ON TO OTTAWA!
I’m standing in this gorgeous auditorium that seats 350 or 400, and most of the seats are full, climbing up in rows and ranks to the roof. I’m being introduced – very warmly – by Dr. Jonathan Langdon, Canada Research Chair in Sustainability and Social Change Leadership. I’ve done presentations to a couple of classes. But right now, in this beautiful venue, we’re about to screen the Green Rights film. The lights dim. The music comes up. And the film – which Chris Beckett has just polished one last time – looks absolutely stunning on this big screen.
This was St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia last Wednesday, at a screening sponsored by several university departments, including the Coady International Institute, and organized by Jeff Parker of the Antigonish International Film Festival. The Festival isn’t until mid-October, but Jeff and his team wanted to show our new film before we left on our national tour – so they set up this special pre-Festival presentation.
We had a little trouble getting there. I dropped the Merlin the motorhome into a deep pothole in a parking lot in New Glasgow, tearing off one of its jacks and breaking the air dryer in the braking system. You may have seen my Facebook Livecast from the roadside, where we were stuck with no brakes – and towing us away needed an industrial-level tow truck. Merlin is 34 feet long, after all, and weighs many tons. Happily, the breakdown occurred just down the hill from the Nova Truck Centre, who sent down a mechanic to patch the brakes up so that we could take Merlin to their shop. There he stayed for the rest of that day – while Marjorie signed books in Antigonish – and part of the next day, but in the end Merlin was better than ever.
The Antigonish screening was followed by a vigorous question-and-answer and some very pleasant socializing over book sales. The next morning, Marjorie and I and the dogs went home to D’Escousse for one mad day of sorting and packing, closing up the house for the winter and preparing to hit the road with Merlin. Yesterday we got away in mid-morning, ending up in a truck stop in Rusagonis, just outside Fredericton. Today, we hope, we’ll stop somewhere around Trois Rivieres, Quebec. And tomorrow we’ll be in Ottawa, preparing for the big premiere on Tuesday.
Tuesday’s events will begin with a 5:00 reception on Parliament Hill hosted by the Speaker of the Senate and featuring Nova Scotia lobster paired with Nova Scotia’s Tidal Bay wine. The guest list includes representatives from many of Canada’s major environmental and civil society organizations as well as MPs, Senators and parliamentary staffers. Environment Minister Catherine McKenna has said she wants to attend.
Then, at 7:00 in the Pearson Ballroom of the Lord Elgin Hotel, with our partners from the Sierra Club Canada Foundation, we’ll show the film to an audience that we hope will respond as warmly as the audiences in Wolfville, Halifax and Antigonish. We hope our Ottawa audience will influence the government to consider that Canada is among only a dozen countries in the world that do not recognize the rights of their citizens to clean air and water, and healthy food. We hope the audience — and the government — will feel that it’s time to give Canadians the rights that are enjoyed by the citizens of more than 180 countries around the world.
That’s what this tour is all about: getting Canadians the right to a cleaner, greener world. So spread the word, and wish us luck!