From the National Post:
“The release of the Canadian Museum of Civilization’s first research strategy … has revived the age-old debate over the politicization of Canadian history.”
“With Canada’s 150th birthday approaching in 2017, and the bicentennial of the War of 1812 just passed with unusual fanfare, the public’s appreciation of Canadian history is ripe for revision, and not just because some of the flagship national museum’s exhibits date to the 1990s, not long after it was renamed from the National Museum of Man. From the rewritten citizenship guide that undid years of Liberal ideological dominance, to the renaming of Canadian military units to honour the monarchy, history is increasingly the lens through which the country sees itself, and a ripe target for those who wish to change it.’
This is true. Harper is trying to undo the quiet Liberal rewrite of Canadian history. He is doing that by bringing the narrative of Canadian history once again to the fore.
Now that the words “critical understanding” have been struck from the museum’s mandate, however, critics fear that history without criticism becomes propaganda.
In academia, the phrase, ‘critical theory’ is a code word for left-wing indoctrination.
‘Mr. Blais said he has heard criticisms over the years about topics the museum should display with greater prominence, such as the Acadian expulsions. But those complaints never coalesced into a single theory, until the recent efforts of federal Conservatives to put their own stamp on Canadian heritage, led by former Heritage Minister James Moore.
The museum’s new mandate is “to enhance Canadians’ knowledge, understanding and appreciation of events, experiences, people and objects that reflect and have shaped Canada’s history and identity, and also to enhance their awareness of world history and cultures.”
‘Ian McKay, professor of history at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., said the Conservative government is “definitely politicizing history, and are quite candid about it.”’
Contra Professor McKay, the politicization of Canadian history has been going on for quite a while - by the left: basically by de-emphasizing the historical narrative and replacing in with left-wing victimology. He who controls the past, controls the present.
Professor McKay here implies that Stephen Harper is rewriting history to make the Tories look good. How putting more emphasis on the Acadian expulsion, he leaves as an exercise to the reader.
He said they take an anachronistic “Victorian” view, dominated by militarism, monarchism, imperialism, and all-round Britishism. The motivation, he thinks, is nothing so crass as vote-buying or simple politicking, but an effort to redefine the country.’
Hey, we can’t have that! People might think that Canada was a former British colony.
“I think there is, in contemporary Canada, a strong attempt to create a pervasive climate of fear, and something like a war panic environment,” he said.
There’s a climate of fear alright, but it is among the museum curators who are being increasingly called out for their biases.
Former Museum of Civilization CEO Victor Rabinovitch similarly called the new mandate “narrow and parochial” and feared that its research will become “a form of enhanced journalism that is aimed at popularization,” according to a CBC report.’
Mr. Blais was also dismissive of the suggestion of political meddling. “I’ve been in the museum for 25 years almost. I can testify personally that I was never pressured for selecting one topic over another,” he said.
There is a clear military slant, however, to the topics flagged as important by the standing committee on heritage, which is examining how history is taught across the country. These include “pre-confederation, early confederation, suffrage, World War I, with an emphasis on battles such as Vimy Ridge, World War II including the Liberation of Holland, the Battle of Ortona, Battle of the Atlantic, the Korean conflict, peacekeeping missions, constitutional development, the Afghanistan conflict, early 20th century Canada, post-war Canada, and the late 20th century.”
Andrew Cash, deputy heritage critic for the NDP who sits on that committee, said the government has spent “a lot of money on getting Canadians hyped up and excited about specific historical events.”
I.e. the events that defined the country.
“It’s been a bit of an obsession,” he said. He also said there is a tendency to meddle in supposedly independent institutions.
In other words, publicly funded bureaucrats are being subject to scrutiny by their democratically elected bosses. Where do they think they live – in a democracy?
“They’re trying to do something more long term,” Prof. McKay said. “They’re trying to change our vision of the country…. If it starts to take on the flavour of an exercise in propaganda, that’s when line is crossed. With this regime, I’m not sure I’m fully trustful of their scholarly, intellectual probity in putting forward a museum of Canadian history.”
Actually, this is true. Since Trudeau, the Liberals have been trying to remake Canada in their own image. One way he did that was to control the presentation of Canadian history. Harper is fighting back. He wants to resurrect are the small-l liberal values that the country was founded on.