Sunday, August 19, 2007

Quarter-Finals - East

UPDATE: At the close of voting Tuesday night, it was Mowat by 4 votes and Levesque by 6 votes in two of the closest races to date in the contest. The two men will square off in the Eastern semi. The Western quarter-finals should get rolling later today.

The first round of Canada's Best Premier is done and the bracket has now conveniently broken itself up into a "western side" and an "eastern side". In the West it will be Peter Lougheed against Ed Schreyer and Ernest Manning against WAC Bennett. Those votes will go live mid-week, for now, a look at the two eastern quarter-final duels. Voting will remain open until Tuesday night at 11 pm Mountain time.

Game Story: It's because of matchups like this that I love running these summer contests. You have a man few outside of New Brunswick have ever heard of, up against a man who was Premier before anyone voting in this poll was born. And, yet, they would both make for worthy winners of this contest and managed to knock off more famous opponents in the first round. Mowat led Ontario for 24 years near the province's birth and helped get Wilfrid Laurier elected on the national scene after that while Robichaud oversaw the modernization of New Brunswick. This one could certainly go either way.

Oliver Mowat career highlights (Ontario 1872-96): As Premier, Mowat fought the federal government over jurisdiction of provincial issues, such as liquor, timber, and mineral rights and won, greatly decentralizing Canada. He introduced the secret ballot and extended suffrage beyond property owners. He also created the municipal level of government in Ontario and the Children's Aid Society. Oh, and he's Farley Mowat's great uncle.

Louis Robichaud career highlights (New Brunswick 1960-70): Robichaud became Premier of New Brunswick at the age of 35. Once in office, change was quick and massive. Robichaud's term saw the end of temperance inspired liquor laws, the introduction civil service unions, universal free health care, the creation of 3 of New Brunswick's four public universities, a renewed exploration of natural resources, and most notably Equal Opportunity and Official Bilingualism. Robichaud abolished country governments, resulting in dramatically better health and education for those living in rich cities compared to those living in poor rural counties. Robichaud improved the situation for Acadiens, establishing official bilingualism and l'Université du Moncton.

Game Story: This matchup assures us of one Quebec Premier in the final four as the top two finishers in Chucker's Quebec Poll square off. Adding to the intrigue is the connection between the two, with Levesque having served in Jean Lesage's Cabinet. Both men advanced and modernized Quebec society dramatically.

Rene Levesque career highlights (Quebec 1976-1985): Drew headlines around the world with the PQ's victory in 1976 and is best remember for going uno-a-uno with Trudeau during the 1980 referendum. Despite this, he does have a strong domestic accomplishment record with campaign finance reform, Hydro-Quebec expansion, and increased social service delivery. Oh, and he killed a homeless man while driving drunk.

Jean Lesage career highlights (Quebec 1960-1966) : Lesage's win in 1960 was a key moment in the Quiet Revolution, ending the Union Nationale's reign. He was subsequently re-elected in '62 under the "Maîtres chez nous" slogan (loosely translated to "master of the house" or "master of his domain"). He was defeated in 1966 because, to be blunt, he was too stupid to redraw the old UN Nationale rural heavy electoral map. During his time as Premier, Lesage brought in massive reform to education, health care, and working conditions. He also nationalized Hydro-Quebec and is generally considered to have caught Quebec up to the rest of North America on both the social and economic fronts, after years of Duplesis government.



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