Harper continues to ignore, demean and disrespect soldiers while once again sending them into one of his neo-conservative “wars,” which is good for a PM heading into an election, needing to solidifying his base that loves him to kill the evildoers.
But his long-term plan to militarize Canadian culture [Winnipeg Jets logo, honouring military at professional sports, etc.] has stepped up to another level with this WWII photo on the newest toonie.
Fascism glorifies war. Soft fascism makes it look like it’s perfectly natural.
Think critically about the steady creep of militarism and what it does to our culture.
Canada’s continued neglect and abuse of our military personnel and veterans continues to enrage me. An epidemic of untreated PTSD has become a new normal. And until citizens compel the government to take responsibility for this neglect–and fix it–they will continue trying to get away with it.
Here’s the latest outrage:
OTTAWA — Less than a year after being lavishly and publicly praised by Defence Minister Peter MacKay for an arduous fundraising walk in aid of injured soldiers, a corporal says she has decided to leave the military after being ordered not to repeat the fundraiser again this summer.
Tank driver Cpl. Kate MacEachern, a member of the Armour School at CFB Gagetown in New Brunswick, walked 562 kilometres in full uniform and pack from Gagetown to Antigonish last summer in what she called her ‘Long Way Home Walk.’
She raised $20,000 for the military charity Soldier On.
This government seems to fear truth-tellers like Kate MacEachern, even and perhaps especially when they work selflessly and constructively to improve problems and the lives of others.
From the article, it sounds like the military establishment, and the militarism-loving Conservative government in Canada, supported MacEachern’s walk last year. But perhaps after the walk, there may have been a feeling that the military allowing a soldier to shine a spotlight on their neglect of people in need was enough to oppose the event this year, which is despicable, especially considering MacEachern’s motivations. See below.
If all this bothers you as much as it bothers me, here are some things you can do:
Don Nicholson was just shuffled into the position of Minister of Defence. Email him this article at email@example.com, letting him know that as a new minister/politician, he has an opportunity to put a fresh stamp of integrity on our nation by reversing the decision against Kate MacEachern’s walk AND begin the healing process of all the neglect and abuse of members and veterans from the Canadian Forces.
Support Honour House, One in a Million fund and Hire Canadian Military initiatives.
Here’s some profound inspiration:
“One of the main values I learned from the army is that you never leave anyone behind,” she says. “But the more I opened my eyes the more I realized that a lot of people are being left behind. I signed a 25 year contract to serve my country, Queen and regiment. Until a month ago, I didn’t want to leave. It was honestly a devastating blow for me to have to make a decision between what I believe in and the uniform I wear because I thought they were the same thing. Finding out they aren’t the same thing is extremely hard so I had to walk away.”
MacEachern says she was moved to raise public awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental injuries after suffering a serious injury of her own at CFB Edmonton where she was thrown from a horse during a training exercise — a fact MacKay noted in his speech.
After a year’s physical recovery she was diagnosed with, and treated for, ‘non-combat PTSD’ — a condition she didn’t believe was overly serious until she suffered herself.
“I had pretty much bought into the stigma so many people have about PTSD,” she said. “You can shake it off, suck it up and soldier on. But it’s the complete opposite of the truth. And compared to people coming back from overseas, mine was mild.”
After recovering from her own injuries, MacEachern asked to be transferred to Gagetown to be closer to her family in Antigonish, Nova Scotia — a decision she now regrets.
“I started opening my eyes to what other people are going through and how much pain and struggle there is,” she said. “There comes a point where you have to make a conscious decision. Do you allow everything to keep happening and live with the consequences or do you try to make a difference?
MacEachern echoes the view of many critics who say that stigma against mental injury in the military is rampant and treatment facilities at some bases wholly inadequate.
“One thing I’ve learned over the past year,” she says, “is that having a fancy house or the latest model car and the biggest TV on the block means nothing if you can’t sleep at night knowing that you could have helped and didn’t.”
I have a great deal of respect for Canadian Forces personnel. I have generally disagreed with virtually every one of their foreign deployments in my lifetime, but that is a criticism I make of our political leaders who order our forces to go here and there.
I support our troops by encouraging the government not to continue slashing their pensions and healthcare, and to actually treat soldiers with respect and dignity by providing the kind of care they need: vocationally, psychologically, emotionally, etc.
I do not, however, like the militarization of Canadian culture because it is priming us for a warfare mentality and drifting us into a soft fascist state. And I do not at all respect war re-enactments during Canada Day celebrations.
My Canada does not include militarizing Canada Day.
My Canada does not include the government getting kids to make war posters for Canada Day.
The Harper government has hired a consultant to inject a little war into this year’s Canada Day bash on Parliament Hill.
A Toronto theatre expert has been asked to find ways to insert a War of 1812 commemoration into the July 1st festivities that typically include pop music, dance and pyrotechnics.
“I do big-ass special events all the time, so they asked me to do that,” artistic producer Paul Shaw said in an interview. “It’s sort of tricky to do a War of 1812 theme when you’ve got so many modern things in and around it.”
The National Post appears to have begun supporting Canada’s military presence in Afghanistan beyond the end 2011. Don’t expect us to leave. At all.
Do you remember when we were absolutely, positively going to leave by 2009? So naive. And do you remember that we went there to catch that Osama bin Laden fellow?
This week we see the jingoistic tone emerging in the National Post which can create cover for a decision by an imperialist Harper and a likely nod of support from his Con-Lib coalition co-leader, imperialist Ignatieff:
On Tuesday we read on the front page, above the fold, that a mother of a dead Canadian soldier wants us to keep fighting. [see below]
In the same article we read the word “adamant” to describe Harper’s commitment for our troops to withdraw before the end of 2011. Adamant makes Harper look like he doth protest too much.
Also, a couple months ago in McLean’s we read about some key cracks in our commitment to leave next year, and their resulting developments:
The March 2008 motion is for Canadian troops to leave Kandahar, not Afghanistan.
Ignatieff is suggesting we leave some troops behind to train Afghans, and I suppose quietly “advise” them as well.
Peter McKay called that idea interesting, but in an attempt to appear to disagree with those Liberals, he says the government will respect the “letter of the motion” which, again, only requires us to leave our mission in Kandahar.
Ultimately, expect NATO or Karzai to request that when we leave Kandahar we step up to some new mission elsewhere in the country. And please be disabused of the notion that we’re actually committed to leaving. It just means you’ll be dizzy from the spin.
Consider the excerpts from those two stories below [emphasis is mine, unless noted]
The mother of a soldier who died in Afghanistan made a poignant appeal yesterday to Prime Minister Stephen Harper to keep Canadian troops here beyond next summer.
“I think the military is doing a fine job and he should reconsider pulling out next year.”…
The mission in Kandahar is scheduled to end in 2011. The deadline was set in a March 2008 vote in the House of Commons. Nothing in the House motion would prevent Canada from assuming a different military mission elsewhere in Afghanistan, but until now the Prime Minister has been adamant that all Canadian troops will be out of the country by the end of next year.
The Liberals propose ending the Kandahar combat mission as scheduled, but leaving some of our troops to train Afghan forces elsewhere in the country.
MacKay allows that the Liberal idea is “all very interesting.” However, he stresses that the government remains bound by the March 13, 2008, House of Commons motion that set that 2011 exit date in the first place. “We’ll respect the letter of the motion,” MacKay says.
But the letter of the motion, it seems to me, is often lost in this discussion. Prime Minister Stephen Harper suggests the House demanded a complete end to the Canadian military mission in Afghanistan. Harper reiterated that by now familiar interpretation as recently as June 4.
That’s not what the motion says. Its key clause dictates that the government must “notify NATO that Canada will end its presence in Kandahar as of July 2011, and, as of that date, the redeployment of Canadian Forces troops out of Kandahar and their replacement by Afghan forces start as soon as possible, so that it will have been completed by December 2011.” (My emphasis.)
As far as I can see, there’s nothing in the motion that says Canadian troops must clear out of Afghanistan altogether, just Kandahar. If the government plans to “respect the letter of the motion,” then, that would seem to me to allow a fair bit of flexibility.
De-Spinning the Political and Re-Spinning it for Social, Economic and Political Justice