So the Vancouver Olympics are just about half over and all-in-all, going very well. The weather’s been a bitch, but that was never VANOC’s failing. The IOC picked Vancouver for the Olympics and if they didn’t bother to read a weather report before making their pick, fuck ’em. And even if they did, it’s the weather. One misplaced El Nino and people would have been wearing shorts in Salt Lake City. But unfortunately for Canada we aren’t a major economic power like the US or China so when we hold an Olympics, no one feels compelled to caress our balls and tell us how pretty we are. Sure, we don’t run our people over with tanks or start illegal wars but we don’t have the bomb and we can’t make a t-shirts for 49 cents — so we have to understand our place in the world. But to be honest, I can handle the criticisms, however misplaced, from the outside media. When you read a piece of witty nonsense written by an Englishman who’s probably never seen more than 6″ of snow, you can simply brush him aside; maybe give him a little “fuck off, wanker” on the way by. Same with the American press who’s shitting on us is more about bigging up their own team than a serious critique of an international event.
About a week ago, when the first article from the Guardian came out and suggested that Vancouver might be hosting the worst games ever, CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi posted a link to the article on his Twitter and was immediately bombarded with what I gather were some harsh responses. His shocked reply, to question whether or not we should traded an objective view of outside opinions for “blinkered nationalism”. My answer is yes, at times.
For the last week on my Twitter, Facebook and to as many people face-to-face as would listen I’ve repeated the mantra that there are times when we, as Canadians, need to close ranks and protect our own. When for the good of the country we need to prove that we can work as a whole and put on a good show for the world. And that call to action extends to every person in this country; to the average Joe and Jane, who are already doing their best, to those in government and most importantly, the media. There’s no better story than the one about a noble country of some 34 million that pulled together to make something happen. Instead, we’re seeing more ink on our losses than our victories. Some offer that this is simply our quintessential Canadian-ness. I hope not. If it is then we’ve bought into our own hype and surrendered to the false, manufactured reality that Canadians are demure and resigning; that we value modesty above all else.
So who will stand up for Canada? If we’re permitting outside criticism maybe we’ll take some outside validation. Start with Tom Brokaw, whose NBC piece on the Canadian/US relationship contained by far the nicest words anyone has said about our country in the last week or so. But that’s not nearly enough. We need a voice, a big one, to spend the next 7 days shouting from the mountain tops that this is Canada and we’re proud and everyone should know it. And all you haters out there can write all the filth you want and we’ll read none of it.
I didn’t think this is where I’d end when I started this little diatribe…but the conclusion, unavoidable and inevitable, is that when the world is watching we need the CBC. We need a broadcaster who speaks for Canada in a language we can understand. CTV has Canada in the name, but its association ends there. We need the fire and brimstone of Don Cherry just as much as we need the comforting certainty of Ron MacLean. We need the CBC and we always will.
Let these 2 weeks be a lesson to those who think we’d be better off dumping our public broadcaster. Take a hard look at the cynicism which permeates the coverage of these games. That’s our voice right now, at least as far as the rest of the world knows. We deserve better than that because we are better than all that.