Sunday, April 11, 2010 | Categories: Episodes
Interviewed by host Rex Murphy on the April 11, 2010, program
Your reaction to the deaths of the Polish officials including the President?"
"Your thoughts on the Governor General and who should replace her?"
Rex Murphy's introduction to the April 11, 2010, program:
Hour 1: "What's your reaction to the deaths of so many top Polish government officials in a plane crash?"
We'll get to the question about the Governor General later in the program but first a response to terrible news that broke yesterday from Russia.
It must be an immense shock to the citizens of Poland. A plane carrying their President, leaders in the Polish military, church and financial institutions, crashed in Russia killing nearly a hundred people. Prime Minister Harper has extended his condolences, along with the Governor General and Opposition leaders.
It's an almost unthinkable blow to an historically mightily troubled nation - to have most of its leadership lost in a single event. And as noted by the British journal the Economist it comes with a shadowing irony: The presidential plane was carrying a delegation to Katyn, to commemorate the mass murder of a previous Polish elite: the 20,000 reservist officers murdered by Stalin's NKVD in 1940.
The symbolism of the tragedy to many Poles is almost unbearable. In 1943 General Wladyslaw Sikorski, the leader of the Polish wartime government, died in a plane crash in Gibraltar.
Polish history, especially modern history, is a harsh one --- yesterday's tragedy is something of a piece with the numerous trials that country has undergone.
Canada is home, by best estimate, to about one million people of Polish descent, and in various cities across the country - Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg - we have already been hearing of the shock and sorrow this event has inevitably triggered. Many are still absorbing the news, the scale of the loss - some have already made plans to return to Poland for the period of mourning.
Today we'd like to open our lines to hear from all Canadians what their feelings and throughts are - and naturally, we invite people with particularly connection to Poland to call as well. How quickly can Poland come to terms with the loss of so much of its leadership - and some of its modern heroes as well?
For example, one of those lost was Anna Walentynowicz, 80, the former dock worker whose firing in 1980 set off the Solidarity strike that ultimately overthrew Polish Communism. Of their President, Lech Kaczynski, a columnist in the Daily Telegraph wrote today: "Lech Kaczyski was a patriot: a man who never collaborated with the dictators or accepted the occupation of his country by the Red Army. Some Polish politicians, who had made occasional compromises - muting their criticism in return for being allowed to take up foreign postings, for example - found his purism uncomfortable. But ordinary Poles admired Kaczy?ski, and elected him with a handsome majority."
Others on that fatal flight included relatives of those slaughtered in the Kaytn massacre.
There are many grounds for grief in this event.
What were your thoughts on hearing of the calamity? What does it mean for Poland? We particular invite members of Canada's Polish community to express their thoughts and feelings today.
The crash in the Katyn forests near Smolensk - killing all 96 on board, which included Poland's president. Your thoughts and sentiments - today on Checkup.
I'm Rex Murphy ...on CBC Radio One ...and on Sirius satellite radio channel 137 ...this is Cross Country Checkup.
Hour 2: "Your thoughts on the speculation about changing the Governor General?"
We're going to end our discussion here of the tragedy of the Polish plane crash ...and pick up the topic we had orginally planned for Cross Country Checkup today.
This week there was a lot of discussion in columns, editorials and letters to the editor about a rumour that Prime Minister Stephen Harper will not extend the term of the current Governor General Michaelle Jean when it ends in September. It set off a round of speculation about who should fill the role in the next term. Names were mentioned such as Rick Hansen, the man in motion ...or Mary Simon, head of the national Inuit organization, and even former Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan.
In the short time, almost five years, that Michaelle Jean has been in office she grew into the role and created a reputation for being someone who could not only represent the nation with flare at the highest level, but also someone who could reach out to ordinary Canadians in their various walks of life. Some fans have said her term should be extended. Her time in office has been marked by two controversial constitutional matters ...the kind of which are central to the powers of the office but not often exercized by sitting Governors General. She was called upon to prorogue Parliament twice at a time when the procedure -- though normally routine -- was the subject of much political debate and partisan wrangling. It was all a lesson in constitutional affairs underlining that the Governor General's role is not entirely symbolic.
So, what are your thoughts on the end of the term for Governor General Michaelle Jean? Has she done a good job? What is her legacy? What do you look for in the role of Governor General? Who should replace her?