Saturday, October 23, 2004

The very best Canadians, brought to you by the very worst ones

The folks at the CBC have been running a poll to determine the 100 greatest Canadians. They shouldn't have. The poll doesn't say much at all about the quality of the Canadians being nominated, but it says a hell of a lot about the quality of the Canadians doing the voting.

Let me explain: Sir Wilfrid Laurier comes in at only #43. This is a man whom noted historians Jack Granatstein and Norman Hillmer rank as one of only three great prime ministers of Canada, reflecting a nearly unanimous view among historians. The first francophone leader of the country, and one who bridged the gap between the the French- and English-speaking peoples of Canada. The guy who brought Alberta and Saskatchewan into Confederation, and who led Canada into the 20th century. The guy with a university and numerous schools named after him. If we had a Mount Rushmore, he'd be on it.

So guess who comes in at #40, beating Laurier by three spots? Avril Lavigne. Somehow, the acoomplishments of the sk8er grrl from Napanee already outstrip those of the guy on the five dollar bill.

Coming in one slot ahead of her is Bret "The Hitman" Hart. Hey, I've always liked the guy. And I have to admit, he's held more WWF World Championship belts than Sir Wilfrid or just about anyone else on the list. But he's simply not even close to being the 39th best Canadian there ever is, there ever was, or there ever will be.

But you know who, at #34, is an even greater Canadian than both Lavigne and the Hitman -- or, for that matter, WWI flying ace Billy Bishop (#48), Anne of Green Gables author Lucy Maud Montgomery (#57), or co-discoverer of insulin Charles Best (#77)?

Some idiot DJ at Winnipeg's Power 97 radio station.

But I guess as long as you're a self-promoting ego case with a microphone and scores of moronic fans willing to fire off e-mail after e-mail to electronically stuff the ballot box, that makes you a greater Canadian than the woman who ranks just behind you on this list, Laura Secord. After all, what did she ever do for Canada besides lend her name to a line of delicious chocolates and -- oh yes -- hike barefoot 32 kilometres through swamps, dense woods, and cliffs, risking attack by wild animals, hostile Indians, and enemy troops in order to provide crucial warning of an imminent American invasion?

I've always been in favor of getting rid of the monarchy in Canada, but now I'm not so sure. I think perhaps we need to strengthen it. Let Queen Elizabeth II rule over us by direct fiat -- the real one, or the Scott Thompson version of her, or whatever. Just give us a despot. Take the vote away from Canadians. By voting Shania Twain (#18) a greater Canadian than the Unknown Soldier (#21), they've proven they just don't deserve it. They've proven that even in what I'd always thought of as a reasonably enlightened and intelligent nation, democracy doesn't work.

Fuck you, my Canada. You blew it.


Blogger K. Restoule said...

Personally I choose not to take some poll like that too seriously. If they could justify why their selections should be great Canadians, then sure. Then again to a 15 year old girl looking for an identity, Avril might be someone who she considered great.

Personally I'd throw in Bob and Doug McKenzie just to add a little levity to the list but a truly Great Canadian? How about Knowlton Nash?

Oh and if your looking for names that don't belong on that list how about Rene Levesque?

My 2 bytes

10/25/2004 01:55:00 AM  
Blogger Peter Lynn said...

I think Rene Levesque would probably agree with you that he doesn't belong on a list of great Canadians. For similar reasons, the inclusion of Louis Riel on the list (let alone nearly in the top ten) would be questionable to many.

Knowlton Nash is a fine choice. Also, where's northrop Frye? John Kenneth Galbraith? George-Étienne Cartier? George Brown? Joey Smallwood? Stephen Leacock? Mary Pickford and Mack Sennett? Tommy Hunter? Even Naomi Klein, Douglas Coupland, Moses Znaimer, and Lynn Johnston deserve to be on this list more than, say, that idiot DJ. And who's more Canadian than Joseph-Armand Bombardier, inventor of the snowmobile?

I suppose you're right in that Avril might seem a fine role model to a 15-year-old girl. Of course, that's why we don't give 15-year-olds the vote. But judging by this inane list, I still think there's a lot of other people who shouldn't be getting the voe either.

10/25/2004 10:55:00 PM  

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