Tim Naumetz, who writes for The Hill Times and various other publications, has a piece on Yahoo’s political blog lamenting Canada’s lost place in the world.
It is a familiar theme that people like Naumetz, Lawrence Martin and even Liberal Senator Colin Kenny return to again and again. We have given up the soft power of the Liberals and Lloyd Axworthy and adopted a hard line by the flinty eyed Harper.
“Canada has changed incrementally under Harper, a nudge here, a push there, and next thing you know we’re sitting by the crab apple tree over in the corner of the yard instead of the front porch.”
What are these signs, these changes that show Canada is changing bit by bit?
“It came out, maybe, during that crazy Canada Day celebration in Ottawa when apparently, according to police and government officials, 300,000 people turned up near and on Parliament Hill to see the Duke and the Duchess of Cambridge, aka Prince William and Kate.
It is difficult to imagine the figure to be accurate, since Parliament Hill even in normal times does not have space for that many people and nearly half the Canada Day lawn was fenced off for the stage and the royal venue to the side. You can’t even imagine that many people even if you stretch them out over the nearby streets, Sparks, Wellington, even to slightly distant Albert and Queen, royal sounding as they are.”
While Naumetz doubts these numbers I’m sure he accepts without question the claim that 1 million people marched in the gay pride parade in Toronto. Organizers said so, police said so and Harper wasn’t there so it must be true. All the more reason Rob Ford should have been there I guess.
Naumetz also laments that Harper likes the military and plays it, noting that the PM was born in 1959, “he was 10 years old when the peace movement was at its height in the U.S., really still nascent in Canada, where it crested in the very early 1970s.”
He also implies that Harper must have disliked Trudeau’s slashing of the military and focus on peacekeeping.
Then Naumetz nails it with some real hard evidence on how militaristic Harper is.
“The Harper government singlehandedly made Vichy a household name in Canada.”
That’s right, the Harper government has spent years playing up Canada’s role in the French Vichy regime that collaborated with Nazi Germany.
I could overlook this as a simple mistake the same way it was a simple mistake when John McCallum, then the Defence Minister, made the same mistake. Why would McCallum, or Naumetz, know about significant battles from Canada’s history. Would be hippies and liberals for the most part no longer like the military. Naumetz could claim a typo but when you cite a battle as evidence of your thesis, make sure you get it right. Vimy, Vichy, what’s the difference?
Liberals in this country long ago gave up on the military, except as an extension of the United Nations and their peacekeeping missions. They harken back to Lester Pearson’s diplomacy and speak of the Pearsonian era but at least Pearson knew that to be a heavy on the diplomatic front you needed a military to back it up.
Canada has not lost stature on the international stage. Not with countries that matter. Do we suck up to dictators as often as we used to at the UN in the name of getting along? No. Do we still do it? Unfortunately yes.
What Naumetz and others would have us do is adopt a more pliant, conciliatory tone, play down the military and work more through the UN and its gallery of rogues like Ahmadinejad and Mugabe. Imagine a submissive dog lying on its back in fear and you’ll get the picture.
I say no.