WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Pierre Trudeau, the former prime minister who worked to unite French and English Canada, topped an Internet poll as the worst Canadian, a history magazine revealed on Monday.
“For many Canadians, he is just larger than life. Whether you love him or hate him, he is the guy who shaped Canada,” said Deborah Morrison, president of Canada’s National History Society, which publishes The Beaver magazine.
“He was our first rock-star politician,” she said.
Trudeau was reviled by some for his flamboyance and liberal social policies, while many Western Canadians disliked his energy and farm policies, Morrison said.
Trudeau, who was named the third-greatest Canadian in a 2004 television contest, pipped serial killers Clifford Olson, Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka, singer Celine Dion and disgraced newspaper tycoon Conrad Black in the new poll.
The magazine organized the open poll, which received 15,000 submissions, to promote its August issue.
Current Prime Minister Stephen Harper was No. 6 on the worst Canadians poll, and former prime ministers Brian Mulroney and Jean Chretien also made the list.
Morrison said she was initially surprised that Trudeau topped the poll, but realized he was an obvious target for Canadians, whom she said had little knowledge of their country’s short history.
“He in many ways became the inevitable choice, because for a lot of Canadians, he is the history figure they know,” Morrison said.