Friday night's Canada for Haiti telethon special was a big success, both as a fundraiser and as an audience grabber. Monday's joint network release states that the special drew almost 2.4 million viewers across several networks, including CBC, CTV Global, Citytv, MuchMusic and even CP24 (according to BBM Canada overnight estimates).
Better yet, Canadians contributed generously to the cause, pledging more than 13.5 million for relief efforts in Haiti. Double that with matching money from Ottawa and we're at $27 million; add another $6.7 raised in Quebec through the concurrent French-language telethon and Canada's contribution toward Haiti relief tops $40 million.
That's very impressive given the U.S. total from their two hour Hope For Haiti Now telethon stands at $57 million and counting. Another 2.4 million Canadians watched the U.S. telethon, matching the Canadian effort's estimated audience.
The American Haiti special had a more meditative, spiritual quality--reminiscent of the post-9/11 telethon--with simple readings from A-List stars like George Clooney, Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts leading into respectful, hymn-like musical turns from everyone from Madonna (Like a Prayer) to Jennifer Hudson (Let it Be). The Canadian show had plenty of stars on stage, too--including performances by Nelly Furtado and Metric--but it seemed to be more about cramming Cheryl Hickey, George Stroumboulopoulos and Ben Mulroney onto the same platform while dozens of Canadian celebrities mingled awkwardly in the background. It kinda looked like they were all waiting for a subway at rush hour but, hey, it was effective.
The Canadian special can still be streamed on demand at CBC.ca, CTV.ca and Globaltv.com. Canadians can also continue to donate right up until Feb. 12 online at CanadaForHaiti.com or Toll-free at 1-877-51-HAITI (42484). You can also Text AID to 45678 (carrier charges may apply). The Canadian Red Cross Society, Care Canada, Free the Children, Oxfam Canada, Oxfam Quebec, Plan Canada, Save the Children Canada, UNICEF Canada and World Vision Canada are managing the funds.
UPDATE: The Canadian Haiti salute had its musical moments, too. Check out this simple, powerful performance by K'naan from Friday's special. (Thanks to commenter "Allan" for the link.)