Vive la France


As first noted by our Michael Petrou, Peter MacKay, while speaking before an audience at the French embassy last week, offered an interesting take on French involvement in the War of 1812. The Citizen and Embassy Magazine now add the exact quote in question and an attempt by the minister’s office to explain.

MacKay praised France’s government and the contribution the French made to the War of 1812. “Suffice it to say in the 200th commemoration of the War of 1812, had the French not been here fighting side by side, we might be standing here next to each other in a new light,” MacKay told the audience, according to a tape recording made by Embassy.

But MacKay’s office said he didn’t make any gaffe. His office said he delivered a speech in English and French that touched “on the deep and unique bond that exists between Canada and France based on shared culture, values, history, and defence ties.” “He also noted that French played key roles in the War of 1812 alongside Canadians whose mother tongue was English,” stated an email from MacKay’s office. “The Voltigeurs of Lower Canada were in fact predominantly French-speaking, and were instrumental in repelling American invaders at the Battle of Chateauguay in 1813.”

Michael dealt with this potential explanation in his original post.

It will take some creative spinning to argue MacKay had a clue what he was talking about. French Canadians fought hard and well against the American invasion of Canada, notably at the Battle of the Chateauguay, a decisive Canadian and British victory. But these men were generations removed from France and showed it little loyalty. The biggest effect France had on their lives was that when Napoleon took on Britain, America felt emboldened to go to war against them.


Vive la France

  1. MacKay is a dim bulb, no doubt about that, but his remarks sound like typical bromides pols provide all the time. Is there any reason to believe MacKay wrote this himself or were his ahistorical remarks written by expensively paid witless bureaucrats?

    Also, why are there so many pedantic journos in Canada – is it a job requirement? It is astonishing what our msm get their knickers in a twist about compared to what average Canadian is concerned by.

    • Jeez Tony, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone as frightened of bureaucrats as you appear to be… Did bureaucrats steal your little dog?

      • Bastiat ~ Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else

    • Bureaucrats and political staffers are two distinct groups. This was definitely political staff, not bureaucrats. Direct your ire accordingly.

    • Is it really “pedantic” to complain about a Minister of the Crown confusing French Canadians with the French in France in the context of a war in which the French Canadians were fighting AGAINST an ally of France?

      As someone else said above, It’s like the Minister of Defence thanking the Germans for giving us a nation-building opportunity by fighting us at Vimy Ridge!

      • Pols say inane and witless things to visiting foreign dignitaries all the time – it is diplomacy, apparently – so our msm is being pedantic when it makes an issue out of one pol saying their usual twaddle.

        • I’m still having trouble understanding how thanking a nation for helping us win a war in which said nation was supporting our ENEMY is “diplomacy”.

          That said, if this is just how diplomacy is done, then I look forward to hearing the Minister of Defence thank the Japanese for their assistance in helping us stop Nazi Germany.

    • Having worked many years in government communications, I think it is very likely these remarks were written by political staff or ad libbed by the Minister. Speeches like this would normally be written by bureaucrats or contractors. They would go through many levels of approval, including subject matter experts. Any mistakes of this kind would not get through. Once in the Minister’s office, though, changes do not generally go back to the bureaucrats for approval. And Lord Kitchener’s Own is right to expect the Minister to know the difference between French and French Canadians.

    • I used to be one of those “witless bureaucrat” writers for cabinet ministers. Let me tell you how this works: the witless ones write the facts, do the reseach, etc. Then when the work gets sent over to the politician’s office, the political staff vet it, and add in their political lines. Time was when the witless bureaucrat could balk at having anything to do with political messaging at all; these days, you might lose your job for refusing to write the political message. Never ever blame the witless bureaucrats, many of whom actually have both education and experience in what they do. The hacks? Not so much. And they have a different job and a different agenda than telling the truth: their job is to get the politician re-elected.

  2. So, they have a process (Message Event Proposals, “MEP”) to set up these highly scripted, heavily choreographed, visually optimized events, but it appears the process has no provision for fact-checking. All I can say is, I’m glad these folks are not directly responsible for any life-or-death or safety-critical activities . . . I hope!

  3. On Remembrance Day, he will thank Germany for the role it played in creating Canadian nationhood at Vimy Ridge.

  4. Shorter Peter MacKay: Viva Napoleon!

  5. Maybe we should also thank the Russians for keeping France too busy to interfere during the War of 1812. And what about Tchaikovsky for the great overture? Anyone know if the brave Canadians were humming that while they fought at Queenston Heights? ;-)

  6. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the French for the invention of poutine.

    Vive la France!

  7. As I was there I can also report that MacKay made a witless and tactless remark about how things would be better if Spain could take some lessons from its soccer team and act with regard to the economy like La Roja did on the pitch.
    The crowd groaned and apparently the Spanish ambassador was there and wasn’t amused.
    MacKay is a lightweight moron and his staffers who wrote the speech (not bureaucrats) are idiots as well.

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