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  From the
  Lynsey Bennett, now ex-Miss Canada
She lost the title, but kept the duties
  Sharon Dunn,
National Post

Lynsey Bennett, the now ex-Miss Canada, plans to carry on with her duties despite having had her title taken away just a few short days ago.

Although organizers of the pageant have replaced Ms. Bennett with Lorenza Sammarelli, first runner-up in the original contest, she's hanging tough and says she will continue to be something of a goodwill ambassador.

"I'm promoting Winterlude [Ottawa's winter carnival], which starts next weekend. I'm also doing a fundraising event for Champagne on Ice, a charity for battered women and I'm helping Junior Achievement for the Heart Institute Telethon," she tells me.

Ms. Bennett is also launching Get Active Ottawa, a fitness program for children in the city of Ottawa, and she's working with the Special Olympics.

"I'm still Miss Ottawa," she says with determination.

I reached Ms. Bennett at the home of her parents in Ottawa, where she is staying at this time. "I feel so sorry for my daughter," says Marnie Bennett, adding: "I just want people to see her for the person she really is."

When Ms. Bennett comes to the phone, I ask her how she's holding up with all the publicity. "There's so much sympathy," she tells me, "even walking through the streets of Ottawa, I overhear people talking about it. And my parents and friends overhear things being said, too."

"What are they hearing?" I ask.

"My friends say, basically, what they hear is that people are confused, they don't understand what's going on, and why the title is being taken away."

Ms. Bennett herself doesn't know what's going on.

"They [the Miss Canada organizers] still won't give me specifics," she says. "They're telling the press that I know the reason I was removed, but I don't. I want some clarification on it," she says.

During our chat, I don't see any sign of weeping, whimpering, or a woe-is-me attitude. This is obviously a feisty lady who knows her own mind and will not be pushed around.

When I ask what she'll be doing next, Ms. Bennett tells me matter-of-factly, "unfortunately, the cut-off date for the winter term at Carleton University is past."

Ms. Bennett put her studies on hold for a year to reign as Miss Canada. She has only a year to complete a degree with a major in geography, minor in French.

"Now I'll be looking for a job," she tells me. Last summer she worked for Telecom Ottawa and she is hoping to get her job back. "They're sympathetic," she says, adding, "I put everything on hold because I wanted to do a wonderful job as Miss Canada, that's the whole reason I got into it. I wanted to make a difference."

As Ms. Bennett says goodbye over the telephone, she tells me that she's on her way to do a radio spot.

"Are you going to be talking about all of this?" I ask.

"Actually no, we'll be discussing the Super Bowl," she tells me enthusiastically.

As it turns out, Ms. Bennett is a huge sports enthusiast and was co-captain of the soccer team at Carleton. I can see that in spite of what's happened to her, she is already preparing her future.

"Dealing with what I had to deal with in Nigeria [during the Miss World event in that country], gave me strength," she says.

I ask her if she regrets ever having been involved in the Miss Canada pageant. "I have no regrets," Ms. Bennett tells me, "I've learned a lot; I've grown."

She strikes me as strong, as well as smart, committed and determined -- perfect attributes to represent any organization, wouldn't you think? But maybe a strong woman isn't quite what the Miss Canada organizers are looking for.

I only wonder what stories Lorenza Sammarelli will have to tell down the road.

  Last update: May 6, 2009
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