Stephen Harper, Canadian Prime Minister for less than a year, opened Veterans’ Week this week with a poem. His choice was debatable, to say the least, claiming that the war in Afghanistan is a “just cause”, a discussion which is yet to be entertained seriously by Parliament or by the Canadian people. Far more numerous are the poets and veterans who write against war, against recruitment using false information (see Voices in Wartime for examples). Take a look at the poems submitted by Poets Against War for counter-examples of what war is about. We have no quarrel in Canada, and, until this year, we had no foe. We have no interest in torching anyone. Below is an exerpt from Harper’s squishy speech in Ottawa:
“They stood up for Canada. So how do we honour them? We remember them. But we must do more — we must follow their example,” Harper said, before quoting lines from the famous First World War poem ‘In Flanders Fields,’ by John McRae. “As the poem begs of us ‘Take up our quarrel with the foe. To you from failing hands we throw the torch,'” he said in an address to youth and veterans at Ottawa’s National War Museum that kicked off Veterans’ Week.
Harper noted that generations of young men and women have risked their lives to fight for a just cause. “So it is today in Afghanistan,” he added. (Ottawa, Canadian Press, Nov. 7, 2006)