Their story at the Movies

Stanstead Journal - - FORUM -

Argo,the win­ning Os­car movie this year, is one of those Amer­i­can con­trap­tions where the truth is bet­ter served by our­selves than by re­al­ity. In this case, ob­scur­ing the role that Canada played in the es­cape of the Amer­i­cans trapped in Te­heran dur­ing the hey­day of the Khome­ini regime. Never let the truth reign over the story.

How can this one be close to home? Well, for one, how about re­spon­si­ble jour­nal­ism? Jean Pel­letier, then La Presse’s Washington cor­re­spon­dent, be­come aware very early on that Canada was ‘host­ing’ some Amer­i­cans in Cana­dian diplo­mats’ homes in Iran. An­other? Canada’s bilin­gual­ism. The former Shah was a Fran­cophile and since the Ay­a­tol­lah had spent years in ex­ile in France, it did help that most if not all of the Cana­dian Em­bassy staff spoke both French and English.

Then there is the dark and murky world of the un­said but not un­known. Canada has some ex­per­tise in the es­pi­onage field, both the high end techno stuff and the lowly on the street kind known as humint. A Cana­dian flag on a pack­sack was for years the best pass­port ever in­vented.

Yet, un­less one really reads the cred­its of a movie, it would be hard to find out that this was a real Cana­dian ca­per.

But we all know that re­al­ity must not in­trude into fic­tion too of­ten, as in the still mys­te­ri­ous power out­age right smack when the Marines are in­vad­ing the Ben Laden com­pound. But then again, one knows that the United States doesn’t have Spe­cial Forces in Pak­istan. Closer to home: Lin­coln It’s Amer­ica’s worst kept se­cret. We ex­ported Cana­dian pol­i­tics into the United States and thus cre­ated the Repub­li­can Party, splin­ter­ing it from the Democrats! Aren’t we lucky that one of our min­is­ters was think­ing of out­law­ing the prac­tice of MNA’s cross­ing the Floor be­fore he was re­minded that the Parti Québé­cois was founded by a turn­coat.

In our case, not doc­u­mented in any movies, one Ebenezer Peck, who served as a Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment for Stanstead, is the one re­spon­si­ble.

Peck’s main con­tri­bu­tion was to bring the pri­mary sys­tem for the elec­tion of rep­re­sen­ta­tives to the United States. An Amer­i­can born who moved with his fam­ily to Mon­tréal, he stud­ied in French be­fore prac­tic­ing law in Stanstead and Sher­brooke and be­ing elected as one of the two mem­bers from Stanstead, be­fore re­sign­ing and mov­ing to Illi­nois were he be­friended Abra­ham Lin­coln. The rest his his­tory or, rather, ‘theirstory’.

All of this comes as Que­bec is ask­ing it­self why our his­tory is not por­trayed on the big screen. It’s not a Que­bec ques­tion, it’s a Cana­dian one. At worst, we would have heard some ques­tions about Argo when it was be­ing shot. Seems we are the only coun­try who is ashamed of ad­mit­ting that we spy. So our lo­cal born pro­duc­ers must turn to some for­eign num­bered agent as a source for ma­te­rial. Harry Saltz­man, born in Sher­brooke by the way, had to do so. Op­tion­ing a book from one Ian Flem­ing… Hard to make up! Along with the true in­ven­tor of the movie stu­dio sys­tem, Mack Sen­nett from Danville, the first real mega star, Éva Tan­guay from Mar­ble­ton, James Bond’s good for­tune started here.

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