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Tag Archives: History

By: Jared Milne

The results of last year’s provincial election in Quebec, which returned the Parti Quebecois to power, only reconfirmed the perceptions many Canadians in other parts of the country had of Quebec. The rest of Canada continues to consider the province as spoiled and entitled; still musing about separating from Canada despite having dominated the political agenda for nearly four decades and having received billions of dollars in transfer payments. Separation is seen simply as a way for Quebec to blackmail more power and money from the rest of the country.

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The province is also seen as intolerant because of language legislation like Bill 101 which other Canadians believe restricts individual rights and freedom of choice, particularly the rights of its Anglo-Quebec minority. Past Prime Ministers like Pierre Trudeau, Brian Mulroney and Jean Chretien are seen as having only cared about their own province, blowing off many of the concerns of other parts of Canada. These attitudes prevail despite the rest of Canada’s efforts to accommodate Quebec by accepting bilingualism and the growing enrolment of children in French immersion schools, which is what they thought Francophone Quebecers were looking for.

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By: Clement Nocos

My sincerest apologies in advance for the snarkiness that is to follow. The existence of Ben Affleck’s (now Academy Award winning) film Argo has really rustled Canadian jimmies in a way usually reserved for when Team USA beats out Team Canada in some form of hockey. Some feel the “Canadian Caper”  in the film doesn’t depict enough Canadian involvement; that it gives too much credit to the CIA and America.

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So when the film won the Oscar for Best Film last Sunday, you can see the continued outrage over the movie when the cast and crew were thanked and Canada was thanked, but Mr. Affleck had apparently forgotten to give a shout out to former Canadian ambassador to Iran Ken Taylor who was central in orchestrating the [SPOLIER] escape.

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By: Clement Nocos

“There would be no use of an Upper House, if it did not exercise, when it thought proper, the right of opposing or amending or postponing the legislation of the Lower House. It would be of no value whatever were it a mere chamber for registering the decrees of the Lower House. It must be an independent House, having a free action of its own, for it is only valuable as being a regulating body, calmly considering the legislation initiated by the popular branch, but it will never set itself in opposition against the deliberate and understood wishes of the people” – Sir John A. MacDonald, 1865

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Senate Reform has been on the docket of “things-to-do” for Canada’s Parliament since pre-Confederation. The Red Chamber faced difficulty from the start, with the Fathers of Confederation debating heavily on the parameters of the Upper House before agreeing to Confederation.

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By: Clement Nocos

We should not […] expect historians to be entertaining or to tell interesting stories: “Do we need professional history that entertains us – especially when public money pays for so much of what we historians do? Do we need physics that entertains us?”

Historians, however, are not scientists, and if they do not make what they are doing intelligible to the public, then others will rush in to fill the void. Political and other leaders too often get away with misusing or abusing history for their own ends because the rest of us do not know enough to challenge them. Already much of the history that the public reads and enjoys is written by amateur historians. Some of it is very good, but much is not. Bad history tells only part of complex stories. […]

We must do our best to raise the public awareness of the past in all its richness and complexity. We must contest the one-sided, even false, histories that are out there in the public domain. If we do not, we allow our leaders and opinion makers to use history to bolster false claims and justify bad and foolish policies. (Margaret Macmillan, The Uses and Abuses of History, pgs. 36-37)

This year has particularly seen an awful lot of the use and abuse of history by the Canadian government. Being the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, we have seen a frenzy of historical “commemoration” of the last “war” to take place on the territorial realm of what would become known as Canada. More than $28 million is set to be spent by the federal government on commemorating the event by the end of 2012. With that $28 million, we have been inundated by re-enactments, TV and Youtube commercials, special money, museum exhibits, and even a phone app that are supposed to help us remember the conflict. It has been heavily debated whether or not this commemoration has been ‘over-hyped’ or not, but it remains without doubt that the purpose of such a campaign is something political.

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