CBC Digital Archives

Stockwell Day's geography lesson

Call it a blunder, a slip-up, a goof or a gaffe, but if it happens on the campaign trail it can make an election a lot more interesting – or even alter the outcome. From a Tory leader's famous fumble to a Liberal staffer's "beer and popcorn" bungle, CBC Digital Archives presents a selection of memorable Canadian federal election errors.

media clip
The plunging water and spraying mist of Niagara Falls have made a dramatic backdrop for many movies and honeymoons. But the 2000 election may be the first time they were enlisted to make a political point. "Just as Lake Erie drains from north to south," says Stockwell Day, leader of the Canadian Alliance, "there is an ongoing drain in terms of our young people." But, as this CBC-TV clip shows, Day's message is lost when it's pointed out to him that Lake Erie drains into Canada, not out of it.
• Stockwell Day pokes a bit of fun at himself in the first part of this clip. Standing in the mists of Niagara Falls, he remarks that "the wetsuit" would come in handy. He's referring to a much-lampooned incident earlier that year when, after winning a byelection, he called a press conference on Lake Okanagan and surprised reporters by making his entrance on a Jet Ski while wearing a wetsuit. • Jean Chrétien, taking a run at his third term as prime minister, used Day's Niagara Falls gaffe to his advantage. The next day, Chrétien said: "[Day] often reverses his positions [but] he went a step further when he talked about Niagara Falls flowing south. Let me tell you, it would take more than the Reform/Alliance to reverse the direction of Niagara Falls. And the people of Canada will not let them reverse the direction this country is moving in either."

• The concept of a "brain drain" - the flight of educated, talented Canadians to more lucrative positions in the United States - was a pervasive theme of the 1997 election, though it was hardly a new phenomenon. The Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservatives attributed the problem to, variously, Canada's higher taxes, an inhospitable environment for business and Liberal cuts to post-secondary education.

• A 2003 report by Ontario's Task Force on Competitiveness, Productivity and Economic Prosperity concluded that: "Educated immigrants to Canada counteract the 'brain drain' of Canadian educated talent to the Unites States by a margin of four to one."

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Oct. 24, 2000
Guest(s): Bonny Brown, Stockwell Day, Ben Harder
Reporter: Eric Sorensen
Duration: 2:42

Last updated: February 3, 2012

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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