Maclean's

June 22, 1998

Finally, respect on the Internet

Opening notes

Edited by Tanya Davies

[Picture:
Photo: National Archives of Canada / C80883

Often vilified during their lives, and not exactly canonized in death, former prime ministers Richard Bedford (R.B.) Bennett (1930-1935) and John Diefenbaker (1957-1963) are finally getting respect on the Internet. In early June, Ottawa communications and management consultant Peter O'Malley, 48, created Viscount Bennett Anti Disinterment Page. It argues against New Brunswick MLA Harry Doyle's proposal to have the remains of Bennett removed from an English churchyard and transported to Bennett's native New Brunswick for reburial. Bitter at Depression-weary voters' rejection of him in 1935, Bennett retired to England four years later and died there in 1947. He is the only prime minister not buried on Canadian soil. O'Malley's site has so far received 300 hits and a dozen e-mails, including two from Bennett relatives—one supportive and the other undecided.

Twenty-year-old Glen Gower, a Carleton University journalism student, created his laudatory Diefenbaker site two years ago. Cyber-surfers who visit—7,000 have so far—find themselves on a virtual tour of the life and legacy of Canada's 13th prime minister, who died in 1979. One hundred people have posted their views on the Chief, some damning him for his foreign policy, and others calling him a great Canadian patriot.

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