Best-known Canadian around the world right now? Marc Ouellet -

Best-known Canadian around the world right now? Marc Ouellet

Brian Bethune reports from Rome as the conclave begins


Photograph by Ian Bethune

There are only so many ways Canadians get internationally famous.

There’s hockey, of course, and that guy up in space, and a teenage pop star. But the best-known Canadian name around the world right now may belong to a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church.

In St Peter’s Square the night before the conclave to choose a successor to Pope Benedict XVI was to begin, there were three sorts of people milling around, and the ordinary faithful were the fewest in number. The police presence was massive, large enough to be the group most at risk from nuns—easily the most aggressive drivers in Vatican City if not in Rome—flying around in tiny cars.

Most of the cops were engaged in reading their smartphones—in Toronto public safety campaigns are directed at texting-distracted drivers, here they must lose distracted pedestrians in large numbers—or keeping a bored eye on the metal detectors the cardinal electors will pass through on their way to the Sistine Chapel. But both groups were outnumbered by the media staking out prize positions, some from unexpected places, like a Korean wire service or New Delhi TV.

They’re all happy to talk to a Canadian journalist, mostly because they’re down the media pecking order—a telegenic Portuguese-speaking priest with a sizeable entourage took up serious acreage for his interview—but partly because any given Canadian just might know Cardinal Marc Ouellet.

“Your cardinal stands a chance,” exclaims Indian reporter Noupur Tiwari of NDTV, a veteran of papal conclaves—she was here in 2005 for the election of Pope Benedict XVI. Then there were only two Indian cardinals; now there are five, all of voting age. (“There’s just the one Korean,” throws in a clearly unhappy South Korean journalist, “and he’s too old.”)

Interest in India is high, continues Tiwari, because of the rising number of cardinals and Indian Catholics, now 18 million strong), a relatively new female Indian saint and Mother Teresa’s ongoing canonization process. But especially because of the widespread feeling that this might be the moment the papacy leaves European hands for the first in 1,300 years. If it does, they’ll have much bigger entourages next time around.

Media sets up camp outside St. Peter's (photograph by Ian Bethune)


Best-known Canadian around the world right now? Marc Ouellet

  1. Actually it’s Chris Hadfield.

    Someone advancing humanity, not the reverse.

    • If you could look outside your bubble, you would realize that more people are following the election of the Pope than are following life on the International Space Station. Not to belittle Hadfield or his prestigious position, but he’s just not the same focus of interest to people outside of Canada. I know you don’t care for religion, but you can’t deny that millions of people, mostly in Africa and South America, are waiting to see who will be their next leader.

      • I’m afraid you’re confused, it’s the reverse.

        Article here in Macleans yesterday I believe…..says the 3 best known astronauts in the world are Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Chris Hadfield.

        At least that’s something we can be proud of.

        • Three best known astronauts.
          The Pope is in a different category.
          You can say that Hadfield is more worthy of notice, that he’s doing more important work–you can say that he should be more famous. What you cannot say, is that he is more well-known around the world than Marc Ouellet is right now. You can form your own opinions, but you can’t form your own fact.

          • Yes, I can say that. And you have no facts to say otherwise, so don’t pretend..

            The church is not the centre of the world anymore, Margery….and the only reason most people have for any interest at all is the financial mess the Vatican is in, and the pedo cardinals preaching morality to others..

            Oh and the prophecy that this is the last pope.

            Browse through the news and see the joke the church/pope has become….the names, the cartoons….even a call for pink smoke.

            There’s no respect anymore….it’s over.

          • Your view is very parochial for someone who claims to be so wise about everything. Religion may be waning in the “white” world of Europe and NA, but in many regions of the globe it is still of great import – whether you like it or not.
            Emily’s worldview does not equal the World’s view (as if there is global consensus on anything).

          • LOL you have no idea what my worldview even is. Not gonna play circles with you today Bram…..sorry.

          • Your world view? You’re right; I don’t. I get glimpses (anti-Christian; anti-male; dogmatically feminist in a weird sort of way) but I get the feeling that seeing the full picture would require a kaleidoscope and a lot of acid.

          • LOL sorry, not even close. Now go find Matlock.

          • You’re a crank. Now go play with your Chinese businessmen.

          • Ahh the troll twins….together at last.

          • To chime in with something on-topic…
            Who is best known right now? I posit those in the headlines most are best known right now. A Google News search results in the following:

            Marc Ouellet: about 47,500 results
            Chris Hadfield: about 10,500 results
            Note the question isn’t who OUGHT to be best known, it’s who IS.

          • Hadfield has been top since he went up there… they’re voting in Rome

            Garneau is also making news, so is Mulcair

            It’s all news

            If they pick a pope today, and it’s not Ouellet….you’ll never hear of him again.

          • Which is why the title of the article is ‘Best-known Canadian around the world RIGHT NOW’. Of course if he doesn’t get elected, he’ll drop right from the headlines.

          • AHAHAHAHA trying to do it on a technicality eh?….sorry, voting is over in Rome for the day….it’s after 6 there.

            But the Queen just sent a message to Hadfield….which I believe is her first ever.

            So your RIGHT NOW….isn’t.

            Now stop being silly and petty

          • Marc Ouellet: 47,500 results
            Chris Hadfield: 10,500 results
            I’m a numbers guy, so show me some numbers, or stop being silly and petty. And laughing maniacally.

          • No, you’re just crazy

            PS Hey dude….they pulled a night shift and elected a new pope just now, killed all the suspense, and numerous expense accounts…. LOL… go light a candle or something.

  2. Interesting — I’ve asked a dozen Canadians this morning “Do you know who Marc Ouellet is?” — none of them knew.

  3. Last week I was pulled over driving the wrong way on a one way street. I told the constable that because there wasn’t a “sitting” Pope I had completely lost direction.

    badump, dump.
    He let me go.