Canadian comedians slam and salute Sarnia on the same night

Photo courtesy of Chris Hadfield via TwitterSarnia Astronaut Chris Hadfield tweeted this photo of the teleprompter he used during a bit with Rick Mercer. It included his reference to Sarnia which aired the same night as This Hour Has 22 Minutes slammed the city's drinking water.

Photo courtesy of Chris Hadfield via Twitter
Sarnia Astronaut Chris Hadfield tweeted this photo of the teleprompter he used during a bit with Rick Mercer. It included his reference to Sarnia which aired the same night as This Hour Has 22 Minutes slammed the city’s drinking water.

Sarnia was given two shout-outs on CBC TV’s top rated comedies recently, but one wasn’t exactly what city boosters wanted..

The day before Lambton County councilors were to meet via teleconference with the firm helping the community with its rebranding exercise, St. Clair Township Deputy Mayor Peter Gilliland was reading through his agenda while watching This Hour Has 22 Minutes – a satirical news program on the CBC. The “reporter” comedian Shawn Majumder was at the Canadian Screen Awards, talking to Arlene Dickinson of Dragon’s Den fame.

“Majumder: Who are you drinking tonight?

Dickinson: I’m going to be drinking pure Canadian water.

Majumder: Ya, but it depends, if it’s from Sarnia, I’d get to the doctor immediately.” (See the clip here http://www.cbc.ca/22minutes/episodes/episode-18-1.html )

Gilliland says he was struck by the moment.  “We are branded already as the Chemical Valley,” Gilliland told county councilors the next day during the conference call with North Star Destination Strategies. “How are we ever going to get out of the branding of Chemical Valley?”

“I’m not negative but I’m a realist,” says Gilliland. “The perception this is the chemical area of Canada and it is going to be a huge hill to get over.”

Ed Barlow of North Star agreed. “Each community has difficult hills to climb,” says Barlow. “I don’t see it as an impossible hill to climb but it will require a coordinated effort.”

Barlow says the key to changing attitudes about Sarnia-Lambton is to tell people about the positives of the community.

“That joke may never have been true…you’re not going to replace that negative comment but they’re not only going to hear the negative comment.”

“I agree we have to take advantage of the good things,” says Sarnia City/County Councilor Jim Foubister, noting Astronaut Chris Hadfield is taking every opportunity to promote Sarnia – including a bit the very same night as the 22 Minutes episode with Rick Mercer on the Mercer Report. (See Hadfield with Mercer here; (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=4CUR0l2_jis)

“There are good sound bites out there, we should take advantage of that “

Sarnia-Lambton’s branding exercise is expected to be complete in June.

– Heather Wright

 

 

 

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