The Conservative government is strengthening the symbolic power of the military in public life by having a member of the Canadian Forces play a prominent role in citizenship ceremonies.
In an operational bulletin issued earlier this year, the Department of Citizenship and Immigration said highlighting the service of members of the armed forces is a way to underline to every new Canadian the rights and responsibilities that come with citizenship.
The bulletin, which describes military service as one of the highest expressions of citizenship, states that members of the military should be seated on the main platform with the citizenship judge, that they can stand in the receiving line congratulating new citizens and that they may give a two- to three-minute speech. Where possible, the bulletin says the preference is for veterans of the war in Afghanistan.
The increased prominence of the military at these ceremonies is in keeping with other gestures made by Stephen Harper’s government. The new citizenship handbook, Discover Canada, for example, which was introduced by Minister Jason Kenney in 2009, placed much more emphasis on Canadian military history than the preceding guide.
Michael Fellman, a professor emeritus of history at Simon Fraser University, said it’s part of a gradual militarization of Canadian culture under the Conservatives.
“The Tories are in a long-range campaign to change Canadian values and make them more conservative,” Prof. Fellman said. “This is a way to show that the military is at the core of the meaning of citizenship...The "true north strong and free?" Funny, I thought that was a Canadian value (or was until that charlatan with the je ne sais quois and the rose in his lapel got hold of the joint). But, hey, if that's a "conservative value" it sounds pretty good to moi.
Update: The esteemed emerituser has written a book in which he kvetches about "the Bush-Cheney administration’s use of terrorism in the so-called war on terror"--so you know exactly where he's coming from.