Don't just live in the world


November 3rd, 2009 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Canadiana | Issues

When I was a teenager and I started watching hockey I was a real home team fan – I wore my jersey every game day, I knew all the players’ stats and I cheered for them and against whoever was against them, including the ref. I was one of those fans that would yell at the ref for any call he made against my team just because my team could do no wrong.

When I started covering sports, I had to separate myself from the action. I didn’t actively participate in the game as I always had before, I didn’t cheer goals or boo calls – a fundamental change for me, and a hard one to make. When I quit journalism I went half-way back: I cheer loudly and proudly but if the ref calls my team offside and I saw that player come across the line before the puck, I’m not going to be the call. (Please note, none of this is true when Team Canada is playing, but that’s a whole other level of hockey).

This tempered fandom has translated into other parts of my life.

The current federal government does a lot of things I disagree with, but I temper my disapproval (and occasional rage) with credit where credit is due.

Yesterday the House of Commons held an emergency debate on the H1N1 vaccine roll-out. It seems Ottawa is not the only city where we are experiencing confusion, long lines and people jumping the queue. The feds are blaming the provinces and the company that’s manufacturing the vaccine, the provinces are blaming the feds. Nobody is blaming the municipalities yet, which seems odd to me since most of the actual clinics were organized municipally (which is why my anger lies with the City of Ottawa, though I never would have guessed that the day we went would turn out to be the smoothest day of the first week of clinics).

I didn’t watch the debate last night, and I haven’t seen much news coverage of it yet this morning, but I did happen to be on Twitter while it was going on, and I one message in particular caught me attention. Someone I follow said that all the federal leaders were in the House for the debate, except “of course” Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The tone implying that Harper was somehow skipping school.

This little dig – implying that the PM had skipped out on an important debate – was offside.

While both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition have had occasion to miss days in the House, and specifically Question Period, for questionable reasons, it was ridiculous to suggest that last night the Prime Minister was being irresponsible and skipping out on his duties. Anyone who watched the news yesterday knew that the Prince of Wales, our future head-of-state, and his wife were landing in St. John’s, Newfoundland yesterday afternoon at just about the time that the emergency debate was being approved.

It could be argued that the Prime Minister’s duty was to be in Ottawa at the Commons, and that he could have easily sent the Governor General to meet Charles and Camilla, as is generally her duty, but it cannot be argued that once in St. John’s at the welcoming ceremony Harper would have had time to make it back to Ottawa for the emergency debate that started only three hours after it was schedule, nor that he could have smoothly slipped away from the pomp and ceremony in St. John’s to try.

And you can be sure that he would have faced criticism for abandoning the royals and leaving them with only Danny Williams to greet them.

It’s fair to expect more from our political leaders, it’s fair to demand more, but it’s offside asking them to be two places at once.

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