- Published on August 31, 2012
Sayings about the importance of knowing your history have been uttered often enough not to need repeating. But that doesn’t mean the lesson’s been learned.
Amazingly, as we mark the bicentennial of the War of 1812, a survey for the Department of National Defence shows that few Canadians know about the two-year conflict between this country and the United States. Many could not even identify it by name, let alone discuss its significance.
This disappointing F mark comes after the Conservatives, to mark the historical turning point, invested $28 million in historical re-enactments, television commercials, museum exhibits, a $60 commemorative coin, and even a mobile app for smart phones.
Since this bicentennial observation could hardly be construed to have political ramifications, it’s safe to say the Conservatives simply thought it worthwhile to know the history.
Peter MacKay, MP for Central Nova and minister of Defence, took part in a recent ceremony presenting battle honours at Toronto’s Fort York to some of the regiments that fought 200 years ago – lest they be forgotten. MacKay commented that much of what Canadians have today shouldn’t be taken for granted. The country’s history could have been much different.
Indeed, this war was a contributing factor ultimately leading to Confederation.
Don’t get us wrong. People on the south side of the border are a fantastic bunch. They’re close cousins – figuratively, and often in the literal sense – they’re great friends in the best of times and certainly the allies you’d want in the worst of times.
But just take their marathon election years, for example. Consider the show-biz style Republican convention on this past week, including movie director Clint Eastwood disgracing himself with an eerie, rambling monologue; or first lady wannabe Ann Romney trying to pass herself off as a latter-day, bubbly Sarah Palin.
Would any Canadian with better things to do want to sit through that? Come on, really.