By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday, July 30, 2013
How Stephen Harper is rewriting history
Mark O’Neill, president of the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the country’s biggest and most-visited museum, is typically an upbeat guy. “It’s not sufﬁcient,” he sums up, “that you can walk through this hall and learn very little about the history of Canada.” He’s willing to be so blunt about the current state of the museum because the government has given him $25 million to overhaul Canada Hall as his museum is rebranded the Canadian Museum of History. And the revamping of this major federal institution—in its prime location on the Ottawa River in Gatineau, Que., just across from Parliament Hill—is just one element in the Conservatives’ wider strategy for changing the way Canadians perceive their past. It’s all timed to build to a crescendo for the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017.
For Conservatives already preoccupied with history, the potential for sustained spinning of patriotic history is obvious. Ads will air. Exhibitions will tour. Through it all, if the Tories are still in power after 2015’s ﬁxed election date, their critics will no doubt go on pouncing on signs of a distorted portrayal of Canadian history right up to the sesquicentennial.
And at the country’s biggest museum, a new walk through Canada’s past, sprawling over 4,000 sq. m on two levels, will open (if all goes on schedule) in time for the 2017 festivities. “It will be the single largest pan-Canadian narrative ever developed,” O’Neill enthuses, casting ahead with a gusto so lacking when he tours the current version. Presumably, he’ll be able to guide visitors around the revamped hall without pausing to point out the history it fails to teach. (Source: Maclean’s)