Sun TV’s Krista Erickson vs. Margie Gillis

When Krista Erickson’ recently interviewed world-renowned Canadian dancer Margie Gillis on Sun TV, the result was raw comedy, writes Globe and Mail columnist John Doyle.

As Doyle says in today’s column, Erickson accosted Gillis on air about arts funding — Erickson’s current hot topic on Sun — “and tried to beat her up, verbally.”

You can watch the full interview on the Sun TV website, but in a nutshell: Erickson explained that Gillis was very famous, and then she explained that Gillis and her foundation have received $1.2-million worth of grants over the past 13 years (Gillis estimates the time frame is longer), then Erickson demanded to know why Gillis was costing tax payers all those big bucks, Gillis responded saying the money doesn’t go into her pocket, but keeps many, many people going in the arts.

This, as Doyle says, is where it starts to get funny — but not really in a ha-ha way.

He writes:

“Erickson then went wacky. She waved her arms around in a lame attempt to mimic dance movement. Not a wizard at the arm ballet is Krista, believe me …Time passed and Erickson called out Gillis for a remark she had made about Canada not being as compassionate a country as people think. Erickson took the view that someone who got an arts grant shouldn’t say that. Gillis pointed out politely that she was merely having an opinion.

“Then Erickson went full-bore Monty Python. She denounced Gillis for being a dancer and having an opinion about Canada. The thrust of her argument was expressed as this: ‘We have lost more than 150 soldiers who have served in Afghanistan! They have put their lives on the line and, you know, it is, frankly, quite a serious business compared with people dancing on a stage!'”

He’s not exaggerating.

Of course, not everybody thinks the conversation was so absurdly funny. Some journalists in Quebec (where Gillis lives) were fuming.

Take Marc Cassivi of La Presse. Shortly after the segment aired, he wrote (translated):

“Then I asked myself, reasoning with the same bad faith as [Erickson], how many years of public financing of a foundation such as Margie Gillis’s would it take to be equivalent to the price of the 65 fighter F-35s that the Canadian government wants to buy (15 to 30 billion, according to various estimates). These details don’t interest Sun TV News. But an average $100,000 per year to support the activities of one of the most respected dancers in the country and the members of her troupe, well, that is fodder for a scandal.”

Watch the video and tell us what you think. Was it an ambush?