Conscripting Canada's Past
Published on May 19, 2014
In the most recent issue of the Canadian Journal of History/Annales canadiennes d'histoire, noted historian and Canada Research Chair Yves Frenette argues that Stephen Harper's conservative government has "conscripted" the Canadian past as part of an effort to reconstruct the country along conservative lines.
In a sweeping essay, "Conscripting Canada's Past: The Harper Government and the Politics of Memory," Frenette examines government policies toward Library and Archives Canada, Parks Canada, and the new Canadian Museum of History. He also considers the government's efforts to promote military history and the monarchy, its commemoration of the War of 1812, and its decision to jettison the long-form census-a crucial resource for future historians.
According to CJH/ACH editor Mark Meyers, "The essay is compelling because of the range of examples it uses to make its case-from changes in the design of the nation's currency, to the disappearance of 'critical understanding' from the list of goals of the new history museum. The story Frenette tells is sure to provoke debate."
English and French versions of "Conscripting Canada's Past" will be available on-line Tuesday, May 20 at 9am (EDT). The French text is entitled "L'embrigadement du passé canadien: les politiques mémorielles du gouvernement Harper."
Access is free for a limited time.
Yves Frenette is Canada Research Chair at the University of Saint-Boniface (Winnipeg).