From the government that is still celebrating the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 (a war fought between Britain and America) and that refused to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the defining legal document of the country and arguably one of the most progressive constitutions in the world), comes more pro-military historical revisionism:
Canada’s official commemorative plan leading up to the country’s 150th birthday highlights an arsenal of battles and wars, a smattering of sports and a nod to the Arctic, newly obtained documents show.
University of Ottawa history professor Michael Behiels said the list represents a traditional and exceptionally narrow approach that excludes much of Canada’s social, medical and technological history.
"You have to build a broader base here … for it to be really meaningful," Behiels said.
There is no mention of settling the west, the trials and tribulations of working people or legal landmarks that transformed Canada’s social landscape, he noted.
Under budget cuts during the Chretien 1990s and a shift toward militancy, Canada has fallen to historic lows from its once noble tradition of being the world’s peacekeepers.
By Ottawa’s count, there are only 42 Canadian military personnel currently serving in seven UN peacekeeping missions. The UN says the count is even lower. Its most recent monthly report, issued at the end of the April, registered only 33 Canadian military personnel in UN missions. Another 130 Canadian police – some from the RCMP, others from provincial and municipal forces – are also serving with the UN.
The demand remains high though, as the UN now deploys more peacekeepers then ever, with rising powers like India and Bangladesh filling Canada’s role. Canadians are still strongly supportive of peacekeeping, even more so than Conservative priorities such as arctic sovereignty and counter-terrorism interventionary wars like Afghanistan.
There’s little prospect for change though. The current government is bent on continuing to transform Canada’s foreign policy and history toward militarism, while the Trudeau Liberals have no current foreign policy and were responsible for drastic cuts to peacekeeping missions during the 1990s. The NDP is a bit better with its 2013 Policy Book calling for a focus on peacekeeping, summarizing:
New Democrats believe that defense policy should focus on Canada’s rights as a sovereign and effective world citizen – including defending the Arctic and our territorial waters for the benefit of all citizens and future generations. Peace building will be the top military priority of a New Democrat government.