The Canadian history magazine The Beaver ran an online contest to determine the worst Canadian. It also asked a panel of historians to compile a similar list. The results are enlightening.

About 15,000 people participated in the online poll, which ran from May to July and the “Worst Canadian,” er, honour went to the late prime minister, Pierre Trudeau. About one in six respondents named Trudeau, architect of Canada’s abortion and divorce laws and creator of the increasingly controversial Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Also noteworthy was the inclusion on The Beaver list, at the number three spot, of abortionist Henry Morgentaler, whose flaunting of the few abortion restrictions that were in place after 1969 led to the Supreme Court’s 1988 decision to throw out Canada’s abortion law. Behind Morgentaler were convicted sex killers Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka and serial killer Clifford Olson. That tells you something, doesn’t it?

As University of Winnipeg history professor Ross McCormack told Sun Media, “The main lesson to be drawn from the poll is that Canada remains a thoroughly divided society.” What, there is no social peace on abortion? That some Canadians might not subscribe to the dominant media and academic view of Trudeau’s supposed greatness and admirability?

Another notable division was between the public and the experts. The professional historians did not choose any of the 10 featured from the final online tally. And while surely Adrien Arcand, the head of Canada’s war-time Nazi party, deserved the nomination of historian Charlotte Gray, the gap between public and elite opinion exposes a gap between the average citizen and those in positions of power.