Pierre Trudeau is the top pick as the greatest
Canadian of the 20th century, a new national public opinion survey
In second place is Terry Fox, the inspirational hero who tried to
walk across Canada after losing a leg to cancer, while hockey great Wayne
Gretzky is the top choice of living Canadians.
The poll, conducted by Ekos Research Associates, asked more than
3,000 Canadians to name their choice for top honours. Trudeau was the
resounding favourite at 32 per cent, with Fox coming a distant second at 6
per cent and Gretzky placing third with 4 per cent.
Fourth-place honours were shared by former prime minister Lester B.
Pearson, who is viewed as the father of Canadian peacekeeping, and René
Lévesque, who led the separatist Parti Québécois to its first electoral
victory. Both men were named by 3 per cent of respondents.
Former prime ministers William Mackenzie King, Wilfrid Laurier,
John Diefenbaker and Brian Mulroney are also named in the survey, but
received less than 2 per cent of the votes.
Frank Graves, president of Ekos, said the battle that Trudeau and
Lévesque fought for the hearts of Quebecers seems to continue from the
"Even in death, Trudeau trumps Lévesque," said Graves of the
Trudeau support was strongest in Quebec and Ontario and waned in
the western provinces, especially Alberta, where Trudeau's controversial
National Energy Program is still proving to be a sore point, Graves added.
He said the people who chose Trudeau are the baby-boomers who were
coming of age when "Trudeaumania" swept the nation in the early 1970s.
Prime Minister Jean Chrétien was the top choice among living
politicians, with 2 per cent of the vote.
He tied with Frederick Banting, discoverer of insulin.
Other Canadians mentioned randomly by respondents include pop diva
Céline Dion and World War I flying ace Billy Bishop.