TORONTO – A lineup of top Canadian talent has signed up to take part Friday in this country’s multi-network TV benefit for Haiti, including Celine Dion, James Cameron, Michael J. Fox and the Tragically Hip.
CBC, CTV and Global Television will air “Canada for Haiti” at 7 p.m. ET and PT, and it will also be streamed online at the networks’ websites and broadcast on CBC Radio Two.
Dozens of A-list Canadian names have been announced as supporters of the show, which was quickly organized by staff from competing networks. The commercial-free program will be hosted by Global’s Cheryl Hickey, CTV’s Ben Mulroney and CBC’s George Stroumboulopoulos.
Film stars who will appear include Jason Reitman, Ryan Reynolds, William Shatner, Rachelle Lefevre, Joshua Jackson, Eugene Levy, Norman Jewison, Tom Jackson and Will Arnett.
TV personalities Brent Butt, Hugh Dillon, Mike Holmes, Rick Mercer, Alex Trebek, Sandra Oh and Pamela Anderson are on board.
Musicians Justin Bieber, Nelly Furtado, Sarah McLachlan, Barenaked Ladies, Simple Plan, David Foster, Chantal Kreviazuk, Raine Maida and Measha Brueggergosman have signed on.
K’naan, Metric and the Tragically Hip will perform.
Humanitarian Craig Kielburger and star athletes Wayne Gretzky and Steve Nash will participate, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean will have special messages for Canadians.
“As the relief efforts move from rescue … to reconstruction, there’s going to be so much more need and that’s one of the reasons that we’ve all come together,” said Mulroney.
Stroumboulopoulos said it wasn’t hard getting celebrities to give their time to the project.
“One of the things about this country is we have a long history of giving and a long history of trying to come together,” he said. “It’s part of (our) identity.”
Donations collected during the broadcast will go to a number of non-profit organizations including 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.
All the donations will be split evenly between the charities, said World Vision Canada president Dave Toycen, who urged Canadians to give Haitians hope.
“I’ve been involved in disaster work for over 30 years and this is one of the worst I’ve ever (seen),” said Toycen, who just returned after spending six days in Haiti.
One of the lasting experiences he had was meeting a woman who insisted that Toycen take her young son, because she feared he had no chance of a good life in Haiti.
“That’s what this special is about in a way. First, it’s to answer that call to give help, but it’s also to prove to that mother: you don’t have to give your child away in order for your child to have a future,” he said.
The U.S. benefit “Hope for Haiti Now” will air immediately after the Canadian benefit.
The two-hour special – on CBC, CTV, Global, MTV, MuchMusic and National Geographic Channel – will be hosted by George Clooney and include performances by the likes of Beyonce, Madonna, Wyclef Jean, Bruce Springsteen, Alicia Keys, Justin Timberlake, Coldplay and Taylor Swift.
Keith Urban, Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow plan to perform a song together, as will Bono, the Edge, Jay-Z and Rihanna.
Canadians can donate by visiting www.CanadaForHaiti.com, dialling 1-877-51-HAITI or texting AID to 45678.