It is an interesting outlook.
Written by TRISTIN HOPPER The National Post
There is a lot of overlap between the guides the U. S. and Canada give new citizens; both tell newcomers the countries are built on native land, people can choose any religion they want and nobody is “above the law.”
But in one glaring difference, they both proudly claim they were victorious in the War of 1812.
“The Americans won the war,” declares a 34-page civics guide issued to prospective citizens by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The Canadian guide notes the pre-Confederation British colonies “defeated an American invasion.”
“Believing it would be easy to conquer Canada, the United States launched an invasion in June 1812,” reads Page 17 of Discover Canada.
“The Americans were mistaken.”
On the weekend, Immigration Minister John McCallum hinted the Canadian citizenship guide’s retelling of the War of 1812 would be pared down.
“If you ask an average Canadian what Canada means, maybe they’ll say hockey, maybe they’ll say something else, they’re not likely to say the War of 1812,” he told CBC’s The House on Saturday.
Saying that the guide was threaded through by an “ideological element,” McCallum added, “I’m not antimilitary, but I do think it was a little heavy on the military.”
Altogether, military matters take up about 1,500 words of the guide’s 40,000 words.
American proclamations they triumphed in the War of 1812 is nothing new — they have long fuelled the myth that, before Vietnam, the United States had never lost a war.
Alan Taylor, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian at the University of Virginia, says both countries are right.
While the Canadian provinces successfully repelled a much larger U.S. invasion force, the United States arguably held its own in the wider conflict, which included naval battles and British actions against the American South.
“The war is much more than just the American invasion of Canada,” said Taylor.
Still, it’s a rare victory where a country gets much of its capital burned down and enters peace negotiations with enemy troops on its soil — as the United States did in 1814.
“The great majority of American academic historians would say it’s a war that went very badly for the United States and they were lucky to get such a favourable peace treaty,” said Taylor, who wrote a 2010 book on the conflict.
Eliot Cohen, a Johns Hopkins University professor, goes even further. In a 2011 book he wrote that “ultimately, Canada and Canadians won the War of 1812.”
McCallum not only took issue with mentions of Canadian military might in the citizenship guide. He also said that the guide was heavy on “so-called barbaric cultural practices.”
He was referring to a passage asserting that “Canada’s openness and generosity” do not extend to “barbaric cultural practices” such as spousal abuse and female genital mutilation.