BlackBerry Billionaire's Rant About Canada, the NHL, Coyotes, Tigers

Martin AverySenior Writer IMay 15, 2009

PITTSBURGH - OCTOBER 05:  Jim Balsillie Chairman and Co-CEO of Research In Motion and new owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins poses with his Blackberry in a press conference announcing the purchase of the team alongside Mario Lemieux after the first period at Mellon Arena on October 5, 2006 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Jim Balsillie's quotable quotes about his reasons for wanting to buy the Phoenix Coyotes are becoming as famous as the "I am Canadian" rant that was incredibly popular a few years ago.

Everybody in Canada and many American beer-drinkers remember Joe Canadian from the I am Canadian commercial, with the maple leaf of the Canadian flag projected on the background behind him.

The commercial premiered during the Academy Awards, which featured Robin Williams singing the song "Blame Canada," a satirical song from the movie South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut.

"The Rant" by Joe Canadian  was used by Molson Canadian Beer from 1994 until 1998 (via ad agency Maclaren Lintas and then MacLaren McCann), and between 2000 and 2005 (Bensimon Byrne).

The ads aired in both English Canada and the United States until Molson's merger with American brewer Coors and Molson announced that it was retiring the "I am Canadian" slogan.

It was performed by actor Jeff Douglas and directed by an American, Kevin Donovan. The commercial won an advertising industry Gold Quill award in 2001. Douglas moved to Los Angeles after his career took off in the wake of the commercial's success.

I believe the persona of Joe Canadian was based on a character created by Joe Costa, formerly of the comedy musical group called Corky And The Juice Pigs.

Recite it with me:

I'm not a lumber jack
Or a fur trader
And I don't live in an igloo
Or eat blubber
Or own a dog sled
And I don't know
Jimmy, Jally or Suzie from Canada
Although I'm sure they're really really nice
I have a Prime Minister not a President
I speak English and French not American
And I pronounce it about not "a-boot"
I can proudly sew my country's flag on my backpack
I believe in peacekeeping not policing
Diversity not assimilation
And that the beaver is a truley proud and noble animal
A toque is a hat a chesterfield is a couch
And it is pronounced "zed" not "zee" -- "zed"!
Canada is the 2nd largest landmass!
The 1st nation in hockey!
And the best part of North America!
My name is Joe and I am Canadian!

The ad was a remarkable success, spawning a number of parodies and copycats, including I Am Not Canadian, which focused on a Quebec sovereignist, and a version by William Shatner.

Shatner, who is Canadian, performed his own variation on the idea in a Just for Laughs appearance. He announced to the world: "I am not a Starfleet commander...or T.J. Hooker."

The Muslim American Society created a video called "I Am A Muslim" which takes many lines from the Molson advertisement and applies them to Muslim stereotypes.

The Balsillie version might go something like this:

I'm not a lumberjack,
I'm the BlackBerry billionaire
I don't live in an igloo
but I tried to get one for the
Pittsburgh Penguins
I want another NHL team in Ontario.
I believe it's the right thing for the fans,
I believe it's the right thing for the game.
I believe it's the right thing for the league.
And I believe it's the right thing for
Hamilton, Ontario, and Canada.
And it's what I want to do.

We're the source of the game,
the players, the money, and
I think we should have a seventh team.

I spent five years looking for a front door
into the NHL.
We couldn't find a front door.
I found a side door.

I take on entrenched interests.
It's my character quirk.
I don't quit and I don't get scared.

I love the NHL,
I love hockey
and I believe this is part of our soul
as Canadians
and we don't feel we have enough stake
in our own soul

My name is Jim and I am Canadian!


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