My Thoughts – Rob MacLellan
I was appalled recently, to see a flag bearing the Nazi swastika linked with our current Canadian prime minister in a political cartoon in The Pictou Advocate newspaper.
I am confounded with the numbers of Nova Scotians who seem OK with this, based on various on-line comments I have seen made in reaction to this feature of the Pictou newspaper. There is no place for the use of this symbol of hate in Canada, period.
Let’s just briefly consider two things: Canadian government and the Second World War.
The Fathers of Confederation crafted a parliamentary democracy for the new country of Canada, via the British North America Act of 1867, which was based on the British parliamentary practice of having a governing party and opposition parties. This practice ensures that a political party receiving the greatest numbers of citizen votes in a general election would be tasked with governing the country while minority views are safeguarded by opposition parties. One of the limits imposed on governing parties is that they must face the electorate at least once every five years. Governing parties do so by the wish of its citizens.
The 31st Canadian federal general election of 1979 was my first opportunity to vote in a federal election, and vote I did, as I have done in every federal election since that time. In my short time, I have witnessed a number of prime ministers: Clark, Trudeau, Turner, Mulroney, Campbell, Chrétien, Martin and most recently, Harper. These earlier prime ministers had their shares of fervent supporters and very vocal opponents, as does the current prime minister. Of these prime ministers, only Trudeau, Mulroney, Chrétien, and Harper have had majority governments.
Majority governments have a greater ability to deliver on their party’s mandate, while minority governments, of which we have had a few, must often temporarily align themselves with one or more of the opposition parties in order to pass desired legislation in the House of Commons. Canadian voters decide whether a political party will form a majority or a minority government. These are the realities within which the governing parties in Canada must operate.
The Second World War, 1939 to 1945, began with the invasion of Poland by German dictator Adolph Hitler, and the subsequent declaration of war against Germany by France and Britain.
Hitler believed in the superiority of the Aryan race, and he believed that it was the role of this race to dominate the lesser races of the world. (http://www.findingdulcinea.com/news/on-this-day/July-August-08/On-this-Day--Hitler-s--Mein-Kampf--Published.html)
During the course of what was to become the bloodiest conflict and the largest war in history, Adolph Hitler and his Nazi regime, backed by his Axis allies, committed atrocities of genocidal proportions. The banner that the Nazis cared into war bore the swastika. In response to Hitler’s aggressive pursuit of his Aryan nation goal, the Allied nations, Canada among them, pushed back, ultimately won the day, and preserved the rights and freedoms of the nations involved in this devastating war.
The swastika is a very old symbol, its use dating back thousands of years. In its antiquity, the symbol had very positive connotations. By the early twentieth century, the symbol was adopted as a common representation of German nationalism. However, it was Hitler’s use of this symbol in his creation of the Nazi Party flag in 1920, that has forever linked this symbol to acts of hate, genocide, anti-Semitism, violence and death.
Canadians can be proud of their service in the Second World War; a war that claimed nearly 60 million lives. At the time of this war, Canada had a population of only about 11 million people, yet more than 1 million Canadians served. While accounts vary somewhat, it is clear that more than 44,000 Canadians died while fighting this war.
The price to maintain the rights and freedoms that Canadians enjoy was high; the need to do so was absolute. Together, Canada and the Allied nations won the Second World War by defeating Hitler and the Axis nations. Hitler committed suicide rather than face the victors of the war and the folly of his fascist regime. Hitler’s Nazi flag with the swastika came down and the Nazi Party was outlawed. An era of hate and violence had come to an end.
Now we see this foul swastika used as part of a political statement against a policy of the current government. Really? On Sesame Street, they ask, “Which one of these is not like the other?” Even children can tell you when something does not fit.
We have the right as Canadians to protest government policy. We have the right to assemble peacefully to voice our protests. We have ease of access to our politicians to let them know of our views, which then can be relayed to those governing. At the end of the day, we can wield our ultimate right by voting out politicians and parties that are implementing policies that we believe are taking our country in the wrong direction.
We have a saying here in the Maritimes, ‘wait a minute and the weather will change.’ The same applies to governments, although the minute might be a tad longer. If you don’t like current policies, wait a minute and the government will change, and if it was truly dreadful, that policy will be gone as well.
Canadians fought for the annihilation of this symbol and what it stands for. There can be no justification for its use in Canada.
Rob MacLellan is an advocate of adult education, an advocate of non-profit organizations, and a resident of Alton. He can be reached by phone at 673-3269, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org