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.