The Greatest Canadian... Blog -- Part II

Greatest Canadian... Blog?

I didn’t make the cut for Best Blog or Best Blog Post, but I did make the cut for the 2005 Canadian Blogging Awards for Best Culture Blog and Best Blog Post Series (which, ironically, was quite a political blog post series). I guess I should start writing more about culture on this blog. Look for a couple of book reviews in the near future. Movie reviews will have to wait until Erin and I are physically capable of attending a movie (barring DVD rentals, of course). Transit Toronto has also been nominated for Best Business Blog.

Round Two voting begins tomorrow, so if you think that my blog deserves to win the Best Culture Blog or Best Blog Post Series title, or if Transit Toronto deserves to win Best Business Blog, vote early and vote often (well, no more than once a day). Congratulations to all of the nominees, good luck to all of the finalists, let the best blogs win, and let us all have a fun time doing it.

Recusing my entries from this blog post, here are my endorsements for the various categories up for grabs over the next two weeks:

Best Blog: Accordion Guy; Runner Up: Calgary Grit.

The best blogs don’t have to be political. They have to be personal, and Joey deVilla’s Accordion Guy is wonderfully that. You have a window on the life of an interesting man, who plays the accordion, who is preparing for his wedding, and who occasionally comments on the interesting things he sees and the political happenings of his world. His style is easy to read, and his friendly, approachable persona comes through. He’s about as cool as Blogography, an American blog that I think fits in the same ecclectic category of not having a category. I quibble about his blog design, which I find to be too cluttered, but in a way it’s in keeping with his character. He is a wonderfully cluttered individual, like an antique shop crammed with keepsakes that you keep on stumbling into.

Calgary Grit is far more political and his writing gets down to business with sage and honest examinations of the Canadian political scene. Despite the fact that he’s a Liberal who fully expects to vote Liberal, he’s not afraid to criticize his own party. And as a Liberal in Calgary, there is a tension to his writing that comes from being a stranger in a strange land. CalgaryGrit has a unique perspective on things and knows how to express himself. For this reason, he has emerged not only as the pre-eminent political blogger in Canada, his blog is one of the best there is to read.

Last Year’s Winner: An Argentinean in Toronto. Where did he go? He was nominated this year for Best Personal Blog, but didn’t make the cut. He still is worthy of your attention, offering a unique bilingual (Spanish/English) commentary, interesting photos, personal anecdotes and a crisp, professional layout.

Best Progressive Blog: Calgary Grit; Runner Up: Stageleft.

Of the progressive blogs, of all the partisan blogs in fact, Calgary Grit is refreshing for the honesty with which he approaches political debate. He has his biases, but he is not burdened with a blind love for the Liberal party, and that makes him more interesting than a large number of political weblogs out there. You never quite know where he is coming from, and you read him almost to find out what he’ll say next. He doesn’t get me hot under the collar, but he provokes interesting debate.

Stageleft is more passionate and more partisan, but it has an energy to its blog that is the real reason it’s here. The multi-column layout looks cluttered to the untrained eye, but it just shows how much they have to say about everything. These guys could become the Daily Kos of the Canadian blogosphere.

Last Year’s Winner: Peace, Order and Good Government, Eh?. He’s still out there and is a worthy place to visit, although his rate of posting has dropped.

Best Conservative Blog: Bound by Gravity; Runner Up: Not nominated.

Andrew Anderson’s Bound by Gravity did extremely well during the first round voting; I suspect as a result of post-mortem appreciation. I didn’t vote for his blog on principle because Andrew packed it in earlier this November, but there is no doubt that his departure was a substantial blow to the Canadian political blogosphere. Andrew was a Conservative moderate, loyal to Stephen Harper, but respectful to all who engaged him in policy debates. A fascinating community developed in his comments, with staunch Conservatives, Liberals and NDPers and more besides meeting and actually debating rather than throwing dirt at each other (although that did happen occasionally). His blog was a sign that the various partisan interests could rise above their partisan nature and actually engage constructively, so it’s no surprise that Andrew’s support is probably coming from across the political spectrum.

Stephen Taylor’s blog — who just missed contention — deserves to be in the running, here, and he was the individual I was consistently voting for during the first round of voting. Consider the contributions he has made, setting up the Blogging Tories blogroll and really getting the partisan blogrolling scene throughout the Canadian blogosphere rolling. Rolls like Liblogs, the Blogging NDP, the Progressive Bloggers and even the Non Partisan Alliance are all here because of him, and that deserves recognition.

Last Year’s Winner: Brock: On the Attack. He hasn’t posted since the middle of October and is showing all of the signs of Blog Burnout. A pity. Although not nearly as soft-spoken as Andrew Anderson, he also offered intelligent commentary that wasn’t beholden to the party line.

Best New Blog: Waking Up on Planet X; Runner Up: Buckets of Grewal.

It seems counter-intuitive that I would pick a bona fide Albertan separatist to win this category, but then again you don’t know Candace, a single mother living in Edmonton. You can always judge a man by the quality of his enemies, the Doctor once said, except that Balbublican of Stageleft, a regular commentator on her blog, is hardly an enemy. They disagree fiercely on politics, but he keeps coming back, and they appear to have developed quite a respect for one another.

Respect is the core of her blog. She demands it, and she gives it out to anybody who treats her with respect, regardless of their political disagreements. And she’s probably the only Albertan separatist who reads my blog regularly, and she hasn’t thrown rocks or anything of a sort.

I don’t usually nominate single-issue blogs either, but Buckets of Grewal deserves mention here because of how quickly it burst onto the scene. It took the whole kerfuffle over Grewal’s hamfisted handling of his tapes and parlayed it into a blog that was loved by the left and loathed by the right, but had the respect of individuals like Andrew Anderson for staying on top of the facts. Oh, he was partisan, but there is nothing more frustrating than a partisan who backs up his thinking with facts.

Last Year’s Winner: Japnaam Singh. His blog is still going, offering up sage political commentary in a low-key way.

Best Group Blog: Stageleft; Runner Up: Not nominated.

Blogs Canada eGroup has passed the torch onto Stageleft in many respects. The pace of its posts have dropped, and some of its best speakers have started to move away. Still, it maintains a lot of interest, and the remaining writers offer plenty of reasons to return. Jim Elve is also actively recruiting new talent. So, this blog deserves to have found itself among the finalists moreso than the other finalists, in my opinion.

Last Year’s Winner: Blogs Canada eGroup.

Note to Jim: you could improve the balance of the eGroup and inject a fresh perspective into the proceedings if you invited Andrew Anderson to post occassionally, whenever he found the time. Bound by Gravity would certainly appreciate getting more of Andrew’s commentary again, and the group blog aspect means that he doesn’t feel compelled to post something big every day of the week.

(Update): Andrew Anderson tells me that he has an account with BlogsCanada; he just hasn’t been inspired to post there. My apologies to Jim for this mistake.

Best Humour Blog: Rick Mercer; Runner Up: Not Nominated

It is a crying shame that Brett Lamb’s Blamblog didn’t make the cut, as I firmly believe that he was the most interesting of the nominees. You don’t have to be political in order to be funny, but in Canada at least, it would appear to help.

Rick Mercer is the best of the rest, so I will be voting for him. Rick is a nice guy, and a good humourist, but the choice almost seems too obvious, especially since there hasn’t been much effort put into the design of his website. It would be nice if he upgraded his layout and possibly moved to his own domain. Hey, Rick: if you’re reading this, my services are available at very reasonable rates!

Last Year’s Winner: Bacon and Eh’s. Still kicking around. Another site that should have been among the finalists.

Best Photo Blog: Daily Dose of Imagery; Runner Up: Photojunkie.

Where the heck did Daily Dose come from, eh? Last year, Rannie Turrigan’s Photojunkie was the obvious choice, and I think he deserves more recognition for the work he put in on the early days of the formation of the Canadian Blogosphere, from the GTABloggers to the foundation of a vibrant photoblogging scene.

But Daily Dose of Imagery gives us a good dose of great photography every day of the week. The webdesign is slick, professional; hardly what you’d expect to find in a blog. We political bloggers are just chattering monkeys next to this. So, here’s your obvious winner. She might even have been worthy of a Best Blog nomination or award.

Last Year’s Winner: Not contested.

Best Culture Blog: Ghost of a Flea; Runner Up:

I’ll be honest and tell you that I really hope I win here. That’s shamefully vain of me, I know. But as long as I place third, I’ll be happy, especially if Ghost of a Flea wins.

Last Year’s Winner: This category and the one below it were both grouped together into “Best Non-Political Blog”. Bacon and Eh’s won that, while I placed a respectable second and Ghost of a Flea a decent third. So, with the exception of Bacon and Eh’s, we have something of a rematch here.

Best Personal Blog: No Pick.

I confess that I don’t know a thing about any of the personal blogs nominated here. As I mentioned earlier, my sojourns through the blogosphere have shrunk now that some of my favourite blogs have gone by the wayside. I may need to start on a quest to find new blogs to add to my list of regular visits, and all of these guys here seem like worthy contenders.

I do notice that right-leaning but largely non-partisan Samantha Burns links to me on occasion, so perhaps I should start there.

Last Year’s Winner: See above.

Best Media Blog: Antonia Zerbisias; Runner Up: Inkless Wells.

No other Canadian journalist has adopted to the blogosphere as well as Antonia “the Zerb” Zerbisias has done. Paul Wells shows us why he’s in journalism with every column he puts out. He’s astute and he writes very well, and his talents have exported themselves well onto his blog, but Antonia gets the nod because she has all of this, and has somehow been able to include more blogging features in her blog, including workable permalinks, (moderated) comments and trackbacks. Warren Kinsella runs into the same problems with his blog. It’s a must read, but the archiving system is a disaster. That may be what he wants, but it disqualifies him as a true blog, in my opinion.

I should also mention that non-partisan J. Kelly Nestruck’s On the Fence is also in contention here.

Last Year’s Winner: Not Contested.

Best Business Blog: No Pick.

I’m pleased that Transit Toronto is in the running, but it hardly seems like a business blog. TDH Strategies has got a good blog himself, but he is more political than business-like. The best contender here is one that didn’t make it to the final. Raincoast Book’s Blog fits the bill, looks professional, and promotes itself and its business very well. It’s also an interesting read.

Last Year’s Winner: Not Contested.

Best Religious Blog: Jordon Cooper; Runner Up: Kevin G. Powell

Jordon Cooper was my nomination, and I still think he deserves to win. As a pastor, he offers a view on Christianity that I find to be quite compelling. Add in his mix of progressive conservative politics and a love of technical gadgets, and I return to his blog again and again. Kevin G. Powell is my pick for runner up for similar reasons. I like this man’s religious and political viewpoints. There’s less on technology, and Jordon has a better layout, in my opinion. Northwestern Winds was the best of the candidates that didn’t make it and, is the Green Knight really a religious blog? I may have to pay it more return visits to see for myself.

Last Year’s Winner: Not Contested.

Best Sport’s Blog: No opinion.

I must say that I am pleased that Robert McLelland expanded the Blogging Awards to include several non-political categories, and sports blogs are a community of the blogosphere that deserve recognition, so kudos. I don’t follow sports, though, which means that I don’t follow sports blogs, so I’m not qualified to offer an opinion here.

May I suggest adding Best Art/Poetry/Fiction Blog to the list of awards next year?

Last Year’s Winner: Not Contested.

Best Blog Post: Stageleft: this BUD’s for you; Runner Up: Inkless Wells: More news from Canada’s biggest schoolyard

Stageleft ably deconstructs the ad hominem argument, while Paul Wells neatly sums up the turbulent relationship between Peter MacKay and Stephen Harper. I would have rather have voted for Calgary Grit’s post on the National Energy Program, but it just missed out. The other two posts deserve victory in its stead.

Last Year’s Winner: Not Contested.

Best Blog Post Series: Calgary Grit: The Greatest Prime Minister; Runner Up: Buckets of Grewal: FAQ for the Grewal Affair.

I’m running here, so I must recuse myself, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Calgary Grit’s series wins it. He engendered a lot of debate and interest in Canadian history among the Canadian blogosphere. It launched campaigns for and against Pierre Trudeau and it had lots of people talking. Most importantly, it was fun. It was a positive contribution in a field that is too often full of gripe.

Buckets of Grewal comes the closest the Canadian blogosphere has yet come to seriously influencing the lay of the political and mainstream media land. Right-leaning Canadians may not appreciate the partisan approach of his blog, but he backed up his posts with the best available data of the day, and he did his homework. For this, his blog deserves recognition.

As controversial a character as Robert McLelland is in the blogosphere, his operation of the Canadian Blogging Awards has been of great credit to him. He put together something that is truly fair, balanced, and open to everyone willing to participate, regardless of political stripe. Nobody else has been able to do what he has as well as he has. This year’s version is a marked improvement to 2004, with categories that reflect the fact that the Canadian blogosphere isn’t just about politics. I’m looking forward to the 2006 version of this competition, and I wish all the candidates the best of luck.

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