Which Canadian should light our fire?

courtesy VANOC 2010

There are plenty of worthy Canadian candidates to light the Olympic cauldron tonight to kick off the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, who’s your pick?

Debates on talk radio, television and in some papers have heated up about who the “right” choice would be as the opening ceremony has approached. I contend it is not a matter of right or wrong because as a nation we have plenty of perfect candidates to offer.

Some corners opine for The Great One, Wayne Gretzky, to be the one to do it and the credentials are there to support it. He is the greatest player ever in our national passion, hockey. He is our most famous world renowned athlete. When people say his name, they think Canada, they think hockey and he has been a great ambassador for our country. Others argue his Olympic resume is flimsy. He only played in one games and managed Canada’s team to gold in another. Also, his accomplishments were all minted in the professional sports realm, not the amateur realm in which the Olympics reside.

Gretzky at the 1998 Nagano Olympics.

Betty Fox, the mother of Terry Fox, Canadian icon and national hero, has been suggested. Fox and his Marathon of Hope still live to this day worldwide. He showed the world that the unimaginable can be tackled when he attempted his cross country run, on one leg, which was eventually stopped when he succumbed to cancer which ravaged his body. He represents who we are as a nation, gritty, determined and humble. He had no Olympic accomplishments to speak of, then again, the true ethos of our modern Olympics is peace, friendship and hope and Fox delivered those in spades. Having his mother light the cauldron simply would be beautiful choice.

Betty Fox and a statue of her son Terry.

Nancy Greene, Barbara Ann Scott, two of our greatest winter Olympians are up for consideration too. Greene was a star at the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, she grabbed a silver medal in slalom and the following day she notched gold in the giant slalom course, all on an injured ankle. Ann Scott was Canada’s first darling of figure skating and world champion and in the 1948 St. Moritz Olympics she became the first Canadian to win a figure skating gold medal.

Then again, how about our most prolific Winter Olympians as candidates? Gaetan Boucher earned two gold medals and a bronze at the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics in speed skating, which he added to silver notched at the 1980 Lake Placid games. His three medals at one game was a record until speed skater Cindy Klassen’s dominance at the 2006 Turin games where she won five medals, gold, two silvers and two bronzes, to add to a 2002 Salt Lake games bronze.

How about thinking out of the box? Seeing as four Aboriginal chiefs have been given head-of-state status at the games and deservedly so, why not have an Aboriginal child light the cauldron?

Who do you think it should be?

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