CALAIS, Maine — In Canada they are “CTV News at 6,” but for a few hours Tuesday they were “live at 5” from this border community’s downtown.
The CTV Atlantic News crew came from Atlantic Standard Time in the Maritimes — an hour earlier than Eastern Standard Time in Calais — for several hours Tuesday to talk about the U.S. presidential election with Democrats, Republicans and anyone else who would stand still long enough to answer questions with a television camera pointed at them.
On-air personality Steve Murphy and reporter Mike Cameron were in Calais along with CTV tech supervisor Greg Campbell and his crew, who were driving the station’s satellite truck around town and setting up across from the former Downeast Heritage Museum.
There were lots of lights and two cameras. The weather was agreeable — Murphy and Cameron were dressed in business suits, not winter coats.
Before broadcast, the crew was checking equipment and the satellite link to their studio in Halifax, Nova Scotia, from where they usually broadcast. Cameron was editing interviews and writing news copy.
“This is the biggest story in the world because you Americans are going to wake up with either a female vice president or black president,” CTV senior producer Peter Mallette said. “There is a great deal of interest in this election in Canada amongst our viewers, especially in the Maritimes.”
The crew was gracious and helpful and even had an opinion on who would win — Obama, several of them said.
Murphy, who has been in broadcasting for 30 years in Canada, noted that this was the first time the news crew had done an entire broadcast from Maine.
“People on the Canadian side by and large are pretty big on Barack Obama,” he said. “So we just thought it was a good opportunity to come down and tell the story from the point of view of our neighbors.
“Barack Obama is seen as an heroic or inspirational figure to African-Canadians,” Murphy said, “and we have a very well-established and large African-Canadian population up in Nova Scotia in particular but all across the Maritimes,” Murphy added. “I think people see [Obama] as a generational figure. They see him as much more than an African-American candidate.”
Murphy also said Canadians viewed John McCain as a well-respected figure.
“He has a long record of public service and he certainly is a war hero in your country,” he said. “He was up in Ottawa not long ago and I know he was well received by people there. … But we will wait and see what happens, of course.”
Reporter Cameron has been in Calais numerous times covering other elections.
“I like covering elections here,” he said, “because I just find people here in Calais and probably in the state of Maine in general are very open with their opinions. They are very willing to share their political opinions with you. You don’t have to ask them how they voted, they offer that information very freely and give very sound reasons for why they voted the way they did.”
After the broadcast, the Canadian TV crew headed to a local steakhouse to eat and watch the results of the election.
With stations in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, CTV News, according to its Web site, is the most-watched newscast in Canada’s Maritime Provinces.