Author Topic: Review of Canadian History & Emphasis of Canadian Military Heritage  (Read 35767 times)

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Offline Canadian.Trucker

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http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2013/06/14/f-sunday-edition-government-history.html

Was reading through cbc.ca (something I try to not do a regular basis anymore as it grates on me), but I found this article interesting as I did not know the Federal Government was doing a review of Canadian history.

I do agree with the statement in the article "whereas trained historians ask questions about the past" when focusing on the research of history, I wholeheartedly disagree with the cries that are coming out of the article that there is too much of a focus being placed on Canada's military past.  For almost our entire history the role of the Canadian military seems to be downplayed and not celebrated with significant earnest because we didn't want to be viewed as "war mongering" or any other buzzwordical nonsense. (yes, I did just make up a word)

We should be proud of our achievements and if that means honest truth about the accomplishments that were done during war time, and the subsequent effects on our Nation come to light then I'm all for it.  I don't believe that the review should be only military in nature, but I for one feel that our military accomplishments are not well known beyond the military community.
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Offline Old Sweat

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Re: Review of Canadian History
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2013, 12:20:38 »
The first few comments with the CBC story were enough to ruin my day. More importantly, for the past few decades history had been moving away from leaders and events and emphasiing social history. This could also have been said to have caused the boom in victims' studies. From my point of view there is nothing wrong for questioning this approach, which after all grew out of discomfort with the traditional point of view.

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Re: Review of Canadian History
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2013, 12:32:35 »
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2013/06/14/f-sunday-edition-government-history.html

Was reading through cbc.ca (something I try to not do a regular basis anymore as it grates on me), but I found this article interesting as I did not know the Federal Government was doing a review of Canadian history.

I do agree with the statement in the article "whereas trained historians ask questions about the past" when focusing on the research of history, I wholeheartedly disagree with the cries that are coming out of the article that there is too much of a focus being placed on Canada's military past.  For almost our entire history the role of the Canadian military seems to be downplayed and not celebrated with significant earnest because we didn't want to be viewed as "war mongering" or any other buzzwordical nonsense. (yes, I did just make up a word)

We should be proud of our achievements and if that means honest truth about the accomplishments that were done during war time, and the subsequent effects on our Nation come to light then I'm all for it.  I don't believe that the review should be only military in nature, but I for one feel that our military accomplishments are not well known beyond the military community.


History is all about asking questions but, as Margaret MacMillan has pointed out it is also about facts and order - facts matter, even when they are uncomfortable - and the order of events matters, too. For example: Canada's naval and military performance in World War II were not always "glorious." The RCN was poorly trained, badly equipped and, with a handful of exceptions, not very well led. The Canadian Army suffered from similar problems. Those are facts; another "fact" is that Canada slashed and burned its national defences in the 1930s because, quite simply, the Great Depression was a far, far greater and much more immediate problem than was the rise of fascism; a final fact is that we, a small nation of only 12 million souls, put over 1 million of them - mostly men aged 18-35 - into uniform. That we had leadership and management and equipment problems is hardly surprising. The historical lessons might be harder to remember.

In my experience the "military community" is not well informed about our military history. We are, mostly, well schooled in our regiment's, our corps' or branch's or our service's version of its slice of history but that's a far cry from what one gleans when reading the full historical record.

History is, also, always biased. I don't care how ancient it might be. Herotodus had his biases, ditto Tacitus, the Venerable Bede and Harold Innes; so do Niall Ferguson, Margaret MacMillan and Jack Granatstein. I am biased and my biases extend to what and even how I read.

Finally all history is always revisionist, we cannot change history be we can, and constantly do reinterpret (revise) it.


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Offline UnwiseCritic

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Re: Review of Canadian History
« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2013, 12:49:48 »
CBC ruined my day twice now.

Having not been out of school for too long now. There was not a huge emphasis on our combatant military history. We really focused on Trudeau and peacekeeping. For some reason they (teachers) have this idea that Canada has a long and lasting "history" of peacekeeping. We did touch on WW1 and WW2. And a little on upper and lower Canada.
As for the war of 1812, where would we be if we lost?
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Offline Canadian.Trucker

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Re: Review of Canadian History
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2013, 12:56:54 »

History is all about asking questions but, as Margaret MacMillan has pointed out it is also about facts and order - facts matter, even when they are uncomfortable - and the order of events matters, too. For example: Canada's naval and military performance in World War II were not always "glorious." The RCN was poorly trained, badly equipped and, with a handful of exceptions, not very well led. The Canadian Army suffered from similar problems. Those are facts; another "fact" is that Canada slashed and burned its national defences in the 1930s because, quite simply, the Great Depression was a far, far greater and much more immediate problem than was the rise of fascism; a final fact is that we, a small nation of only 12 million souls, put over 1 million of them - mostly men aged 18-35 - into uniform. That we had leadership and management and equipment problems is hardly surprising. The historical lessons might be harder to remember.

In my experience the "military community" is not well informed about our military history. We are, mostly, well schooled in our regiment's, our corps' or branch's or our service's version of its slice of history but that's a far cry from what one gleans when reading the full historical record.

History is, also, always biased. I don't care how ancient it might be. Herotodus had his biases, ditto Tacitus, the Venerable Bede and Harold Innes; so do Niall Ferguson, Margaret MacMillan and Jack Granatstein. I am biased and my biases extend to what and even how I read.

Finally all history is always revisionist, we cannot change history be we can, and constantly do reinterpret (revise) it.
Agreed, so why not tell the truth no matter how difficult it may be regardless of if it was glorious or not.  Sometimes the best lessons learned are from failure and not achievement.  The old adage "if we don't learn from history we're doomed to repeat it comes to mind".  And while we as a military community might not be well informed, we're still ahead of the game when it comes to the general public.  I too have a bias, everyone does, but knowledge is knowledge so why not include more of it for the benefit of all.

CBC ruined my day twice now.

Having not been out of school for too long now. There was not a huge emphasis on our combatant military history. We really focused on Trudeau and peacekeeping. For some reason they (teachers) have this idea that Canada has a long and lasting "history" of peacekeeping. We did touch on WW1 and WW2. And a little on upper and lower Canada.
As for the war of 1812, where would we be if we lost?
The same can be said of my history lessons in school.  As for where we would be, I think we all know the answer to that, singing the Star Spangled Banner vice Oh Canada.
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Offline Staff Weenie

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Re: Review of Canadian History
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2013, 13:27:53 »
Old Sweat - These days, I actually prefer many aspects of social history.  I can, if needs be, find out the key names, dates, places, and factors involved in an event such as a battle.  What I like to read now, are books that are more focused on the participants, their thoughts and perceptions, etc.  I've been able to find a number of books compiled from diaries and letters, etc, from WWI and WWII soldiers/sailors/aircrew. It rounds out the picture for me.

My concern, is when social historians attempt to apply blame to my generation for events that are far in the past.

Offline Old Sweat

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Re: Review of Canadian History
« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2013, 13:43:15 »
Indeed, and personal accounts help bring the dryness of the official record to life. One methodology, however, cannot stand alone. I was once asked to comment on a draft regimental history made up of transcritps of "oral" accounts only. It was impossible to put it in any sort of context and even to follow the campaign. When I suggested to the author that the apporach was not working, he got most annoyed and that, fortunately for all concerned, was that.

In a piece I did on the Boer War back in the nineties, I cautioned the reader to avoid judging the Canadians who fought in South Africa by today's social standards. I wrote something along the lines of "Most believed anyone who was not a white male, English speaking citizen of the British Empire to be an inferior being, and that was probably among the more liberal of their attitudes." And to be brutally frank, the Canadians had far from the reddest necks on the veldt.

Offline Danjanou

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Re: Review of Canadian History
« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2013, 15:36:06 »
Well there's 10 minutes of my life I'll never get back.  The PCs are trying to change something and the CBC is agin it and manages to trot out a talking head from Patrice Lumumba oops sorry York University to rile up the masses with thier laptops in Starbucks to flood the information superhighway with poorly written, mundane, self righteous "sky is falling" comments. In other breaking news the sun will set in the west this evening and rise tomorrow in the east. If for some reason it fails to, blame Harper.   ::)
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Offline Thucydides

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Re: Review of Canadian History
« Reply #8 on: June 17, 2013, 19:49:18 »
Edward is right about hstory constantly being "revised".

I have an interesting book about the Gettysburg campaign in my library (The Gettysburg Campaign: A Study in Command by Edwin B. Coddington), which was written before social history was in vouge. Comparing it to more "modern" studies you would have a hard time recognizing this is the same battle.

An amusing side note about bias; I also have books by Strome Galloway and Farly Mowatt in the library, covering the same period of history. Once again, reading accounts of the same battle by the two authors are difficult to reconcile as the same event. Galloway would describe an action by saying "The Hasty P's tried a right flanking, but were held up until the RCR made a bold frontal assault and saved the day" while Mowatt would say "The RCR attempted a frontal, but were stopped by heavy fire until the Hasty P's made a daring flanking and saved the day..."

I have personally seen heads spin when I gave talks in my daughter's school about my experiences abroad; very little of my experience was "peacekeeping" yet decades after the fact that is still the meme that teachers and students know and accept.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline UnwiseCritic

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Re: Review of Canadian History
« Reply #9 on: June 17, 2013, 21:14:45 »
If only schools would bring in guest speakers.

Eg Someone who served in a "peacekeeping" role in say bosnia. Come to the school and give a personal account. I'm sure there's plenty of current ex or serving members who are intelligent enough to talk to a highschool class. History/social studies would be more entertaining and personal. Though somehow the program would have to keep the journalists out.

Then again schools don't like teaching the truth. I think my teachers enjoyed indoctrinating students to advance their own agendas.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2013, 21:18:26 by UnwiseCritic »
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Re: Review of Canadian History
« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2013, 21:23:11 »
Please don't blame schools, much less individual teachers. The curriculum is set by educrats in each provincial capital. They decide what and how much history is taught, they commission text books and set the course outlines. The educrats work for the Minister of Education ... who we elect.
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Offline Colin P

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Re: Review of Canadian History
« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2013, 13:47:52 »

History is all about asking questions but, as Margaret MacMillan has pointed out it is also about facts and order - facts matter, even when they are uncomfortable - and the order of events matters, too. For example: Canada's naval and military performance in World War II were not always "glorious." The RCN was poorly trained, badly equipped and, with a handful of exceptions, not very well led. The Canadian Army suffered from similar problems. Those are facts; another "fact" is that Canada slashed and burned its national defences in the 1930s because, quite simply, the Great Depression was a far, far greater and much more immediate problem than was the rise of fascism; a final fact is that we, a small nation of only 12 million souls, put over 1 million of them - mostly men aged 18-35 - into uniform. That we had leadership and management and equipment problems is hardly surprising. The historical lessons might be harder to remember.

In my experience the "military community" is not well informed about our military history. We are, mostly, well schooled in our regiment's, our corps' or branch's or our service's version of its slice of history but that's a far cry from what one gleans when reading the full historical record.

History is, also, always biased. I don't care how ancient it might be. Herotodus had his biases, ditto Tacitus, the Venerable Bede and Harold Innes; so do Niall Ferguson, Margaret MacMillan and Jack Granatstein. I am biased and my biases extend to what and even how I read.

Finally all history is always revisionist, we cannot change history be we can, and constantly do reinterpret (revise) it.

I was reading somewhere that McKenzie King was instrumental in modernizing the fleet prior to WWII, but my knowledge of the ship pre-war is sparse.

Offline Old Sweat

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Re: Review of Canadian History
« Reply #12 on: June 19, 2013, 14:13:32 »
The pre-war RCN was tiny, ill-equipped and its welfare was far from the top of McKenzie King's priorities. There was an increase in the defence budget circa 1937-1938 and most of it went to the RCN and RCAF, but it was too little and far too late.

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Re: Review of Canadian History
« Reply #13 on: June 19, 2013, 16:50:12 »
If only schools would bring in guest speakers.

Eg Someone who served in a "peacekeeping" role in say bosnia. Come to the school and give a personal account. I'm sure there's plenty of current ex or serving members who are intelligent enough to talk to a highschool class. History/social studies would be more entertaining and personal. Though somehow the program would have to keep the journalists out.

Then again schools don't like teaching the truth. I think my teachers enjoyed indoctrinating students to advance their own agendas.

Some schools in my area ( East York) actually do this, mind it's only during the first week of November.  Our local RCL branch gets swamped with requests for speakers WW2 up to the most recent deployments.
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Offline UnwiseCritic

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Re: Review of Canadian History
« Reply #14 on: June 19, 2013, 18:27:18 »
That's good. But yes it would be nice if they used the wealth of knowledge year round when it pertained to the class.
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Re: Review of Canadian History
« Reply #15 on: June 20, 2013, 10:20:22 »
That's good. But yes it would be nice if they used the wealth of knowledge year round when it pertained to the class.

Agreed, but small steps and all that, after all it is East York/Danforth/East Toronto Saint Jack of the Soundbites former riding/neighbourhood
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Re: Review of Canadian History
« Reply #16 on: June 20, 2013, 10:43:51 »
That's good. But yes it would be nice if they used the wealth of knowledge year round when it pertained to the class.


I'm less sure. Student's knowledge of history may, or just as likely may not be served by Old Bill's recollections of Hill 187 or the Medak Pocke or Panjwai. Perhaps it is more important to understand how countries, Canada especially raises and maintains (or fails to maintain) the armed forces it needs for crises. Maybe an accountant or and academic can shed more light on military history than any admiral or sergeant.
It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
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Offline Canadian.Trucker

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Re: Review of Canadian History
« Reply #17 on: June 20, 2013, 10:54:01 »

I'm less sure. Student's knowledge of history may, or just as likely may not be served by Old Bill's recollections of Hill 187 or the Medak Pocke or Panjwai. Perhaps it is more important to understand how countries, Canada especially raises and maintains (or fails to maintain) the armed forces it needs for crises. Maybe an accountant or and academic can shed more light on military history than any admiral or sergeant.
I agree overall with your statements regarding how a country deals with history, but the stories and personal experiences that were dealt with by the person on the ground in the air or on the sea help to lend context to the event.

Overall I simply feel that we as Canadians and our education systems needs to get better at informing subsequent (and current for that matter) generations about their nations history.  Does every piece of history need to have a military viewpoint or context placed into it?  Absolutely not, but from the article the discussion that our history might become too focused on military aspects is laughable.  Seeing as how we have done a horrible job passing on the lessons learned or even the basic information of what happened throughout the major conflicts of Canadian history, I see it being important to improve this passage of knowledge and information.  I'm also quite aware that there is only so much time in a school day to cover all the topics needed, but history is something that can capture the imagination and feed into so many more topics and fields of study for people.
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Offline Danjanou

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Re: Review of Canadian History
« Reply #18 on: June 20, 2013, 13:37:21 »

I'm less sure. Student's knowledge of history may, or just as likely may not be served by Old Bill's recollections of Hill 187 or the Medak Pocke or Panjwai. Perhaps it is more important to understand how countries, Canada especially raises and maintains (or fails to maintain) the armed forces it needs for crises. Maybe an accountant or and academic can shed more light on military history than any admiral or sergeant.

I see your point Edward, and I agree to an extent, however I'm in no way suggesting that this be the sum total of teaching Canadian History, but merely one part.  I spent some dreary years being bored to death by some very dull and dry pompous Professors while obtaining my History degree ( I survived by mentally grading their  lack of M of I skills and how long it took them to violate all 6 princlples of instruction ICEPACin a given lecture ).

History can at the purely academic level be rather dry reading. This would be maginifed by in this case  a rather youthful audience, especially one with  today's rather limited attention span (twitter). Some form of personal or social history can be a useful gateway into  the subject.  I always thought Pierre Burton's books would have  made good intro history texts at the junior highschool level. Yes they are short on a lot of the analysis  and deep thoughts and read more like some good adventure story, but there is nothing intrensically wrong with that as a starter.
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Re: Review of Canadian History
« Reply #19 on: August 08, 2013, 02:05:20 »

This has been a popular theme with a number of media outlets over the past month.  I think it is hard to accuse the Conservatives of being the ones to “politicize history” – it seems the telling and presenting of history has probably always been manipulated by political, academic and special interest agendas.  The question needs to be the role and extent to which each of these groups should influence the collective interpretation of history.  All three need to be involved, because nobody else is going to do it.

I do find interesting the theory that the Conservatives are seeking a new national identity to replace multiculturalism – something to bring us together focusing on the shared symbols and identity as opposed to the differences.

Quote
Critics accuse the Conservative Party of ‘politicizing history’ as national museum mandates change
National Post
Joseph Brean
31 July 2013


The release of the Canadian Museum of Civilization’s first research strategy — following a two-year process of reflection that was nearly derailed by the federal government’s decision last year to rename it the Museum of History and rewrite its mandate — has revived the age-old debate over the politicization of Canadian history.
 
With Canada’s 150th birthday approaching in 2017, and the bicentennial of the War of 1812 just passed with unusual fanfare, the public’s appreciation of Canadian history is ripe for revision, and not just because some of the flagship national museum’s exhibits date to the 1990s, not long after it was renamed from the National Museum of Man. From the rewritten citizenship guide that undid years of Liberal ideological dominance, to the renaming of Canadian military units to honour the monarchy, history is increasingly the lens through which the country sees itself, and a ripe target for those who wish to change it.
 
Now that the words “critical understanding” have been struck from the museum’s mandate, however, critics fear that history without criticism becomes propaganda.
 
“The proof is in the pudding,” said Jean-Marc Blais, director general and vice-president of the Canadian Museum of Civilization, in an interview Tuesday. “There are four principles in this research strategy, and one of them is credibility. … In that sense, being critical, the critical understanding, is fundamental. That doesn’t really change.”

The other principles outlined in the newly published document, which also applies to the Canadian War Museum, its “sister,” are accountability, relevance and inclusiveness. Mr. Blais also said that, by the time the new vision is brought to life over the next few years, visitors “will see more of a presence of aboriginal history into the overall narrative of Canadian history itself. This is something that, in the current hall, is missing, which is a reflection of the past.”
 
Mr. Blais said he has heard criticisms over the years about topics the museum should display with greater prominence, such as the Acadian expulsions. But those complaints never coalesced into a single theory, until the recent efforts of federal Conservatives to put their own stamp on Canadian heritage, led by former Heritage Minister James Moore.
 
The museum’s new mandate is “to enhance Canadians’ knowledge, understanding and appreciation of events, experiences, people and objects that reflect and have shaped Canada’s history and identity, and also to enhance their awareness of world history and cultures.”
 
Ian McKay, professor of history at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., said the Conservative government is “definitely politicizing history, and are quite candid about it.”

He said they take an anachronistic “Victorian” view, dominated by militarism, monarchism, imperialism, and all-round Britishism. The motivation, he thinks, is nothing so crass as vote-buying or simple politicking, but an effort to redefine the country.
 
“I think there is, in contemporary Canada, a strong attempt to create a pervasive climate of fear, and something like a war panic environment,” he said, and cited Robert Borden as the closest historical precedent, when he tried to win Canadians over to the side of conscription with “a strongly worded argument for their being just one correct way to be Canada.”
 
Former Museum of Civilization CEO Victor Rabinovitch similarly called the new mandate “narrow and parochial” and feared that its research will become “a form of enhanced journalism that is aimed at popularization,” according to a CBC report.
 
Nova Scotia Conservative MP Scott Armstrong, speaking in the House of Commons last month, played down the changes to the museum, and said the removal of the word “critical” will have no effect other than relief for museum staff.
 
“Would anyone suggest that, in the absence of the word in the text proposed by [the bill that changed its mandate], the highly professional staff undertaking important research at the museum would somehow now abandon their professional ethics and judgment?” Mr. Armstrong said.

Mr. Blais was also dismissive of the suggestion of political meddling. “I’ve been in the museum for 25 years almost. I can testify personally that I was never pressured for selecting one topic over another,” he said.
 
There is a clear military slant, however, to the topics flagged as important by the standing committee on heritage, which is examining how history is taught across the country. These include “pre-confederation, early confederation, suffrage, World War I, with an emphasis on battles such as Vimy Ridge, World War II including the Liberation of Holland, the Battle of Ortona, Battle of the Atlantic, the Korean conflict, peacekeeping missions, constitutional development, the Afghanistan conflict, early 20th century Canada, post-war Canada, and the late 20th century.”
 
Andrew Cash, deputy heritage critic for the NDP who sits on that committee, said the government has spent “a lot of money on getting Canadians hyped up and excited about specific historical events.”
 
“It’s been a bit of an obsession,” he said. He also said there is a tendency to meddle in supposedly independent institutions.
 
“They’re trying to do something more long term,” Prof. McKay said. “They’re trying to change our vision of the country…. If it starts to take on the flavour of an exercise in propaganda, that’s when line is crossed. With this regime, I’m not sure I’m fully trustful of their scholarly, intellectual probity in putting forward a museum of Canadian history.”
  http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/07/30/critics-accuse-the-conservative-party-of-politicizing-history-as-national-museum-mandates-change/

 
Quote
Canada and the New Colonialism
ActiveHistory.ca
Jon Weier
23 July 2013


The Canadian government announced this past week that Canadian forces members will no longer wear the Maple Leaf as a symbol of rank.  The Maple Leaf is to be replaced on the shoulder boards and collar tabs of Canadian soldiers’ uniforms with the crown or pip that had been used to indicate rank in the Canadian Forces before unification in 1968.  Further, the most junior Canadian enlisted personnel will be referred to by new rank designations.  These new rank designations, and the re-introduced pip and crown, mirror rank and rank indicators that are used in the British armed services, and represent a return, in the words of former Defence Minister Peter McKay, “to the insignia that was so much a part of what the Canadian Army accomplished in Canada’s name.”
 
This new policy comes two years after the three component arms of the Canadian Forces were renamed.  Rather than being Land Command, Maritime Command and Air Command, their names since unification, they became the Canadian Army, the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force, again mirroring the Canadian Forces’ British counterparts.  This change was, in the words of Peter McKay, about fixing a “mistake,” suggesting that somehow a move away from British symbols and names was taking the Canadian Forces away from their true identity.  These changes met with widespread criticism and were characterized by military historian Jack Granatstein as “abject colonialism.”
 
These are the latest in a series of initiatives within the Canadian Forces, and the Canadian government more broadly, that have sought to align Canada with and remind Canadians of our ties to the United Kingdom and the Monarchy.  These initiatives have included hanging pictures of the Queen in all Canadian embassies and offices overseas, an increase in royal visits, and, just last year, a proposal to share consular resources with the United Kingdom.  They have also been reflected in the themes and narratives used in the commemoration of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812, and will likely be apparent in the upcoming anniversary celebrations of the outbreak of the First World War in 2014 and of Confederation in 2017.
 
In an article published in the Globe and Mail on Canada Day, Université Laval historian Jocelyn Létourneau suggested that this emphasis on royal symbolism and on promoting Canada’s ties to the Commonwealth and, historically, to the British Empire, has been part of a concerted campaign by the Conservative government to find a replacement for multiculturalism.
 
In this article, published under the title “Multiculturalism Died, and Harper replaced it with ‘Royalization’”, Létourneau suggests that multiculturalism has been largely unsuccessful in accomplishing one of its primary goals; undermining the power of Québecois nationalism and replacing it with a shared Canadian identity.  As such, Létourneau argues that the current government has seen the writing on the wall and has sought to bolster four distinct Canadian identities that together make up an idea of Canada.  This strategy has involved recognition of Québec’s distinctness, progress in transforming the relationship between First Nations and the federal government, the continuing need to maintain Canadian sovereignty and independence in the face of American hegemony, and, in the case of English Canada, the renewed emphasis on traditional markers of an English Canadian identity.  Létourneau concludes that this is all centred on a shared sense of Canada as an immigrant nation with common values.
 
Létourneau generally avoids judging the value of this new exercise, simply suggesting that this is the direction in which the current government is moving as it seeks to transform ideas of Canadian identity.  And he seems to be right, though he describes this new direction more eloquently and more explicitly than anyone in government has.
 
What then are the implications of this transformation?  Does this return to a Loyalist/Imperialist idea of Canadian identity reflect the shared reality that is Canada in the first decades of the 21st Century?  I would argue that this attempt to return to an antiquated English Canadian identity is quite problematic in that it essentially seeks to ignore the evolution of Canadian identity over the last forty years.
 
On a very basic level, what do these changes mean for the Canadian military?  Though it is true that Canadian soldiers fought in the First and Second World Wars in close cooperation with, and often under the command of, the British military, the post-war period was characterized by a process in which the Canadian Forces became more closely aligned with the United States’ military, and in which Canadian defence and foreign policy were freed from Imperial and then Commonwealth considerations.  While we may be returning to imagery that means something to an older generation of veterans of the Second World War, what do these colonial symbols mean for generations who have fought and kept the peace under the auspices of NATO and the UN in Afghanistan, in Korea or in the Sinai Peninsula?
 
This symbolic return also plays into ideas of the First and Second World Wars as nationalist stepping stones that reflect a shared and uncontroversial progression to the Canada we know today.  They ignore all of the conflicts and difficulties that have actually accompanied Canada’s history of war.  This new English Canadian identity seeks to ignore the conflict in Québec over conscription and the internment of Ukrainian-Canadians during the First World, as well as the internment of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War.
 
What are new Canadians supposed to make of this new emphasis, especially those who have made Canada their home in the decades since the Canadian government started emphasizing our shared multicultural future?  How are generations of Canadians who have embraced an increasingly multicultural and republican idea of Canadian identity supposed to react when the government presents us with an identity that values the colonial trappings many have worked so hard to shed?  Why do we focus on only one aspect of our heritage when Canada has always been the destination for immigrants from many different, non-Commonwealth, countries.  Finally, how do we react to these new changes as historians, and what is our responsibility in the face of this new/old idea of who we are?
 
Jon Weier is a PhD Candidate in the History Department at Western University.
http://activehistory.ca/2013/07/canada-and-the-new-colonialism/

Quote
Canadian Museum of History plans revealed
More focus on politics, conflict and First Nations

CBC News
30 July 2013


The Canadian Museum of History will have more politics and more First Nations history than the current Canadian Museum of Civilization.
 
That is according to a new research paper issued by the museum that gives the public a better idea of what the new Canadian Museum of History will have inside.

The paper is a blueprint on how the museum will rebrand itself following a nationwide consultation.

Canada Hall, the exhibition devoted to the settlement of Canada, is going to get a major overhaul. Some sections of the exhibition have already been removed.
 
"The Canada Hall starts essentially with the arrival of white people in the 11th century and ends in the groovy years of the 1970s," said Dean Oliver, the museum's director of research, about the current display.

He said the history of the First Nations people will play a more prominent role in the revamped Canadian History Hall.

There will also be a new focus on the political movements and conflicts that have shaped the country.
 
"A concerted effort to look at how we tried to govern ourselves, lived together, fought together, so we would look at things like political leadership for sure, but we would also look at things like grassroots politics," said Oliver.
 
Rosa Barker of the Canadian Association of University Teachers said she worries the current political climate could interfere with what's on display at the new museum.

"In the context of the muzzling of government researchers to what extent will researchers here have the freedom to critically explore Canada's history?" said Barker.
 
Barker is also critical of recent losses of curatorial staff at the museum, in which a third of the staff involved in research went from 39 to 32.
 
The museum has said the jobs affected were not cut but involved those who left through attrition.
 
The museum's new mandate will be in place for the celebrations of Canada's 150th birthday in 2017.
http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2013/07/29/ottawa-canadian-museum-of-history-plans-come-out.html

[Note: The re-royalization of the CF and rank change discussion have a home in another thread.  Despite the extensive reference in one article, lets try not to go down that hole in this thread.]

Offline Canadian.Trucker

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Re: Review of Canadian History
« Reply #20 on: August 08, 2013, 09:56:12 »
The flaw I potentially see in some of these arguments is where the authors talk about and condemn how the Conservatives are trying to change how we view ourselves, but in the same breath talk about how Canada has changed over the last few decades and we need to be open and aware of this.  Change is change, and we as a nation have grown and developed beyond what we were and how we thought of ourselves over the last 20 years.  What is so wrong with being proud of our military accomplishments while simultaneously sharing and discussing the trials and issues that Canada faced during the same period?

Call me naive (sp?), but I believe history and the facts associated with history should be pure information so we can learn about where we came from.  Take the bad with the good.  I know history is written by the victorious, and that history is anything but pure fact because it's told from the slant of the person/group/government that is writing it, but it doesn't mean I have to like it.

I guess in the end we should always be wary and question why change is taking place, but we should also keep an open mind and understand that Canadians are not the same people they were 20 years ago and we quite possibly identify ourselves very differently than we did back then.
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Offline Brad Sallows

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Re: Review of Canadian History
« Reply #21 on: August 09, 2013, 16:12:44 »
Armed forces like tradition - the older, the better.  I see the Indian Army manages with its own variation of pips and crowns, and is a far, far more multicultural institution in a far, far more multicultural country than Canada.

The further up the nose of the cultural transformationists this stuff goes, the more I like it.
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Offline MCG

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Re: Review of Canadian History
« Reply #22 on: August 11, 2013, 01:16:55 »
Here is a more rounded view of the situation:
Quote
How Stephen Harper is rewriting history
Starting with a $25-million museum overhaul, the Conservatives want to change the way Canadians perceive their past

Maclean’s Online
John Geddes
Monday, July 29, 2013 5:00am


Mark O’Neill, president of the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the country’s biggest and most-visited museum, is typically an upbeat guy. But as he leads a reporter around Canada Hall, the winding stroll through Canadian history that is one of the museum’s central features, he doesn’t exactly offer a seminar in cheery tour-guide patter. At about the midpoint of the walk, which starts with the Vikings arriving and ends in a 1960s-vintage airport lounge, O’Neill steps into one of his favourite installations—an intact early 20th-century Ukrainian Catholic church, painstakingly relocated to the museum from Smoky Lake, Alta. “Look around,” he says. “You will learn virtually nothing about Ukrainian Canadians. You will learn nothing about the first Canadian internment camps. You will learn nothing about the Ukrainian community today.”
 
His frustration is not limited to how the charming St. Onuphrius Church seems cut off from any wider historical context. In fact, O’Neill voices similar complaints at just about every turn. He shakes his head at the way the hall’s Acadian section teaches about how early French settlers farmed salt marshes on the Bay of Fundy, but little on their expulsion in 1755. The mock-up of a square in 18th-century New France is lovely, and O’Neill admits it’s popular, but he complains that it conveys next to nothing about actual historical events. There’s a convincing Red River cart, but he bemoans the lack of much, aside from a lonely text panel on the wall, about Louis Riel’s rebellions. A little further along, he slumps into a vinyl kitchen chair in a meticulously reconstructed—O’Neill actually calls it “sort of bizarre”—Chinese laundry. “How does this deal with Chinese-Canadian history?” he asks.
 
O’Neill gathers all these flaws and failings together in a sweeping critique. “It’s not sufficient,” he sums up, “that you can walk through this hall and learn very little about the history of Canada.” He’s willing to be so blunt because the government has given him $25 million to overhaul Canada Hall as his museum is rebranded the Canadian Museum of History. And the revamping of this major federal institution—in its prime location on the Ottawa River in Gatineau, Que., just across from Parliament Hill—is just one element in the Conservatives’ wider strategy for changing the way Canadians perceive their past. It’s all timed to build to a crescendo for the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017.
 
A history-heavy advertizing blitz leading up to the sesquicentennial, with a proposed $20-million budget, is in the works at Heritage Canada. Last month, the department announced $12 million for a Canada History Fund. It will pay for, among other things, new awards for outstanding high school history students and teachers. Who could object? Yet the push is prompting angry charges that the Tories are manipulating history for ideological purposes. In the political arena, the New Democrats accuse them of “remaking the Museum of Civilization in their image.” The NDP points to the Harper government’s high-profile, high-cost commemorations of the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 as evidence of a Conservative bias for celebrating military exploits over, say, exploring social history.
 
Professional historians are debating the issue too, sometimes hurling accusations that wouldn’t be out of place in the House during question period. The Canadian History Association detects “a pattern of politically charged heritage policy” that includes both the planned revamping of O’Neill’s museum and the War of 1812 publicity campaign. “Canadian history has been conscripted,” declared Queen’s University history professor Ian McKay in a widely noted 2011 lecture, provocatively titled, “The Empire Fights Back: Militarism, Imperial Nostalgia, and the Right-Wing Reconceptualization of Canada.”
 
McKay charges the Harper government with promoting a narrow, war-obsessed version of Canadian history, a slant he traces largely to the writings of prominent historians like Jack Granatstein and David Bercuson. There’s no doubt that Granatstein, in particular, is an inspiration for the Harper government’s approach to history. James Moore, who as heritage minister from the fall of 2008 until this month’s cabinet shuffle, which saw him become minister of industry, spearheaded the government’s history offensive. Moore often mentions “Jack” in speeches and, in an interview with Maclean’s, the sole historian he refers to by name is Granatstein.
 
And the book Moore cites is Who Killed Canadian History?, the polemical 1998 bestseller in which Granatstein framed his side of the debate that’s still raging. He complained that political and military history had been all but banished from Canada’s classrooms in favour of social themes, especially trendy topics such as regional and ethnic history. In danger of being lost, Granatstein wrote, was the shared military, political and economic history that undergirds “the larger national and pan-Canadian identity.”
 
Granatstein’s lament is echoed in Moore’s speeches on the government’s goal of fostering national pride through knowledge of history. “We have an enormous history to be proud of,” he said last month. “But, unfortunately, we live in a country where so many young people aren’t taught and don’t know and don’t have access to those stories that made this country so great and so brilliant.” Harper’s top election strategists, including the late Sen. Doug Finley, have framed patriotism, especially linked to Canada’s military heritage, as a key element in the Conservative brand.
 
Still, Moore says no Conservative politician will order federal museums to showcase any particular version of the past. ...

...
Full article at:  http://www2.macleans.ca/2013/07/29/written-by-the-victors/

Offline Baden Guy

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Re: Review of Canadian History
« Reply #23 on: August 11, 2013, 09:07:29 »
Thanks for the link MCG. Nice to hear differing perspectives; and that includes the comments section of the article.

Offline Brad Sallows

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Re: Review of Canadian History
« Reply #24 on: August 11, 2013, 10:16:39 »
>Finally all history is always revisionist, we cannot change history be we can, and constantly do reinterpret (revise) it.

This is the stake that is really being argued - control of the narrative, and its influence over people.
That which does not kill me has made a grave tactical error.

"It is a damned heavy blow; but whining don't help."

Despair is a sin.