Besides napping, Tory MP Rob Anders is well-known for taking controversial positions. But on the War of 1812?
In a recent newsletter, the MP compares the 1812 conflict to "the last 10 years of warfare against Islamic terrorism."
UPDATE: The Canadian Islamic Congress has condemned the statements in Rob Anders' newsletter comparing the War of 1812 to "Islamic terrorism."
While it may be odd to compare such very different wars, what is perhaps more surprising is the choice of the phrase "Islamic terrorism."
Even George W. Bush, whose religious fervour is legendary, never described the War on Terror as a fight against specifically Muslim terrorists. Officials in Canada, the U.S. and other allied nations have been careful to use language that will allay accusations that the West has been waging a new crusade or religious war.
Bush even famously described Islam as a religion of peace soon after Sept. 11, 2011. "The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That's not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don't represent peace. They represent evil and war," Bush said.
Anders, who has recently fallen out of favour with his own party, seems to be becoming less concerned with staying on message.
In July, he went on Sun News and attacked his own government and Treasury Board President Tony Clement for honouring Norman Bethune, a Canadian communist doctor who has become a hero in China.
In March, he was removed from the Veterans Affairs Committee after being caught sleeping through the proceedings. Anders was also forced to apologize to two veterans' advocates whom he called "NDP hacks" and "Putin supporters" for bringing his slumbers to attention. Both advocates turned out to be Conservatives.
Last November, a video of Anders nodding off in the House of Commons went viral. Anders blamed a recent car accident.
The strangeness in the newsletter doesn't end with the insinuation of a religious war.
"The war of 1812 [sic] ensured that the historic traditions of British liberty would live on in North America. It gave strength to the Canadian militia movement and to the notion of a citizens [sic] duty and responsibility to bear arms for the defence of the nation.
These same principles of freedom, liberty and volunteer military service are alive today and have guided us through the last 10 years of warfare against Islamic terrorism."
It seems more than a little odd to say a victory against the Americans resulted in the survival of "British liberty" when both Canada and the U.S. were once colonies of the United Kingdom. Not to mention the fact that the American Constitution is chock full of references to liberty.
And to say that volunteer military service was the norm in the British forces that pushed back the American invasion is just factually incorrect.
In fact, the impressment of American sailors into the Royal Navy was one of the main reasons the U.S. gave for pursuing the conflict in the first place.
Impressment refers to the practice of essentially kidnapping sailors and forcing them to serve in your navy.
And while the redcoats and militiamen on the British side were volunteers, there was a strong class element to the forces, with richer men able to purchase a rank while poorer men served in the line.
So even though Anders is sticking to the Conservative line on the importance of celebrating the bicentennial anniversary of the conflict, he might do well to be a little more careful with his language in the future if wants to avoid the ire of the party.