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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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canada_flag_barack

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

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