|Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during a ceremony held to honour regiments who participated in the War of 1812, at the Fort Lennox National Historic Site in Saint-Paul-de-l'Ile-Aux-Noix, Quebec, September 14, 2012. (Reuters/CHRISTINNE MUSCHI)
OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper used a battalion of Conservatives MPs at events from Newfoundland and Labrador to Ontario to commemorate Canadian victories in the War of 1812.
For his part, Harper stood among a small brigade of soldiers wearing the 19th century red coats and black bear hats to say that those victories were "the foundations of a truly pan-Canadian identity."
On his first trip to La Belle Province since it elected the separatist minority government of Pauline Marois, Harper highlighted the shared history and inextricable links between French, English and Aboriginal people in Canada.
"During that war, the French, English and Aboriginal peoples took up arms together to achieve a common objective, to resist American invasion," he said Friday at the Fort Lennox National Historic Site on Lake Champlain. "The ties our ancestors forged laid the foundations of a truly pan-Canadian identity and made our Confederation possible, a country of great diversity with two national languages."
Harper announced a theatre honour to be awarded to current regiments of the Canadian Army in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada that commemorate 1812 units that participated and were victorious in their battles.
At Fort York in Toronto, National Defence Minister Peter MacKay was joined by Brigadier-General Julian Chapman to present the honours to personnel from the Queen's York Rangers and 7 Toronto Regiment.
"The War of 1812 helped to develop Canada's military forces and the same spirit of sacrifice and sense of duty our military forbearers are valued in today's soldiers," Chapman said. "As we move forward and continue to fulfil our mission to defend Canada "¦ we carry those lessons and traditions with us."
The MacKay event in Toronto was one of 13 events presided over by MPs or senators at regimental headquarters in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario Friday.