Ottawa spends more on military history amid criticism over support for veterans

Seems a bit of a unidimensional celebration of Canada’s history in the lead-up to 2017:

The commemorative budget includes roughly $32-million for the Department of National Defence over seven years and nearly $50-million over three years at the Departments of Veterans Affairs for public education, ceremonies, events and remembrance partnerships, according to figures compiled by The Globe and Mail. The budget also includes several million dollars through the Department of Canadian Heritage, the figures show.

This funding is not a complete tally and is in addition to the tens of millions of dollars the Conservatives already dedicated to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, the conflict with the United States the government billed as “The Fight for Canada.”

National Defence has created a special program called “Operation Distinction” to oversee a spate of commemorations, chiefly important anniversaries of the First World War and Second World War. The initiative spans all the way to 2020, which will mark the 75th anniversary of the Second World War’s Victory in Europe Day and Victory over Japan Day.

Ottawa wants to use these occasions to build a “greater understanding that Canada’s development as an independent country with a unique identity stems in significant part from its achievement in times of war,” according to a January 2014 memo from Chief of the Defence Staff General Tom Lawson obtained under access-to-information law.

The government has made boosting appreciation of Canada’s military tradition a priority, in part to fashion a more conservative national identity. It’s cultivated an image as pro-military since taking power but in recent years has alienated a vocal group of veterans and their families, upset over what they consider insufficient federal support.

Ottawa spends more on military history amid criticism over support for veterans – The Globe and Mail.

And:

Return to old-style uniform insignia costs Canadian Forces millions

Tory History and Its Critics | The Dorchester Review

A good overview on the Canadian “history wars” from C.P. Champion who was my counterpart in Minister Kenney’s office during my time working on citizenship and multiculturalism issues. Champion provides insight into the conservative historical narrative along with a strong  critique of how Liberal governments shaped their historical narrative to their political interests.

Margaret MacMillan’s The Uses and Abuses of History discusses how government’s routinely choose the historical narrative that suits their political and other interests, reinforcing Champion’s point. The themes that governments choose to emphasize in their historical narrative or de-emphasize reflect  political and policy choices. The Conservative government chose to emphasize certain themes of the traditional narrative (e.g., history, military, Crown) and downplay others related to more recent history (e.g., social safety net, human rights, culture), valid political and policy choices. Future governments may choose differently, although hopefully not reverting the insufferable lightness of A Look at Canada, the previous citizenship guide.

One last point. I play a cameo role in the article, given my role in Discover Canada. As readers of Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias: Resetting Citizenship and Multiculturalism will know, this work did challenge my preconceptions and Champion’s article would have been helpful to me and my colleagues had we had it before starting Discover Canada. Champion is correct in his sequence of events, the first draft was prepared by officials. I can see why he interpreted my account (p.24 of my book) differently but that was not the way it was intended.

Tory History & Its Critics | The Dorchester Review.

Allan Gregg » Tecumseh’s Ghost

For your Sunday reading.

A long piece by Allan Gregg on the history of the War of 1812, Tecumseh, and the taking of Indian land in North America. Long but engaging, and one of the uncomfortable truths of Canadian history.

Allan Gregg » Tecumseh’s Ghost.