Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Are We Amused Yet?

Yes! Yes! Canada is finally getting noticed!

No longer are we just a red (or grey, or brown) splotch on the map north of the 48 states. No longer is our news unreported, unworthy, unloved. And best of all no longer can Americans pretend to be Canadian when they travel abroad in order to be liked better.

What brought this on, you may ask?

Our Governor General ripped the heart out of a dead seal and ate it raw.

No, really.

When I first saw the headline on Twitter yesterday my reaction was, I don’t remember following The Onion.

My next reaction was, no way. Does not compute. Not is possible. Ignore it, maybe it will go away.

But sadly it is NOT A JOKE. Or if it is, somebody please tell me already and put me out of my misery. I haven’t stopped cringing for over 24 hours.

What was she thinking? Supposedly something to do with solidarity for the Inuit way of life, maybe a protest against the European ban on seal products, whatever.

Couldn’t she just issue a statement???

And I say this as someone who leans toward support of the seal hunt as a source of income for a society that desperately needs it. They no longer club those cute white fuzzy babies and by the way what did you have for dinner last night anyway?

But I don’t want to get into that debate here.

I was kind of hoping this story might go away but alas, it seems to have been picked up by mainstream media. I’ve seen articles on MSNBC and the BBC and honestly don’t have the heart (heh, pun not intended, but acknowledged) to go looking for more references.

Even the gossip website Gawker is having some fun with it, calling Michaelle Jean the “Sarah Palin of Canada”.

Come on that’s totally not fair or even accurate. There is a BIG difference between seal and moose. Jean never claimed superhero bionic x-ray vision to the other side of the International Date Line. Governor and Governor-General are not the same thing (see below). And, up until now at least, Michaelle Jean has been way more respected, especially by those who have heard of her.

So while the message is definitely OUT THERE, it may not be the message Michaelle Jean intended to send. This is after all a serious issue with both sides having passionate feelings about it. Making herself into an international laughing-stock adds nothing to the debate but only creates content for news shows and late night comedians.

Considering the feeble amount of news coverage given to Canada by most American networks, THIS may be the story of the year, leaving people with a rather odd view of us.

Why does this matter? Well when our soldiers are dying in Afghanistan (partly because Americans got distracted by Iraq and neglected the earlier war) perhaps that is a more important story.

When our country does not discriminate against gay and lesbian citizens in civil rights laws or even with regard to the right to serve our country in the military, that is a more important story too.

And perhaps someone should tell the Americans the truth about our *gasp* socialized medicine! While far from perfect, it doesn’t warrant the kind of dismissal politicians give it, when Americans, even those WITH insurance, are at the mercy of some guy in a cubicle whose job it is to find a way to deny them coverage.

This may not help our Arctic sovereignty claims either. But on the other hand.. who would want to pick a fight with us up north?

And you have to admit the woman has balls. Probably more balls than all the male Governors-General we’ve had, combined. And she’s not even our first woman GG, but third that I can think of.. let’s go see if I’m right.

Yup, Jeanne Sauve and Adrienne Clarkson were the others. Go me.

The Governor-General of Canada is not an elected official but is appointed by the Queen on the advice of the Canadian Prime Minister. She is the Queen’s representative here and has a largely ceremonial role.

So far to my knowledge the Queen has not commented on the antics of her Canadian proxy. One can only assume that she is not amused.

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