It's been 1812-o-rama in the Canadian press this week, as the nation's papers clamour to commemorate the 200th anniversary of a very important war that we should all be remembering all the time. Are you remembering right now? Well, remember harder, dangit!
Experts agree that the main reason we should care about the War of 1812 is because without that "seminal battle" our beloved country would have been "swallowed by the United States" or become "part of the U.S." or suffered some other monstrous fate in which Canadian territory would have been incorporated as free-voting states in a system of democratic federalism, instead of remaining the tyrannically-managed possessions of an overseas monarchy, as God intended.
Or, as the Winnipeg Free Press put it, the war helped ensure "that Canada would develop as an independent nation within the British imperial orbit." (I'm reminded of Sir Wilfrid Laurier's famous quip about how "our Canadian independence is quite compatible with our dependency as a colony.")
But not everyone is super-cool with 1812. The Globe and Mail deserves particular kudos for running what is undoubtedly one of the bravest editorials to grace a Canadian newspaper in quite some time: an essay by Doug Sanders that dubs the American defeat to be the single "worst thing that ever happened to this country." In case there are any foreigners reading, this is roughly akin to the Paris Tribune running a lead editorial denouncing stripy black-and-white sweaters.
With the Yankees safely at bay, says Doug, "we became a country opposed to the 'American' notions of democracy, popular sovereignty and church-state separation," and began feverishly importing any random dope from England who was loyal to the Crown -- "not inventive or talented or ambitious, but loyal." The fact that modern-day Canada is a smaller, poorer, and less accomplished nation than the United States is not just some random quirk of history, he notes, but rather the "unavoidable fate" of letting the tea and crumpet set remain in charge for so long.
Fellow Debbie Downer Wayne K. Spear at the National Post similarly observes that Canada's modern-day, uh, "difficulties" with its native population are another less-than-endearing legacy of 1812, as the war marked the effective conclusion to the brief period in which aboriginals were actually respected by North America's Anglo elite.
"Before the War of 1812, indigenous peoples were viewed by Canadian and American alike either as dangerous enemies or as military allies; after the war, they were increasingly viewed as a problem to be resolved through absorption and legislation."
And it's been all smiles ever since.
When it comes to offending journalists, the only thing more repugnant than a politician who swears is a slow news day. So needless to say, Minister Kenney was pretty much screwed up the second he accidentally hit "reply-all" earlier this week, and inadvertently told the world what he really thinks of Alberta deputy premier Thomas Lukaszuk.
The press has been all over this story, with no fewer than half a dozen journalists covering the swear beat, including Graham Thompson of the Edmonton Journal ("Adding insult to injury, Kenney also managed to misspell Lukaszuk's name"), Laura Payton at CBC ("Liberal MP Kevin Lamoureux repeated Kenney's quote, causing a round of gasps"), Daniel LeBlanc at the Globe and Mail ("The missive illustrates growing tensions between federal and provincial Tories in Alberta"), Peter O'Neil at Postmedia ("Lukaszuk said he didn't know why Kenney might feel such animosity") and Terry Padwell at the Canadian Press ("In the Twittersphere Lukaszuk is known for a quick draw").
Meanwhile, the CBC asked readers to submit their own Kenney-inspired "worst email gaffes" while Postmedia's Teresa Smith interviewed two different apology experts to determine why exactly the minister was being so obstinate.
It may all seem a bit excessive, but then again, it's not like Kenney was doing anything else newsworthy this week.