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The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada > News & Events > Communications Magazine > Vol. 36, No. 2, Spring 2010 > “Poor No More” on the Big Screen!
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“Poor No More” on the Big Screen!

Mary Walsh

Mary Walsh, renowned CBC network personality and host of the documentary, attended the premiere with Members of Parliament and NCR members.

The Institute was the proud organizer and sponsor of the two official Ottawa premieres of the English version of the film “Poor No More”, shown on Parliament Hill and in the Empire 7 Theatre this past April 12 and 13 respectively.

True to her personal social engagement, CBC-TV celebrity Mary Walsh, the documentary’s star, was a magnanimous participant in the double screening.

The Institute bears witness

What the Institute’s President Gary Corbett says in “Poor No More” deals with the influence private enterprise has on government authorities, and the dangers inherent in the deterioration of public services.

To illustrate the perils of shifting responsibility, he explained, “One particularly upsetting example is food inspection in our country. There was a time when inspecting foods was entirely under the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Inspectors were out in the field and testing products. In recent years, we’ve seen a decline in the number of inspections and a shift toward inspection by the industries themselves. But companies specialize in products, not in the public good.”

A much sought-after event on Parliament Hill

The screening on Parliament Hill was a great success. More than a hundred MPs from all parties and people from their entourage, union leaders and members of the public answered the call.

Gary Corbett was there beside them to deliver labour’s message. He was accompanied by Vice-President Debi Daviau, who was responsible for the portfolio at the Institute, Eddie Gillis, the Institute’s Executive Secretary, and Joanne Harvey, the Regional Representative of the NCR Office, as well as some staff members.

In the view of several observers, the highlight of the evening was without question the heartfelt response by Mary Walsh to a question from NDP Leader Jack Layton. In a game of question and answer, he asked Ms. Walsh to use the party leader’s 30-second House of Commons address to deliver a message to parliamentary colleagues.

Mary Walsh immediately launched into a long, emotive plea, scolding the gathering in the candid language for which she is so well known, enjoining them to make use of their power and influence to truly curb poverty in Canada. Speaker of the House Peter Milliken, who also attended the event, must have exercised great restraint in not calling the evening’s ‘parliamentarian’ to order!

Food donations

The premiere performances were the fruit of two years of work by the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, and were orchestrated by MPs Tony Martin (NDP), Mike Savage (LPC) and Dean Allison (CPC), who were very involved in the issue at the time. Senator Art Eggleton, Chair of the Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, generously offered his backing.

Food collection

The next evening, the event moved to the downtown theatre where members and stewards from the National Capital Region gathered for the special screening and the accounts related by Mary Walsh and Gary Corbett. Seats were sold right out in less than 48 hours!

In lieu of admission tickets, members were asked to take part in a non-perishable food collection. Thanks to their generosity, (as illustrated below) more than half a ton of foods and basic necessities was amassed! The Ottawa Food Bank, which received this donation, expressed warm thanks to the Institute and its members.