Arts & Life
Canstar Community News
Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 7/6/2019 (431 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
There are times, when a wrong is done, that a good excuse will suffice.
Other times, a full explanation is required.
And then there are times when the misdeed is sufficiently egregious that neither is satisfactory.
Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister placed himself squarely in the third category on Thursday by making the unexplainable and inexcusable decision not to attend the most significant ceremony commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
A scant 48 hours after announcing he would represent Manitoba at public events recognizing the sacrifices of thousands of young Canadians who took part in the seaborne assault that turned the tide of the Second World War and stopped the spread of Nazi tyranny, Mr. Pallister was a no-show.
Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister made the unexplainable and inexcusable decision not to attend the most significant ceremony commemorating the 75th anniversary of D–Day
The premier, it seems, had something better to do with his time. On Thursday, many hours after media started asking questions about Mr. Pallister’s whereabouts while the D-Day ceremony was taking place at Juno Beach, the best his government’s paid communicators could come up with was that he was 350 kilometres away in Lestrem, meeting with representatives of a large agribusiness enterprise that is building a pea-processing facility at Portage la Prairie.
The French agrifood giant Roquette’s project in Portage la Prairie, scheduled to open in 2020, is worth $400 million.
By comparison, the D-Day invasion, which began the military breakthrough that led to the liberation of Europe and the defeat of Nazi Germany, involved nearly 150,000 Allied troops; about 14,000 of them were Canadian (roughly 700 came from Manitoba). The initial push produced 10,000 Allied casualties, including nearly 1,100 Canadians, 359 of whom were killed.
By the end of the Normandy invasion, which lasted five weeks, the Allied forces had suffered 209,000 casualties and more than 5,000 Canadians had died.
The mind boggles at the thought process that could have led to the premier to prioritize business promotion over solemn commemoration.
In an effort to justify Mr. Pallister’s absence, the government issued a statement saying he had given his seat at the ceremony to another member of the Manitoba delegation, St. Norbert MLA John Reyes, a veteran and the province’s special envoy for military affairs. "The premier was pleased to provide Mr. Reyes with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity...," the release said — a deflection so brazen in its calculation that it seems to indicate Mr. Pallister and/or the people who craft his messages think those members of the public who have cultivated the ability to read are nonetheless rather dim.
Remember, this is the premier who last month, with much fanfare, marked the 74th anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) Day by announcing a $2-million investment in an endowment fund to preserve and maintain Manitoba’s military memorials. On home soil, without business-promotion meetings and a subsequent European vacation cramping the schedule, there was plenty of time to expound on "the immense contribution and sacrifice made by so many Canadians in defence of freedom and democracy."
On D-Day’s anniversary, however, Mr. Pallister took a pass.
There is no excuse, short of illness, injury or emergency. No explanation. And the combative defiance the premier prefers to employ when his 'my way' approach to executing public office is challenged will not serve him well here
There is no excuse, short of illness, injury or emergency. No explanation. And the combative defiance the premier prefers to employ when his "my way" approach to executing public office is challenged will not serve him well here.
The premier did wrong. Surely, with the benefit of a day’s reflection, he must know it.
An apology would be a start. A display of genuine contrition for this shameful mistake might help.
Whatever his next move is while in France, whether representing his province or pursuing personal recreation, Manitobans will remember.
Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board.
The Winnipeg Free Press invites you to share your opinion on this story in a letter to the editor. A selection of letters to the editor are published daily.
Letters must include the writer’s full name, address, and a daytime phone number. Letters are edited for length and clarity.