Celebrating Canada’s War of 1812 Victory: All hail Sir Isaac Brock, Tecumseh, and Napoleon


I don’t know about you, but for me nothing makes waiting in the sweltering heat for a buffet to open more bearable than listening to a speech by Defence Minister Peter MacKay.

And so it came to pass on Friday, when French Ambassador Phillipe Zeller invited various dignitaries and journalist freeloaders to the embassy to help celebrate Bastille Day — held to commemorate the storming of the Bastille in the early days of the French Revolution.

Anthems were played; Zeller gave a speech; then MacKay took the podium. He praised France, praised our troops, praised the enduring ties between Canada and France. So far, so many minutes until roast beef.

Then MacKay got historical. He talked about the impact the storming of the Bastille had, not just on France but the world. All true. And these crêpe appetizers are delicious.

MacKay should have stopped there. He didn’t. In fact, he said, as Canada marks the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, we should recall that things might have turned out differently without French help to Canada.

As students of history, as well as anyone — well, almost anyone — who has walked through the new War of 1812 exhibition at the Canadian War Museum, knows, France did play a major, if indirect, role in the war of 1812. Unfortunately, it was by waging total war against Britain, thereby preventing it from sending much in the way of troops and hardware to Canada. France, in other words, was on America’s side, not ours.

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.


Celebrating Canada’s War of 1812 Victory: All hail Sir Isaac Brock, Tecumseh, and Napoleon

  1. Badly thought through. Two years later Napoleon lost and Britain sent troops as another wave of proto-immigrants the war wrapped up. So, by losing France did help. Very diplomatic to remind his host.

  2. NO matter our political stripe, we can all be glad to live in a country that hasn’t faced true military danger for 200 years!

  3. Goes to show you…MacKay would have made a confused MOD back then too.

    Probably heard Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture in high school and assumed it had something to do with us. We should likely be grateful he didn’t thank the Russians as well, and make a total fool of himself.

  4. I got the fierce home soil loyalty of Penn militias yet their unuease in fighting for foreign soil, as a key detail. Apparently Tecumseh only needed another 600 or so cavalry to take Ohio and Michigan.
    I’m almost finished “The Medieval World”. I get now why Europeans reference the youth and optimism of North Americans. We don’t have a thousand year history of war. The big advantage of Europe is they don’t have Albertans, post-1960 SK, or Texans. So not so many gross market failures (CPC ruined a GAI). On the downside, EU doesn’t immigrate or migrate well. Even with high-speed rail…if I don’t like AB, say I see an absolutely retarded Party is about to take power over a mildly retarded (retards get GAI) Party, I can move and soon even walk/bike/blade away. In Europe, it seems Greece and Germany are much different than AB and ON, because their parents or their schools or their media teach them this way?!

  5. Has a country ever had such a stupid Defence Minister? The Quayle of Canada.

  6. I was also at the reception and had to listen to Mackay’s speech. It was … how you say …? Ah, yes, MORONIC … that’s the word. Le mot juste.
    I don’t know why he sticks around. He has a beautiful wife. He should just leave and go make babies with her. She is intelligent and thoughtful. He could stay at home and help her career and then a number of years from now she can run for Parliament … as a Liberal.

  7. “… when
    Napoleon took on Britain, America felt emboldened to go to war against

    You do know that the US was ALREADY at war with them because England was attacking US ships, right?