Harper’s visit to Iraq, the Kurds and eventually the Netherlands to join with our vets in celebrating VE-Day was great political theater.
It reminded me of the vintage propaganda film footage we see from World War Two where the leader flies in to visit the troops and he is then shown huddled with military officials and commanders and later peering through binoculars at the enemy lines. It is a time proven technique that works and certainly gets the public’s attention back home.
Was the entire trip necessary, probably not as Prime Minister’s don’t have to personally hand out cheques for aid, but in an election year it was a great way to separate Harper from the other leaders. It gave an opportunity for Harper to once again demonstrate that he is the man in charge and reminded Canadians (and of course voters) that he is not like the other leaders; he is willing to make the tough decisions.
Joining with our vets as they remembered VE-Day and the liberation of the Netherlands was more than symbolic as he needs to patch up the relationship with our veterans that had been so badly damaged with previous political missteps. Harper was right to take the opportunity (as should all of our political leaders) to remind the present generation of Canadians of the sacrifices made in defence of freedom. It is hard for the present generation to comprehend the massive causalities that the Canadian forces sustained fighting across Northern Europe and in the Italian campaign. 7600 Canadians died liberating the Netherlands and the campaign in Europe cost Canada 79,774 casualties, of which 21,478 were killed.
It is worth noting that as of the writing of this post, neither the Liberals nor the NDP had posted a tribute to our vets commemorating VE-Day. That was a good move on Harper’s part. As we get closer to our election day we will see more of this from all of the political leaders as they try to differentiate themselves from the others.