Sunday, November 28, 2004

The Greatest Canadian is Unknown

At the risk of providing yet more publicity for the CBC's overblown Greatest Canadian nonsense, I must say that I find the whole process silly and superficial.

I confess to having voted in the early stages for Don Cherry, in an effort to grant the whole process the gravity it deserves. Now I see that the the top three choices are, in order, Tommy Douglas, Terry Fox and Pierre Trudeau.

Whatever the merits of Mr. Douglas, it is inconceivable that he has earned such a lofty title as the Greatest Canadian. Medicare is not our defining characteristic. It appears that the NDP latte drinkers have been mustering the Birkenstock militia to the cause.

Terry Fox was a courageous young man who deserves respect, but not this level of adulation.

Pierre Trudeau is a more complex read and whatever one thinks of his legacy, he would be a contender in a political short list against John A. MacDonald (though Sir John A. ought to win that one).

My choice? I'd go with Canada's unknown soldier. I note that he made the list at number 21; not as high, mind you, as high Stompin Tom Connors (13) Neil Young (14) and Shania Twain (18). We Canadians are a very musical people. Nor does our Unknown Soldier rate a spot in the top ten with the likes of Wayne Gretzky. Shooting a puck at a goal just can't compete with shooting a rifle at Vimy Ridge. Celebrity has its place north of the 49th parallel it seems, and the Unknown Soldier is rather, ... well, unknown.

Of course, if we had a sense of our own history the Unknown soldier would win hands down. This country was forged on the battlefields of the Somme, Paschendale and Vimy Ridge. It was further confirmed in places like Ortona, Juno Beach, the North Atlantic, the flak filled skies over Western Europe and in places with strange sounding names in Korea.

In my view the Unknown Soldier is truly the Greatest Canadian. The father of medicare may well be responsible for free blood transfusions, but it is the Unknown Soldier's blood which consecrates our nation.


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