They had some success organizing themselves out of a paper bag

Want to see the New Democrats win the next provincial election? If you answered yes, prepare to be disappointed. Because if the left's attempts to make sure party founder Tommy Douglas wins CBC's Greatest Canadian contest are any indication of their organizational skill and daring, the Liberals have absolutely nothing to fear.

The plan was simple and admirable enough: Vancouver and District Labour Council executive assistant Keziah Rothlin sent an email to the council's mailing list encouraging fellow travellers to cast their ballots via telephone or the Internet for Mr. Douglas - one of 10 Canadians we can vote for. And that's when the trouble started.

Vancouver city councillor Anne Roberts, who belongs to the left-leaning and sometimes New Democrat-allied Coalition of Progressive Electors civic party, sent an email to the district council's mailing list informing them that, "much as I admire Tommy Douglas, I'm not voting in a competition that doesn't include one woman among the Top 10 Greatest Canadians. I think that by voting you legitimize the contest. Instead, let's all register our outrage to the CBC that women got left off the list. And any visible minorities or aboriginal people."

(Ms. Roberts was later told uber-environmentalist David Suzuki, a Japanese-Canadian, was on that list. She apologized for missing him.)

Then fellow coalition councillor Ellen Woodsworth chimed in with her thoughts on the matter. Evidently, she thinks, the CBC "should be faced with a class action suit" for running a competition that's biased against women and minorities whose result can be manipulated by anyone with a computer. Ms. Woodsworth went on to add: "I thought progressive men were challenging the patriarchy and progressive whites were challenging racism but looks like here as in other aspects of society we are sliding backwards at great speed."

So let's get this straight: Lefties are refusing to vote for Mr. Douglas, the New Democrats' dear leader, in the Great Canadian poll because women (and, evidently, visible minorities) aren't on the ballot - a ballot whose composition was determined after the CBC tallied 140,000 ballots cast during an earlier online competition.

What an amazingly brilliant election strategy! And, oh how principled! A lot of people are going to notice how many lefties didn't vote in this online election just to spite the CBC. What a powerful statement!

And one that Mr. Douglas evidently would agree with. In an e-mail supporting Woodsworth and Roberts' position, retired union activist Sharon Yandle writes that, if the New Democrat founder were alive today, "he would, like many progressive men we know, side with those who are not prepared to remain silent while women are written out of history and society." Forget about winning the damn vote. It's the principle that's important.

And that's why the New Democrats stand very little chance of defeating the Liberals in the next election. Politics, sadly, isn't about principles - even if those principles are admirable. It's about winning elections so you can put your principles into practice - or, better yet, just run government well (because that's what most of us really want). And if the lefties are so dogmatic that that they can't put aside their convictions long enough to make sure Mr. Douglas - the father of public health care - is elected in a stupid online poll, it's hard to see how they're even capable of forming a government.

Footnote: Right-wing Internet activists are chronically annoyed at the CBC. But this Greatest Canadian competition has really got them riled up - largely because former prime minister Pierre Trudeau made the top 10 list. So they have come up with a slightly more productive way of spoiling their ballots. There seems to be a consensus developing on conservative message boards that the right should vote for Don Cherry. After all, there are probably few things that would annoy the CBC's Liberal-leaning, brie-eating, wine-tasting executives more than having a politically incorrect hockey commentator become the Greatest Canadian. Now those are good tactics! The following are copies of the emails referenced in this coumn.

Credit where credit is due: A version of this article ran in today's Times Colonist.

***

-----Original Message-----
From: VDLC
Sent: Wednesday, October 20, 2004 3:22 PM
Subject: Vote for The Greatest Canadian
The CBC is running a contest to decide which of ten finalists is the 'Greatest Canadian' of them all. http://www.cbc.ca/greatest/

You register on the site (it's short) then you vote by email on Monday.

The candidates:

Frederick Banting
Alexander Graham Bell
Don Cherry
Tommy Douglas
Terry Fox
Wayne Gretzky
Sir John A. Macdonald
Lester B. Pearson
David Suzuki
Pierre Elliott Trudeau

Let's all vote for Tommy!!!

Don't delay - do it now. And pass this on to other e-mail groups who will support the greatest Canadian ever - Tommy Douglas.
(CBC's website attached)
_______________________________
Keziah McCrystal Rothlin, Executive Asst.
Vancouver and District Labour Council
#140 - 111 Victoria Drive
Vancouver, BC V5L 4C4

kmr
cope15

-----Original Message-----
From: Roberts, Anne
Sent: Thursday, October 21, 2004 4:37 PM
Subject: RE: Vote for The Greatest Canadian

Much as I admire Tommy Douglas, I'm not voting in a competition that doesn't include one woman among the Top 10 Greatest Canadians. I think that by voting, you legitimize the contest. Instead, let's all register our outrage to the CBC that women got left off the list. And any visible minorities or aboriginal people. Let's challenge the very notion of greatness being endorsed by this contest. After all, greatness is being defined mostly in terms of their wealth, power, and fame. It's terrible that only white guys are thought to be great!

Regards,
Anne Roberts
Councillor, City of Vancouver

-----Original Message-----
From: Roberts, Anne
Sent: Thursday, October 21, 2004 5:56 PM
Subject: RE: Vote for The Greatest Canadian

Several have pointed out that I got a little carried away when I described the entire top 10 as "white guys." Quite right. My apologies. Though I think both David Suzuki and Tommy Douglas are great, my criticism still stands about this contest. Shouldn't we all be concerned about perpetuating an idea of "greatness" that doesn't include women?

Regards,
Anne

-----Original Message-----
From: Woodsworth, Ellen
Sent: Thursday, October 21, 2004 8:16 PM
Subject: RE: Vote for The Greatest Canadian?

Why don't we rename it what it is? The ten most famous men in Canadian history and stop pretending they are the Greatest Canadians or even the Greatest men. I wouldn't even insult Tommy Douglas by putting him in the same category as Don Cherry. This contest is designed to exclude greats. If you tuned into Rick Cluff this morning Judy Rebick gave a great rebuttle. She reminded us that they tried this model in South Africa and had to cancel the show because three of the top candidates were with the DeClerk government.

Frankly I think that the CBC should be faced with a class action suit for using our money to host a biased program that can be manipulated by anyone with a good computer and calling it Canada's Greatest. I thought progressive men were challenging the patriarchy and progressive whites were challenging racism but looks like here as in other aspects of society we are sliding backwards at great speed.

You can do what you want with your vote but I would ask everyone to call, email and write the CRTC and CBC to challenge this contest.

Ellen Woodsworth

Sincerely,
Ellen Woodsworth
Vancouver City Councillor

----Original Message-----
From: Sharon Yandle
Sent: Thursday, October 21, 2004 8:54 PM
Subject: RE: Vote for The Greatest Canadian

Tommy Douglas was in many respects a visionary. I have no doubt that were he alive today he would, like many progressive men we know, side with those who are not prepared to remain silent while women are written out of history and society. I associate myself completely with Anne's concerns - and I think Tommy would, too.

In solidarity and sisterhood,
Sharon

7 Comments

Dude - lighten up! Do you really think any of this matters -- or that Anne Roberts or Ellen Woodsworth are actually NDP strategists? Like, forget it - besides, everyone knows the greatest Canadian is obvious April Lavigne!

I remember watching some video of a debate between Dief, Trudeau, some socred Quebecer and Douglas. The issue of Trudeau's legalising of homosexuality came up and Tommy announced that homosexuality was not an issue for the courts since it was primarily the result of mental illness. I wonder how this gels with his deification by the Left?

Greatest canadian?

William Shatner. :)

Joking aside, this has to be one of the most inept things CBC has done so far. Instead of wasting money on trying to point out 1 great Canadian, what about all the women AND men who have died for this country? Are they not great as well? Far better than listing the top 10 or 1.

Indeed all the unknown & unsung heroes, they are the greatest Canadians.

et tu Raoul?

Perhaps you have forgotten those days gone by when your good friend and meal ticket Hunter Thompson used to terrorize the gays in the baths at Esalen....

What about all the Canadians who fought and lived through WW II, fighting all the way up Italy in battles like Ortona The Liri Valley The Gothic Line where the British Columbia Dragoons lost 54 tanks in hours. The survivors of the burned, over turned or shot up tanks fighting alone and far ahead of the main force at times hand to hand against the dug in Germains until the main forces caught up. Then they went on to Holland! The survivors came home with vivid memories of the horrors of war, the lost comrads and the scars of battle both physical and mental, to this day many wake in the middle of the night screaming over some past event, around armistice each year they are haunted even more than usual. Can you imagine what it would be like to have seven tanks shot out from under you, in COMBAT! Many of these people are being treated like second class citizens by gordo and martin. That the conservatives would pout and vote for a loud mouth pro american neanderthal like cherry makes me sick, he has done nothing but shoot his trap off and make money! He has sacrificed nothing, the guy drives around in a hummer while to many veterans are living in poverty, give me a frigging break!

why would this end up in this thread when I posted it to the cbc thread???

Dr Thompson doesn't profess to champion anyone's rights but his own and Lisl Auman's. And you can be sure that he doesn't swallow this homophobic Xian dogma like Comrade Douglas did - Thompson will spit it out every time. If you want to skewer anyone else about homophobia try Comrade Castro.

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