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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Measuring influence

The National Post is having a contest to see who is the most influential Canadian intellectual. Here's my nomination of the Fraser Institute's Mike Walker, and here is the list of the rest, including nominations put by Shotgun bloggers Colby Cosh, Marni Soupcoff, Adam Daifallah and Lorne Gunter. Our senior columnist, Mark Steyn, is nominated, too, by Western Standard subscriber Barbara Kay.

I admire each of the nominees proposed by my friends above. But I think there is a difference between those we wish had a public importance and those who have actually achieved it. I regret that there are many great Canadian public intellectuals whose ideas have not found purchase in our infertile socialist soil; my choice, Mike Walker, is one of the few who can claim achievement, not just effort.

What do you think?

Posted by Ezra Levant on October 27, 2005 | Permalink


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While Colby Cosh is one of my favourites, I'd have to go with Mark Steyn as most influential.

A Mark Steyn column in the National Post June 2002 turned me on to blogs via his reference to Little Green Footballs.

LGF linked me to Colby Cosh.

Posted by: Speller | 2005-10-27 1:22:21 PM

Mark by a mile.

He's published on dozens of continenents. Him linking to anyones site is lible to make it hemmorage from hits. Plus he has been picked as best right wing blog by practically every important blog out there.

Linking to one of Mark's articles on a left wing blog is always sure to draw instant derision. Thats gotta be a good thing.

He's a real conservative not a red tory cell in his body that I've noticed.

Any Canadian who can upset members of the Saudi cabinet is ok by me : )

Posted by: ghollingshead | 2005-10-27 1:38:46 PM

I'm happy with any of Steyn, Krauthammer, Ignatieff or MacMillan (not just attitude people, but talent).

Steyn is the best newspaper stylist in the world.

And I nominate Jack Granatstein.


Posted by: Mark Collins | 2005-10-27 1:42:55 PM

I was planning to vote for Tom Flanagan until the nomination of Mike Walker came along. Mike's got my vote for now, and he'll be pretty hard to displace.

Posted by: Karen Selick | 2005-10-27 2:19:38 PM

Let's face facts, none of the people on the list really matter much, and there influence on other people's lives is farily minimal. People with real influence will, of course, not be nominated. Take James Gosling, a Canadian and U of Calgary graduate who invented Java. This is an individual who has probably had a larger effect on all of the blog readers lives, than any of the nominated individuals, regardless of whether the people realize it or not.

Let's face it, none of the intellectuals are any Alexander the Greats, nor are they really going to change anything drastically. I'd argue that the last major public-policy debate in Canada was the FTA, and we've been pretty much adrift ever since, and none of those mentioned is going to do anything more than incremental changes to the status-quo.

Posted by: Steve | 2005-10-27 3:13:19 PM

Steve: This is about "public intellectuals", i.e. those with wide public recognition and influence on public debate, not intellectuals per se such as James Gosling.


Posted by: Mark Collins | 2005-10-27 3:19:49 PM

The concept of a "public intellectual" in the third millennium is bogus. Real intellectuals are now private; that way we can actually get things done, behind closed doors, without having to put up with the useless opinions of politicians and assorted generic riffraff, the likes of which are only too obvious when one reads, or at least tries to convert into natural language, most of the comments at most web logs.

Those of us who know the truth aren't going to tell you about it, the truth is too valuable to spray around like that. Letting others know what's what is like burning money. Level playing fields are for those who can't find one tilted in their favour. Transparency is for losers. Some time ago I wished otherwise: then I grew up.

Posted by: Vitruvius | 2005-10-27 3:33:25 PM

Conrad Blacks the man. Under him the National Post was the best read in the country. And it included Mark Steyn. Without him it barely makes the cut.
Black is down now but don't count him out. The guy is straight out of an Ayn Rand novel.

Posted by: MikeP | 2005-10-27 5:42:46 PM

Although Steyn is my favorite, do any of you seriously think that he has any influence outside conservative circles. Canada west of Portage and Main has become EU-lite; as Mark so elequantly and often says. And, guess what, he's right. I'm afraid that Steyn is part of the rightwing echo-chamber, and that means that he's not nearly as influential as say..... Michael Moore. It sucks, but I'm afraid it's true. Go to any college class and ask them what they think of Mark Steyn... "Mark Who?" Ask them what they think of Michael Moore, or Noam Chomsky, or even Svend Robinson, and all will likely have a good idea who you're talking about and a lot of them (college know-it-all-hippies) will rave on about the Noam and Mike. For the older crowd, the most influential person will likely be some standard statist dull media hack like Jeff Simpson... or David Save-the-whales Kooky.

Posted by: Debris Trail | 2005-10-27 6:14:47 PM

Debris Trail: Canada east of Portage and Main has become EU-lite.

Debris Trail: Why worry about the impact of Steyn within Canada? Nobody cares about Canada, the land of softwood brain. Steyn however is a factor in a serious country like the U.K.

And he does have the good grace, when there is no money in it, to still pay attention to his whingeing homeland.

Jane Taber, Heather Mallick, hurl.


Posted by: Mark Collins | 2005-10-27 7:19:54 PM

I would nominate-> "William D Gairdner", this man should be on the Canadian list. Mr.Gairdner is author of many great books, former columnist, earned Ph.d, former olympic athlete, business and family man, ect.,.

Posted by: Larry | 2005-10-28 5:14:07 AM

ebt: In a factual on the ground policy type of way, I believe that you are correct. Manning gave voice to a whole new way of thinking, and even members of Canada's East Bloc echo a lot of what he so eloquantly expressed.

Posted by: Debris Trail | 2005-10-28 2:53:23 PM

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