ESR's Tenth Annual Person of the Year
By Steven Martinovich
My memory is probably failing me but for the past four years I've started out each Person of the Year by writing "It wasn't even close." Well, this year, it wasn't even close.
What changed were the results. U.S. President George W. Bush didn't win this year.
Although the American president finished strongly in second spot, ahead of other worthy nominations which included the people of Iraq, the U.S. military, Pope John Paul II, Joe Leiberman, ESR scribe/presidential candidate/actor Michael Moriarty, Angela Merkel and Tom Tancredo, among many others, the winners are a pair of Canadians -- the first to take the prize in ten years. America, meet Connie Wilkins and Mark Fournier.
Contrary to popular belief there are conservatives in Canada. If American conservatives think they have it tough with a hostile media and entire institutions lost to liberalism, they would be disheartened in Canada. In the Great White North, being a conservative means you are un-Canadian to many people -- particularly when those people are members of the media or the Liberal Party. Up here, many of the so-called mainstream conservatives are merely less liberal than their liberal counterparts.
That doesn't mean we don't have a dedicated movement eager to roll back the past two decades of "liberal progress." Taking a page from Jim Robinson (our Fifth Annual Person of the Year) and his Free Republic web site, Connie and Mark launched Free Dominion some years back in an effort to provide an online center of operations for Canadian conservative activists. Like Free Republic, the denizens of Free Dominion debate the stories of the day and get together to have their voices heard. And if you ask Prime Minister Paul Martin, he'd likely tell you that he heard the voices of Free Dominion-ites several times during the past year as they gathered on Parliament Hill to protest his government's policies.
"I believe Connie and Mark as they have given many people of all walks of life including myself a place to voice their conservative concerns, in a country that seems biased towards the left. Their forum has opened many peoples eyes and helped them realize that their political leanings are conservative and they are not alone."
"They have facilitated the coming together of conservatives of all major stripes in Canada: Libertarians, Socons, Neocons, and others. They have kept together a very popular site and have administered it fairly. It is not easy being conservative in Canada but these two icons of liberty have made many conservatives realize that they are not alone."
Nominator comments in support of Connie Wilkins and Mark Fournier
In the United States a web site like Free Republic is a luxury but in Canada, Free Dominion is a necessity. A network of conservative groups has existed in the U.S. for decades but that same grassroots work has yet to be done in Canada. Thanks to Free Dominion, Canadian conservatives -- who in some parts of the country can be isolated both politically and physically -- have a community to support and inspire them. And like every successful collective, the members of Free Dominion are having an impact. Members of the web site are helping to keep the Conservative Party of Canada conservative (a challenge more difficult than most would think), call governments and politicians to task and provide the intellectual and emotional ammunition for the Canadian conservative movement.
And it's thanks to Connie Wilkins and Mark Fournier, ESR's Tenth Annual People of the Year. Thanks to their efforts one day this magazine might be able to hand its Person of the Year to a Canadian political leader who inspires as much as our Sixth, Seventh, Eighth and Ninth Person of the Year obviously has.
Hey, we can dream, right?
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