Michael Moore Makes Odd Appearance at Canadian Debate

Our local all-candidates debate took an interesting twist on October 8 when Michael Moore came crashing in unexpectedly with his camera crew in tow.

The candidates were Canadian citizens, contesting a Canadian election on October 14 for the riding -- what Americans call an electoral district -- of Sault Ste. Marie, a city of 75,000 hidden in the vast northern Ontario wilderness.

Sault Ste. Marie is my hometown. Which is why I was at the debate.

What I don't understand is why Michael Moore was at the debate.

Why was a controversial American filmmaker so interested in our local election when the U.S. is in the final stages of its own campaign?

That's what I was determined to find out.

Moore would not tell me.

He said only that he was producing a movie, under two hours, in color, and that he does not comment on films in production.

Two members of his production crew refused comment and one refused to give me his name.

The unnamed crew member did object, however, to me calling him an American.

"I'm a U.S. citizen," he said, adding that like Canadians he lives in North America.

So I asked the next logical question to come to mind: Why is a U.S. citizen up in Canada taping a small-town all-candidates debate at the local college?

"I don't want to be interviewed," he said.

For a public figure who has made his reputation confronting other public figures when they least expect it, Moore and his camera crew came across as camera shy when I attempted to interview them on the record.

Finally, Moore's camera man, a tall, clean-shaven fellow with bushy brown hair who identified himself as John Walter, revealed the big secret: Moore was taping a new movie contrasting Canada's political system with that of his home and native land.

What he didn't say is that as part of the taping, Moore would spend 90 minutes after the debate knocking on doors with Tony Martin, the incumbent member of Parliament for Canada's socialist New Democratic Party.

Local polls suggest that Martin is in a tight race to hold onto his seat.

Conservative candidate Cameron Ross has mounted a credible challenge for a party that typically places a distant third in our riding.

Yet for someone who was simply an American observing the action, Moore would publicly criticize Ross -- who was born and raised in a farming community just outside of the Sault -- for declining a post-debate interview.

"I don't know why he didn't stay," Moore told local media. "Maybe he was hungry. Conservatives get hungrier easier I guess."