Saturday, October 13, 2012

1812 & stephen harper

The cartoon above is dedicated to the principle that the real reason harper is going as far as airing television commercials to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 is because it feeds into the militarist culture he's trying to foster in Canada, which itself is really to create the proper environment for war profiteers to flourish.

harper's cabal tries to portray 1812 as some sort of national struggle. It wasn't. Most of the inhabitants of the Thirteen Colonies (like most people today) didn't give a shit about the political struggles of their time. They wanted to be left alone to live their lives. It wasn't until they were forced to choose sides that things got bloody and some of them had to leave as "Loyalists." The Loyalists got free land in what became Upper Canada to compensate them for their losses to the American rebels. When land started to become scarce in the new USA, the British opened up more free land in Upper Canada and thousands more people than the original Loyalist influx crossed the border. In return for taking an oath renouncing the Republic and swearing loyalty to the Crown, these derisively labelled "Late Loyalists" supposedly surrendered their love for democracy to enjoy the superior political gifts of elitist, monarchical government.

When tensions between the USA and Britain governments (over British outrages at sea during the Napoleonic Wars) caused the War of 1812, the governments of Upper and Lower Canada formed militias to meet the threat. 80% of the members of these hastily formed militias would desert. These were mostly former American colonists who wanted no part of a war with their families and friends. When the British at one point in the war captured Vermont, the population didn't care one way or the other. The war was fought between the British professional forces and their First Nations allies (who were hoping for recognition for their services and better treatment from the British government) on the one side and Southern US firebrands on the other.

The British professionals won. The assistance of the First Nations troops was crucial. The majority in Upper Canada didn't give a shit. Now harper is trying to make this a nation-building propaganda orgy. The only group that genuinely fought and which is still here, he treats like garbage. It's fitting. harper's whole glorification of the war is based on ignorance and eviscerated by his hypocrisy.

Although the Government of Canada has been presenting a picture of stable relations with and improved living conditions for Indigenous Nations, the reality on the ground shows many Indigenous individuals, families, communities and Nations suffering from multiple, over-lapping crises. Although federal, provincial, Indigenous and independent researchers have all verified the crises, Canada has refused to act. This is resulting in the pre-mature deaths of hundreds, even thousands of Indigenous peoples every year. Many of those that do survive, do so with higher levels of injuries, disabilities, diabetes, TB, heart disease, and other preventable health issues.
There is a children in care crisis where 40% of children in care in Canada (30,000) are Indigenous children. The crisis of over-incarceration of Indigenous peoples in state prisons shows 25-30% of prison populations are Indigenous and increasing. The water crisis of 116+ First Nations not having clean water and 75% of their water systems being at medium to high risk is well-known. The housing crisis is particularly staggering when you consider that 40% of First Nations homes are in need of major repair and there is a 85,000 home backlog. There is a growing crisis of violence against Indigenous women with over 600 murdered and missing Indigenous women in Canada. The health crisis results in a life expectancy of 8-20 years less for Indigenous peoples due to extreme poverty. This does not include the cultural crisis where 94% of Indigenous languages in Canada (47/50) are at high risk of extinction. These are all exacerbated for communities who suffer from massive flooding due to hydro-electric operations.
The gap between Canadians and Indigenous peoples with regards to education, employment, skills training, food security, water security, health care, and mental health services continues to increase. Statistics are often manipulated by Canada to show that conditions are getting better, but when reviewed over a 20 year period, the statistics are clear that the socio-economic conditions of Indigenous peoples are on a downward trend. The levels of poverty and ill-health in northern Indigenous communities are even more acute. Suicide rates are amongst the highest in the world with suicides starting at much younger ages, like 9 years old. While Canada rates in the top 4 countries when measuring the human development index, when Indigenous peoples are isolated, Canada drops to 78th.


Beijing York said...

I cringe every time the War of 1812 is trotted out by the Harper Regime and at this point I practically have a permanent kink in my neck.

The latest propaganda move is to issue War of 1812 commemorative 25 cent coins. Ugh.

Most people slept through Canadian history courses and barely remember the War of 1812, except for maybe Laura Secord if that. But of course the useless media doesn't bother laying out the facts like you just did and the Harper ploy of perpetual glorification of war persists.

Owen Gray said...

Only those who know nothing of war glorify it.

And our prime minister -- in so many areas of life -- knows nothing.

thwap said...

Beijing York,

I would find it laughable if I didn't know that there was a small army of troglodytes for whom this "commemoration" is soul-stirring.

thwap said...


You're right. This is all out of a text-book on indoctrination for a course on dictatorship that he's taking.