The current Canadian obsessions are the price of gas for their cars – now going down with every change monitored cent by cent – and detached human parts. The running (floating) story is feet being washed up on various shores thanks to the buoyancy of trainers but this has been pushed aside in the national media by the horrifying reports on the dangers of decapitation by fellow travellers on the bus.
There was an immediate rush of stories about the civic duty of the fellow passengers on the bus. Should they have intervened? Or was their primary duty to themselves and to get out of there? I have no doubt as to what my reaction would have been. I have not been on a Greyhound bus since the time in the 60’s when the company offered what was surely the best travel bargain ever – $99 for 99 days of unlimited travel in the USA (and perhaps Canada as well?). There were indeed some dodgy moments but I never felt in danger of imminent attack by a crazed fellow passenger and believe me there were some very crazy fellow passengers to say nothing of those who appeared to live in the downtown bus stations.
If you wanted to influence the way the media covered the story, then I can tell you now one way of doing so – apply to join the Toronto Star’s Community Editorial Board. Launched in 2000, the Board has been ” a vital part” of the newspaper’s efforts to “understand and reach the many communities in the GTA”. (Greater Toronto Area). I was interested to see them making an effort not to get the usual suspects – “we are not looking for official spokespeople for communities but for ordinary people who share a passion fo the city and its residents”. How familiar that goal sounds to those of us looking for user and public representatives – the hunt for that elusive being: the ‘ordinary’ but passionate person.
The examples of previous members offered by the paper sound anything but ordinary but does seem to hit all the bases for diversity of input – the immigrant from Somalia who runs his own consulting firm or the Ojibway student who used to run a small business. (The Ojibwa is the largest group of native North Americans-First Nations north of Mexico- Wikipedia). Other members were a Sikh woman and environmental activist and the chemist of Pakistani origin.
The group discussed coverage of terrorists, foreign disputes and minority groups in the GTA as well as being able to sit in on meetings editors held with major political figures and write guest columns on topics of their choice.
If you want to apply, you are asked to get in touch with a Mr Ian Urquhart, the editorial page director, a member I am confident in saying of what must be Canada’s dominant anglophone (after a fashion) immigrant tribe – the clue is in the name. I wonder if Canada will be seeing Alex Salmond MSP over soon to announce that he favours ‘Le Canada Libre’ (except presumably Quebec) united with the auld country. Where Charles de Gaulle led, can he be far behind?
We urge Mr Urquhart to give his group a higher profile. A search on the newspaper’s own site showed 0 results for ‘community editorial board’. It would be great if Canada’s highest circulation newspaper took reader and community involvement offered some evidence that it takes community engagement seriously.
In the meantime back at home, the Wandsworth LINk gathers momentum after the Interim Executive was formed with one meeting already held and another planned for the end of August. More on that in future postings
Your Canadian correspondent.