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Citizens’ Forum: The century’s greatest Canadians…so far

The Story

True, 1950 may be a bit early to name the greatest Canadians of the 20th century, but any "best of" list is bound to generate good debate. Agnes MacPhail, Canada's first female MP, joins writer and scientist Lister Sinclair, Maclean's editor Blair Fraser and Roger Ouimet, Crown attorney of Montreal to argue about the greatest Canadians of (the first half of) the 20th century. Get ready for a discussion that, as moderator Neil Morrison suggests, "can be more fun than a church sociable."

Medium: Radio
Program: Citizens' Forum
Broadcast Date: Jan. 26, 1950
Guest(s): Blair Fraser, Agnes Macphail, Roger Ouimet, Lister Sinclair
Moderator: Neil Morrison
Duration: 39:19
Photo: F.J. Skitch / Library and Archives Canada / PA-138867

Did You know?

• Panelist Agnes MacPhail was herself a great Canadian. She was the first female member of Parliament and the first Canadian woman to be sent as a delegate to the League of Nations in Geneva. While in office, she successfully fought for old age pensions, prison reform and equal rights for women. Her election came in 1921, the first federal election in which women had the vote. She died in 1954.
• Since it was aired in 1950, this episode is really a half-century early to name the greatest Canadians of the 20th century. When the CBC held the Greatest Canadian contest in 2004, seven of the top 10 finishers had made their great achievements well after 1950. Of the three pre-1950's choices, two (Sir John A. Macdonald and Alexander Graham Bell) are not 20th century figures. Insulin inventor Frederick Banting was the only finalist whose major accomplishment happened in the first half of the 20th century.


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