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Marcus, one of my mates back in Australia, wrote to me to ask what the reaction to Steve Irwin's death has been like here in Canada. To be honest, it's been quite remarkable. I'm amazed that Steve's death back home has been felt so strongly here in North America.

When you consider that we hear very little news from Australia in the daily media here, I'm stunned at just how strong the response has been. Australia rarely gets mentioned in news reports... Even during the Commonwealth Games, of which Canada is a member, there was comparatively little mention of it in the local news. Thank goodness for the Internet news services like Aunty ABC and the Sydney Morning Herald or we wouldn't have a clue what was going on back there.

But in answer to Marcus's question, yes mate, the response here was huge. Steve Irwin's popularity - or at least his recognition factor as an Australian - is enormous. I don't think back in Australia we had any idea of just how well known and instantly recognisable he was overseas. News of his death made all the major news services here and consumed an surprising amount of news airtime. I was at the gym the other day with all the televisions showing different channels and there was a Steve story running on every one of them. The nightly chat shows also gave the story plenty of airtime, and it was constantly on the radio (strange considering the lack of news on radio generally). It was also front page news on several local papers.

The other thing that really drove home his level of recognition was the number of Canadians that offered their condolences to me as an Australian. "Sorry to hear about your mate" or "You've lost one of your own" or "I'll bet you're sad about Steve Irwin"... nearly everyone I know has mentioned it at some point. In contrast, nobody here has even heard of Peter Brock... I can't believe we lost two great Aussies like that in the same week.

The news that really stuns me is that some idiots back in Australia are taking out their grief by killing stingrays and amputating their tails. I never knew Stevo personally but I'm pretty sure that would not be what he wanted.

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