The Canadian elections remind of when CNN sent us to Ottawa to cover the elections up there. We were given a workspace in the CBC building, which we shared with some very intense guys from the BBC. Our minder was a thin, middle-aged man with scraggly white hair and a beard to match, a cigarette firmly planted in his puss and nicotine stains on his rumpled white shirt. “Come this way,” he urged us. “I’ll take you to a secret room!” So we followed him to what looked like the door to just another office. It wasn’t. It was a crowded, smoke-filled, space with a very full bar, very full of fairly looped CBC personnel. “What are you drinking?” he asked. We put in our orders, drank and ordered some more..all of which were on the house.
This was a terribly bad idea since I had to do some live shots with the esteemed CNN anchor Bernard Shaw. We were warned that Canadian law forbade us from giving any results until all the polls closed across the vast country. With a few shots of CBC’s potent hospitality in me, my judgment became quite clouded. So now I’m on the air with Mr. Shaw and in his booming baritone he asks, “ED! ARE ANY RESULTS IN YET?” “YES, BERNIE, SO AND SO IS OFF TO A HUGE LEAD IN THE EARLY RETURNS!” Uh oh. Our once friendly Canadian minder comes bursting into the room and his attitude has changed markedly and his face is now a deep shade of scarlet as he screams at me, “You have just broken Canadian federal law and will probably go to jail…you idiot!”
This made my next live shot a bit more difficult when I had to inform Mr. Shaw’s producer I was no longer permitted to give results until the last person in the Northwest Territories had tossed his/her parchment into the ballot box.
Of course those boys from the Beeb watched all this happening and could only remark, “Bit of a temper, eh?”