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September 1999
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Canadian Content Part XIV:

The Top Ten Greatest Moments in Canadian Television

by John Hansen

10) "Just watch me," was his response to a reporter's question of how far he intended to the army's presence in Montreal. With a shrug, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau dismissed the military's occupation of Montreal during the FLQ crisis as a harbinger of the creation of a police state. Great television. Great man. Arrogant prick. (October 1970, CBC News)

9) The 1988 Seoul Olympics Scandal. When the artificially pumped-up Ben Johnson was declared the fastest man on Earth, he was a true Canadian champion. When his drug test got out, he suddenly became "that guy from Jamaica." Canada's nationalist hypocrisy at its finest. Ben was last seen in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island racing against horses for money. (September 1988, CBC Sports)

8) "Anne of Green Gables: The Movie": 'Bout friggin' time! And Dave Foley and Bruce McCullough in bit roles to boot, too. The movie could have been improved only by a foot race between Anne Shirley and Ben Johnson. (1985, CBC)

7) "So, is Casey a boy or a girl?" Generations of Canadian children weaned on television in the 60's, 70's, 80's, and 90's often asked themselves this question about Casey. The gender-challenged character in question was the adopted child puppet of Mr. Dressup, who passed his days pulling costumes out of his Tickle Trunk for the amusement of Casey and his mute dog puppet, Finnegan, who both lived in a tree house in Mr. Dressup's backyard. Casey never seemed to have a gender appointed to him/her but he had rouge cheeks and high-pitched girlie voice. Still, generations swear Casey has been referred to in both genders from time to time. To describe the show, it all sounds very sordid but really, "Mr. Dressup" was a very wholesome show. (CBC: 572 BC - 1998)

6) "I just wanted to look in his eyes before I killed him." The Oka Standoff began in a Mohawk Native reserve outside Montreal. When the owners of a nearby golf course began expanding from nine holes to eighteen, the Mohawks took up armed resistance, claiming the future greens were ancient burial grounds sacred to their people. Racial tensions ensued leading to an chilly, silent eye to eye meeting between a soldier and a Mohawk Warrior - he didn't kill him, though. (CBC Newsworld - 1990)

5) "Harold Ramis: Plainclothes Mountie" - When he joined the RCMP, it was because he loved the uniform. When they took it away, he became the Plainclothes Mountie. The future director of Analyze This in his most inspired performance: a mounted policeman trying to go undercover as a hippie - on horseback. "Hey man, do you know where I can score some good weed. I got lots of bread, man." (SCTV - 1976)

4) "Friday Night! with Ralph Benmurgui" The former newsmagazine host was to be the CBC's answer to David Letterman. What they got was Chevy Chase: an overhyped train wreck of a talk/variety show which featured the host eschewing the traditional opening monologue in favour of a performance art piece in which he played the duel roles of a transvestite and a man questioning his own sexuality. (CBC - 1992)

3) "Lance et Compte/He Shoots, He Scores" Proving that the French in this country are culturally superior, this prime time soap was centered around the lives and loves of the players of an NHL hockey team loosely based on the now defunct Quebec Nordiques. The English-Canadians took no notice of the show until it was dubbed into English and we saw what our Quebec friends got to see: full frontal nudity in prime time. (Radio-Canada/CBC 1987)

2) "A Prime Minister Attacks a Protestor" It was Flag Day in Hull, Quebec. Prime Minister Jean Chretien attempts to make a speech but is drowned by the voices of people protesting the country's rate of unemployment. Chretien gives up, wades into the crowd toward his motorcade. One protestor gets in his face and rather than allowing his RCMP escort to take care of the problem, Chretien, bedecked in a black overcoat and shades, grabs the protestor by the neck and tosses him aside. The event is captured on video tape and in Trudeauesque fashion, he shrugs off the incident. Later, people come out of the woodwork to tell the press that the prime minister is a violent, violent man. (CBC-News, 1996)

1) "You were fucking Tessa Campanelli?!" In the two-hour movie coda to the Degrassi series, "School's Out!" features Yik Yu on drugs, Wheels in jail for drunk driving, and Joey Jeremiah gettin' it on with Tessa Campanelli behind Caitlyn's back, thus causing Caitlyn's now famous uncensored accusation. A bleak end to a bleak but always Canadian show.

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