I can’t shake a recent exchange on Quora. A thread pertaining to Stephen Harper landed on discussion of his foreign policy. A fellow Canadian responded to my comment about Harper’s disregard for Canada’s peacekeeping efforts with this –

“I cringe with embarrassment every time I hear somebody talk about what great “peacekeepers” we used to be.  We weren’t peacekeepers, we were archetypical fence sitters. Why did the Canadian chicken cross the road?  To get to the middle.  Old joke but accurate.”

Astonishment gave way to something best described as sadness. How dare this man scoff at our soldiers? Call bullshit on the United Nations, criticize parameters of peacekeeping missions, but don’t you dare belittle or nullify the valiant effort of Canadian peacekeeping troops. Canadian people believed in our roll, collective pride born of decency and optimism swaddled our nation.

Cringe with embarrassment over Harper thumbing his “warrior nation” nose at veterans. Cringe at the thought of countless soldiers crippled by PTSD. Cringe at the UN for setting ridiculous parameters, dragging their feet or wallowing in bureaucratic shenanigans. Cringe with embarrassment over your assertion Canada wasn’t a peacekeeping nation.

Our soldiers were told to keep peace, they believed in their mission and followed orders. Unfolding travesties will haunt these good men and women to their dying day. How dare anyone joke about Canadian peacekeepers or suggest our nation didn’t support them.  Until Stephen Harper declared Canada a “warrior nation”, ours was a nation bursting with peaceful pride.

Romeo Dallaire, a great Canadian peacekeeper.