UPDATE 1452 June 07/07: Halls of Macademia, June 05/07: Shutting down free speech…
UPDATE 1228 June 07/07: CBC News, June 06/07: Critics of aboriginal protests denied space in Deseronto
UPDATE 1721 June 06/07: Article by Belleville Intelligencer, June 05/07: Deseronto keeps contentious group out
Today, I can’t help but wonder why I served in the Canadian Forces, why I gave 6 months of my life to a UN peacekeeping mission in Egypt. Why Merlyn Kinrade joined the Royal Canadian Navy to fight in the Korean War. Why there are thousands of dead Canadian soldiers in graves all over Europe. Why Canadians are fighting and dying in Afghanistan.
What – exactly – were we ‘defending?’ For what were we prepared to risk our lives, and give them if necessary? What is worth dying for?
Equality? Rule of law? Civil rights? Free speech? Democracy?
Royal Canadian Legion in Deseronto refuses to rent us a room because we are a ‘sectarian group’
If anyone should know the worth of these oft-professed Canadian values, you would think it would be members of the Royal Canadian Legion. Earlier today, however, VoiceofCanada received a call from the Deseronto Legion president, Tom Dowling, saying that they would not rent us a room because their by-laws prevented them from renting to a ‘sectarian group,’ although he was unable to explain why we deserved that label. He also said that about half their members were native, and the Legion decided it wanted to remain neutral.
I informed Mr. Dowling that we have nothing against native people, that we are against violence, and that we believe in the rule of law and equality. I explained that people in Deseronto had contacted us because they wanted to hear from Caledonia residents who have suffered during a violent native occupation, but it was no use.
Silence in the face of evil is NOT neutrality – it is acquiesence. It is appeasement. It is anything but neutrality.
I’m not sure I understand how any veteran – let alone an organization that represents them – can be ‘neutral’ on the subjects of preserving the rule of law; free speech; equality before the law, and protection of civil rights. In fact, the Deseronto branch of the Legion – far from being neutral – has, in effect, chosen to stand with those who would destroy the values Canadians take for granted.
Lest we forget?
In reply to a reader of Democracy takes a hit in Deseronto, an article about Deseronto Council’s refusal to honour our room rental agreement, I said the following:
“You just gotta wonder sometimes, don’t you – how elected officials can be so clueless about how democracy works, how democracy survives despite the worst efforts of those who should know better. These same people will wear poppies for Remembrance Day, but in actuality, they remember nothing. They value nothing. They respect nothing, including those who have sacrificed their lives, their limbs or their youths in the name of freedom. They mouth the words for a couple of minutes on November 11th, but they don’t believe them. As the old saying goes, “Freedom isn’t free.”
I called Merlyn Kinrade, RCN (retired) today to advise him that the Royal Canadian Legion considers us to be members of a ‘sectarian group’ because we want to talk about how the Rule of Law and equality before the law can be preserved during native land claims. His anger was obvious, but there was something else – unspoken – that I felt, too: a sense of betrayal by those who should know better.
In November, the Royal Canadian Legion will once again ask us to wear poppies to remember, ‘lest we forget.’ From this former soldier’s point of view, and a certain Korean war veteran’s, a lot of us have already forgotten the dreadful cost of appeasing evil.
“However much we may sympathize with a small nation confronted by a big and powerful neighbour, we cannot in all circumstances undertake to involve the whole British Empire in a war simply on her account.”
“I believe it is peace in our time”
Neville Chamberlain, British Prime Minister 1937 to 1940
- VoiceofCanada: Caledonia Photos
- VoiceofCanada, May 15/07: Democracy takes a hit in Deseronto
- Royal Canadian Legion website: www.legion.ca
- VoiceofCanada, April 19/07: Leadership has a name in Caledonia: Merlyn Kinrade
- Kinrade/Vandermaas letter to Dalton McGuinty, May 08/07: “Blue Helmet” comment
- VoiceofCanada: Dancer’s Courage!
Mark Vandermaas, Editor