Friday, May 04, 2007

Worst Canadian

So The Beaver (Canada's National History Magazine) is running a contest to name "The Worst Canadian."

As someone who cares about history, I generally loath these "worst/best/most important" type lists. On the other hand, a project like this fits well into my cranky tempermant and I am a fairly frequent contributor to the Beaver, and happy to help them out with their publicity stunt, providing they refrain from the temptation to bring in any of these pompous goobers to act as "advocates."*

Now, a contest like this is going to have some very predicable nominees. Most of the East will nominate the current Prime Minister. Most of the west will nominate Trudeau. Most people under thirty will nominate Celine Dion. Apparently the current leader is Harold Ballard, proving that Torontonians self-regard truly is an infinite quantity.

Because I am fairly humourless when it comes to history, I am going to actually take the question seriously and nominate someone who has been pretty near forgotten by history, which is probably the worst punishment he himself could conceive of. My nominee, is Sir Sam Hghes, a bigoted, incompetent, self-aggrandizing martinet whose mismanagement of the Canadian Forces in the early years of WWI led directly to who knows how many needless deaths of Canadian soldiers.

Image from

This delight of a human being built much of his political career on Catholic- and French Canadian bashing. He lobbied to have himself given a Victoria Cross for an action in the Boer War for twenty years after the fact - after, in fact, he had already had effectively appointed himself a General.

When war came, he insisted that the Canadian Expeditionary Force be equipped with material provided by his industrialist cronies, meaning troops were sent into the trenches with cardboard shoes and jamming rifles with bayonets that would fall off.

That he was paranoid and almost assuredly insane does nothing to mitigate his status as the greatest - and deadliest - bufoon ever elected to Canada's Parliament. More here.

So. Anyone have any suggestions for your favourites? Margaret Atwood? Mr Dress-up? The X-Men's Wolverine? Let's hear them!

* Excluding Paul Gross, who I quite like, even if I don't know why.


Tasha said...

How DARE you even imply that Mr. Dress-Up is anything but wonderful? Just for that, I refuse to nominate anyone. Pthhhhh...

Mark Reynolds said...

That was a trick one actually - not sure if he'd qualify, as he was born American. On the other hand, he did become a citizen in his later years, long after "The Tickler" killings that terrorized New York in the '60s and to which his connection was never proved.