBC, the national subsidized English-language broadcast network.  (My French is not good enough to know if that is also true for the French-language network.)

It must have been a slow news day indeed when someone at the CBC in Saskatchewan decided to put a story about a Saskatoon man stuck for five hours in a hole into the Canada-wide RSS feed for the CBC news website.
A rescue crew carries a man out on a stretcher after extricating him from a hole at a construction site.  (CBC) 
A rescue crew carries a man out on a stretcher after extricating him from a hole at a
construction site.
(CBC)

In some of the laziest reporting I have ever seen, two stories on the website and a video do not give the man’s name, do not say how he got into the hole in the first place, and do not press the local police on what they mean when they say it was "not believed to be accidental."

As is often true of stories on the CBC website, the best part is the Comments.  Although we don’t often see Godwin’s Law demonstrated by the posters on CBC forums, sarcasm abounds.  One comment reads:

My condolences go out to the family and friends of the hole in these difficult times.
Another:
So close.. after digging all that way from China, to get stuck at the end..
In that apocryphal story about the canoe, when everyone concentrates on doing his own job to the best of his ability, the canoe glides swiftly on the water --- no matter how troubled.  So thanks, CBC, for a job well done.  You’ve provided valuable insight into the Canadian Identity, if not into the identity of this man in particular.