Why is Canada botching the Great War centenary? – Granatstein

Funny to see how the academics who support the overall thrust of the Government’s change of emphasis on Canada’s historical narrative, particularly the increased emphasis on the military, have started to realize the limitations of the Government’s commitment. Jack Granatstein’s commentary on the commemoration of WW1 and Canada’s role is valid and telling (for his critique of the Government’s cuts to Library and Archives Canada see Who will preserve the past for future generations?:

But the Great War years also changed the homeland. Women relatives of Canadian soldiers got the vote in 1917, and thousands of women left farms and hearths to work in munitions factories that produced a quarter of the artillery shells for British and Dominion forces by 1917. Prohibition cut off alcohol sales; millions were raised in Victory Loan campaigns; income tax came into effect (as a “temporary” wartime measure); and farmers and workers began to organize politically as inflation hit everyone. Above all, conscription in 1917 split the nation, pitting farmers against city dwellers, labour against bosses, French against English. That year’s election, won by the pro-conscription Unionist government of Sir Robert Borden, was the most racist in our history.

We certainly don’t want to celebrate all of these wartime events and changes, but we need to talk about them and learn from them. We need TV documentaries on the war and its battles and on the events, positive and negative, on the home front. We need books, conferences, lectures and displays in our national and local museums. We need to remember.

This requires some modest new funding. There will be a surplus by 2015, and there will be money available – if the government wishes to use it. There will also be the money to ensure that veterans get the help they require. It’s not a zero-sum game.

We really must remember the Great War properly. It was when Canada stood proudly on the world stage for the first time, and it would be a disgrace for the government to shortchange it.

Why is Canada botching the Great War centenary? – The Globe and Mail.

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

One Response to Why is Canada botching the Great War centenary? – Granatstein

  1. Marion Vermeersch says:

    Interesting that the Government is focusing on our military history yet, at the same time, continue in their insistence that none of the soldiers of those past wars were Canadian citizens. If they are as proud of those soldiers as they would like to portray, you would think they would not hesitate to claim them as Canada’s own. But then, that could lead to more responsibility of government for care of our present day soldiers and acknowledgement that the children of those soldiers of wars past would be entitled to Canadian citizenship from birth.

    Marion V

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