In the annals of Canadian television, few persons – man, woman or child – have the status of Ben Mulroney.
This is, after all, a man who tied with the Canadian Tire Guy for Most Irritating Canadian (TV-related) back in the year 2004. And now, people of Canada, prepare yourselves. Mulroney will co-host CTV's new morning show Your Morning. He'll be on the national network for three hours in the morning, day after day after day.
I ask you: How much Ben Mulroney can Canada take?
The just-announced show, the ostensible replacement for Canada AM, has Mulroney co-hosting with Anne-Marie Mediwake (ex of CBC and Global and "trusted news veteran," says CTV) along with "co-anchors" Melissa Grelo (from The Social), Lindsey Deluce (CP24 Breakfast), and Kelsey McEwen.
Ms. McEwen is from CTV Morning Live Calgary and her Twitter description is "Meteorologist. Weekdays, I wear high heels. Weekends, I go camping." The mind, it boggles a little.
What is this thing? Well, we can only speculate, of course. And rely on CTV's breathlessly perky announcement. What Mulroney and the passel of sidekicks will deliver is, note you, "A new approach to morning television. The series will deliver an original perspective and unique insight into the stories of the day, while showcasing lifestyle topics of interest to Canadians from coast-to-coast-to-coast. News on the program will be delivered by CTV News, Canada's most-watched news organization."
So, it's not the morning news and related topics then. Or, depending on your definition of news, it's news in the way The Social is the news. Less about "trusted news veteran" than "I keep up with the Kardashians." A talking Twitter feed about, you know, stuff.
What we do know is Ben Mulroney. Think back to the years 2003 and 2004. Canadian Idol was going strong. At the time CBC was running its mega-project The Greatest Canadian, a reality show to determine who is considered the greatest Canadian of all time. Viewers drove the results by e-mail website clicks and old-fashioned snail mail.
With mischief in my heart, I conducted the Most Irritating Canadian (TV-related) poll in my column, asking readers to write about the most bothersome Canadian persons on TV. Mulroney, then hosting Canadian Idol, was in the Top Five from the get-go.
Over many months, the Top Five changed as readers thought carefully or reacted instantly to the latest botheration. It was all in good fun, and most people who turned up on the list took it as such. Cheryl Hickey of Global's ET Canada was delighted with the attention and sent me the biggest bunch of flowers.
The final standings, when the poll drew to a close, were as follows: 1) The Canadian Tire Guy and Ben Mulroney; 2) Shelagh Rogers; 3) Gordon Pape; 4) Paul Martin; 5) Jian Ghomeshi; 6) Sheila Copps; 7) Ralph Klein; 8) The Lakota commercial guy; 9) Don Cherry; 10) Rex Murphy.
A typical note from a reader best encapsulated the tie: "The Canadian Tire guy is very hard to beat, but I taped Canadian Idol to fast-forward past Ben Mulroney. It's a toss-up." The presence of Shelagh Rogers was a surprise to me. But her work on The Giller Prize gala on TV had sent some irritation-prone pulses racing. The phrase "Shelagh freakin' Rogers" was used. In response Rogers began referring to me as "John Goddamn Doyle" and we have addressed each other in that way ever since. All in fine fun.
And some fun from Ben's end. Didn't hear from him directly of course. Oh my, no. Why just the other day, because I had to clean out my office, I came upon an old, kooky letter from Senator Marjory LeBreton, the former Deputy Chief of Staff and Government Appointments Director in Brian Mulroney's government. Bless her.
The letter, to the Editor-in-Chief, and cc'd to the Publisher and CEO of this great newspaper, took firm umbrage at Ben Mulroney being teased in my column. Firm, I tell you. It was all political, the letter asserted and suggested, darkly, it was "ongoing malice or cheap shots in dealing with Ben Mulroney or his father." There was also a call or two to the paper from Brian Mulroney. No flowers from Ben, then, I surmised.
This newspaper didn't pay the slightest bit of attention. It was, you might say, just mildly irritating. It did put Ben Mulroney in a very special place in my heart though. What a family with such supportive friends! Bless them all. And now we let bygones be bygones. We have all watched Ben Mulroney go from host of Canadian Idol to host the entertainment news program, etalk and red-carpet coverage of the Oscars, the Golden Globes, and the Juno Awards. And of course hosting a radio show counting down the top 20 chart-topping hits.
He irritated our readers at one point. And he has that special place in my heart. Now, he'll co-host a national show for three hours every day. He's older and wiser, of course. But is Canada? How much Ben Mulroney can Canada take?