During Sunday’s commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the battle of Vimy Ridge at Qualicum Beach Canadian Legion Branch 76, vice-president Walter Sweet opened with a prayer, then shared a brief history of the First World War fight on a low hill in France.
The bloody conflict is remembered through the fog of time as Canada’s “birth of a nation” moment, in which a continent made up entirely of Canadian troops marched across a graveyard of French corpses to dislodge Germans entrenched on that ridge.
All that glory came at the expense of more than 10,000 casualties, either killed or wounded. But, as Sweet pointed out, Vimy Ridge would turn out, in the end, to have no strategic value to the larger effort of the war, which would rage on for another 19 months.
Far removed from both that time and that place, we were struck by the juxtaposition this past week of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau honouring Canada’s Vimy heroes while simultaneously praising last week’s U.S. missle attack on a Syrian airfield.
Talk about no strategic value.
Before the attack, U.S. President Donald Trump provided a courtesy call to his Russian counterpart — and Syrian ally — Vladimir Putin. That information was apparently relayed to the Syrian government so that it could shuttle anything of value from the path of the incoming ordnance.
Oh, but from a domestic point of view, Trump’s attack was a stroke of political genius. In one fell swoop, he neutered a snarling press corps that is now largely fawning over the sound and fury of the explosions, silenced the critics who complain he is far too cozy with Putin, and fractured an opposition party that had been marching in lock-step against Trump and his party’s agenda.
When it comes to anything Putin, even Democrats can be swayed into denouncing the caricature they’ve helped to create.
And our guy in Ottawa, it appears, is happy to enlist in the effort.
The question now is, to what degree Trudeau and Canada plan to stand by their man to the south. Is it enough to cheer from the bleachers, or will the U.S. come calling for more players on the field?
Commemorations like the one Sunday in Qualicum Beach, and across the nation every November 11, are meant not only to glorify, but to remind us of the cost of war in blood and lives destroyed.
Before Canada decides to join in the latest U.S. adventure abroad, we will need to be shown some serious strategic value.
— Parksville Qualicum Beach News