I watch the celebrations of the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 and I watch Prime Minister Harper and his minions basking in the glow of history (and royalty) and I am overwhelmed by the paradox of it all.
In 1812 Canada was invaded, because it was a British colony, by the United States. Canada is still here so, obviously, although some boundary shifts took effect, we won. End of story. And sure – let‛s celebrate.
But why is PM Harper celebrating? He and his government are the instigators of these celebrations but he and his government appear, by their actions, to be totally in the service of foreign multi-national interests. In almost every move Harper makes it is evident that he is not defending the interests and values of Canadian people – Canadian human beings such as women, and workers, and the unemployed,and the sick, and the elderly. So what‛s he celebrating?
In these 1812 festivities I know why I‛m celebrating. For one thing, family archives suggest that an ancestral relative was actually an aide to Maj. General Brock, the hero of 1812. But why is Harper celebrating?
Let‛s remember why Canada exists. Canada exists because our forbears did not want to be Americans. Did Americans covet the territory that we claim as ours? Yes indeed. From the time of their revolution right through to President Polk’s famous slogan of “fifty-four forty or fight” they saw it as their “manifest destiny” to own our Canada. If successful, Polk’s cry would have put the border at the tip of the Alaska panhandle. Later on we pushed the railroad to BC in order to cut them off at the pass. But I digress.
Back to 1812 and the question, “Why is Harper celebrating?
Apparently he is celebrating the fact that 200 years ago we repelled invaders! But Harper is the champion of today’s invaders, known collectively as Big Oil, who are desecrating much of our environment.
During the War of 1812-14 (let‛s retain that second date — it was not an overnight affair) our borders had to be defended from the shores of the St Lawrence to Sault Ste. Marie and Michilimacinac.
And now Harper is busily celebrating the border defenders of 200 years ago while busily attempting to open the borders to more and more Big Trade invaders!
Our PM ignores Parliament, debauches our democracy and simultaneously celebrates the War of 1812? Talk about distracting attention!
By all means let‛s celebrate the War of 1812. And let‛s make sure nothing like it ever happens again.
But while we‛re at it, let us celebrate the fact that, as so often happens, the hearts of the invaders were not necessarily into their project. In my own family the maternal ancestor whose name I carry was in dire straights in the Niagara area. While her “Loyalist” husband was resisting the invaders the farm mortgage was being called. Two of her American brothers clandestinely made their way over from New Jersey through both sets of military lines in order to pay the mortgage.
And, sadly, let us think of the enormous irony there is in the fact that the alien economic forces piping the tune for Harper‛s current destructive dance of power are already well advanced in their destruction of American freedoms. Come to think of it, perhaps we shouldn‛t be celebrating the War of 1812 at all. It turns out to have been just another instance where good men were killing each other only to have their descendants, on both sides, sold down the river.
We should be celebrating the Upper and Lower Canada rebellions of 1837-38. Those rebellions resulted in at least temporarily curbing the autocratic executive power that Harper is now busily wieldng. But alas, our PM is strutting the historical stage ostensibly celebrating our fore-runners’ ability to repel invaders while he and his parliamentary troops are busily using their gigantic omnibus tools to undermine our own democratic fortifications.
The sight of Harper preening in the midst of these events that celebrate the 1812 defence of Canada is more than paradox — it is two faced hypocrisy and I find it revolting.