Are the War of 1812 ads ‘contrary to the spirit of the Olympics?’

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

If you've watched any of the Olympic broadcasts on CTV, you've invariably seen the Harper government's commercials about the War of 1812.

The 'Fight for Canada' ad conjures up feelings of national pride depicting Canadian military heroes from the war that was sparked by a U.S. invasion of Canada 200 years ago.

It seems, however, the ads have irked the opposition parties: They're not upset about the content of the commercials, per se, but they're critical about the ads being broadcast during the Olympics.

[ Related: The state of U.S.-Canada relations ]

According to the Hill Times, some NDP and Liberal MPs say the ads are inappropriately slotted in the coverage of a sporting event that was founded to bring nations together.

"It's counter to the Olympic spirit, where sport was going to unite the world, right, in this relationship building," veteran Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett said in an interview with The Hill Times.

[ Related: War of 1812 looked at differently in U.S. despite outcome ]

New Democrat MP Pat Martin alluded to the ads being broadcast during the U.S./Canada women's soccer game last Monday.

"The ads smack of a militaristic jingoism that is sort of contrary to the spirit of the Olympics," he said.

"Is it the right time to celebrate military victories over your Olympic competitors?"

The government has come under criticism previously for its decision to spend at least $28-million on a range of War of 1812 anniversary celebrations—including a July 1 stage presentation of war scenes at Canada Day events on Parliament Hill.

[ Related: First Nations omitted from War of 1812 re-enactment ]

Certainly, rail against the government for the cost of purchasing pricey Olympic ad space, but to complain that the ads are "contrary to the spirit of the Olympics'" is a little much.

And besides aren't the Olympics also about building national pride?

By definition, the role of the opposition parties is to 'oppose' government policies.  But, in this instance, they're just grasping at straws.