The video, below, is definitely among my favourite media clips from the marathon a day, 6 days a week for 6 months, 6,000 kilometre Journey for a Tobacco-Free World. Again, a huge “THANK YOU!” to CBC Television reporter Bob Nixon.
Just in case that link is ever broken/removed/lost/stolen or otherwise destroyed/sabotaged (by those bastards at Imperial Tobacco), it may be found at http://www.cbc.ca/bc/weblog/bobnixon/death/ , after you click on “Anti-Tobacco Campaign”.
Here’s the transcript, from the Wed, June 9, 2010 CBC Evening News (the clip ran from 6:22 p.m. til 6:24):
T – TONY Parsons, CBC Vancouver TV news anchor, B – BOB Nixon, CBC TV reporter and E – ERROL Povah.
T – This is not your usual cross-country tour. It’s not really a fundraiser or meant to increase awareness of a rare disease. One man is running across Canada, hoping to put some very powerful companies out of business. Bob Nixon caught up with him, near Hope.
B – Down that long, lonely highway walks Errol Povah, Marathon Man. Every day, since May 31, he has walked and jogged a marathon. Starting in Victoria, he is heading to Montreal.
E – It’s a way to get attention…and I’m not looking for attention for myself, I’m looking for attention for the issue.
B – Povah was a sailor, with the Navy…and a Second Officer with B.C. Ferries. But for the past 3 decades, he has dedicated his free time to fighting against the tobacco industry: He hates cigarette makers.
E – And hopefully, I don’t think it’s unrealistic, as David and Goliath as this battle may be, I’d like to see the tobacco industry out of business within 10 years.
B – And so he came up with the idea to take his fight on the road; a marathon across Canada. This is a time-honoured quest: Think of Terry Fox, Steve Fonyo, Rick Hansen…all of whom went across Canada but, unlike them, Povah has no disability; all he does have is a commitment to a cause. Of course, it has not been easy. In fact, those blisters began just outside of Victoria.
E – And that was, of course, when I started to question how realistic this was, ’cause I thought, “Okay, well I might get the Malahat, but then I’ve got the big hill up out of Horseshoe Bay…and then, after that, of course, there’s the Rockies!”, so I’m thinkin’…
B – But in the back of his mind is the hope that his long, lonely journey will strike a chord with people across the country, who will join him along the way and say, “Yah, let’s drive those cigarette makers out of business!” And when he gets to Montreal, where Imperial Tobacco has its headquarters, he will not be alone. Who knows, it could happen. Bob Nixon, CBC News, near Hope.
– I love to tell the story about how this interview came about. Ten days into what would ultimately be a 6-month run, I found myself close to Hope, B.C….and it was there, while I was on the road — doing my usual marathon a day — that I got a call, in the morning, on my cell phone, from this gung-ho and enthusiastic reporter from CBC Television, in Vancouver. While many jokes have been made about “Hope”, I wasn’t feeling much of it…in fact, I was running out of it. I was really quite down and depressed, still reeling from ZERO major media coverage as I passed through the Metro Vancouver area (which took a total of about 3 days) just a few days earlier. Anyway, here’s this chipper guy on the other end of the line, telling me that he had just heard about what I was doing, was very impressed and, if he could find a cameraman, they wanted to come to Hope (about a 2-hour drive) and do a story. My response: “Don’t bother! It’ll be a waste of time!” He asked me why I was saying that. I had obviously had a great deal of time to think about the conspicuous lack of interest from the media; you have no idea how many dozens — dare I say hundreds — of hours I spent, as I put one foot in front of the other in virtually every kind of weather condition imaginable (oh, and did I mention the black flies…and the freezing cold nights, as I slept in the back of my Dodge Caravan mini-van on a leaky inflatable air mattress?), wondering where the hell and why the media was hiding? Anyway, to answer Bob’s question, I told him that my story would never make it to air; somewhere up the chain of command at CBC Television, my story would get the axe. Again, he asked me “Why?” I suspect a lot of other reporters, in similar circumstances, might have told me to go straght to hell at that point, but Bob persisted. In a nutshell, I told him — with images of the CBC’s main office in downtown Vancouver, many years ago (prior to the federal ban on tobacco sponsorship of sporting and cultural events) proudly advertising the du Maurier [one of Canada’s leading cigarette brands] jazz festival dancing through my mind — that my goal, in terms of the anti-tobacco fight, was much more “extreme” (read, effective) than those of the Cancer Society, Lung Association, etc.: I want the tobacco industry out of business! Bob said he liked the story…and that he would make damn good and sure that it made it to air. I believed him…and, after he confirmed that he’d found a cameraman, we made arrangements to meet, a couple of hours later, for the interview.
– I just about had a heart attack the first time I saw this video: It absolutely blew me away that Bob Nixon would put my name in the same sentence as Terry Fox, Steve Fonyo and Rick Hansen. And Bob dubbed me “Marathon Man”. Thanks, Bob! Speaking of dubbing… My good friend and colleague Joan O’Connor, among others, dubbed me “a hero”. Like virtually everyone upon whom that title is bestowed, I’m a little reluctant to accept it. That said, it would have been nice if [the vast majority of] the mainstream media had shared Joan’s opinion, at least to some extent, rather than completely brushing me off and ignoring me.
– With the utmost of respect for Tony Parsons (who I actually met once, very briefly, at a completely unrelated [to anti-tobacco, CBC, etc.] event) — and/or his news editors — I took some exception to him saying, right off the top, that, “It’s not really a fundraiser…” True, that was not the primary purpose of the JTFW, but it certainly was running an extremely close second, also bearing in mind that there were two distinct kinds of funds needed: Those for basic essentials (most notably food, gas, vehicle maintenance/repairs, etc.) required, just to keep the JTFW on the road; and those to enable Airspace to do so much more of its awesome anti-tobacco work, both locally and around the world. Also, Tony said that the JTFW was not “meant to increase awareness of a rare disease.” Again, technically, that’s true: It was meant to increase awareness of dozens of incredibly common smoking-caused/exacerbated diseases which, for the most part, society as a whole continues to blissfully ignore!