Ideas

Citizen Mel, Part 1

Mel Hurtig died on Wednesday, August 3rd, at the age of 84. His name was virtually synonymous with the words "Canadian nationalist". For almost fifty years, Mel Hurtig was a prominent voice in any discussion about the country that he loved. He was a bookseller, a publisher and a catalyst for debate on subjects ranging from child poverty to nuclear arms. Former IDEAS producer Kathleen Flaherty traced Mel Hurtig's lifelong quest to shape a Canada that he passionately believed in.
National Party Leader Mel Hurtig speaks during the Alberta launch of the National Party in Calgary on Feb. 2, 1993. (Canadian Press/Dave Buston)

Mel Hurtig died on Wednesday, August 3rd, at the age of 84. His name was virtually synonymous with the words "Canadian nationalist". For almost fifty years, Mel Hurtig was a prominent voice in any discussion about the country that he loved. He was a bookseller, a publisher and a catalyst for debate on subjects ranging from child poverty to nuclear arms. Former IDEAS producer Kathleen Flaherty traced Mel Hurtig's lifelong quest to shape a Canada that he passionately believed in. **This episode originally aired June 22, 2011.  Part 2 airs Friday, August 12.


"People ask me, 'How did you become a nationalist?' and it just seemed to me so strange that people would equate nationalism with the fact that you were fond of your own country…"
 

Mel Hurtig declared his love for Canada at every opportunity. On the other hand, when Mel Hurtig didn't like something, he immediately decided to do something about it. He believed that none of us has any right to complain about the way things are unless we act to change them. He fought many battles over the years and his name was enough to make some people roll their eyes in exasperation. But he received a considerable amount of approbation as well, including the Order of Canada.

Throughout his forty-plus years of activism, Mel Hurtig never held political office, although he tried twice.  He did it all as an Edmonton businessman, an ordinary guy from Alberta, a citizen of Canada.  

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