Editor's Notes Friday 11 November 2011


Wisdom is a result of a happy marriage between intelligence and experience.
© Carl Dow, Editor and Publisher, True North Perspective.
True North Perspective
Vol. 7, No. 37 (297)
Friday, 11 November, 2011
Editor's Notes

A shadow of shame has fallen over the poppy

as Canada moves from peacekeeper to warmaker 

Photo-illustration by Geoffrey Dow.On my paternal side I come from a long military line, mostly cavalry that goes back hundreds of years. When World War 11 broke out my father enlisted for active duty. However, he was 40 and the army was looking for eighteen year olds.

But they had an option for him. He was a baker by trade and they had troops to feed. Camp Borden, just west of Barrie, Ontario, was a basic training centre where they were processing, if memory serves, something like 15,000 men every six weeks. My father was put in charge of feeding half of them, from menu to stomach.

Personally, I made it as far as the 51st Optimist Air Cadets headquartered at the former Beaver Barracks on Catherine Street, Ottawa. I was extremely lucky to have been chosen to fly with fighter pilots who were keeping up their time. Every Saturday morning for two hours, from September to June, every fighter-pilot trick in the book. At air cadet camp near Aylmer, Ontario, the rumour was that to inhibit the sexual ambitions of recruits, food was laced with a substance called saltpeter, more technically known as potassium nitrate.

When I asked my father if that was true he shook his head with a tender smile and said no. Why would any military want to feed troops food that would dull the edge of their spirit?

This brings to mind the ludicrous allegation earlier this year that Gadhaffi's troops were being medicated to rape women. As I said in a previous issue of True North Perspective, since when do combat troops have to be doped to commit rape? The rape allegations, by the way, have since been proven false

I can clearly remember standing on the grade of Elgin Street opposite the Lord Elgin Hotel, one of thousands on parade in honour of Remembrance Day. Far in the distance a voice boomed an incomprehensible command. One could sense the ripple of obedience coming down the ranks until it reached us lowly air cadets and we acted accordingly.

We were trained to understand that World War 1 was the war to end all wars, then along came Adolph Hitler and we had World War 11, but that would be that. We assembled within sight (for those who were close enough) of cenotaph and the parliament buildings to pay our respects to those who had paid with their lives so that we could live in peace and freedom.

I identified with pride when, under the leadership of Liberal Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, Canada's military became an agency for peace. I wore my poppy with pride before each November 11.

And so it is with great dismay that I see my country being transformed from a peacekeeper to a warmaker that marches in step with the military/industrial complex (against which U.S. General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower had warned Americans) that has seized control of Washington.

I find most distasteful the gleeful smiles of triumph by Prime Minister Steven Harper when in the company of Canadian troops. Harper has eagerly turned my country into an instrument of plunder and grief, at many levels, that is inherent in this policy.

For the first time I felt nudged by the poppy on my lapel to the edge of shame. For the first time I felt as if my poppy was glorifying a generation of warmakers. That by their assault on Afghanistan, then on Libya, they were defiling the memory of those who had given their lives in combat for the country that I know and love, and in which I've always taken such pride.

Steven Harper is doing his best to turn our country around and is giving us something to be ashamed of rather than proud. A war machine can only glorify war as it sucks the lifeblood out of our culture and our economy.

I don't think I'll wear a poppy next year.

Meanwhile, take it easy, but take it.

Looking forward

Carl Dow
Editor and Publisher
True North Perspective

Add new comment