Canada’s Most Influential Expat in the World
Who is the most influential expatriate from Canada in the world today? That was the question posed by The Canadian Expat Association to its members and readers of its newsletter back in July of this year. Suggestions were accepted from the beginning of that month; the nominating closed by October 1st. Seventeen expatriates were presented as finalists, based on the number of times they were suggested to the Association. During the month of October the contest heated up as voting for a winner began.
Most contestants would possibly be in the realm of entertainment: Jim Carrey? Rich Little? Paul Anka? William Shatner? Leslie Nielsen? Mike Myers? Diane Krall? Avril Lavigne? Kiefer Sutherland? Pamela Anderson? Or the realm of sports: Wayne Gretsky? Steve Nash? Or perhaps others: Linda Evangelista (model)? James Cameron (film producer)? Paul Shaffer (musician)? Alex Trebek (iconic game show host)? The list could continue.
We all have our favourites. The individual who actually nominated the winner, Ms. Marianne A. Carrington of Barbados, herself an expat, won a gift basket from, naturally, Tim Hortons. Probably a very nice surprise for a resident of a Caribbean island.
And the winner of the title of The Most Influential Expat in the World? None other than Michael J. Fox.
The actor, who started his career in 1976 comedy “Leo and Me”, a chubby 15 year old playing a ten year old, has accomplished quite a lot in his 48 years. In 1977, he and his father relocated to Los Angeles, where Michael won a role in a relatively unknown drama, which then led to “Family Ties”. The actor, starred as the son Alex Keaton, a Republican offspring of liberal parents. His final sitcom “Spin City” , for which he won an Emmy and a Golden Globe in his last year, the seventh season.
These shows book-ended a movie career where Michael voiced the title character of “Stuart Little”, but gained fame and the hearts of so many fans in the role of time-traveller Marty McFly in the “Back to the Future” trilogy. There were several other movies which followed, showing his flexible acting talent.
But what ultimately endeared so many individual to Michael J. Fox was his courage in 1999 to announce that he had Parkinson’s disease, diagnosed in 1991. He has had the love and support of his wife, Tracy Polan, who played his girlfriend on “Family Ties”, as well as four children. His struggles and successes were recorded in his autobiography Michael J. Fox: Adventures of an Incurable Optimist. And many who struggle with Parkinson’s disease have looked to him as a role-model, encourager and inspiration. And numerous others are thankful for his Hollywood influence to open doors to speaking about the disease, as well as his political influence to direct politicians to promote the search for a cure to the disease.
With Michael J. Fox, Canadians have a right to hold their heads high and proclaim, “He is one of us!”