A few months ago when we were still hopeful that the Blue Jays might make it to the World Series, I thought I might have to stop watching the coverage. No, the problem wasn’t that the game was too exciting for me. No, I wasn’t overly annoyed by the clearly biased American play by play announcers. Then, what was it?
I was viscerally offended by the Hockey Night in Canada commercials.
Voiced by Ron McLean, the super sappy text, replete with dramatic pauses in its delivery, told the story of the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast as the ultimate in Canadiana.
“This is the story… of a love affair. Between a country… and a game. If you want to try… to teach someone about Canada…, you go to the television Saturday night…, and it becomes crystal clear.”
Huh? Are you kidding me, Ron McLean?! I love hockey as much as the next average Canadian, and I’ll agree that Hockey Night in Canada has earned icon status, but seriously….. the gossipy, macho banter between you and Don Cherry is going to teach a newcomer all they need to know about Canada? I assure you Ron, that’s not MY Canada.
MY Canada is the one reflected in a little page 16 news story about the police department in tiny Kensington, PEI who posted a warning to anyone considering driving while impaired this holiday season. The post on Facebook, promised that those caught drunk driving, in addition to the standard penalties, would also be forced to listen to the Alberta band Nickelback during the ride back to the station.
HA! When I first heard the story earlier this week, it struck my funny bone. I too, am a non-fan of this Alberta band’s music so, for me, the tongue in cheek joke was a good one. And from a marketing standpoint I thought it was a stroke of brilliance. An angle like this generated press that your standard “don’t drink and drive because you’ll ruin the lives of yourself and others” public service announcement never will. I admired the small town police department for its’ out of the box thinking and creative approach to getting a big bang from a non-existent budget.
Resourcefulness + Sense of Humor = Canada
The undertone in this story deals with the relationship between Canadian citizens and their police forces. The Nickelback threat wasn’t a threat of force; while it was intended to be unpleasant it wasn’t intended to cause harm. There’s something decidedly human about a police force thinking this way, and an understanding that the perpetrator of this drunk driving crime is also a human being with human emotions that are moved by music.
Resourcefulness + Sense of Humor + Human Empathy = Canada
But that’s not the end of the story. Later this week, the Kensington police department DELETED the post and replaced it with an apology to Nickelback! It seems that the author of the post, surprised by the attention it attracted, started to feel like a bully. As the original post had gone viral, the Don’t Drink and Drive message began to be dwarfed by a “love vs. hate” debate about the band.
On Friday the Kensington police department posted: “I am sorry to (band members) Chad, Ryan, Mike and Daniel. Not as just members of Nickelback, but more importantly as fellow Canadians. I’m sorry guys because I didn’t take a moment to think of you AS just guys.” The post acknowledged the charity efforts of Nickelback, in particular surrounding the efforts to bring relief to victims of the Fort McMurray wildfires, and expressed regret about thinking of the band as an entity rather than the band members themselves.
People from other countries might look at this part of the story and say that political correctness is taking the fun out of everything. But for me as a Canadian, this is EXACTLY what our country is all about. It’s the strength of character of Canadians to admit our mistakes, learn from them, and strive to do better by each other in the future, that really makes my prideful heart sing. It’s the exponent in that equation.
We may not agree on what makes good politics, and we may not agree on what good music sounds like, but we all agree that we’re in this together. One team. Team Canada.