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Where is Canada’s Obama? November 24, 2008

Posted by eyegillian in analysis, Canada, change, history, life.
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There was a major wave of excitement when Obama was elected as President of the United States. Since I live in Canada, this meant two things:

  1. my friends were all thrilled in a genuine, earnest and polite way
  2. everybody secretly (or not so secretly) wishes Obama was running for Prime Minister of Canada instead.

Compare the exciting campaign south of the border with the recent federal election in Canada. Ho-hum. The intelligent but not-so charismatic Liberal leader Stephan Dion failed to win the confidence of voters, so we have the dubious pleasure of listening to the stolid sweater-vested Stephen Harper for the next four years. Why can’t we have a leader who is smart, energetic, young and inspiring? Why don’t we have a leader who is even one of those things?

Pierre Elliot Trudeau

Whenever there’s a survey asking who the best prime minister of Canada, Pierre Elliot Trudeau is at or near the top of the list. Trudeau, who was voted Newsmaker of the Century in 1999 and the Greatest Canadian of the Twentieth Century in 2002, was certainly one of Canada’s most colourful and memorable prime ministers; he was also arrogant, controversial, and brilliant (not to mention smart, energetic, relatively young and inspiring), among other things. Other PMs considered top picks include Lester Pearson, William Mackenzie King, Wilfrid Laurier, and John Diefenbaker. No doubt people remember these names from their high school history classes, and have already forgotten more recent prime ministers — and whether history will have much to say about Paul Martin, John Turner, Brian Mulroney, John Chretien, Kim Campbell and Joe Clark is a matter of conjecture.

the first Canadian-born Prime Minister)

Name this man. (Hint: he was the first Canadian-born prime minister)

So now the Liberals are picking a new leader. Will it be Bob Rae, a lawyer and former NDP premier of Ontario; Michael Ignatieff, an intellectual and writer; or Dominic LeBlanc, a New Brunswick MP. Ironically, a survey conducted last month showed that Canadians would prefer as leader someone who isn’t ready to run for the job… yet. Someone with big shoes to fill: Justin Trudeau. Well, he’s young and energetic, at least, although he’s just started out on his political career, so it’s too soon to tell whether he could (or would want to) follow in his father’s footsteps.

But I would still rather vote for Obama. I’m tired of the endless procession of old white men — are there no other candidates for PM? What (or who) would your ideal prime minister be?

Oh, and who was the first Canadian-born prime minister? Sir John Abbott (PM from 1891 to 1892). Yes, of course you knew that.

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Related links:
Washington Times Editorial: “Obama’s America is Canada”
Vancouver Straight: “With Barack Obama president-elect, what’s next for Canada?”
Maisonneuve: “Where’s our Trudeau?”
Angus Reid Poll: “Trudeau best, Mulroney worst for Canadians”
Prime Ministers of Canada
— take the PM Quiz
National Post: Justin Trudeau top pick for Liberal leader: poll



1. Democratic America, Goverment and Election » Where is Canada’s Obama? - November 24, 2008

[…] Read the rest of this superb post right here […]

2. lmajeed - November 24, 2008

I agree. What we have is repitition over and over again. Not just the faces, but the ideas, the implementation of ideas itself. Canada needs a change and I am sick of the ever-rising prices and ever-failing economy. The quality of life is very much being affected.
Though I do differ in terms of your opinion about Obama. I partially couldn’t have cared less just because he was running for the US. Watching the whole procession minute through minute would have made me feel like I was living in an inadequate country and that we’re stuck in same-old-boring land, whereas other parts of the world are experiencing ‘change’.
I guess time will tell best.

3. How to get Inspiration? - November 24, 2008

[…] the rest of this superb post right here No Comments so far Leave a comment RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI […]

4. lavenderbay - November 24, 2008

Your question is a toughie. I think Sir Ian McKellan as PM would make excellent speeches and promote a just society; Cabinet Minister Tiger Woods would encourage better sportsmanship both in and out of the House of Parliament; and vegetarian Sir Paul McCartney would make a good Minister of Agriculture, but I wouldn’t give him the Fisheries portfolio. Okay, so two out of the three are still old and white, but at least they have some pizzaz.

5. eyegillian - November 24, 2008

Thanks for dropping by, Imajeed! Canada does need change, that’s for certain, although I must say I’d rather live in a boring country than a dangerous one. And I agree that the U.S. election process seems like a convoluted morass from this side of the border, but it does seem to get the public involved and the voter turn-out higher than it is here!

Lavenderbay, I’m finding it difficult to imagine IanTigerPaul as a Prime Minister, but maybe he/they is just what the country needs! Or… maybe there are some younger folks with the same kind of pizzaz who could fill the role, given the chance. After all, somebody’s got to run the country when we’re all in the retirement home!

6. Dennis the Vizsla - November 25, 2008

Good luck finding your Obama — I just hope you don’t have to be saddled with a Dubya for eight years first.

7. eyegillian - November 25, 2008

Ooh, that would be nasty — I share that hope, Dennis! I suppose the only upside to that history is that Dubya has made Obama look doubly good, even to the traditionally undecided.

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