Scotland the forgotten

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer had been pushing for a Canadian peacekeeping force in Ukraine, but when the Prime Minister made his announcement yesterday, no particular destinations were cited, there was just a grab bag of offerings of troops and equipment. Maybe it’s just as well the location of any eventual contribution is being left to the United Nations. Otherwise it could all come down to vote-pandering. Scheer, of course, was trying to get on the good side of the 1.3 million Canadian voters of Ukrainian descent.

But if ancestral echoes matter so much, what about the 5 million Canadians of Scottish descent? Are we just so much chopped haggis? We might expect more from Justin Trudeau. After all, his paternal grandmother, Grace Elliott, had Scottish roots. His maternal grandfather, James Sinclair, was a Scot. Trudeau wore the Sinclair kilt to the Glengarry Highland Games last summer. He’s one of us!

It’s not as if we Scots haven’t suffered down through history. We were driven off the land during the Highland Clearances and slaughtered by the hundreds at Culloden. In the early years of Canada, we got to run a few banks, but these days all we get is to play the bagpipes at Remembrance Day services because most other musical instruments freeze in the chilly weather.

As a lad, my parents took me every August to the Fergus Highland Games. There were competitions in dancing, athletics and piping, but the major event was always the massed bands at the end of the day. By then, most of the band members had retired to the nearby woods to drink beer. There’d be no response to the announcer’s repeated pleas to gather until he finally said, “Those bands who don’t come right now … will forfeit their expense money.” The pipers and drummers quickly mustered. I say the same to all political parties on behalf of all Scots: Pay attention, or forfeit our votes.

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