The Greatest Canadian Blog - Part V

Greatest Canadian... Blog?

I’m rushing to get this post out a bit, and I sort of wish I had a bit more time. The 2008 Canadian Blog Awards are now in session, with the fields in various categories narrowed to five or six, with the second round of voting due to close on December 7 (I sort of wish I had a bit more time before the deadline so I could put this review together). But it is a testament to the dedication of the people behind these blog awards that this annual review is something I feel compelled to write, and one which is so difficult to do, because there are so many categories to talk about. These guys sort through dozens, if not hundreds of nominations, get everything ready, and even record presentation videos. It’s sometimes a thankless job, so I’d like to start first by thanking them.

Secondly, I’ve also made it to the second round of voting for Best Non-Partisan Blog, and I’m up against some fine competitors, all of them, from Raphael’s Unambiguously Ambidextrous to the fine people at Stageleft, the brilliant stylings of Nunc Scio and the insightful musings of The Galloping Beaver. We’re even up against one of the best professional pundits in Canada, Paul Wells of Inkless Wells. All of these people deserve your votes, but I won’t like to you, I’d like to win too. So, given my obvious conflict of interest here, I will not make predictions or further commentary on this category. So, one down, twenty-six to go.

(Sighs. Rolls up sleeves) Let’s get to work.

Best Blog

Contenders: Attack of the Redneck Mommy, Meg Fowler, Mike’s Bloggity Blog, Smart Canucks, Yarn Harlot

Who Should Win: Yarn Harlot won last year, I believe, and is rematched against contender Mike’s Bloggity Blog. The other three are new to this category, although Meg Fowler is no stranger to these awards. Smart Canucks is a bit of a strange site to have included. It’s raison d’etre is to alert Canadians of special consumer deals as they materialize, which makes them stand out a bit amongst the more political blogs of the Blogging Alliance of Non-Partisan Canadians, though their non-partisan credentials are impeccable. I will say that other Canadian sites have come forward to imitate the work SmartCanucks is doing, but SmartCanucks is still, to my mind, the best website of its kind, with a sense of someone human behind the curtain, offering his commentary on the various deals, and clearly he’s generated a sizeable following in order to enter the big leagues here.

But for me the choice comes down to The Yarn Harlot and Meg Fowler, who both write extremely well, projecting a compelling voice, on clean. efficient and intriguing blog templates. Both clearly work hard at their blogging, or they are the kind of people for whom writing comes naturally that their blogging is practically effortless. The Yarn Harlot won last year, so this year I’m giving the nod to Meg Fowler, to spread the joy around, and because she deserves reward for her hard work.

And I’d like to invite all nominees to join Smart Canucks in signing up as part of the Blogging Alliance of Non-Partisan Canadians. You’re all fine websites, and those of us who are stuck in the Canadian political blogosphere need to see what people such as yourselves have to say outside our tight little realm.

Surprise Exclusion: The disappearance of Small Dead Animals, who practically owns every other blog award category when the field is the Canadian political blogosphere, isn’t unexpected. You’ll notice that none of the nominees this time around are members of political blogrolls, partisan or non-partisan (with the exception of Smart Canucks, which is not a political website).

What has been happening these past two years is the growth of a Canadian blogosphere outside the political realm. The blogosphere has been embraced by individuals who are not political junkies, and those of us who think that politics are the only reason to blog have been consistently and thoroughly schooled.

No, the surprise exclusion this time is the ever popular Raymi the Minx (great new template, by the way), who led the charge of the non-political bloggers in this category two years ago. But then, perhaps the non-political field is getting so large, the exclusion of blogging powerhouses like Raymi is unavoidable.

Best French Language Blog

Contenders: Bon Blogue Bad Blog, Jesuisfeministe, News from Toronto, Point de Bascule, Syncho Blogue

Who Should Win: Sadly, as I’m not familiar with any of these blogs (my loss), I cannot offer commentary on who should win, although I give Bon Blogue Bad Blog credit for riffing off the movie title Bon Cop/Bad Cop

Surprise Exclusions: Unknown.

Best New Blog

Contenders: Alberta: Get Rich or Die Trying, NextGen Player, Pro Woman Pro Life, XUP, Zucket.

Who Should Win: Alberta: Get Rich or Die Trying is an Albertan blog criticizing the mad rush to develop the oil sands. NextGen Player is a electronics game review blog. Pro Woman Pro Life tries to combine a pro-life outlook with feminist sensibilities, XUP (standing for Ex-Urban Pedestrian) is about the travels of a new resident in Ottawa who likes to walk, and Zucket is a blog of an exuberant Torontonian who sails through the social scene.

I have some loyalty to the Non-Partisan Alliance member Alberta: Get Rich or Die Trying, but I was most impressed by both Zucket and XUP. In the end, I decided to give my vote to XUP, a purely subjective decision. I loved the clean, calm template, and the voice was of a person whose personality was similar to my own, but either of the other two nominees I’ve mentioned in this paragraph would be worthy winners of this category.

Surprise Exclusions: Hell, Upside Down did not make it past the first round this year, which is a shame. They’re a bold, new non-partisan blog that have been offering up some excellent commentary on the political issues of the day.

Best Group Blog

Contenders: Dust my Broom, Smart Canucks, The Stroumboulopouli, The Torch, Windsor Eats

Who Should Win: Dust my Broom is a well-respected right-wing group blog, worth your attention even if they’re going a little bit overboard in response to this whole coalition talk. It’ll be an interesting competition between them and the Torch, a multi-partisan group blog campaigning in support of the Canadian armed forces in general and the Afghanistan mission in particular. The Stroumboulopouli are clearly a sizable community united in adoration of the CBC’s youthful media phenomenon, George Stroumboulopoulis. Closing the group is the consumer deal blog Smart Canucks, and the local cuisine blog, Windsor Eats.

I gave high praise to Windsor Eats last year, and I’m going to do it again this year. It’s an attractive blog on a subject most of us wouldn’t normally think about. And I have a soft spot for gourmet blogs and I’m typing this while I’m hungry. Windsor Eats gets my vote, here.

Surprise Exclusion: Stageleft should have made the top five, in my opinion.

Best Blog Post

Contenders: Buckdog: Green Party Staffer Apologizes to Blogger, Calgary Grit: Rebuilding the Big Red Machine, Cherniak on Politics: Cherniak off Politics, Mike’s Bloggity Blog: The Comb-Over Revolution, Slap Upside The Head: Hiding From Homophobia Is Not An Option

Who Should Win: In his post, Dan Arnold of Calgary Grit once again writes eloquently and without partisan favour on how best to rebuild the Liberal Party. The party would do well to listen to him, as he is one of the most unblinkered Liberal I know. Slap Upside the Head talks about the need to stand up to homophobia, just like we should stand up to other forms of hate while Mike’s Bloggity Blog derides the choices on offer during Calgary’s municipal election.

To my mind, there’s no contest on who should win. Despite my own desire to salute Jason Cherniak’s impressive contribution to the political blogosphere by voting for his blog’s retirement post, one particular blog post out of these five has been far more influential this year, and that’s Buckdog’s response to the actions of a Green Party Staffer. One could take issue with Buckdog’s tenacious attitude in support of the New Democrats, and his strongly worded posts, but a communications director in the Green Party still made the cardinal mistake of coming forward and trying to throw his weight around. It was a big black eye for a party that had been flying high that week in response to a blogger campaign attacking Jack Layton’s opposition to having Green Party leader Elizabeth May included in the debates, and it showed to a large audience that the Green Party wasn’t ready for prime time — and I say this as a Green Party supporter. I can only hope that the Green Party takes its lessons here to heart.

Surprise Exclusion:

Best Blog Post Series

Contenders: Calgary Grit: The Biggest Election, Danielle Takacs: 2008 Conservative Convention, Ezra Levant: Human Rights Commission, Michael Geist: Copyright, Under The Mad Hat: How to know when a book is superb

Who Should Win: Danielle Takacs does an excellent job covering the ins and outs of the Conservative convention from her admittedly partisan perspective. Calgary Grit offers historians another treat, this time engaging his readers in deciding what the most important election in Canadian history was. Ezra Levant covers his own issues with the Human Rights Commission, and that’s sure to be a hard candidate to beat. Under the Mad Hat takes on the task of finding quality books for young readers, a challenging subject, and one close to my heart.

But my choice is Michael Geist’s blog series on Copyright. His posts are timely and effective, stirring up interest in the Canadian public as the government contemplates changes to our Copyright Act.

Surprise Exclusion The Jack of Hearts’ summary of the ‘fringe’ parties of the last election is a remarkable piece of work that deserves recognition. It’s a shame I only stumbled upon it now.

Best Podcaster/Vlogger

Contenders: BusinessCast Podcast, Devin Johnston, Row Three, Seen Reading, Your Geek News

Who Should Win: Unfortunately, I’ve not participated in nor listened to any podcast since the demise of Greg Staples’ the Bloggers Hotstove. Not enough hours of the day, and I’d rather listen to the music on my iPod while I write. This is not a criticism of the fine work these podcasters do, but these podcasters by their nature demand my attention, and if I’m busy writing my own blog or my own story, I don’t have the time to give it.

The one person I know on this list is Devin Johnston, a fine left winger who has said kind things about my blog, and who has a well written, well argued blog of his own. Seen Reading is a good example of what’s possible for book bloggers out there, and it deserves your attention as well. BusinessCast does what it says on the tin, Your Geek News covers technology, and Row Three deals with slightly off the mainstream movies. I am not qualified to make the call here.

Surprise Exclusion: Unknown.

Either my database is acting up, or this post is officially too long to be stored as one post. So, I’m breaking things in two. For my take on the nominees in other categories, please click here.

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