Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/9/2011 (3765 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Harper government has created an $11.5-million fund to mark the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, a conflict that was a milestone in the evolution of Canadian identity, as well as an exciting story rarely studied in schools.
It's a relatively benign initiative, but not for some pundits who characterize it as part of a conspiracy to destroy the country's liberal heritage and replace it with a form of Conservative jingoism.
"Stephen Harper is working to recast the Canadian identity, undoing 40 years of a Liberal narrative and instead creating a new patriotism viewed through a conservative lens," one column in the Globe and Mail reads.
It's not just Mr. Harper's interest in history that is called into question, but his embrace of subjects that were allegedly ignored by the Liberals -- the Arctic, the military, national sports and the monarchy.
The real target (or "enemy," to use the Globe phrase) of many of these initiatives, particularly the return of the Royal prefix for the military, is the NDP, which will be unable to defend them in Quebec.
A Conservative private member's bill that would make it illegal to interfere with someone's desire to fly the Canadian flag was also regarded suspiciously. "These patriotic initiatives are not coincidental," the Globe said.
There is no doubt that Mr. Harper is highly political, maybe too political at times, but the promotion of Canadian history and the symbols of national identity are not evidence of a dastardly plot.
The prime minister is reportedly equally interested in the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the Selkirk settlers in Manitoba and is considering a visit to Winnipeg next year to help mark the occasion.
The fact is that Canadians have demonstrated a greater interest in their history over the years, an evolution that seemed to begin in the 1980s with celebrations of significant military dates from the first and second world wars. In 1994, the city of Winnipeg staged a downtown parade, complete with military vehicles and even a Sherman tank, to mark the 50th anniversary of D-Day, the first such parade since the war ended.
Sometimes they are controversial, such as the 250th anniversary of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, and the upcoming celebration of the War of 1812 (Canada won, didn't it?), but they have never been seen as part of a political agenda.
Unfortunately, significant political events from the past have received less attention, but if Mr. Harper (and the CBC) want to ignite a passion in the broader Canadian story, let's at least not call it a conspiracy.