The CCF, Hitler and history

Harper's reading of history inspired something of a Twitter meme

Twice this week—see here and here—Stephen Harper saw fit to lament that a precursor to the NDP hadn’t supported World War II. A Conservative backbencher, Scott Armstrong, was sent up before QP this morning to directly attack JS Woodsworth and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird then repeated the citation in response to an NDP question about extending this country’s mission in Afghanistan (both Mr. Armstrong and Mr. Baird invoking Hitler by name).

It is true that Mr. Woodsworth, leader at the time of the CCF, the party that would become the NDP some 22 years later, opposed Canada’s involvement in the war. Mr. Woodsworth was a pacifist. But he was also the only member of the CCF to oppose the declaration of war. Indeed, he was the only MP in the entire House of Commons who opposed the motion. Major James Coldwell, who would soon thereafter succeed Mr. Woodsworth as leader of the CCF, supported the declaration. As apparently did a young CCF MP named Tommy Douglas.

This is not the first time a Conservative has raised Mr. Woodsworth’s vote as something the current NDP needs to answer for. Here is Jason Kenney, then of the Canadian Alliance, raising the issue in 2003. At the time, Mr. Kenney was advocating for the use of a “credible threat of force” against Iraq.

Meanwhile, Mr. Harper’s reading of history inspired something of a Twitter meme yesterday and the NDP duly sent up Dan Harris before QP today to inform the House of the highlights.

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Prime Minister accused the NDP of not doing enough to stop Hitler. I am sure the NDP’s founding members would have found this pretty strange when they first gathered in 1961.

Last night, tens of thousands of Canadians responded with an outpouring of social medial comedian. In the spirit of co-operation, I would like to offer the Prime Minister some great suggestions for next week’s attacks on the NDP.

Comedian Dan Speering led things off last night by tweeting, “Damn you NDP for not standing up to Genghis Khan.”

Another wrote, “It was really the NDP that helped organized the stampeded that killed Mufasa in the Lion King.”

Another, “The NDP refused to come to the aid of men when Mordor invaded Gondor. Shame.”

“The NDP got Fox to cancel Firefly.”

And, “The NDP cancelled Arrested Development because they oppose free enterprise banana stands.”

I hope the Conservatives take this humour in stride and do not respond with more of their humourless anger.

Update… More context and history here.