'Canadian soldier' voted 2006 Newsmaker

After its annual poll of editors and broadcasters across the country, the Canadian Press and Broadcast News named "the Canadian soldier" as Newsmaker of the Year.

After its annual poll of editors and broadcasters across the country, the Canadian Press and Broadcast News named "the Canadian soldier" as Newsmaker of the Year.

The head of Canada's military, Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Rick Hillier, welcomed the honour.

"The fact that Canadians have really realized the importance of the Canadian Forces, the role that it plays in our society, how it helps protect Canadian interests, at home, around the continent and internationally … is an incredible compliment to Canadian soldiers," Hillier said Monday, while on a Christmas visit to the country's troops in Afghanistan.

Jim Poling, the managing editor of the Hamilton Spectator, called the newsmaker decision one that reflects the soldier's role in carving out "a new chapter in Canadian history."

"For the first time in a generation, Canadian soldiers are being recruited, trained and sent to a war zone," Poling said.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper was runner-up in the vote.

It is only the second time in the 60-year history of the Newsmaker of the Year survey that the country'snewsrooms have selected a symbol instead ofa specific person.

In 1992, the voters chose the constitutional referendum on the Meech Lake accord.

With files from the Canadian Press