Saturday, January 21, 2006
A New Record/Covering Politics
Well, the end of another flight week and wouldn't you know the sun came out the last day. All we needed was some breaking news. It was not to be. I now hold the dubious record for the lowest total for a flight week amongst my flight crew colleagues. 3.3 hours a full .6 lower than the previous record. Beat that Boys!
Monday is election day and my assignment is with a Liberal cabinet minister. Did you ever see a sitting government implode as fast and as quick at Mr. Martin did? I just hope that we park our Sat Trucks outside the "Blast Area" on Monday night.
Funny thing about politics, I hate covering anything the least bit political as the events are usually very predictable and very staged. My favorite political story happened one Sunday afternoon in the early 90's in Fredericton. Our assignment was the New Brunswick PC annual convention. At the time the Conservatives had like 4 seats in the Leg and the leader of the party was some has been Mulroney hack minister that had stated that unless he got a certain percentage leadership confidence vote than he would step down. I think the number was like 70%. Anyway, Mike and I bitched the whole way to the convention center about how dull these things are and how quite frankly people become so mezmorized by politics. We observed a packed convention hall. People all excited and torqued up, having that glazed look in their eyes as if they were about to be absorbed or beamed up to the mothership. It was loud and it was bizarre. Being cynical is part of what make a good journalist and little did we know we were in for a treat on that day.
Most party conventions of that time did not release exact numbers on votes. They liked to spin things that were either "accepted" or "Passed" or "rejected" or "Defeated". The confidence vote had taken place, the tabulation was at the ready, the leader was piped into the head table, the delicates were going nuts, the atmosphere was, well, electric. Our cameras rolled as the Chair took to the podium. I decided to keep my shot on the leader to get his reaction.
He asked for everyone to be seated. It took a minute or two for things to settle down. The anticipation was thick in the air, you could cut it with a knife. I was positioned just a couple of feet from the Leader as he looked on with that typical politicians "smile" you know the one, kinda forced, nervous, you see it on every used car salesman in this country.
The speaker begins, the room is ready to erupt with reckless abandon, with euphoria. He announces 69% confidence, The leader's face changed in that instant, like someone had ripped his life essence from him, and the crowd, well lets just say that the air rushed out of that room so fast that it nearly sucked the ball cap off my head. It was the best political moment of my career. It was the last we heard of former Mulrony cabinet Minister, New Brunswick PC Leader, Bernard Valcourt.
(This shot was from the last Federal Election. Mike Killeen and I were assigned to Burnaby North,,, the show came to us once)
I haven't enjoyed covering federal elections out west. They were much more fun when I worked back east. By the time our national show begins the broadcast out on the west coast (8pm Pacific Time) they have determined a winner. The national analysts are busy figuring what went wrong in Ontario and basically ignore us in the prairies and in the pacific. One thing I am sure of though, the room will no doubt be filled with the believers and they will have that same glazed look only this time I am sure there will be some tears.