It always struck me as a bit odd, from when I first heard it heralded in the 2011 Speech from the Throne, that Canada was to have a major celebration for the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. It got more intriguing when the detail was unveiled that we were to spend $28 million in such celebrations, in a year when the budget was described as working toward deficit reduction. Many commentators have noticed Stephen Harper’s tendency to wrap himself in the flag – to adopt a jingoism and patriotic voice more often associated with a southern accent.
I am very comfortable with language about valuing Canada. I love Canada. No doubt about it. I consider myself a patriot. In fact, ever since receiving the honour of being made an Officer of the Order of Canada, I have taken the words of “O Canada” very seriously indeed. “We stand on guard for thee” is personal. And I tend to see it in terms of standing on guard for wilderness and ecosystems and future generations, which means standing on guard for environmental science and laws and policy.
But not until the details of 420 pages of C-38 came to light did I realize that Stephen Harper is doing something extraordinary for the 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812. That flag he has wrapped himself in is a white flag. He is surrendering.
How else to explain that 200 years after protecting the sovereignty of the land that is now Canada and ensuring it was not subsumed by our southern neighbour, we are passing legislation to allow US law enforcement agents onto Canadian territory to enforce US laws. What would Laura Secord have made of that plot? Had she discovered it with her wandering cow, would she have turned Stephen Harper in?