Oh, Canada - Macleans.ca

Oh, Canada

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Canadian Press looks back on the outrage concerning that principal who didn’t play the national anthem each morning.

Conservative MPs on the floor of the House of Commons, bloggers and media pundits provoked a raging national debate this spring over the decision by a single school in rural New Brunswick to curtail the morning ritual of O Canada. The furor drove Erik Millett, principal of tiny Belleisle Elementary, from his job and resulted in death threats against him. New Brunswick subsequently made it mandatory to sing O Canada daily in the province’s schools, starting this autumn. No fewer than five federal Tory New Brunswick MPs – including two cabinet members – publicly pounced on the anthem issue. No other party’s MPs in Parliament intervened.

Contrast that with a national study this month by the Dominion Institute that found the teaching of Canadian history is woefully inadequate in high schools from coast to coast … Alberta and Saskatchewan, home to 40 federal Conservative MPs, both received Fs from the institute for failing to require a single history course to graduate.

Yet not one Tory MP raised the issue in Parliament. Their silence was doubly perplexing because the absence of history education dovetails with a push by Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to improve what he calls “civic literacy” among Canadians – essentially the understanding of our national history and symbols.

And you’ll never guess what Mr. Millett’s teaching now.