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Media man moves to diplomacy

By Kristen Shane      

This is Marcin Bosacki’s first ambassadorial posting, after spending more than 20 years as a journalist.

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Marcin Bosacki had been in Canada for exactly four weeks and a day when he sat down to talk about his first ambassadorial posting over coffee and chocolate wafers. 

But already the Polish ambassador-designate sounded positively Canadian: he’d just received his wife and son’s first cell phone bill, and it was a whopper. 

“I must tell you I was shocked,” said Mr. Bosacki on Oct. 25 in his Sandy Hill embassy.

He said he’s happy that he’s been hearing radio ads that he says state that the Canadian government is “trying to do something with surprisingly high tariffs on your cell phones.”

Mr. Bosacki also took to Twitter recently with his annoyance with flying Canadian. 

“I am so sorry I didn’t make it to Canadian Polish Congress Annual Fundraiser. Cancelled flight, total chaos. #ThankYouAirCanada” read a tweet on his account, @MarcinBosacki. 

Although he tried to be diplomatic in the Oct. 25 interview, he couldn’t help but vent a little: “I can say only one thing: that I haven’t met any European who wouldn’t be shocked by your airfare prices.”

Welcome to Canada, sir, the land of griping about high cell phone and airline prices—sectors Canadians seem to love to hate.

But Mr. Bosacki has also seen a lot of good with the bad since his arrival. 

When the grande dame of Canadian storytelling, Alice Munro, won the Nobel Prize for literature earlier this month, a congratulatory tweet popped up on his account. 

Mr. Bosacki said he liked her book of short stories, The Love of A Good Woman, which he read a couple years back. 

“To some extent, I disagree with some proud Canadians who claim that this is [essential] Canadian literature. I think it’s extremely universal, and human literature,” he noted last week. 

“I think it could have been written, with all due respect, elsewhere in Europe or Asia or South America. But of course I am so proud that this is a Canadian who got this year the Nobel literature prize.”

Mr. Bosacki also remarked on the quintessential “nice and helpful” Canadians who noticed his family in downtown Ottawa only a couple days after arriving, with a map in their hands, and approached the total strangers to help with directions.

 

A seasoned journalist

It’s not his first time in Canada. Mr. Bosacki comes to diplomacy after more than two decades in journalism. 

He worked from 1990 to 2010 for the Gazeta Wyborcza, which he said is Poland’s largest daily newspaper. He was a Washington-based correspondent who covered the United States and Canada, visiting cities like Toronto, Vancouver and Halifax (but not Ottawa). Earlier, he volunteered his time editing underground anti-communist youth and student newspapers.

With that experience under his belt, he said he was very happy to continue the transatlantic reporting for his country. 

Before receiving the Canadian appointment, Mr. Bosacki kept his high profile as the Polish foreign ministry’s press spokesman, presenting his government’s views on the Arab Spring, and its presidency of the European Union Council in 2011, for instance. 

He also built up the ministry’s social media presence, for which it was named the third-most connected in a 2013 Twiplomacy study of world leaders on Twitter. 

Mr. Bosacki plans to continue tweeting in Canada, amid his other duties. 

It’s more of a challenge to strengthen ties between Canada and Poland now than in the past, he said. 

“In the ‘90s, the obvious task was to bring my part of Europe…central-eastern Europe, to the transatlantic community, so to the NATO and EU. And Canada was extremely helpful with that, and active.”

Canada was the first NATO country to ratify Poland’s membership in the defence club in the late 1990s, he noted.

“Now you do not have this kind of huge, obvious projects, so the task is probably more demanding, the challenge is bigger. But I don’t mind to have big challenges,” he said. 

He wants to see more Canadian tourists explore Poland, and to promote trade and investment between the two countries—a task that should be made easier by the recent announcement of a Canada-European Union trade deal, in principle. 

Mr. Bosacki’s family is starting to settle in to life in Ottawa. He has brought with him his wife Katarzyna (Catherine) Bosacka, 16-year-old son Jan Paweł (John Paul) Bosacki, 11-year-old daughter Maria Bosacka, nine-year-old daughter Zofia (Sophia) Bosacka, and five-month-old son Franciszek (Francis) Bosacki.

Mrs. Bosacka is a TV journalist who anchors a life show in Poland. She is planning to fly home with Franciszek for a few weeks every three or four months to shoot her program, said Mr. Bosacki.

Mr. Bosacki is to present his credentials on Oct. 30.

kshane@embassynews.ca

@kristenshane1

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