Saturday, November 6, 2010

The new pretend-soldier

I had great respect for Ernie Coombs and Fred Rogers – two actors who achieved professional perfection in creating a fantasy world for children. Better known as Mr. Dressup and Mr. Rogers, Coombs and Rogers would dress up in costumes to help children enter into a fantasy of fun. They knew the costumes were only costumes and didn’t try to make believe they were really the character the costume represented.

That’s a lesson Canada’s new pseudo-royal David Johnston needs to learn. Last week Johnston and his entourage went to Afghanistan to visit the Canadian troops there and his feet barely hit the dirt before he was decked out in combat fatigues taking and giving various salutes. This, from a man with no military background. In an interview with the CBC around the time of his installation as the new pseudo-royal, he suggested that unlike his predecessor, he wouldn't don the uniform. "If I had a military background I would’ve put on the uniform with great pride," he said at the time.

One has to wonder what happened in the interim. It’s something like Bill Elliot trying to pretend that he’s a Mountie. He is not and never will be a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer. He’s a civilian given a job by the Harperites, the same as Johnston’s appointment to Rideau Hall. I had hoped that with the departure of Michaëlle Jean from Rideau Hall, it would mean the end of civilians running around in military uniforms.

Guess not.

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