For a guy who likes hockey and movies it was the perfect evening. Throw in a bucket of popcorn and a Diet Coke and Stephen Harper was in heaven.
The Prime Minister and his wife, Laureen, were among a crowd of nearly 1,000 who attended Heritage Minister James Moore’s seventh move night – the screening of the Bollywood-meets-hockey adventure, Breakaway .
Mr. Harper, who is still writing a book about the history of hockey and who often sneaks out to the movies in Ottawa, arrived at the National Arts Center and actually walked the red carpet with his wife for the event. He doesn’t usually come out to these sorts of events.
He wasn’t only there to support Mr. Moore’s initiative to showcase Canadian movies and talent to official Ottawa. He was also showing his party’s support for Canada’s ethnic communities, which delivered for him in the May election.
And Breakaway neatly encompasses all that. The movie, which was shown at the Toronto International Film Festival last month, features a struggling all-Sikh hockey team – and all of the hilarity and cultural confusion that entails.
But it also includes messages of tolerance and triumph over adversity. It shows new Canadians following their dreams – and there’s a tiny bit of romance thrown in for good measure.
And for the patriotic Conservatives, there’s even a scene in which the Sikh-Canadians players, wearing an assortment of different-coloured turbans, belt out O Canada before a crucial game. Even American actor and former heart throb Rob Lowe is filmed singing the words our national anthem – a nice touch.
Vinay Virmani, 26, co-wrote and starred in the film. His father, Ajay Virmani – the owner of Cargojet, Canada’s largest cargo airline – was one of the film’s producers.
The elder Mr. Virmani is no stranger to politics. It was one of his plush planes that flew Paul Martin’s Liberals around during the 2004 and 2006 federal election campaigns.
In addition, Mr. Virmani had raised thousands of dollars for the Liberals. But he began to rethink his loyalties after meeting Mr. Harper several years ago after he helped set up an event in Mumbai for Mr. Harper and Bollywood star Akshay Kumar. Incidentally, Mr. Kumar produced the film.
Mr. Virmani and his son sat with the Harpers for the screening. It was likely the first time that popcorn and soda pop has been consumed in the NAC’s theatre.
Russell Peters, the Indo-Canadian comedian, is also in the film and there is a cameo appearance by rapper Drake. They did not attend – but Rob Lowe sent his best wishes, according to Mr. Virmani.
Previous films screened by Mr. Moore in the capital include Barney’s Version and Incendies, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. And the Heritage Minister also announced that he is branching out to music: In December, Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy will perform at the NAC with burgeoning Canadian songwriters and musicians.
“We have so much to be proud of as Canadians,” Mr. Moore said.
‘The very model of a model foreign policy?’
Not wanting to let go of the gold-embossed business card controversy, Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae decided to have some fun at the expense of John Baird and the government’s foreign policy.
On Mr. Rae’s Facebook page are three pictures of the Foreign Affairs Minister, clearly manipulated so that Mr. Baird’s face is on the body of a Revolutionary War-era diplomat.
“Having a little fun with the ‘gold and royal’ theme,” Mr. Rae wrote in an email Tuesday morning. “In the old days (which John seems to yearn for), diplomats had an official uniform. But, to borrow from Gilbert and Sullivan, ‘is this the very model of a modern foreign policy?’ I think not.”
Mr. Baird was under fire last week after it was revealed he had ordered gold-embossed business cards that dropped the word “Canada” and crossed out the reference to the “Lester B. Pearson” building – the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade headquarters, named after the former Liberal prime minister and Nobel laureate.