Daphne Bramham: Some Quick Thoughts on China, the Military, Petain, and Progressive Alberta

Opinion: Some quick thoughts on everything from China’s reboot in Canada to white men’s rule and how Alberta is more progressive than BC

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So much news, so little time, so little space … so some quick thoughts on everything from China to Canada, to the mess in our military, to a Nazi collaborator and how Alberta, yes, Alberta, is more. progressive than BC.


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Let’s start closer to home.

There is a mountain, stream, and glacier on the BC-Alberta border near Invermere named after Marshal Henri Philippe Pétain. In 2020, the British Columbia government received a request for them to switch.

Now, people have until December 31 to decide whether to switch.

Pétain was a World War I hero in 1918 when they were named. But in 1940, he became a Nazi puppet. As head of occupied France, Pétain passed anti-Semitic laws and allowed Jews to be sent to death camps.

After the war, he was convicted of treason. Although sentenced to death, his sentence was commuted and Pétain spent the rest of his life in prison. Over the years, France has stripped the Pétain name from all streets, mountains and monuments.


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Canada’s longstanding fetish for naming places after royalty, rich men, and other heroes has recently come under wider scrutiny. Still, it is astonishing that it took so long to remove Petain’s name, a name that in French is synonymous with traitor.

When asked by the BC Bureau of Geographic Names what he thought, Sparwood Mayor David Wilks, along with three other East Kootenay Regional District board members (Mike Sosnowski, Stan Doehle, and Elkford Mayor McKerracher), they voted to keep Petain’s name.

Wilks told CBC Radio host Chris Walker that it was a “confusing moment for everyone” when Pétain was shaking hands with Adolf Hitler. Pétain, he said, may have been looking out for the interests of all of France.

History is important, Wilks continued, and people need to remember the serious mistakes made in the past.


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Fortunately, the other 11 directors voted in favor of the change, following Alberta’s lead in 2019 when it removed Pétain’s name from the border mountain, stream, and glacier.

Civic voters in Alberta’s two largest cities also appear more progressive than their Vancouver counterparts.

Last week, Naheed Nenshi, Canada’s first Muslim mayor, was replaced in Calgary by the city’s first mayor, Joyti Gondek, who is of South Asian descent, as was Amarjeet Sohi.

Sohi, a former liberal federal cabinet minister who emigrated from Punjab when he was 18, is the new mayor of Edmonton.

Since Vancouver was founded in 1886, all the mayors have not only been white men, they have been overwhelmingly British and Scottish. There have been three different Campbells, a couple of Owens, and a bunch of McSomethings.


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Over the past 40 years, as Vancouver has grown into one of the most diverse cities in the world, its honors have been Harcourt, Campbell, Sullivan, Robertson and Stewart.

The change is possible after next year’s vote.

Ken Sim, the son of Chinese immigrants, is running again after finishing second to Kennedy Stewart in 2018. But this time he’s not running with the old-school Non-Partisan Association, but with a new party called A Better City or ABC.

Coun. Colleen Hardwick has revived TEAM, a party once represented by her father, Walter, and is her running for mayor.

But, in an already packed field that includes Mark Marissen and John Coupar, the initial bet is that starter Stewart has the upper hand, extending the white men’s streak to 140 years.


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The whole world has been talking about a reboot between Canada and China since the deal was struck last month that brought Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor home after nearly three years in Chinese prisons and sent Meng Wanzhou from his golden cage here. to welcome a hero in Beijing.

The question is reset to what?

Within days of the release of the two Michaels, Marc Garneau, who was foreign minister in the last cabinet, spoke about “normalizing relations” with a four Cs approach: coexist, compete, cooperate and challenge.

The challenge may have topped the list with more property since a Canadian frigate sailed through the Taiwan Strait last week. China accused Canada of conspiring with the United States to “provoke and provoke problems … seriously endangering the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait.”


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Canadians have told pollsters that they want Canada to be tougher on China. But how difficult? Are we willing to risk war?

Meanwhile, the Canadian Armed Forces #MeToo moment stretches for months with commanders coming and going almost as fast as a TikTok video.

The army recently confirmed that Lieutenant Colonel. Raphael Guay is no longer director of the Canadian Forces School of Military Intelligence following allegations of misconduct.

On October 15, Lieutenant General. Steven Whelan was stepped down as commander of military personnel due to a sexual misconduct investigation that began in June.

Two days earlier, the army confirmed that Lieutenant General Trevor Cadieu’s appointment as the next army commander has been frozen while under investigation.

They have joined the ranks of retired General Jonathan Vance, Admiral Art McDonald and Major General. Peter Dawe who has stepped down or had his appointments rescinded.

Didn’t anyone examine these guys? Because now there is a perception that everyone at the top is rotten, which is a terrifying and chilling indictment of past and present military and political leadership.

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twitter: @bramham_daphne



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