Photo credit: Eye on Canada
Odds are that if a Torontonian tells you they love politics and you try to engage them in a discussion on Canadian politics they’ll reply that they were talking about international affairs.
Funny, eh? That national and local politics is considered boring even though they’re the most relevant to our everyday lives. It’s not that nothing happens here, but with the reality TV style politics south of the border it can be difficult to appreciate the subtle dramas and idiosyncrasies of our truth North strong and free.
That said, Canada is experiencing a surge in starpower with the global recognition of our performers, a freshly branded Toronto, and our new Prime Minister who has managed to send the international media into a frenzy over his looks. But on a more humble level, we have uniquely Canadian issues that are not only important and challenging, but interesting too. The intersection of local, national, and yes, even world politics was cleverly portrayed by Canadian writer and director Philippe Falardeau in his satirical film, My Internship in Canada (Guibord s’en va-t-en guerre).
Screened at the TIFF Bell Lightbox this past week, My Internship in Canada was one of several films featured in Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival. The festival celebrates some of the best movies to come out of the country, with people all over the city coming out to the theatre on King and John to appreciate Canadian filmmaking. The movie centres on Steve Guibord (Patrick Huard) a hockey player turned Member of Parliament in Quebec with a very large riding and a chronic fear of flying. He hires an intern, a Haitian national named Souverain Pascal (Irdens Exantus), with a stunningly comprehensive knowledge of Canadian politics and history, a penchant for quoting political philosophers, and a fierce belief in the power of democratic institutions. As Souverain says during his interview, Canadian politics is all about geography and this is emphasized in the movie as Guibord drives around his riding to fulfil his obligations to constituents.
The driving force of the film is an upcoming vote in Parliament regarding whether or not Canada should go to war. Guibord, an Independent MP, unexpectedly finds himself with the tie-breaking vote. In between his wife’s insistence that he vote yes and his pacifist daughter’s reminders that he would effectively be sending her generation to war, he takes the advice of Souverain to hold consultative meetings with his constituents in order to reflect their voice in his vote. This is further complicated by land disputes between the Algonquin population protesting the logging on their land and the truckers and miners who are concerned about the availability of jobs.
It’s a story that manages to fit a lot about Canadian politics into less than two hours. Everything from Canadian geography to uproar over jobs to First Nations land rights to the international francophone community is touched upon in this film. Overall, the film leaves you eager to brush up on your French and wishing you’d paid a little more attention in high school Civics.
Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival highlights Canadian films and was held at the TIFF Bell Lightbox at King Street and John Street. It was held from January 8 – 17.