Harper has made the rather banal statement that Conservatives are “unashamed” of Canada’s military heritage. Scott and Dylan have pointed out that the implication of this statement is that the rest of us Canadians are somehow ashamed.
What about the rest of Canada’s history? I wonder what the Conservatives are ashamed of if they crack open a Canadian history book. I’m guessing probably the Charter as well as anything else done when Pierre Trudeau was PM.
Harper doesn’t like the Trudeau vision of Canada very much. Or rather, I suspect that he prefers the view advanced by people like Jack Granatstein that Canada ought to return a more “drum and trumpet” view of its history. Certainly, if Harper wants to set up the Conservatives as the default government of the country, rebranding this country as a militaristic one and setting up the military as sacrosanct to our national identity would serve to help him.
I have no problem with remembering our soldiers, or with war memorials, school trips to Vimy Ridge, and all the rest. Hell, I wear a poppy every November too. The problem though is the creation of a sort of national myth. By saying that Conservatives are “unashamed” one of the other implications that Harper is making is that there is nothing shameful at all in our military history.
We ought to learn about the staggering incompetence of Douglas Haig or the way in which the Allies botched the Dieppe raid. Can we have an honest discussion about the (in)effectiveness of firebombing Dresden? If we bring up these matters are we ashamed of Canada’s military heritage?