Fredericton — “You don’t have to live like a refugee!” shouted an elated Premier Gallant at the first wave of Syrian refugees landing in New Brunswick’s capital city on Saturday afternoon.
“I’ve always supported this initiative,” Gallant declared. “And I’ve always been a huge Petty fan, too. Heartbreakers or no Heartbreakers, Tom is the best.”
As reported by CBC Saturday, 24 Syrian refugees landed at the Fredericton airport in the late hours of the afternoon, and dozens of supporters where there to welcome the first group to New Brunswick.
The premier was among the crowd’s most raucous supporters; he chanted lyrics to Tom Petty’s 1980 hit song Refugee as the Syrians entered the airport for the first time. He was also holding a seemingly handcrafted Bristol board sign that read: “Everybody’s had to fight to be free.”
We asked the premier whether he’s always been on board with bringing Syrians to New Brunswick. “Well, I don’t want to sound braggy,” he said sheepishly, “but, Tom Petty has always been in my top 3 favourite artists, and ‘Refugee’ was always in my top 10 Petty songs. So, yeah, I’ve always been on board — that’s kind of an understatement.”
Gallant went on to detail the ways in which he thinks Tom Petty has been largely misunderstood and under-appreciated, even though our reporter didn’t ask him to.
“People hear ‘Mary Jane’s Last Dance’ or ‘You Don’t Know How it Feels’ and they just think he’s a stoner artist. But, you see that scene in Jerry Maguire and see how Jerry just lets loose on ‘Free Fallin”, and that’s the real Petty right there.”
Our reporter tried getting the excited premier back on topic and asked why he was so excited to welcome the Syrians to our province.
“A fresh start, new hope,” he said, seemingly referring to the Syrians getting a new lease on life by coming to Canada. “It’s like I get to start over with these guys. They won’t hold me accountable to all the lies — I mean promises — I made during the election. They’ve never seen me have a bad hair day, or that time my belt didn’t match my shoes — they don’t even know about that!”
The refugees seemed baffled by the premier’s strange show of support, but were very excited to be able to gain new opportunity in New Brunswick.
“Is this the birthplace of Tom Petty?” asked a somewhat confused Nazim Meden as he gathered his luggage. “I’ve seen Tom Petty fans before, but never like this in Syria.”
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