89 Comments
Commenting has been turned off for this post
May 4, 2022Liked by Line Editor

In any sort of protest movement there is going to be all manner of behaviour that is found to be objectionable by some, and laudible by others. For my part, I'm in broad agreement with Dan McCarthy that military monuments ought to be treated with respect, and there are certain standards of conduct, decorum, and civil discourse that ought to be respected in their presence. Call me old-fashioned, but I was brought up with such values. My time in the military reinforced them.

But, with all respect, Mr. McCarthy has missed the point here - the point is not that this particular protest movement is misbehaving against norms of civility that were present mere decades ago. Rather, the point is that this particular protest movement exists, and we ought to be asking ourselves, "Why?" Why is it that there is such an apparently large and vocal group of people in our society for whom Mr. McCarthy's norms apparently no longer apply? Why are so many people defying authority to express their outrage in ways that would have been considered unthinkable even 10 or 20 years ago?

Canadian institutions are not "under unprecedented attack." Rather, Canadian institutions have been neglected and have atrophied. Perhaps this is because of a conspiracy of elites to create a "post national" Canadian identity (as the tinfoil-hat camp might suggest), or perhaps it's the result of all of us taking our eye off the ball during a long period when our institutions really didn't need much strength anymore. What's the underlying cause here?

In any event, here we are. Canadians of our present not behaving like the Canadians of our youth. Let's not point fingers at bad behaviour - instead, let's try and understand it.

Expand full comment
May 4, 2022·edited May 4, 2022

Where were you when the Sir John Macdonald statue was being removed from Victoria City Hall? How about when the statue of Cook was thrown into Victoria harbour? Where were you when the proper name was removed from Langevin Block? I am glad you decided to draw a line in the sand at the War Memorial, but honestly, this kind of crap has been going on for awhile now and I find it terribly rich that the hot air and talking heads all come out in force for a rally or event they don't support politically, but keep their big mouths shut when it something progressive, or woke. Shame. You have an affinity for monuments and statues and you are a Liberal. What a joke.

Expand full comment

Tricky subject. The Canadian Armed Forces - like any honorable armed forces - has plenty of dishonourable actions that deserve shame and contempt. So, whose to decide what’s appropriate or not, someone whose kin has likely only been benefited by CAF?

Picking one thing (military service) to elevate above all others seems closer philosophically to jingoistic war mongering than a sensible take on free expression in a democracy.

Were the folks the author describes classless assholes? I guess. Is that an important input to an important decision? Not obvious to me.

Sticking to the topic of classy behavior, the author would do well to remember that our Prime Minister grew up the son of a PM and still can’t remember just how many times he decided to black up. Why, pray tell, is Jr’s behavior any less contemptible than tomb dancers?

Expand full comment

I'm going to take the opposite approach and say that's what our grandparents fought for, the freedom to get up and say stupid things, otherwise known as freedom of speech.

The other positive is that the progressive left is unlikey to bring in a mob and tear down it down as a symbol of western colonialism.

Expand full comment

Lots of comments. I appreciate them being shared by the Line. Being 78 and having served, I see the National War Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as a national cemetery. When I go to a cemetery,I show respect, I don’t walk on graves and I pause and reflect on the lives of the love ones buried there . I am moved and I say a prayer. I don’t pick it as a place to protest war or anything else. Old fashioned maybe, out of tune with the horrors of war and the freedoms fought for , not so much.

Expand full comment

I'm a veteran and no Trudeau fan, but these protesters disgust me to no end. So disrespectful. It's bad enough to see the jeans and black vest Veteran patch wearing types on parade on Remembrance Day. This bunch last weekend make me livid. Time and place, and the NWM is not the place.

Expand full comment

It is hard to comment on this article, especially after reading some of the comments. I respect and support the right to protest and express our respective views. The question really seems to be - how we do it. This rally/convoy and the last have chosen noise and behaviour to deliver their messages - glorying in their negative impact on others at important sites and on important symbols to garner attention. It is hard to see any 'respect' intended vs the thousands who show up respectfully on Nov 11th and other dates. The cenotaph has important meaning to citizens of Ottawa - as well as the rest of the country. The sadness and anger at murder of Cirello at the cenotaph remains in our hearts whenever we view the monument. I wish groups could find ways to 'protest' in less confrontational or disruptive ways.

Expand full comment

I look forward to Mr. McCarthy's take on the countless other statues of our founding fathers which have been desecrated and torn down by various woke mobs.

Expand full comment

Oh boo hoo. You are a Liberal staffer, which means (unless you worked for Pearson) that you hold our troops and veterans in contempt, and only use them for domestic political purposes, like now.

The real desecrators are the current government, who have shredded the constitution and rights that Canadians fought for in numerous wars, by keeping unvaccinated Canadians prisoner in their own country, firing them from their jobs (and the military), and then denying them EI, as further punishment.

Expand full comment

The conduct there this weekend was disappointing, but not surprising. I, too, would favour Parks Canada custody of the site, given the tremendous job they do with the conservation of historic structures on park lands across Canada.

Expand full comment

Many of my family members fought and died for our and others freedoms and I can more than assure you they would be horrified at the actions taken, policies made, that continue to be made, that are to stifle the very freedoms they gave their lives for. These privileged, progressive, elected, and unelected, people that feed at the taxpayers trough, have desecrated everything these brave soldiers fought and died for. They demonize, divide, and categorize Canadian's as to those who follow their dictate blindly, through the constant fear mongering by the paid for Corporate media, and by those who stand up against their tyranny and complete degradation of our Constitution and Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Those soldiers, to which the monument was erected, would be horrified by the actions taken, being taken, and the complete erosion of everything they fought and died for by their own Government of Canada.

Expand full comment

People conveniently forget that "breaking the law" is not free speech. The police may hang back from enforcing jaywalking laws, say, when there's a march down a street, with no parade permit, but they don't have to.

Remember the "mic check" annoyance from the Occupy meetings, where everybody would shout out every line? That's because they were told they'd be tossed from the park if they used an amplifier of any kind, say a bullhorn. Against the bylaw! Quite the contrast to standing by, listening to weeks of truck horns. Ottawa happened because the police were physically overwhelmed, and never start a fight they can't utterly dominate.

BLM also smashed a lot of windows in Montreal, if memory serves, same reason - just not able to deal with the numbers. I don't see a lot of police bias either way, in recent years.

Expand full comment

I wish a former CPC MP or staffer had written this piece about respecting the war memorial. I think comments would have all been in agreement. I look at the hostility between parties in the US & think - is Canada yet again going to reflect a trend south of the border?

Expand full comment

My principle gripe with this article is not the issue of memorializing a great tragedy. While the architect of the monument, as I understand it, sought to avoid tones of triumph, nevertheless, the World War it was erected to memorialize was by most accounts a war between imperialists fighting to divide the world through military might.

I lived in Ottawa for many years, so I am familiar with how folks interact with the war memorial. They have lunch on its steps, kids play around it, tourists take pictures, many simply ignore it on their way to and fro, until occasion has it dressed up for some kind of official ceremony. Or indeed for protest.

What it appears not to be, for most folks, is a monument to the glory of empire. Like Vimy, it's largely a monument to tragedy, as if to mock the soaring arches and the attendant divinities. The weight of loss weighs heavier than any nostalgia for imperial destiny. So comparisons to American war memorials, or European ones with heroic figures mounted on horseback swept up in prideful gesture, fall well short of Canuck sensibilities. Although colonial Canada has always had some kind of imperial affiliation which has been the basis of its calls to arms, we have no empire to enforce. And while Indigenous folks may opine that reconciliation is synonymous with decolonization, nevertheless the imperial centres have always been located elsewhere.

So I would not want to see the memorial become the property of any kind of permanent military orchestration demanding stately allegiance. Better it remain as it is, the informal property of Canucks, picnicking, protesting, or ignoring as our moments of collective memory elide with present concerns. If anything, the memorial is a monument to the spirit of Canuck ambivalence to any national militarist narrative propagandists attempt to impose upon it and upon us. And in that, our spirit may join more thoroughly and heartfelt those grim souls labouring beneath those dark arches towards a peace they will only know, tentatively, in us.

Expand full comment

The way the war Memorial and the Terry Fox Memorial were both desecrated but the Trucker protests shows how low class and despicable those so called freedom people were. I can't believe my father's generation would do something so disrespectful.

Expand full comment

That was where Nathan Cyrillo was killed, right?

Expand full comment