Stephen Harper obviously likes wars. His type, the kind who are never actually around for the killing and the dying, often do. Perhaps because he so royally screwed up his own war, the one he made his own, Canada's war in Afghanistan, Steve is so desperate for some, any measure of triumphalism that he's become a latter-day booster of the War of 1812.
I was somewhat saddened today to learn that our Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill had been given a War of 1812 theme. Why, what for?
I'm something of an amateur aficionado of the War of 1812. My family, at the time, lived a short distance from Fort Malden where Isaac Brock commanded the 49th Regiment of Foot. It was from that wooden and earthwork palisade that Brock, defying orders, sallied into America to capture Detroit, destabilize the American invasion plans and essentially win the war by denying the Americans the victory that should have been theirs, hands down, in that first year.
On the wall behind me as I type this are various memorabilia, some real, some reproductions, of the War of 1812. The "real" include a collection of regimental buttons dug from the battlefields of Lundy's Lane, Crysler's Farm, Queenston Heights, Snake Hill and elsewhere from the 49th (Foot), the 41st (Foot), the King's 8th (Foot), the Royal Artillery, the Royal Marines and the Canadian militia.
I have no problem with the War of 1812. It did preserve the colonies of Upper and Lower Canada to permit them, half a century hence, to unite with the Maritime provinces to forge Canada. But to make it a theme for a festive event like Canada Day seems eerily American-like. We're Canadians. We don't revel in wars past. We mark them annually in solemn remembrance and gratitude for sacrifice and loss.
Harper's triumphalism seems, well, a bit greasy.