MacKay says French backed British in War of 1812, Twitter erupts

Thomas Bink
Canada Politics

Pity poor Peter MacKay.

MacKay, the federal defence minister, is getting lambasted on Twitter for a gaffe he made at the French embassy in Ottawa last week, reported in the Ottawa Citizen.

"Suffice it to say in the 200th commemoration of the War of 1812," MacKay said, "had the French not been here fighting side by side, we might be standing here next to each other in a new light."

Unfortunately, the French didn't fight side-by-side with the British in fending off the Americans in the War of 1812. The French supported the Americans.

Enter Twitter, the electronic pen that is mightier than the sword:

"Maybe Harper should have spent $ briefing his cabinet on 1812" wrote Postmedia reporter Althia Raj.

"Peter MacKay recalls War of 1812, thanks Klingons, Romulans for their support," Tweeted Steve Burgess.

"Considering we just spent $28M 'educating' Canadians on War of 1812, might be nice if Peter MacKay knew France supported the USA" wrote Simon King.

MacKay's office quickly came to the minister's defence, stating that some French, including the Voltigeurs of Lower Canada, were "instrumental in repelling American invaders at the Battle of Chateauguay in 1813."

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It's not the first time MacKay made a public gaffe. Last year, he told former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger that California and British Columbia have a "shared border."

The Austrian-born Schwarzenegger was kind enough to point out later that the states of Oregon and Washington lie between California and B.C.

But hey, it could have been worse. It's not like MacKay incorrectly pointed out the flow direction of the Niagara River or anything.