Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Canada has responsibility to spread freedom

Perhaps it might be a good idea to help free our poor people from poverty to improve our health system, deal with First Nation's land claims, etc. etc. before worrying about spreading freedom. "spreading freedom" is a code word for expanding US hegemony and being free to exploit the resources of other nations such as Iraq.
The commitment of our soldiers in Afghanistan is an excellent reminder of our role as junior partners in Progress towards the New American Century.

Canada has responsibility to spread freedom: GG
Updated Sun. Jul. 1 2007 8:25 PM ET News Staff

Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean and Prime Minister Stephen Harper talked of Canada's freedoms and role as a world citizen as the nation celebrated its 140th birthday.

"To say what we think without fear or repercussion, to walk down the streets without fear, to give our children every possible means of flourishing. To have dreams as big as Canada is. That is the freedom we have in this country," Jean said during a televised speech on Sunday.

"We can not take this freedom for granted and it is our responsibility to spread this freedom around us and around the world. The commitment of our soldiers in Afghanistan is an excellent reminder of this."

Jean also swore in 49 new Canadian citizens at Rideau Hall.

Harper echoed Jean's sentiments and stressed the importance of Canada's role on the international stage.

"The news is spreading throughout the world: Canada's back," Harper told the crowd of about 35,000 on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Sunday.

"Canada's back as a vital player on the global stage ... Canadians are citizens of the world and we're making a positive contribution in every field of human endeavour."

He noted with a grin that Canada's men's, women's and junior men's hockey teams won world championships this year.

Harper said as Canada celebrates its 140 birthday, it is the North that defines the country the most.

"As Canadians we always look to the North for the true definition of our country," Harper said. "It (Canada's north) is as limitless as the potential of Canada itself."

Harper plans a tour of the north later this summer to reinforce Canadian sovereignty over the region.

Both Harper and Jean worked the crowd. Their speeches drew polite applause, but the crowd lit up for the flyover by the Canadian Forces' Snowbirds team synchronized to the final notes of O Canada.

Red, white and blue

The traditional red and white blanketed a sea of people on Parliament Hill, but there was also more blue than usual.

The blue of police uniforms peppered the crowd as security was stepped up for the celebration -- and there was also a blue presence on large banners that adorned the centre stage.

A spokeswoman for the National Capital Commission, which organizes Ottawa's annual Canada Day celebrations, says the colours were chosen from a number of designs.

Blue is the colour of the Conservative Party.

An Ottawa radio station pushed for a boycott of Sunday's festivities over the move.

"Show your support for Canada by avoiding Parliament Hill and its festivities," said an online statement by station Hot 89.9.

"There are hundreds of things to do besides attending this bizarre display of 'patriotism.' If you do attend, you'll be left feeling blue."

Conservative talk radio host Lowell Green at CFRA ridiculed the move.

"What, are we going to boycott the blue of the skies, too? There's red there, too (on the stage). There's as much red as there is blue."

"What the hell are they talking about?"

Canadian soldiers celebrate

Canadian soldiers at the main base in Kandahar, Afghanistan retired their camouflage fatigues and sported some red and white in celebration of Canada Day.

They gathered around the boardwalk on the base to raise a mug of Tim Horton's coffee and eat a few donuts.

While it was about 14 degrees Celsius and cloudy in Ottawa, temperatures broke 40 in Kandahar.

"It's like finally getting a little taste of home, being surrounded by all this," Cpl. James Nickerson, 34, of Canso, N.S., said as he walked the Kandahar boardwalk that was decorated with strings of Canadian flags.

"Now if it could only just snow."

After an afternoon of sports events like volleyball and tug-of-war, soldiers gathered for a barbecue and the coveted treat of the day -- two cans of cold Canadian beer.

But for the helicopters and military aircraft, it could have been a scene right out of Canada itself.

"At least for a short period we can forget about what's happening out there," said Capt. Jeff Donaldson.

For soldiers outside the wire at forward operating bases or on patrol around Kandahar province, however, Sunday was just another hot and dangerous day in Afghanistan.

Sgt. Steven Gardiner said Canada Day in Afghanistan was partly about remembering fellow soldiers who lost their lives.

"This is to celebrate what they gave up," said Gardiner, a reservist from Hamilton. "The freedom they're giving the Afghan people."

In St. John's, N.L., Premier Danny Williams laid a wreath to commemorate the hundreds of Newfoundlanders who died during the First World War's Battle of Beaumont-Hamel on July 1, 1916. Of the 801 members of the 1st Newfoundland Regiment who went over the top to attack the Germans that day, only 69 answered roll call the next morning. The rest were either dead, wounded or missing and presumed dead.

Williams announced plans to unveil plaques, replicas of ones in France, next year to honour those who served.

"We must always appreciate that they paid for our freedom with their lives," he said in a statement. "In a small and symbolic way, we will finally bring these soldiers home."

With a report from CTV's David Akin and files from the Canadian Press

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