Tuesday, October 19, 2004

THE GREATEST CANADIAN

The short list is down to ten.

When the CBC first started taking nominations late last winter (note: April still counts as winter in Canada) I posted about this little endeavour of the national broadcaster in which I addressed its draw backs (hoakey, ill-defined etc. etc.) and also why I'm a sucker for this kind of thing.

I also prepared a list of forty-five nominees in categories of my own definition. Of the ten people on the final short list seven were on my original list. The other three are Cherry (for the love of god, why?), Gretzky (to be expected I suppose) and Suzuki (I wouldn't have chosen him but I'm impressed to see him up there). None of these three would have even been considered for my original list because they're still alive. As an historian I think it ridiculous to consider the merits of someone's accomplishments in a forum such as this if they are not dead. There has been no time to examine their significance, they're still shaping they're own significance. Anyway, I digreess.

I'm reasonably pleased with the final list with some reservations. The aformentioned inclusion of living persons is the first. The major one, however, is the homogeneity of the people on the list: All male. All white, save Suzuki. All anglos save Trudeau. So much for the inclusive multiculturalism of Canada. Also, no artists, authors, journalists or soldiers.

To be fair, the country hasn't actually been that multicultural for all that long. But surely Nellie McClung or Emily Murphy should be in the top ten. And what of the likes of Robertson Davies, Magaret Laurence, Glen Gould and Bill Reid? What of the military? Gen. Arthur Currie? Flying ace Billy Bishop? Clearly, the Canadians who voted do not have enough appreciation for the country's rich artistic or military heritage.

Admittedly, my own top ten list can't be that much more inclusive, but here is who I would have chosen:

(note: the ones listed first before the break did not make the CBC list.)

Gen. Arthur Currie
Peter Gzowski
Margaret Laurence
Mistahimaskwa (Chief Big Bear)
Emily Murphy

Tommy Douglas
Terry Fox
Sir John
Lester B. Pearson
Pierre Elliott Trudeau

Other Greatest Canadian blogging can be found at: The Armchair Garbageman, he's voting for Fox, his girlfriend for Douglas; The View From in Here, he's narrowed it down to Fox, Douglas and Trudeau; All Things Canadian, he too is voting for Fox.

I have not yet decided whom to vote for. From the CBC's list I have it norrowed down to Sir John, Pearson, Trudeau and Fox. As a political history student I'm partial to the prime ministers. In the interests of national unity I probably shouldn't vote for Trudeau although I may not be able to avoid it. Regardless, it is going to be absolutely outstanding to watch Rex Murphy advocate for Trudeau. The only way that episode could get better would be with supporting testimony from Jean Chretien and John Ralston Saul. That would be my CBC dream come true.

However, heavy odds are on Terry Fox to win.

Posted by Matthew @ 3:15 AM